Monthly Archives: May 2012

May 30, 2012

Delve Into Wisconsin History this Summer

Three local history museums that are worth the trip

Summer is a great time to explore the history of the Badger State. Throughout Wisconsin, you’ll find local history museums that tell the story of the state’s people and communities.  In a state that is blessed with hundreds of outstanding local history museums, these three are among the very best.

The Logging Museum
Logging Museum in Rhinelander, WisconsinDiscover the world of the turn-of-the-century lumberjack at the Logging Museum in Rhinelander. Every manner of logging tool is on display here, along with photographs and exhibits illuminating the world of the lumberjack in the late 19th century.

The highlight of the museum is the 1870s lumberjack camp, complete with bunkhouse, cook shanty and blacksmith shop. You’ll get sense of what it was like to have lived and worked in the great forests of northern Wisconsin in a time before modern roads, plumbing and electricity.

For the Wisconsin history buff, the Logging Museum is a must-see attraction. The museum is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, 10am to 5pm daily. Learn more about the Logging Museum.

The Old Courthouse Museum

Old Courthouse Museum in West Bend, Wisconsin

Photo: Chad Moerecki

Widely thought to be one of the finest local history museums in the Midwest, the Old Courthouse Museum in West Bend is also hard to miss. The museum is housed in a tall, red-brick courthouse built in 1889 in the Richardson Romanesque Revival style. It’s the most prominent and beautiful building in town.

Inside, visitors will find the story of the people of Washington County told through artifacts and photographs. The museum’s exhibits begin with the ice age glaciers that shaped the landscape and continue on through the Industrial Age. If you’re hungry for more history, be sure to visit the Old Jailhouse Museum next door.

The Old Courthouse Museum is open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11am to 5pm, Saturday from 9am to 1pm and Sunday from 1pm to 4:30pm. Find out more about this outstanding museum.

Middleton Historical Museum
Middleton Historical Museum in Middleton, WisconsinThe Middleton Historical Museum is housed in a historic brick home built in 1868. This small museum contains information and artifacts donated by Middleton’s earliest settlers. You’ll also find one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Depression glass in the Midwest, featuring more than 150 identified glass patterns. The museum’s carriage house features a life-size horse and doctor’s buggy, as well as a variety of early farm implements and tools.

The Middleton Historical Museum is open from 1pm to 4pm Tuesdays and Saturdays from mid-April through mid-October. Additional exhibits can be found in Middleton’s Old Train Depot, which is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, and from 10am to 2pm on Saturday. Get complete information about the museum.


May 24, 2012

Dive into Summer

Two beautiful Badger State beaches

Looking to cool off this summer? Try these two Wisconsin beaches for an old-fashioned swimmin’ hole experience.

Sunset Lake

Swimmers in Stevens PointSunset Lake Park near Stevens Point is the perfect place for a swim this summer. Located on 18 acres near the charming community of Amherst, the park is a haven for swimmers and sunbathers seeking the smooth sand and clean, cool waters of 63-acre Sunset Lake. If you’re looking to dive into the water this summer, this might be one of the best beaches in Wisconsin.

Crystal Lake

Crystal Lake in Boulder JunctionLocated in the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest near Boulder Junction, the Crystal Lake is a blue gem amid the dark green forests. The clear water, long sandy beach and towering pines form a sort of Northwoods paradise. The perfect way to experience Crystal Lake is by riding your bike along the Crystal Lake Trail from Boulder Junction and then diving into the lake to cool off. It doesn’t get any better than that.


May 24, 2012

Great Golf Bargains

These municipal courses rank among the best in the Badger State

Golf can be expensive. But it doesn’t have to be. A number of municipal courses offer golf that is both affordable and high-quality. This summer, play these three Wisconsin municipal courses and find out why challenging golf, great scenery and first-rate greens are not just for the rich.

Northwood Golf Club

Northwood Golf CourseNorthwood Golf Course in Rhinelander is one of Wisconsin’s best golf courses. This 18-hole municipal course opened in 1989 and quickly became one of the top places to play in the state. Surrounded by white pines, the course spreads out in rolling green waves. It’s a beautiful place to play

Northwood offers great golf with superb wildlife viewing thrown in for good measure. Bald eagles are often seen overhead and deer frequently wander out onto the course. Several times each year, a black bear will make an appearance. Golfing in northern Wisconsin is a different kind of experience.

Lakeshore Municipal Golf Course

Oshkosh is one of northeast Wisconsin’s very best. The course has been around for more than 90 years, with a facelift completed in 2001. Affordable and scenic, it’s a course well worth checking out.

Much of the 18-hole course’s layout overlooks the Fox River. It’s a peaceful place to play. After an afternoon on the greens, head to the clubhouse to relax and soak up views of the river. Lakeshore is sure to become one of your favorite courses.

Pleasant View Golf Course

Pheasant View Golf CoursePleasant View Golf Course in Middleton offers an 18-hole course and a highly scenic, 9-hole par-three course. In addition to excellent play, the course affords golfers panoramic views of Lake Mendota and the City of Madison.

After swinging your clubs and taking in a view that includes the Wisconsin State Capitol, head to the clubhouse. The newly remodeled clubhouse is a great place to grab a drink and a bite to eat after a round of some of the best golf you’ll find in the state.


May 24, 2012

Only In Wisconsin

Visit Wisconsin’s most interesting and eccentric attractions this summer

Take a trip across the Badger State and you’ll find an astonishing assortment of fun things to see and do. You can bike, walk and wander through acres upon acres of state parks and natural areas, filled with scenic beauty and copious wildlife. Launch your boat or canoe on thousands of inland lakes. Experience the lively cultural scene happening in historic opera houses, performing arts centers and museums.

But, the best thing about traveling across Wisconsin is the surprises you’ll find. Quirky and unique, these four attractions are among the most fun and interesting in the Midwest.

Kovac Planetarium

The clear skies of northern Wisconsin are a boon to stargazers, but what happens when fog rolls in or clouds obstruct the constellations? That’s the problem Frank Kovac wanted to solve in 1996 when he started building his own planetarium near Rhinelander. The result of Frank’s decade of hard work is the Kovac Planetarium, a two-ton, 22-foot diameter, electrically driven globe planetarium that shows every star – painted by hand by Frank himself – in Wisconsin’s night sky.

National Mustard Museum

Mustard MuseumKetchup fans visiting Middleton are out of luck – the condiment celebrated by the local museum in this Madison suburb is mustard. Inside the National Mustard Museum, you’ll find a whopping 5,400 types of mustard from all over the world – all 50 states and more than 70 countries – as well as mustard memorabilia, antiques and more. And, there are endless opportunities to sample new Dijons, yellows and plenty of other varieties in the museum’s store. Don’t miss National Mustard Day, August 4, when all of Middleton celebrates the beloved condiment.

Stevens Point Area’s Breweries

Oso's Tap HouseWisconsin’s rich brewing culture is alive and well in the Stevens Point Area, home of three working breweries. The Stevens Point Brewery – the nation’s fifth oldest continually operating brewery – shares the spotlight with up-and-comers like O’so in Plover and Central Waters in Amherst. Each brewery has its own unique features. Point Brewery sits in the same residential neighborhood it has occupied since 1857. The tap room at O’so Brewery boasts a rotating selection of three dozen Wisconsin taps. Central Waters Brewery is the state’s first green-powered brewery. Each of the three breweries offer fantastic beer and a warm, welcoming atmosphere.

Fred Scheer’s Lumberjack Shows, Oneida County

Scheer’s Lumberjack Shows are a summertime staple in the Minocqua area in Oneida County. These action-packed shows run five days a week from June through August to the delight of summer visitors and year-round residents alike. The audience will see a wide array of lumberjack feats, including log rolling, power sawing, pole climbing and axe throwing. Expect plenty of thrills and a lot of wood chips.


May 23, 2012

Wildlife Viewing Basics

Where, when and how to see more animals when you’re in the woods

Seeing wildlife is one of the most exciting aspects of being in the forest in Wisconsin. For most outdoors enthusiasts, seeing white-tailed deer, wild turkey, black bear and other large animals is a matter of chance. But, you can greatly increase your opportunities to see Wisconsin wildlife if you better understand the habits and habitat of woodland animals. Here are some basic principles that will help you see more animals when you’re in the woods.

  • Sunrises and Sunsets – Animals such as deer, turkey and bear are most active at dawn and dusk. These are transition periods for animals, times when they are on the move between their sleeping areas and feeding areas. And, it is during these low-light periods that animals feed most heavily.
  • Edges Are Best – Places where forests meet lakes, meadows, wetlands, farm fields or rivers are where animals spend most of their time. It is at these edges that essential resources are most concentrated, including water, green leafy plants, grasses and farm crops. Wary woodland creatures also hang close to the treeline so they can escape to the safety of the forest at any sign of danger.
  • Be Quiet –The sound of a car door slamming shut announces to the forest creatures that it’s time to run and hide. Cracking twigs underfoot as you march through the woods frightens animals as well. Go slowly through the forest. Sticking to paths is a good way to make quiet progress through the woods. Some of Wisconsin’s best wildlife viewing can be found along well-marked nature trails.
  • Be Still – Forest animals have ultra-sensitive hearing, keen eyesight and a sense of smell that is astonishing. Being still allows you to be quiet and blend into the background. It also keeps your scent from being spread about and carried by the wind. When you’re standing still, you’re just another object in the woods. Many wildlife enthusiasts report instances where curious animals have walked right up to them as they stood still.
  • Dress Drably – Wear clothing that matches your surroundings. In the forest, that means drab colors like browns and olive greens. Camouflage is ideal.
  • Ask Around – Forest animals are creatures of habit. Herds of deer will leave the forest and enter the same farm field night after night. Wild turkey and ruffed grouse will roost in the same trees nightly. And, black bear are known to return regularly to places where they can find food. Ask the locals about the best places to see wildlife. You’ll discover where the big bucks are feeding, wolves are howling, bald eagles are nesting and beavers are building their dams. You’ll find that most people you meet on your forest adventures love wildlife as much as you do—and they’re more than happy to share their insight and knowledge.

Find great destinations for viewing woodland wildlife, including Black River Falls, Boulder Junction, Middleton, Onalaska, Oneida County, Oshkosh, Rhinelander, Rusk County, Stevens Point Area, Vilas County, West Bend, and the Wisconsin Great River Road.