By Becca Bartling and Elizabeth Gering | Courtesy Northerly Collective/Photographed By April Zelenka
Welcome to The North. Pull out a map and everyone has a different idea of where Wisconsin’s North Woods or “Up North” is.
We call Manitowish Waters and the surrounding area home. It is here, just a quick 3.5-hour drive north from Madison, where the four-lane highway becomes two and the land is dotted with quaint towns and log cabins, that the quintessential North Woods experience awaits you.
Winter is one of the North Woods’ best kept secrets. Frozen lakes and snow-covered pines create an enchanting landscape for adventures. Explore miles of groomed trails, cozy up in front of a fireplace, and enjoy the serenity without the summer crowds. We’ve designed a few weekend escapes that will create endless memories and those cozy cabin vibes you’ll be dreaming of come Monday morning. With stop lights and city life in the rearview mirror, come explore the magic of Northern Wisconsin this winter.
The Perfect Couples Getaway:
Nestled beneath towering pines, near downtown Boulder Junction, are the log cabins of Big Bear Hideaway—the perfect place for a couples getaway. Start the day with breakfast at The Outdoorsman, a short walk from your cabin door. Hit the trails together for a cross-country ski, snowshoe, or fat tire bike adventure at WinMan Trails in Winchester, with miles of groomed trails. Warm up with craft beer and wood fired pizza at Aqualand Ale House, then spend the afternoon relaxing by the fire with a book or browsing the shops in downtown Boulder Junction. End the evening with a romantic candlelit dinner at The Guide’s Inn—save room for their famous homemade ice cream.
With The Family:
Pack up your family car with all things winter for a weekend of fun at Aberdeen Cabins in Manitowish Waters. Arrive on Friday night to skate under the lights at North Lakeland School’s outdoor ice rink, then head next door to Aberdeen Restaurant and Bar for a traditional Wisconsin Friday night fish fry. Spend the weekend outside—go sledding, have an old-fashioned snowball fight, or build a snow fort at the cabin. After the sun sets across the frozen lake, gather the family for a night of board games and a campfire— s’mores included. Check the community calendar for local events like a candlelit snowshoe, fat tire bike demo, or an ice fishing tournament.
Where nostalgic vibes meet modern charm, The White House is a 1930s farmhouse nestled on 160 acres in Presque Isle and the perfect place to gather a group of old friends. Start your day with a cup of coffee and a private yoga class, followed by a healthy breakfast around the family table. Snowshoe through evergreen forests at North Lakeland Trails as snowflakes fall from the sky. Wander through downtown Manitowish Waters for a bit of shopping and enjoy local favorites—the Sunday Bloody Mary bar at The Pea Patch, hand-stirred ice cream drinks at Little Bohemia Lodge, and a Fireball old fashioned cocktail at Aurora Borealis Restaurant.
A Solo Vacation to Relax:
For a weekend to recharge, book a room with a fireplace at The Lodge at Manitowish Waters. Pamper yourself at The Spa at Manitowish Waters, located just around the corner. Enjoy the silence of the winter woods on a snowshoe at North Lakeland Discovery Center, and then cozy up at Dixie’s Coffee House with a mug of coffee, a good book and the sweeping lake views. Listen to live piano music while you eat a dinner at the bar at Smokey’s Supper Club, or sit by the fire with a glass of wine and dessert at Chippewa Retreat Resort.
Bring The Pups!
If you prefer a vacation that includes the entire family (pups included!), check into There + Back Again Cabin in Presque Isle. With stunning lake views, cathedral ceilings, and plenty of space, here’s the perfect spot to cozy up for the weekend. Grab breakfast at Aurora Borealis Restaurant on your way to WinMan Trails to exercise the pups. Trails are groomed for skiing, snowshoeing, and fat tire biking so you could spend the whole day tiring out your favorite four-legged friend. Grab a pizza from Angler’s Restaurant, or make a pot of chili to enjoy as you snuggle in for the night.
Gather A Group:
The North Woods is the best place to disconnect from city life and reconnect with friends. Lakeside Lodge in Presque Isle allows up to 18 of your closest friends to have a winter weekend full of snow, campfires, group meals and fun. Stock up on food, drinks, and games to stay on the property or use the cabin as a home base for adventures across the North Woods. Ice fish on Presque Isle Lake; rent snowmobiles and ride to Bent’s Camp for lunch; or downhill ski in Big Snow Country, located just 45 minutes north.
For rental cabins visit bigbearhideaway.com, northwoodshomerentals.com, aberdeencabins.com and lodgemw.com. Rent skis, snowshoes or fat tire bikes through Coontail Sports or Chequamegon Adventure Company.