The serenity of a simpler time might be hard to summon—until you arrive at this tranquil no-wake lake surrounded by sandstone bluffs towering along its shoreline. Named for its glassy surface, the jewel of 2,200-acre Mirror Lake State Park, just a few minutes (yet an entire world) away from the Wisconsin Dells, is encircled by an unspoiled forest. Those woods also serve as the backdrop for a 1950s supper club that recalls a bygone era with just the right amount of nostalgia (read: Rat Pack music piped in during leisurely cocktail hours as the sun dips low). Take it all in over a weekend that’ll bring you back to the way things used to be.
Wake up cabin-style to the rustle of leaves and venture out on more than 19 miles of hiking trails. Wander the shaded paths that wind around the lake through canopies of old oaks and white pines. When you’ve worked up an appetite, take a drive to Baraboo, 15 minutes down the road, for a burger with salsa at the diner-esque Little Village Cafe, then slide over to the well-stocked Village Booksmith for a used classic or a beach read to dive into back at Mirror Lake’s shore.
Late in the afternoon, explore the lake’s passageways with a kayak or standup paddleboard from Mirror Lake Rentals (from $12 an hour). Follow the majestic bluffs, steer into the nooks and crannies of inlets, and float under the trees arching over the water. Never once worry about speedboats disturbing your peace—they aren’t allowed on the lake.
At sunset, walk the path to Ishnala Supper Club perched among the trees overlooking Mirror Lake. Order an old-fashioned at the arrowhead-shaped bar, a nod to the Winnebago who used to inhabit the area. It’s the perfect spot to watch the changing light dance on the water below. Take your time over dinner and go all 1953 (the year the club was built) with garlic-butter-crusted escargot and roast Wisconsin duck dripping with cognac-orange sauce. Then cap off the day with a frothy grasshopper ice-cream drink. Tomorrow: Just hit replay.
Stay:Since Frank Lloyd Wright’s idyllic Seth Peterson Cottage is booked through 2018, try Peaceful Pines (from $198), a log cabin with a dock on Mirror Lake, from Sand County Vacation Rentals.
While You’re There:Less than 10 minutes from the park, the International Crane Foundation’s restored wetlands ($9.50 admission) are the only place in the world you can see all 15 species of cranes.
3 months ago