Chippewa Retreat Resort, on Manitowish Lake. For more photos, check out the gallery »
MANITOWISH WATERS, WISCONSIN
DRIVE TIME: 7 HOURS
LOCATED BY: MANITOWISH LAKE
BEST FOR: FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN
The last stretch of the seven-hour drive into northern Wisconsin is best spent lapping up the scenery, as one after another of the region’s 3,200 lakes glimmer through stands of towering pines and lush maples. Welcome to the Northwoods, a densely forested and sparsely populated expanse, save for the seasonal resorts and lodges, campsites and cabins. This is not the land of readily available tourist attractions. Instead, vacationers find a place to unpack and unwind.
Chippewa Retreat Resort is the Northwoods vacation that feels like you never left home. Extended families have been known to book all eight of the spacious villas, which are sufficiently woodsy (pine paneling, a stone fireplace, plaid everywhere) but also comfortably modern (air conditioning, plush couches, a full kitchen, valet laundry service). From this well-feathered nest, flitting from activity to activity won’t require much extra effort—whether you’d like to play a set of tennis, send the kids to the playground, swim in the outdoor pool, or just jog across the vast lawn. The resort’s prime location on Manitowish Lake offers easy access to other lakes in the Manitowish Waters chain, a few of which you can link together for long kayak trips.
Once in a while, do try to leave your cozy compound. A new restaurant in the main lodge serves a set-menu dinner five nights a week. Or try nearby Little Bohemia Lodge (142 Hwy. 51 S.; 715-543-8800, littlebohemialodge.com). The restaurant, which was the site of the infamous 1934 FBI shootout that failed to capture John Dillinger, serves salads, steaks, and seafood between walls riddled with old bullet holes.
Go for beer and burgers at the Minocqua Brewing Company (238 Lakeshore Dr., Minocqua; 715-356-2600, minocquabrewingcompany.com), housed in a 1927 Masonic temple; take away any of its seven brews in growlers. Then catch a free two-and-a-half-hour performance by the Min-Aqua Bats (715-356-4549, min-aquabats.com), the 61-year-old club that pioneered the art of water-ski stunts. Shows are Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays on Lake Minocqua.
2799 27th St., Birchwood; 715-354-3646, stoutsislandlodge.net
Rooms are $139 to $295 per person on weekdays, $149 to $345 on weekends.