Ashland – Stay as long as you like
Day 1: Start with a yummy breakfast at a local cafe. Take an exhilarating walk along the scenic 10-mile-long waterfront trail and enjoy the sights and sounds of Chequamegon Bay and the City of Ashland. Browse the many gift, clothing, sporting, and specialty shops on Main Street. View the distinct architectural styles displayed throughout the downtown business district, an eight-block area of which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Enjoy lunch downtown and then take in a self-guided Mural Tour. Ashland is the “Historic Mural Capital of Wisconsin” and boasts more than a dozen murals depicting historical subjects such as lumberjacks, railroad history, storefronts and the former massive ore dock. After a relaxing dinner, take in a movie.
Day 2: Start with a delicious breakfast then learn about our area at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center west of Ashland. Stroll on their boardwalk, grab a pair of binoculars and check out the beautiful sights from the center’s five-story observation tower. Head back into Ashland to relax at one of three beautiful Lake Superior beaches. After a day on the water, enjoy a superb Lake Superior whitefish dinner and head over to Big Top Chautauqua for an evening of musical entertainment in the big blue canvas tent.
Day 3: Explore the surrounding area today – start with a hearty breakfast followed by a round of golf at the Chequamegon Bay Golf Club. Travel around Chequamegon Bay to Bayfield to check out the many apple orchards. Look for seasonal produce including raspberries, strawberries or blueberries. Cross on the ferry to Madeline Island or continue on Hwy. 13 to Cornucopia and Herbster. Enjoy extraordinary views of Lake Superior and then circle back to Iron River, where there are inland lakes galore. Back in Ashland, savor one of the many excellent dining options at the locally-owned and-operated restaurants. End your evening with a beautiful stroll at the Ashland Marina to enjoy a spectacular sunset over Chequamegon Bay.
A day’s respite in Butternut
Discover how the locals appreciate Ashland County. Have a hearty breakfast at either of the two fine restaurants in the village and with your appetite well satisfied, head over to the Butternut Area Historical Museum on Main Street. Built in the 1880s, this building is jam-packed with artifacts and memorabilia, as well as a gallery of early family photographs. Don’t miss the garage annex behind the museum that houses an 1870 pumper and a 1920 Model T fire truck. Stroll across the street to the Butternut Feed Store to view more than 200 deer antler sheds hanging from the ceiling, as well as a large and unusual collection of wildlife mounts, including the rare cantankerous badger and the fierce fisher. Grab some snacks for yourself and for the wildlife. Drive around the village and view the murals painted by a local artist. This will give you an advantage should you choose to participate in the lucrative and fun annual Mural Treasure Hunt. Stop at the Village Hall for a road map of the Chequamegon-Nicolet Forest where you will have the opportunity to see a wide variety of wildlife on the move. Check out the campsites and plan for a longer stay the next time you want to take a really relaxing vacation.
A weekend escape to Glidden
Arrive around 5 PM on Friday – Check in at your cabin in the woods.
Go to Green Lantern for Fish Fry Dinner then to Lena’s Bar and Grill to play pool and find out what’s happening around town. Back to the cabin for a card game and the quiet of the woods.
Saturday: Quick breakfast at The Bear Crossing before picking up some bait for a morning of fishing on Gordon Lake. A beach picnic and swim after lunch then back to the cabin for a nap. Late afternoon hike in the Chequamegon National Forest looking for critter tracks. Watch the sun going down at Northern Lure with a pizza and a beer for dinner, stop in at Bootlegger’s to visit with some new local friends. Bedtime at the cabin comes early after an active day.
Sunday: Quiet reading and coffee on the cabin porch watching the sun come up through the woods. Too soon it’s time to pack up and leave. Check out the Bear Den and murals; trade in my book at the Little Free Library; and make plans for our country road trip home.
An idyllic 3-day trip to Madeline Island
Day 1: Arrive by ferry and stop to pick up a Visitor Guide with an island map. Head to Big Bay State Park. Park the car and follow any one of a number of beautiful trails to view the island sea caves, huge lake boulders, and kids jumping into the icy water. Check out the beach. Then move on over to the Big Bay Town Park and have a picnic in the stunning new stone picnic shelter. Look over the lagoon, or take a walk down the stairs and over the bridge to the boardwalk along almost two miles of sand beach. Pick up agates and beach glass.
Day 2: On day two, arrange for a kayak adventure, including lunch, with any one of a number of island outfitters. Have a great day out on the water! Or visit the island’s quaint shops and numerous galleries and then enjoy a delicious late lunch at the Beach Club. Sip a cocktail and watch the sunset at Tom’s Burned Down Café.
Day 3: On your last day, start with the Madeline Island Museum and experience more than 300 years of island history, from Ojibwe lifeways to the fur trade, from missionaries and loggers to fishing, and more. Be sure to stop in the Museum Store, carrying books, handmade jewelry, Ojibwe crafts, and other unique gifts. Then stroll up the block to the Madeline Island Heritage Center, featuring three, 100-year-old buildings offering a glimpse of island life from another time. Finish up with a leisurely dinner at the Pub Restaurant & Wine Bar. So much to do, so little time!
A scenic getaway to Mellen
Day 1: Located just two miles north of Mellen, Copper Falls State Park is the main draw for visitors in the Mellen area. There are two waterfalls in the park, Copper and Brownstone, both situated on the Bad River. The park’s natural attractions also include canyons, deep gorges, streams, and a swimming beach. Visitors will enjoy the picnic area with a log shelter, miles of self-guided nature trails, and family campground. In addition, walk-in and backpack campsites are available. The scenery is fabulous and the park is open year-round. Pack a lunch and eat at the picnic grounds, visit the concession stand (open from Memorial Day to Labor Day) or drive into Mellen and stop at the local restaurant. Spend a few hours at the Mellen Historical Museum. It is set up to be a self-guided tour and the history of Mellen is well-depicted. It is located in the restored City Hall, a Victorian structure listed on the National Register, and is available daily. Just ask the city employees for a key. Open weekends by appointment.
Day 2: Visit the three other waterfalls in the area – Potato River Falls, Wren Falls and Morgan Falls – all located within 30 minutes of Mellen. Hikers will be enthralled by the breathtaking beauty of Morgan Falls, the second-highest waterfall in the state. This scenic area located about 13 miles west of Mellen in the Penokee Range also includes St. Peter’s Dome, the highest point in the entire Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. On a clear day, you can see Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands 20 miles to the north from the top of the 1,600-foot-high red granite dome. The summit makes a great spot for a picnic after the exertions of the hike. In addition, the Penokee Scenic Overlook located two miles west of Mellen on County GG is definitely worth stopping to see. Interpretive wayside exhibits unfold the colorful history of this ancient mountain range. A few steps up to the overlook and you can view a portion of the Penokee Mountains – a perfect place to enjoy the glorious fall colors and the vibrant, varied green hues of summer.
Click here for our Summer Family Fun Guide. Just more ideas of things for families to do.