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Network Health Blog

7 Hidden Gems to Visit in Wisconsin this Summer

governor thompson state park sunset over lake

By Jennifer Stubbe, wellness coordinator at Network Health and Kristy Fast, quality program coordinator at Network Health

Wisconsin is an incredible state with plenty to offer. From the lush forests of central Wisconsin to the rolling hills of the Driftless Region, you’ll find so much to see and do without having to cross the state’s border.

We’ve discovered seven hidden gems in Wisconsin along with a few things you can do while visiting each one. For each area, we’ll highlight an outdoor activity, great food and entertainment. With businesses taking precautions due to the coronavirus, hours and availability may vary. We recommend calling ahead or check social media for current updates.

Central Region – Stevens Point

Outdoor – Green Circle Trail (Stevens Point)

Walk, run, hike or bike through a 27-mile scenic trail looping through the Stevens Point area and connecting with over 45 miles of additional trails. Winding through forests and parks also traveling over wetlands and along rivers, the Green Circle Trail offers plenty of beautiful sights.

Food – 319 Bistro (Wausau)

Located in the heart of downtown Wausau, this charming bistro is one block south of the Grand Theater and the iconic 400 Block. Featuring an ever-changing selection of homemade soups, salads, sandwiches and ice-cream, you’ll likely find something new and delicious to enjoy.

Entertainment – Stevens Point Sculpture Park (Stevens Point)

This park showcases works of art along a scenic trail. Take a stroll through towering pines to discover a unique connection between nature and art. Sitting on 20-acres and connected to the Green Circle Trail, you’ll find artwork from local, regional and national artists. The park is always growing and changing. Visit throughout the year to explore exciting environmental art exhibitions, artist residencies, performance events and educational programming.

Northeast Region – Door County

Outdoor – Schoolhouse Beach Park (Washington Island)

Take the ferry to Washington Island to see a delightful beach with smooth limestone rocks instead of sand. Enjoy swimming, taking beautiful pictures and make extra special memories with a picnic.

Food – Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant (Sister Bay)

Be sure to visit this unique restaurant with a grass-covered roof for the signature goats to climb up and peacefully graze. The restaurant features a variety of Swedish foods including Swedish meatballs, sandwiches, salads and Swedish pancakes.

Entertainment – Cherry Lane Orchards (Sturgeon Bay)

Pick your own cherries on this 13-acre orchard. Cherry-picking begins mid-July and runs to mid-August.

Southeast Region – Port Washington

Outdoor – Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve (Grafton)

This nature preserve represents one of the last stretches of undeveloped bluff land along the Lake Michigan shoreline, from Mequon to Port Washington. You’ll find an expansive stretch of 90- to 100-foot bluffs looking out onto Lake Michigan, offering tremendous views. You can hike trails, walk through wetlands or have a picnic, all while enjoying the breathtaking views making you feel like you’ve been transported to the Atlantic.

Food – Beanies Mexican Restaurant (Port Washington)

This restaurant is not only home to delicious Mexican food, but it also features a giant tree in the middle with swings at the bar. Truly, this is a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

Entertainment – Holy Hill (Hubertus)

This beautiful church is built high atop a glacial hill. Some people come to admire the beautiful architecture, others come to worship or meditate. Either way, you’ll be in awe of this peaceful environment.

South Central Region – Madison

Outdoor – Lost City Forest (Madison)

In the southeast corner of the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, there’s a large area of natural woods called the “Lost City Forest It sits on the remains of a failed housing development built in the early part of the 20th century. It’s a point where nature meets lack of human ambition.

Food – Alchemy Café (Madison)

A local favorite, Alchemy is a cozy, cash-only tavern serving tasty pub food and featuring live music and open mic performances. While this is likely to be on hold right now, it is worth checking out when gatherings are safe again.

Entertainment – Dr. Evermor’s Sculpture Park (North Freedom)

Visit the world’s largest scrap-metal sculpture park. The main structure stands 50 feet high and 120 feet wide and weighs 300 tons.

Northwest Region – La Pointe

Outdoor – Apostle Islands Kayaks (La Pointe)

Kayak on the Big Bay Water Trail from Town Park and venture past State Park beach to the rocks, caves and cliffs of Big Lake. This trip offers expert instructors for you to kayak safely, while also allowing swimming, cliff jumping and exposure to nature’s beautiful wetlands and wildlife.

Food – North Wind Organic Farm – (Bayfield)

The farm features over two acres of various berries, numerous market vegetables, more than 100 fruit trees, about 10 acres of hay ground and lots of woods. All crops are grown without chemical pesticides or artificial fertilizers to meet organic standards. Although organic certified, the farm emphasizes self-reliance, alternative energy, environmental quality and a broad range of social and cultural choices embracing a vision of social change.

Entertainment – Eckels Pottery & Fine Craft Gallery (Bayfield)

You’ll find quality handcrafted ceramics, including pots of every description in both stoneware and porcelain clay as well as a wide variety of original pieces designed for everyday use. Visitors are invited to watch every step of the process, from a lump of clay to finished product.

Southwest Region – La Crosse

Outdoor – La Crosse River State Trail (Sparta, WI)

A delightful 21.5-mile ride exists along the La Crosse River between Sparta and La Crosse. The trail is a middle link between the Elroy-Sparta Trail and the Great River Trail. On the way it runs close to an active rail line.

Food – Winghaven Pizza Farm (Galesville)

The fifth-generation family owners offer stone-fired thin crust pizza made fresh to order, along with a wide variety of regional craft beers and wine, locally sourced snacks (even a few treats for the kids), and live music every weekend on the Winghaven Main Stage.

Drugan’s Castle Mound Country Club & Restaurant (Holmen)

Dine at Drugan’s for appetizers, lunch and dinner, seven days a week, year-round. They have an extensive menu with selections like chef-carved tenderloin tips, battered shrimp, South African rock lobster and battered cod. They also offer an 18-hole golf course and a wedding venue.

Hackberry’s Bistro (La Crosse)

The chef uses organic eggs, free-range chicken, grass-fed beef and sustainable fish to create seasonal dishes.

Entertainment – Pettibone Park Disc Golf Course (La Crosse)

The course circles around the lagoon then cuts across to the Mississippi River, with lots of old growth trees along the river. The front nine holes are shorter with tighter fairways, while the second nine holes are long and relatively open. Nine new holes (the backbone) have great wooded views with over a 500 foot finishing hole.

East Central Region - Oshkosh

Outdoor – On the Loos Cruises – Paddlewheel Riverboat Tours (Oshkosh)

The tours feature themed charter cruises on the Fox River, Lake Butte des Morts and Lake Winnebago. They also host a unique and private setting for any special event – wedding, birthday party, graduation party, retirement party or corporate event.

Food – Dockside Tavern (Oshkosh)

This eatery combines a fun, casual neighborhood tavern with a riverside atmosphere and offers a menu with local flavors. The interior includes a large bar and dining room with woodwork modeled after Chris-Craft® wooden boats. In the summertime, you’ll find boat docking and an expansive outdoor dining patio with a large bar—perfect for enjoying the river view 

Entertainment – The Paine Art Center (Oshkosh)

Designed in the 1920s, the estate offers rotating exhibits and programs focusing on architecture, art and horticulture to educate and inspire. There is even a hands-on family center in the lower level which hosts programs for kids of all ages.

There are Always New Things to See and Do in Wisconsin

As your Hometown Advantage™ health plan, we love our home state and everything it has to offer. Headquartered in Menasha and with an office in Brookfield, we’re always finding new things to love about Wisconsin – things that are great year-round.

Where are your favorite Wisconsin destinations?

If you have any questions about what it means to be your local health plan partner, we’d love to help. Reach out to us today.


Network Health
1570 Midway Place
Menasha, WI 54952
Mon., Wed.-Fri.: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.