Three to See: Rhinelander

Rhinelander HodagYou’ve made the decision to hit the open road and visit one (or all) of our dozen unique destinations. So what are you going to do once you get there? Here are three local highlights to help you plan your trip.

1. The Hodag. Rhinelander, a city of about 7,700 people in northern Wisconsin’s Oneida County, is home to a fabled beast (emphasis on “fabled”) called the Hodag, which boasts the head of a frog, the face of an elephant, thick, short legs with huge claws, horns and a spiked tail. Since its “discovery” in 1893, the creature has become part of Rhinelander’s culture – the Hodag is the mascot of the town’s high school and Rhinelander holds an annual music event in July called the Hodag Country Festival. Visitors can get their picture taken with a sculpture of the beast when they stop at the Visitor Center on Highway 8. 450 W. Kemp St., Rhinelander; (715) 365-7464; www.explorerhinelander.com

2. Oneida County Courthouse. Built in 1910, the Oneida County Courthouse in Rhinelander is famous for its Tiffany glass dome. The building was designed by a Manitowoc architect and was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. 1 S. Oneida Ave., Rhinelander; (715) 369-6157; www.co.oneida.wi.gov

3. Wisconsin River Cruises aboard the Wilderness Queen. Billed as “sightseeing at its finest,” Wisconsin River Cruises ferries passengers down the majestic Wisconsin River on a 76-foot, two-story excursion boat called the Wilderness Queen. Sightseeing tours – bring your camera, because you can see everything from bald eagles to otters – run from May through October, and dinner cruises run Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in the summer. Tours embark from Rhinelander and take guests southwest along the Wisconsin River to Hat Rapids. Highway 8 & 47, Rhinelander; (715) 369-7500; www.wisconsinrivercruises.com

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