MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Wisconsin Resorts

Browsing in Boulder Junction

A fishing mecca in northwoods Wisconsin has become a fashionable place to shop.

In a little village in northern Wisconsin, muskie probably is still king.

Back in 1971, city boosters got the U.S. Patent Office to make Boulder Junction the official Musky Capital of the World. After all, the surrounding two counties have the world's densest concentration of lakes, and they still yield 4-foot fish.

But times change. Now, this former logging town deep in the middle of state forest has gained fame as a playground for another kind of trophy hunter.

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Historic boathouses of Minocqua

In a Wisconsin resort town, the wealthy built playrooms on water.

In Minocqua, you have to get in a boat to go on a historic home tour.

In the first part of the 20th century, captains of industry streamed to this village in northeast Wisconsin, called the Island City because it is nearly surrounded by Lake Minocqua.

Their estates are hidden in the trees, but the boathouses were built over water, fanciful structures with gables, balconies, towers and turrets.

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Summer in Minocqua

In Wisconsin's north woods, vacationers flock to this Island City.

In northeast Wisconsin, Minocqua is all things to all tourists.

It's been a boating destination for more than a century because it's on a chain of lakes and nearly surrounded by Lake Minocqua. In fact, it's Nature's Original Water Park, and the town has the trademark to prove it.

But summer is short, and these days, tourists like to keep busy. That's why you'll also find water-ski shows, lumberjack shows, boat tours, wildlife parks, bicycle trails, city-style shopping, golf and, in the middle of downtown, mini-golf.

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Carrying the torch

In Wisconsin's north woods, Lac du Flambeau offers a portal into Ojibwe culture.

In a quiet corner of Wisconsin lake country, Ojibwe culture lives and breathes.

The French called this place Lac du Flambeau, “lake of the torches.'' To the Ojibwe it was Wa-Swa-Goning, “the place where they spear fish by torchlight.”

Violent protests shattered its north-woods serenity in the 1980s, when the courts upheld spear-fishing treaty rights. The backlash traumatized the community, but also strengthened its commitment to tradition.

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Minocqua's white magic

In northeast Wisconsin, snowy forests delight skiers and snowmobilers.

In northeast Wisconsin, winter can be almost shamelessly beautiful.

Not only is the snow plentiful, it’s that photogenic, see-me-sparkle kind of snow that looks so good draped on pine boughs.

Skiing the Escanaba Lake Trail near Minocqua one February, exchanging hellos with passing skiers, all of them smiling, I had the feeling I must be in a magazine shoot.

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Chasing gangsters in Wisconsin

In lakes country, tourists still love to see where infamous crooks relaxed.

In 1920, northern Wisconsin already was a playground for people from Chicago.

And when Prohibition flung open the door to organized crime, its remote lakes and forests became even more attractive to a certain kind of Chicagoan.

Al Capone had a fortified summer home on a lake near Hayward, to which hydroplanes flew whiskey from Canada.

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Swinging through northern Wisconsin: Minocqua

For nearly a century, golfers have relished the woods and lakes between Sayner and Rhinelander.

The woods and waters of north central Wisconsin offer some of the best vacation opportunities in the Midwest.

Stretching from Hayward in the west to Minocqua in the east, you will find fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and Friday fish fries.

There's also a little bar at nearly every intersection — sometimes, two.

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