Many Milwaukeeans only know these wild regions north of the city through the sheltered world of summer cabins and lakeside retreats, but there’s plenty of cool stuff going on. Here are just a few interesting places to stop in Washburn County when making a northwest passage.
Jack Links Outlet Store
Jerked beef has always been the best kind of beef, especially when it comes to Jack Link’s, a homegrown Wisco brand. Minong is home to the original Jack Link’s headquarters and has an outlet store that sells all your favorite Jack Link’s products. Sure, you can get some beef jerky at almost any store, but you can’t get a Feed Your Wild Side t-shirt, some teriyaki jerky chew or even Jack Link’s patented Screamin’ Demon Pickled Sausage everywhere. After you fill up a bag with all the beefy goods you could ever want, stop by the large cutout of Sasquatch out front and take a picture messin’ with it.
Tubing Down a Lazy River
If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Milwaukee, the rivers and streams of Washburn County are calling your name. Tubing, a specialized athletic activity that involves lying in a flotation device and letting the current carry you down the river, is available at Jack’s Canoe Rental in Trego. It’s inexpensive and guarantees 3-5 hours of prime floating-and-contemplating time. Also, if you want to drink in the woods, here’s a classy way to do that.
The World’s Largest Muskie
This attraction is technically just over the Washburn County border, in Hayward. When you’re cruising down WI-27 gazing at the horizon, you might just spot the faint glimmer of a monstrous fish tail. Pull onto the side road, follow it toward the water and you’ll come upon the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, home of the world’s largest fiberglass sculpture — a gigantic muskie. Take a minute to gaze in awe at this wonder of human industry and then, if fishing is your forte, head into the museum to explore the nautical exhibits.
The restaurant situation in Washburn County is diverse and occasionally frustrating. Milwaukeeans accustomed to strolling through the Third Ward or along 2nd St. and finding dozens of great options within one square mile might initially scoff at the spread between restaurants up north. In the town centers, you’ll find your normal chain restaurants (you can always just go to McDonald’s!), but once you get out into the country, you have to search for the best spots along the lonely roads. My top recommendation is Tracks, a family restaurant in Spooner. It has a bar — of both the alcohol and salad variety — and serves a solid selection of burgers, sandwiches and all your other classic fare, perfect for lunch or dinner. Get fries with your meal — they’re awesome.