7 pit stops to make on a Wisconsin road trip

You know the drill. You are en route to a vacation destination and someone in the car needs a bathroom break, so you pull over at a random gas station and have a random gas station experience. But what if you planned ahead a bit and made those roadside stops more memorable? Sure, these stops will take longer, but I bet the whole family will be happier for the trip. It’s time to savor the journey as much as the destination. 

Recently, my crew broke up a trip to the Northwoods of Wisconsin with a stop at Mullins Cheese. We all know that Wisconsin is all about cheese and this place does it right. A hot batch of fried cheese curds and some local Point pop gave us much needed fuel for the last leg of our car trip. I was so inspired by our roadside stop that I reached out to the Wisconsin tourism folks to find a few more worthwhile attractions along the road to the Northwoods and Door County, which are both popular destinations. All right, buckle up; it’s time for the roadside adventures to begin!

Along the way to the Northwoods

Your leg space in that cramped car is pretty non-existence, so a stop at Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo will put nature loving roadtrippers in better spirits. With 10,000 acres to explore, there would be plenty to do on a longer visit, but for our purposes, take a quick hike and snap a family photo near the natural rock sculptures. You pay $5 per hour to visit and refreshing outdoor time is the perfect antidote to the car ride stir crazies.

You can buy a day pass for Logger’s Landing Waterpark, a 50,000 square foot water park within Grand Lodge Waterpark Resort. You’ll probably want to spend a decent chunk of time here to make it worth the fee, but how many kids do you hear complaining about spending too much time at a water park? Now how many do you hear complaining about spending too much time in that crowded car? Do you see my point? Tip: Bring your own towels to avoid an extra fee. 

The Northwoods is known for fishing and nothing will get your crew in the fishing mood faster than a stop in Hayward at the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame. This quirky spot features a giant fiberglass musky, and when I say giant I mean four-and-a-half stories high and as long as a Boeing 757. If you can’t wait for the fishing to officially begin in Hayward or other nearby Northwoods locations, you could just cast a line in the pond beneath this mammoth musky. 

Along the way to Door County

My toddler Isaiah is starting to grasp the English language, but two of the words he has mastered perfectly are “ice” and “cream.” Coincidence? I don’t think so. He (and many other kiddos I know) would go wild for a stop at Berners’ Ice Cream Parlor, part of the Two Rivers Visitor Center. This unique spot claims to have been the home of the first ice cream sundae way back in 1881. 

Speaking of way back when, a visit to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc will transport your family to a shipbuilding town in the 19th century. The museum even gives people a chance to operate a real steam engine! Who knows? Your little ones might … gasp! … learn something during your car trip beside how to annoy a sibling. 

Okay, in mama dreamland where I have a girls’ weekend planned for Door County, I would book a massage at Kohler Waters Spa along the way. With a toddler in tow and baby number two on the way, my GWO (girls’ weekend out) isn’t really in the cards. But, hint hint to all of the hubbies out there, some spa time at Kohler could be a great Mother’s Day gift for your sweetie. The massage services are NOT cheap, but if mama is happy then everyone is happy, right? 

Happy travels!

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