Boulder Junction

Why We Keep Coming Back to Wisconsin, No Matter the Season

Those that have been following our travels closely know that this past winter we ventured off on a snow-filled Wisconsin getaway… right in the heart of the polar vortex. While the temperatures were a little colder than we had anticipated (-13 degree weather with a windchill of -25), we had the BEST TIME exploring all that Madison, Wisconsin had to offer - even in some extreme icy conditions! 

Now we just returned from a summertime getaway in Boulder Junction, Wisconsin (you can read more about that trip here), and it cemented our love for this beautiful, neighborly, and always surprising state. 

Here’s why we’ll keep coming back to Wisconsin, no matter what season it is! 

THE NATURAL BEAUTY

WINTER :: Winter in Wisconsin is postcard-worthy. Families ice skating on frozen lakes, tall trees covered in glistening snow, charming shops and cafes welcoming visitors in for hot cocoa and a warm place to sit… It’s lovely in every way. We were mesmerized by the weather, requesting a window table at every restaurant so that we could watch the snowflakes fall over the city. 

SUMMER :: We didn’t think it could get more magical, until we returned this August. What we knew to be a winter wonderland had transformed into a green, lush, summer paradise. The Northwoods is what we would consider the ideal Fourth of July destination. We couldn’t get over how naturally beautiful Wisconsin is in the summer, and we can only imagine how colorful it is in the Fall! (That season is next on our list!)

THE FRIENDLY LOCALS

WINTER :: We always say that what makes a place is the people. There is no better way to learn, understand, and connect with a destination than through conversations with the people that call it “home”. During our trip to Madison, Wisconsin this past winter, we spent hours chatting with locals about the snowy weather, what life is like in Madison, and what restaurant really has the best cheese curds. (Important stuff.) 

SUMMER :: This trip, we spent our first morning in Boulder Junction on White Sand Lake with a local fishing guide, Marty Clauson. Marty not only taught us how to fish for walleye, but shared about his love and admiration for the state of Wisconsin. He told us about his around-the-world travels, and how he’s never loved a place more than where he is now. Marty’s love for the Northwoods was contagious, and by the end of our fishing adventure we were about ready to move! That’s when you know you’re somewhere special.

THE WISCONSIN CHARM

WINTER :: There’s a kind of charm that Wisconsin possesses, if you’ve been or if you’re a Wisconsinite, you know what we’re talking about. It’s more than the pretty scenery, rustic accommodations and smiling faces, it’s a feeling. In the winter we were charmed by Madison’s big-city-charisma meets small-town-allure. We’d sit in a snug coffee shop and sip our lattes as we’d admire the striking capitol building from across the way… Madison was approachable, yet cosmopolitan, all in one!

SUMMER :: This trip, we experienced Wisconsin’s charm just about everywhere we went. We grabbed ice cream at the local Ice Shanty Drive-In and Mini Golf, an adorable ice cream shop meets mini golf destination that one could only find in Wisconsin. What’s better than a soft serve ice cream and a friendly round of mini golf?

We dined at the Blue Bayou Inn, a homey and whimsical restaurant serving New Orleans cuisine by candlelight. We feasted on homemade soups, a table-side salad bar, and blackened catfish, all the while watching the lake shimmer in the distance. It couldn’t have been more romantic! 

One day we heard some people talking about the Min-Aqua Bats, the oldest continually running amateur water ski show in the United States, and we were instantly intrigued. Of course this kind of performance would be in Wisconsin! This free, interactive summertime attraction was spell-binding, and fun for the whole family. We couldn’t believe the tricks these young water skiers could do! 

THE SENSE OF ADVENTURE

WINTER ::  One thing we’ve learned from our Wisconsin travels is that Wisonsonites know how to have fun, even if the temperature is well below freezing. From ice fishing along the frozen lakes, to rooftop campfires underneath the falling snow, to whimsical botanical gardens that are begging to be explored… it was the winter wonderland we’d always dreamed of - and more! 

SUMMER :: We couldn’t get over all that there was to see and do in the Northwoods… it was borderline overwhelming! From picturesque hiking and biking trails, to exploring quaint towns, and swimming in the literally hundreds of lakes, it’s a destination that would take weeks - if not months, to properly traverse. It’s perfectly rugged and untouched, making the Northwoods of Wisconsin an outdoor lovers dream. 

We’ve been consistently surprised by Wisconsin. By its approachability, affordability, its pristine beauty, and even this time by how dog friendly it is! We’ve seen this state at its very coldest, and at its warmest, and we’re happy to report that we’ve truly loved both! We’ve still yet to experience Wisconsin in the Spring and in the Fall, so we’ll be sure to check back when we do. ;)

Our Quintessential Summer Getaway in Boulder Junction, Wisconsin

Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, the “Musky Capital of the World”. 

To some, that probably doesn’t mean much. To a true Wisconsin native, just the mention of this city (and it’s famed fish) sends nostalgic memories of family vacations and lake-side adventures. It’s a place that might not be on many people’s bucket list, but after experiencing it for ourselves, we believe it absolutely should be. Being born and raised in California, we had no idea what to expect when it came to a “Wisconsin Summer” - and we were amazed at what we discovered. 

Situated in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, Boulder Junction has over 225,000 acres of state forest filled with lakes (194 of them, to be exact), rivers, and trails. It’s home to countless adventures,quaint small businesses, unique dining and shopping, family friendly resorts, and more. We spent four days in this All-American slice of paradise, and it’s been awhile that we’ve felt that relaxed and at home. 

Here’s a look into our summertime escapades in Boulder Junction:

LAKEFRONT ACCOMMODATIONS

We stayed at Dillman’s Bay Resort, a classic vacation property located on the shores of the breathtaking and picturesque White Sand Lake. (About 20 miles outside of Boulder Junction.) Beyond their cozy lakeside log cabins, Dillman’s has a full marina, tennis courts, playground, four beaches, picnic grounds, creative workshops, and more. It’s the kind of place that families return year after year, to swim, barbeque, play games, and breathe in that crisp Northwoods air. Oh, and they’re incredibly dog friendly too!

FISHING

It’s no doubt that Boulder Junction has some of the best fishing in Wisconsin. There are 194 lakes within 9 miles of town (pretty crazy, right?), making the fishing options seemingly endless! They’ve been coined the “Musky Capital of the World”, because more musky are caught on Boulder Junction lakes than any other similarly sized location. Beyond the muskies, they’re also home to walleye, bass, panfish, brook trout, and yellow perch, among many others. Boulder Junction is a fisherman's dream! 

HEART OF VILAS COUNTY BIKE TRAIL

With more than 50 miles of paved trails that connect Boulder Junction  to its surrounding cities, the Vilas County Bike Trail System twists and turns along lakes, rivers, and lush landscapes. There are even picnic areas and swimming spots to take a break, and take a dip! The trail is smooth and paved and features rolling terrain that is fun for the whole family… it’s definitely a must-do! (You can rent bikes and e-bikes from Coontail, which is just steps away from the paved trail!)

DOWNTOWN BOULDER JUNCTION

Boulder Junction’s quaint downtown is like something out of a Hallmark movie, it’s cute and charming and perfectly picturesque, brimming with quaint boutiques, antique shops, cafes and restaurants, and local hang outs. You can tell that life moves a little slower in Boulder Junction, and we were perfectly cool with that. One could spend an entire afternoon just perusing and exploring the downtown, grabbing cheese curds at Boulder Beer Bar and ice cream at Mad Dog Jakes, which leads us to...

Cheese Curds for the win!

Cheese Curds for the win!

BOULDER JUNCTION DINING

If there’s one thing we learned, it’s that you won’t go hungry in Boulder Junction. There are food options a’plenty, and we found ourselves planning our days around our meals. (As how every good vacation should be planned!) We dined on woodfired pizzas and fresh salads at Aqualand Ale House, hearty omelettes and waffles at The Granary Restaurant, soups and grilled cheeses at Headwaters Restaurant and Tavern, and had a romantic, intimate date night at the Blue Bayou Inn (which is a little outside of town in Manitowish Waters). From the freshly caught seafood to the classic comfort food, we tried just about every kind of cuisine Boulder Junction had to offer... and let’s just say it was all so good, that our pants were definitely a little tighter when we left!

Love the vibes at Aqualand Ale House!

Aqualand Ale House pizza :)

Summertime in Boulder Junction, Wisconsin did not disappoint. We now know why Wisconsinites are so passionate and loyal to their summers in the Northwoods. It’s a slice of America we never knew existed, and now that we do, we already have the urge to return. The scenic surroundings, cozy log cabins, friendly locals, and fried cheese curds after a long morning of fishing on the lake…  it’s what an American summer is all about. 

God bless the USA, and God bless Boulder Junction. We can’t wait to come back.