Monthly Archives: May 2018

May 21, 2018

YOUR GUIDE TO OUTDOOR FAMILY FUN

Spring is an excellent time to get outdoors with your family! Check out these ways to enjoy Mother Nature with kids of any age:

Paddling

Rusk County is the perfect spot for family paddling and is home to four wild rivers: the Jump, Chippewa, Flambeau and Thornapple. The Chippewa River is a great place for families to launch a canoe or kayak. If you start at Bruce, where the Chippewa meets up with the Flambeau River, you can find about 18 miles of calm water great for beginners or families with younger kids. Bring your binoculars because loons, wood ducks and herons are common. Stop and do some fishing too – there are plenty of panfish for the little ones! And if you’re really into the outdoors, plan a camping trip – you’ll find rustic campsites along the river.

Biking

In Stevens Point, check out the 27-mile Green Circle Trail. It loops through the Stevens Point Area and connects with 45 miles of additional trails. It winds through forests and parks, over wetlands and along the Wisconsin and Plover rivers. The trail is mostly flat, so it’s good for all abilities. There are also large sections that are wheelchair accessible. Pack your binoculars, 245 different species of birds have been observed along this trail! If you don’t have your own bikes, there’s a company in Iverson Park near the trail that rents them, and there’s no fee to use the Green Circle.

Hiking

The Star Lake Nature Trail is located on a peninsula extending into Star Lake, in the town of the same name. More than a century ago, it was a pasture for horses that hauled logs to a nearby mill and was also one of the state’s first tree nurseries. Now, the trail is full of mature trees and winds along the shores of beautiful Star Lake. You’ll cross boardwalks and wildflower patches, a picnic area and a beach. You can choose from a mile-long interpretive nature trail or a 2.5 mile long hiking path, both manageable for younger kids. Keep your eyes peeled for eagles and loons, deer and porcupines.

Zoo Day

Marshfield is home to the free, 60-acre Wildwood Zoo. Here you’ll be free of long lines and you won’t need any reserved tickets, it’s an easy zoo to visit and enjoy. There are mountain lions, bobcats, timber wolves, bison, elk, raptors, prairie dogs and the stars of the show – twin Kodiak bears! These bears are a rarity for zoos and their exhibit is very impressive, giving them room to move and play in a natural environment. Visitors love to watch the bears splash, play, eat and climb.

Geocaching

West Bend is the Geocaching Capital of the Midwest, home to more than 1,600 geocaches! Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt where you search for hidden objects, called geocaches, using your smartphone. Kids love geocaching – it’s a great way to get them excited about working together, and while it’s challenging, they rarely get discouraged along the way. It’s a great way to enjoy nature because many of the geocaches are found in parks, on the trails, in the Kettle Moraine and along the Milwaukee River and Sculpture Walk.

Hiking/Biking/Birdwatching All in One

If you’ve got a crowd to please, check out Middleton! The city’s Phesant Branch Conservancy is 550 acres of protected land where you can hike, bike or birdwatch. You’re right in the middle of town, but surrounding by stillness and serenity. The conservancy is a mix of woodland, wetland and oak savannah, so the scenery is always changing as you make your way through. The creeks and ponds in the center of the preserve attract wading birds and waterfowl, while the marshes draw in ducks, herons, geese and cranes. Altogether, Pheasant Branch is home to more than 200 species of birds. Also look for turtles, mink, woodchucks, otters, fox, deer and turkey along the way. For the most part, the terrain is easy. Don’t miss Frederick’s Hill, a huge Native American burial mound which dates back about 2,000 years.

Heart-Pounding Outdoor Adventures

If you’ve always wanted to feel like you were flying, Northwoods Zip Line Adventures in Minocqua is the place to go. It’s the biggest zip line adventure course in Wisconsin and the Northwoods pine trees provide a beautiful canopy to zip under. There’s a smaller course for kids as young as three, and a more challenging course that includes nine zip lines, five adventure bridges to cross and the chance to zip 1,000 feet over a lake. While you’re flying, look for deer, eagles and other wildlife that call the area home. They also offer kayak tours, aerial trekking and an off-road ATV tour.

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May 17, 2018

Your Guide To Wisconsin’s Best Parades

 

 

Head to the parade route

Good times are marching down the street—stake out a place on the curb and get ready for a classic family-friendly parade. Parades have always been part of the community fabric in Wisconsin’s cities and towns, and they remain wonderful ways to celebrate summer in Wisconsin. Kids can catch candy by the handful while older spectators can enjoy a spectacle that will take them back to simpler times. Grab your blankets and lawn chairs. We’ve scoped out three classic parades you won’t want to miss this year.

Dairyfest Parade, Marshfield

June 2
Kick off all things June by celebrating all things dairy in Marshfield. Dairyfest runs from June 1-3 and includes a Mayor’s Dairyfest Breakfast, an old-fashioned picnic and movie in the park, and the “Cheese Chase” 2k and 5k runs. A highlight of the weekend is Saturday’s parade, which draws a lively, family-friendly crowd downtown. The parade features some great floats and marching bands—be sure to enjoy some refreshing Wisconsin ice cream as they pass by. It is Dairyfest, after all!

4th of July Parade, West Bend

July 4
The biggest collection of parade events each year takes place around Independence Day, and it’s a perfect time to take in the ambience of one of Wisconsin’s historic downtowns. West Bend is one of those places. Its annual parade takes over downtown, with a sea of red, white and blue, heading past the classic brick storefronts that have witnessed so many of these parades. When the parade’s over, head to a nearby restaurant or check out one of West Bend’s parks or museums. Stick around to enjoy fireworks at dusk.

Northland Mardi Gras, Rusk County

July 20-23
Rusk County is home to four beautiful rivers, so it’s natural that they hold a parade on the water. Each summer, the riverside city of Ladysmith holds a festival called Northland Mardi Gras. There are bands, live music, a car show, craft vendors, a beer garden and more. The star of the festival is the Venetian Parade. After dark, a collection of small decorated and lit barges that each hold a “princess” make their way up and down the river. Meanwhile, colorful fireworks explode overhead, their sparks reflected in the water. It’s a spectacle that’s been taking place here for generations—a uniquely Wisconsin experience that shouldn’t be missed.

 

 

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May 3, 2018

YOUR GUIDE TO WISCONSIN’S BEST OFFBEAT ART

Hodag Masterpiece

Sculptures that will make you smile

Travel through the Dairy State and you’ll find plenty of outdoor art, from legendary Northwoods creatures to unearthed relics of the Iron Age. These quirky masterpieces are perfect reasons to take a road trip (or a side trip), and they are selfie gold. Pay these unique works a visit—and don’t forget to get a picture!

Hodag Sculptures, Rhinelander

Rhinelander is home of the Hodag and if you set foot in this town, you’ll know why. The mythical creature has been a point of civic pride since it was first spotted lurking in the forest around here in the 1800s. Some say the Hodag is just a hoax, but one thing is certain—Rhinelander has a lot of fun celebrating this toothy legend. The community celebrates the Hodag with a giant statue that’s been erected at the Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce, which you’ll see as you head into town on Highway 8. Pay a visit to the Hodag and stop in the office to pick up some vacation information (and some Hodag swag!). You’ll also find other Hodag statues in restaurants and other businesses throughout Rhinelander.

Musical Frogs, West Bend

In West Bend, a trio of musical frogs is forever engaged in a jam session. It’s one of more than 40 public sculptures you’ll find in this art-loving city. The artists who created these sculptures include local, regional, national and international sculptors who worked in a variety of materials, including metals, stone and recycled objects. The sculptures include some pieces that were installed long ago, like “The Doughboy” sculpture that solemnly guards the grounds of the old Washington County Courthouse. The “Musical Frog Trio” is one of the more whimsical pieces. Grab your imaginary saxophone and join the jam! The sculpture is located on the Eisenbahn State Trail near the Museum of Wisconsin Art.

Jurustic Park, Marshfield

North of Marshfield, you’ll find a unique collection of quirky ”extinct” metal creatures. Welcome to Jurustic Park, a place that has to be seen to be believed. Clyde Wynia, creator of the park, enjoys paleontology and re-creates excavated creatures that he says inhabited the nearby marsh during the ”Iron” Age.  Check out the “Hobbit House,” featuring Nancy Wynia’s hand-blown glass jewelry and other craft items. 

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