Tagged in Mississippi River

April 30, 2014

State Bike Trails to Ride this Spring

Wisconsin is home to dozens of excellent state bike trails. Most of these trails are built atop railway beds, making them quite level. The surface makes this type of trail ideal for riders of every ability level. Here are four of Wisconsin’s best state bike trails.

West Bend Bike Trail

Eisenbahn State Trail – West Bend

The name of this 25-mile trail comes from the German word for railroad. The five-mile section of the trail that passes through West Bend is paved, making the Eisenbahn suitable for every type of bicycle. See the peaceful, rural countryside filling with green color as spring remakes the landscape. As the trail runs northward from West Bend, it passes just west of the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, a storybook landscape of ridges and rolling green hills.

Learn more about the Eisenbahn and other West Bend trails.

Wiouwash Trail

Wiouwash State Trail – Oshkosh

The Wiouwash State Trail is the perfect place for a spring ride. The trail runs north from Oshkosh for 22 miles, passing through wetlands, prairies, patches of forest and sprawling farmland. The southernmost trailhead is located in Oshkosh at Westwind Drive. This trailhead is linked to Oshkosh’s Riverwalk via a series of local trails. That means a bicyclist starting in downtown Oshkosh can head straight out into the country, traveling along bike paths the entire way.

Learn more about the Wiouwash State Trail.

Oneida Bike Trail

Bearskin State Trail – Oneida County

Pedal through the pines on the Bearskin State Trail. This 18-mile trail runs through classic white pine forests. The lakes and streams that the trail traverses are crossed by 13 train trestles. The trail surface is composed of compacted granite and is perfect for most types of bicycles. The trail was once the corridor through which trains hauled white pine logs out of Wisconsin’s northern forests. Today, it’s a haven for woodland birds and other wildlife.

Get a map of the Bearskin and other Oneida County trails.

Oneida Bike Trail

Great River State Trail – Onalaska

Following the course of the Mississippi River, the Great River State Trail offers views of the river as well as the towering bluffs. The trail passes over 18 different waterways and crosses the Black River on a 287-foot former railroad trestle. The trail begins in the friendly community of Onalaska and runs for 24 miles to the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge – a great place to hop off your bike and spend some time on the refuge’s wetland observation deck. This is one of the best rides in Wisconsin and arguably the Midwest.

Learn more about the Great River State Trail.


March 19, 2014

Spring Shopping Escapes

MID businesses shops 42

Go on a shopping getaway this spring. Wisconsin offers some great shopping destinations with a variety of shops and affordable lodging options. Go bargain hunting at outlet stores. Visit fun and quirky galleries filled with interesting artwork. Shop brand-name retailers offering the latest styles. Here are four of Wisconsin’s best shopping destinations.


Conveniently located just 90 minutes north of Milwaukee on Highway 41, the Outlet Shoppes at Oshkosh are just a short drive away from millions of Wisconsin shoppers. This outlet mall is home to more than 40 brand-name stores selling everything from footwear to kitchenware. Men’s clothing offerings include Brooks Brothers Factory Store, Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store, Van Heusen and Tommy Hilfiger. Women’s clothing retailers include rue21, Dress Barn, Maurices and Christopher & Banks Outlet. And everyone will love the GAP Outlet, Old Navy, Pac Sun, Aeropostale, Bass, Eddie Bauer Outlet, Jockey, Levi’s Outlet Store and Lands’ End Inlet. Children’s apparel can be found at American Girl, Carter’s Childrenswear, Gymboree Outlet, Justice, Oshkosh B’Gosh and The Children’s Place Outlet.

Get fashionable footwear at Bass, Famous Footwear Outlet, Nine West and Skechers. And, for the athletically inclined, there’s Nike Factory Store and Under Armour.  Foodies will love kitchenware and culinary-related merchandise on display at Le Gourmet Chef, Kitchen Collection and Corningware Corelle & More.

There’s something for everyone at this huge mall. Plus, downtown Oshkosh offers interesting shops and galleries, and the community is home to the EAA AirVenture Museum, the Oshkosh Public Museum and the Paine Art Center and Gardens. Plan your Oshkosh shopping getaway today.


Located just minutes from Madison, Middleton is a popular place to stay when visiting the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, downtown Madison and the Wisconsin State Capitol. And, with dozens of shops, it’s also a great place to go shopping.

Greenway Station is a shopping and dining complex featuring landscaped walkways and a fountain. The mix of shops and restaurants makes it a relaxing place to spend the day. National clothing retailers include Chico’s, Christopher & Banks, C.J. Banks, Coldwater Creek, J. Jill, Jos. A. Bank, Justice Just for Girls, LOFT, Marshalls, Maurices and White House|Black Market. You’ll find home furnishings at the Ashley Furniture HomeStore and World Market. Specialty shops include Archiver’s, Bath & Body Works, Claire’s, Endurance House, Erehwon Mountain Outfitter, Francesca’s Collections, Soma Intimates, Sprint and Michaels. Grab a bite to eat at Bison Jack’s, Cheeseburger in Paradise, Claddagh Irish Pub, Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse, Tanner’s Bar & Grill and TGI Fridays. There’s also a Cold Stone Creamery and a Starbucks.

Middleton offers seven hotels, three of which are Travel Green Certified. Get complete information for planning your trip to Middleton this spring.


This spring, relax in Onalaska on the Mississippi River. This friendly river town offers wonderful views of the Mississippi River as well as and fishing and boating on Lake Onalaska, a 7,700-acre pool on the river. Onalaska is also home to the largest shopping district in a nine-county area and a variety of comfortable and affordable hotels. This, coupled with easy access from I-90, makes Onalaska one of the easiest and most convenient getaway destinations in the state.

Onalaska’s Valley View Mall is home to more than 90 retailers. Major department stores include Sears, Macy’s, JC Penney and Herbergers. The mall is also home to a large Barnes & Noble. Clothing retailers include Gap, Hollister, Aeropostale, American Eagle, Buckle, rue21, Hot Topic, Zumiez and Express/Express Men. Footwear can be found at Finish Line and Foot Locker.  You’ll also find five children’s clothing stores, seven jewelry stores and ten restaurants, including a Chuck E. Cheese’s. That’s just a few of the 90 retailers that call Valley View Mall home.

While you’re in Onalaska, take a bike ride or walk along the 24-mile Great River State Trail, which follows the Mississippi River. Start planning your trip to Onalaska.


Located in the pine forests of northern Wisconsin and surrounded by crystal clear lakes, Boulder Junction is the classic Northwoods vacation destination. It’s famous for its musky fishing as well as its excellent system of paved and unpaved bike trails. The community also boasts a number of interesting shops.

One of the most eclectic shops in the Northwoods is Moondeer and Friends. The gallery displays regional, contemporary fine art and handmade items. They also carry antiques and artifacts from around the world. The shop is open May through December.

Firemouth Pottery and Gallery showcases the pottery of owner Bill Karaffa. His pottery is characterized by extraordinary coloration and elegant shapes. The gallery also includes the works of several other artists and craftspeople. You’ll find hand-blown glass, etchings, prints and oil paintings.

Other Boulder Junction shops include Blueberry Patch, Boulder Junction Trading Company, Alder Lake Cranberry Gift Shop, The Frog House, Peeplelures, Stormy Kromer and the sporting goods shop Coontail Play in Style. Don’t miss this fun little community of shops and galleries. Find Boulder Junction resorts, motels, cabins, cottages and more.

These are just four Wisconsin shopping destinations. For more places to shop this spring, visit witravelbestbets.com.




September 13, 2013

Where the Walleye Lurk: Great Fall Walleye Destinations

During the summer month, it seems that walleyes only bite when it’s cloudy, rainy or windy. In the fall, that changes. Some of the best fall walleye fishing days are bright, sunny and calm. For the walleye angler who has worked hard all summer long to put fish in the boat, fall can be a real treat.

Fall fishing

This fall, you can’t go wrong with any of these four walleye destinations.

Oshkosh on Lake Winnebago

Lake Winnebago is the king of all Wisconsin walleye fisheries. At 138,000 acres, a walleye angler could spend a lifetime fishing this lake. The two techniques that catch the most fish during the fall are jigging and trolling. Look for walleye near mid-lake humps and depressions. Fall can bring some tremendous catches.

Boulder Junction’s 194 Lakes

This resort town is best known as a musky hotspot. However, nearly all of the lakes that dot this quiet little corner of Wisconsin hold walleye. In fact, the clean, clear waters of Boulder Junction hold some hefty fish. Even some of the smaller, lesser-known lakes in the area offer good walleye fishing. Plus, the fall color is spectacular here.

Lake Onalaska and the Mississippi River

The community of Onalaska is set on the banks of 7,700-acre Lake Onalaska, one of the best fishing holes on the entire Mississippi River. Each fall, the walleye fishing heats up on this complex of channels, sloughs and sprawling backwaters. The best walleye fishing can be found near current.

Lake Du Bay in the Stevens Point Area

Just a short drive north of Stevens Point you’ll find the 6,800-acre Lake Du Bay, an enormous impoundment on the Wisconsin River. Look for walleye near old river channels. Jigging is the method of choice here. Don’t be surprised if you hook into a smallmouth bass or even one of the lake’s muskies.


October 5, 2012

Business spotlight: Wisconsin Great River Road

Traveling along the Wisconsin Great River Road? Learn more about these businesses along the scenic byway that skirts the Mississippi River.

Smith Brothers Landing is a delightful shop offering beautiful, handmade artwork. Set on the shores of Lake Pepin, the exterior of the shop has a storybook quality that belies the wonderful artwork you’ll find inside. The highlight of the shop is the hand-wrought steel and glass sculptures made by owner Dave Smith.

Pepin’s Dockside Mercantile is also right on Lake Pepin and offers clothing, books, gifts and a variety of local products.

When you’re looking for lodging along the Wisconsin Great River Road, be sure to stop at the Great River Amish Inn in Pepin. The inn is located across the street from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, and each room boasts solid-oak handmade Amish furniture.


October 3, 2012

At the Mississippi River’s Front Door

Lake Onlaska (Dean Klinkenberg)

Editor’s note: As part of Wisconsin Travel Best Bets’ Shift Your Gears campaign, we asked bloggers, writers and photographers to visit destinations across Wisconsin and share their experiences. Today, Dean Klinkenberg of mississippivalleytraveler.com talks about Onalaska, the Sunfish Capital of the World.

Onalaska is at the heart of Wisconsin’s Great River Road and is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and good food. While most of the city’s growth has been in recent decades, Onalaska has a long history. Thomas Rowe, who plucked the town’s name from The Pleasures of Hope by Thomas Campbell, arrived here in 1851 to sate the thirst of the hard-working and hard-living men employed in the lumber mills of the Black River Valley. From 1855 to 1899, over 6 billion board feet of lumber floated down the Black River to Onalaska’s mills, enough to build about 2 million ranch houses.

The forests were depleted by 1900, and Onalaska’s economy gradually shifted to light manufacturing and agriculture. In recent years, Onalaska has also developed a strong retail economy. Today’s visitors will find that Onalaska offers many recreational opportunities, particularly along the Black and Mississippi Rivers, the places where the city began.

Getting Outside

The wide expanse of water to the west of town is known as Lake Onalaska, but it is formed from the Mississippi and Black Rivers. The lake was created when Lock and Dam 7 was completed in the 1930s, flooding low-lying sections of French Island and obscuring what was once the Black River channel along the east side of French Island. The lake is very popular with folks who like to fish: in winter, ice fishing shacks spread out across the section between French Island and Brice Prairie. You can get great views from the overlooks on Highway 35, or, even better, on the water with your own boat or by renting a canoe or kayak from Schafer’s Boats and Bait in Brice Prairie.

Onalaska Center for Commerce & Tourism (1101 Main Street).


Van Loon Wildlife Area (Dean Klinkenberg)

Van Loon Wildlife Area is a peaceful 4,000 acres of marshy Black River floodplain with a diverse population of birds and easy hiking. The preserve is also known for six rare bowstring arch truss bridges built between 1905 and 1908.

Eating and Drinking

If you’re going to be active, you’ll need some food to fuel your efforts. Nutbush City Limits is a favorite among locals for affordable food that is generously portioned, especially during breakfast. The Blue Moon Saloon and Roadhouse offers a relaxing dinner with impressive views of Lake Onalaska.

You can buy fresh, local products at a number of places in the area. The Onalaska Farmers Market operates on Sundays from 8am to 1pm (June through October) at the Crossing Meadows Shopping Center. You’ll also find a number of roadside stands and orchards from Holmen to Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge (primarily along Highway 35) selling berries, apples, tomatoes, squash, and other seasonal fruit and vegetables. Holmen Locker and Meats, about five miles north of Onalaska, is known for their homemade jerky, especially the beef varieties, and for stocking local and regional food products.

If you’re staying overnight in the area, Perrot State Park in Trempealeau has a large campground with electric and basic sites. If you want some pampering, the Lumber Baron Inn Bed and Breakfast in Onalaska is right on the river. All six rooms have a private bath.