Wisconsin is bordered by two Great Lakes, dotted with 15,000 inland lakes and crisscrossed by 84,000 miles of rivers and streams. Our adventure-ready waterways are perfect for paddling, fishing and boating. Here’s to fun on the water this summer.
Traverse the newly designated Great Pinery Heritage Waterway (North Central Wisconsin)
The Great Pinery Heritage Waterway is a paddler’s paradise in the heart of north-central Wisconsin. The 108-mile route was designated a state water trail just last year. The water trail flows on the Wisconsin River and its tributaries from Oneida County in the north to Portage County in the south.
You’ll travel through scenic and remote forests as well as urban areas like Wausau, where you can stop off to enjoy creature comforts before continuing the journey. For mid-paddle refreshments in Wausau, visit Whitewater Music Hall. This family-owned business is part brewery, part art gallery and part music venue. It’s minutes away from the Wisconsin River. You’ll find a menu with house-brewed beers, small plates and appetizers, and other craft beverages, such as locally roasted coffee and Wisconsin wines.
The Great Pinery Heritage Waterway has 35 landings, which makes it easy to plan out a shorter day trip or a longer, multi-day adventure. Enjoy other outdoor rec activities along the way, too. The waterway is tremendous for birdwatching, fishing and hiking!
Catch mount-worthy fish off the Lake Michigan coast (Ozaukee County)
For an ocean-like experience here in Wisconsin, book a charter fishing excursion on Lake Michigan this summer. Head to Port Washington where Nicky Boy Charters operates four fishing boats out of the city’s picturesque marina.
They run charter fishing trips seven days a week, which are led by one of five experienced captains. Everyone is welcome to enjoy a day fishing on Lake Michigan, regardless of skill level. Nicky Boy Charters will provide the latest fishing equipment and gear you need, and the boats are equipped with state-of-the-art technology for locating fish. You’ll angle for freshwater salmon and trout. Once you land your catch, Nicky Boy Charters will clean and process your fish for no additional cost.
Pair your charter fishing adventure with a stay at The Harborview in Port Washington. This lakeside hotel is just steps away from the unique shops and restaurants in the historic downtown. You’ll enjoy modern, spacious guestrooms and spectacular views of the marina.
Surround yourself in wilderness on the Namekagon River (Northwest Wisconsin)
Dubbed Wisconsin’s Moving National Park, the Namekagon River in northwest Wisconsin is a nearly 100-mile stretch of river with exceptional paddling. The river is protected as part of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway and cuts through mostly undeveloped land. You’ll get a genuine wilderness experience on the Namekagon River.
Along the riverbanks, expect to see wildlife like deer, muskrats, beavers and turtles, and if you look skyward, you’ll often find eagles and ospreys overhead. No canoe or kayak? That’s no problem. There are several outfitters along the length of the river you can rent one from. There are numerous primitive campsites along the Namekagon to pitch a tent, including some that can only be accessed by water.
You’ll also find plenty of traditional campgrounds and resorts along the river to relax after a long day of paddling, such as The Log Cabin Resort in Trego. If you’re paddling through Trego, pop out of the water for a bite to eat at Hub’s Riverbend Restaurant & Bar. You’ll find comforting burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and more to fuel up for your paddling trip.
Start your summer getaway at TravelWisconsin.com