A Weekend Cabin Adventure in Wisconsin

One mom, three boys, and endless outdoor activities

He wanted to quit when he nearly tipped but he found his courage while we followed in the paddle boat.

Wisconsin is known for a lot of things: Green Bay Packers, water parks, Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, music festivals, and of course, cheese—oodles of cheese. There’s something else that the Dairy Capital of the World is notorious for: vacations, specifically weekend getaways that involve a rental house and freshwater. Wisconsin has around 15,000 lakes. I decided to check out the cabin experience myself on a trip to Northwest Wisconsin, and I brought along the three toughest critics I have: my pint-size sons.

Road Trippin'
The drive from Chicago to Northwest Wisconsin is a little more than six hours. You can break the trip up with stops in Madison, Wisconsin Dells, and Chippewa Falls. Or, even better, if you have an extra hour, detour to the House on the Rock, which is the most eccentric and eclectic attraction you’ll ever see (the Infinity Room is insane). And, of course, you’ll want to stop for noshes along the way and pick up some of that celebrated cheese. Mousehouse Cheesehaus in Windsor, Market Square Cheese in Wisconsin Dells, and Miller’s Cheese House in Rice Lake are all good bets and all along the route.

This dirty little ice cream-eating boy, who filled his shoes with sand and went into the lake in his sweatpants, met a girl named Sage who taught him new fishing tricks.

Wendy Altschuler

This dirty little ice cream-eating boy, who filled his shoes with sand and went into the lake in his sweatpants, met a girl named Sage who taught him new fishing tricks.

Hello, Hayward
Our final destination was in Hayward at Treeland Resorts, located on the Chippewa Flowage, with access to 17,000 acres of water and more than 140 islands. The current iteration of this magical place dates back to 1912, with the inception of a dairy farm and logging sawmill, which led to the development of fishing camps, and then finally, the resort as it is today, operated by fifth generation family members. At Treeland Resorts, you can: unplug, fish, play a few arcade games, swing a paddle for Pickleball, go on a boat ride, swim in the pool, play at the contemporary playground, watch an outdoor movie, and enjoy a hearty Northwoods meal at the bar and restaurant. There are plenty of fishing events year-round, including Musky fly-fishing in the fall and ice fishing in the winter.

While at Treeland Resorts, my boys were able to run around with new friends who were also visiting. They went fishing off the pier, kayaking, paddle boating, and swimming. We played games of volleyball and tetherball. Fun was had by all. Make no mistake about it, Treeland Resorts is all about families.

About Town
Other fun happenings in Hayward include: Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, formed by the receding glaciers; Scheer’s Lumberjack Shows, which includes a family-friendly comedy show and lumbering history; Spider Lake Ranch Riding Stable, which offers guided forest trail rides in the Spider Lake area; and Wilderness Walk Zoo and Recreation Park, which showcases farmland, wild and domestic animals, walking trails, a petting zoo, a Western town, and nibbles and noshes.

Related

I will never regret traveling with my boys-even if it means I have to drive 13 hours round-trip alone from Chicago, break up umpteen fights, and hear “mama, mama, mama, mama” on an endless loop. On this mother-sons trip, we saw an eagle take flight while kayaking; played UNO, Life, and Sorry; went swimming in the lake; and had a late-night dance and singing party. Even though the weekend was short and sweet, we hope to return someday and bond over stinky wiggling little fish, cheese curds, and sweaty family dog piles.