The main lodge. For more photos, check out the gallery »
DRIVE TIME: 6 HOURS
LOCATED BY: TROUT LAKE
BEST FOR: FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN
Off Highway 51 in Arbor Vitae, Coon’s Franklin Lodge has been attracting families for nearly 120 years. While other mom-and-pop resorts in the region have been sold off to condo developers, this massive 250-acre camp hugging the shoreline of Trout Lake has been owned and operated by the Coon family for four generations.
The property is dotted with turn-of-the-century cabins, each outfitted with a fireplace, a screened-in porch, and charmingly mismatched antique furniture. Firewood and ice are delivered daily. Children roam the trails in small bands, form friendships in the afternoon on the water trampoline, and seal their new bonds in the evening over s’mores and ghost stories at the lakeside fire pit. Scheduled meals—served on china and linen in a huge octagonal dining room with a vaulted ceiling and hickory chairs from the 1920s—give structure to long, sun-drenched days. The main lodge’s porch is ideal for reading the morning paper or catching up on e-mail while gazing out at the water.
Trout Lake, one of the largest in the area, is renowned for its trout (naturally), plus walleye and bass—and lack of shoreline development. Much of the lake’s perimeter is state owned, which is why standing on the pier offers a sense of isolation, with not a single vacation home or boat launch in sight. But you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy the lake’s activities: Amateur anglers can book an outing with one of the resort’s guides, and staff members man the dock, always on hand for watersport lessons, including sailing and water-skiing, or just a friendly chat.
The Northwoods offers 1.5 million acres of public forest, including the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (500 Hanson Lake Rd., Rhinelander; 715-362-1300, fs.usda.gov/cnnf), about an hour east of Coon’s on Highway 70. Hiking the 15-mile Nicolet North Trail takes a good four hours; if you bike it, you’ll have time to explore several other loops through the lush forest. Before hitting the trail, fuel up with coffee at Eagle River Roasters (339 W. Pine St., Eagle River; 715-479-7995, eagleriverroasters.com), which roasts its own beans, then cross the street to the Flour Sack (348 W. Pine St., 715-479-7249, floursack.com), where you can grab a sandwich for later.
3450 Hwy. 51 N., Arbor Vitae; 715-385-2700, coonsfranklinlodge.com
Rates for a one-week stay range from $1,545 to $1,700 per adult and $585 to $1,378 per child (prices vary depending on age, and children under 2 stay free).