Summer is a great time to visit the Minocqua area, with so many great activities and attractions here for the whole family, the biggest problem is deciding what to do. Here are 10 ideas that won't disappoint.
1. Fred Scheer's Lumberjack Show. This fast-paced show for all ages showcases professional lumberjacks competing in 10 events such as logrolling and pole-climbing. In between events, the emcee dishes out interesting tidbits about the lumberjack era, along with campy jokes. Kids love the "Yo-Ho!" lumberjack shouting contest, and a few lucky ones get to help work a crosscut saw during intermission.
2. Canoe Trip. For families with older kids, paddle 7.5 miles from the High Lake boat landing northeast of Boulder Junction to the portage just upstream from the Fishtrap Dam. You'll traverse High and Rush Lakes before gliding through a culvert and into Fishtrap Lake. From there you'll traverse Nixon Creek before arriving at the portage. Plan four hours of paddling, and perhaps turn the trip into an overnighter.
3. Northwoods Wildlife Center. Take a free tour of this wildlife facility, where injured and orphaned animals are tended. In summer, guided tours are held every 30 minutes Monday through Saturday. You can also attend twice-weekly nature programs on subjects such as birds of prey, wolf ecology and black bears.
4. Minocqua Pontoon Cruises. Putter along Minocqua's sparkling chain of lakes in a pontoon boat. Several relaxing cruises are held throughout the day, and include nature discussions. Helpful guides will assist you in spotting eagles and loons, plus point out historical boathouses. Into photography? Then sign on for the two-hour Sunset Special, where you'll be led to numerous scenic spots.
5. Rock Falls Riding Stable, Miniature Golf and Go-Karts. Clip-clop astride a chocolate mare, or perhaps her snow-white stablemate, through 28 acres of wooded trails. Then take on Rock Falls' challenging 18-hole mini-golf course before climbing into a go-kart and testing your mettle against other drivers. Before you leave, wander through the stables and pet the horses, then grab an ice cream cone.
6. Bearskin Trail. Cycling is a sport the whole family can enjoy, and the Bearskin Trail is the area's most popular venue. The 18-mile crushed red granite path runs from downtown Minocqua south to Harshaw, leading you through thick forests, past blue lakes and along Bearskin Creek. Pack a lunch and picnic en route. And keep an eye out for critters such as deer, raccoons, eagles and osprey. Hikers are welcome, too.
7. The Waters of Minocqua. Even when the weather doesn’t cooperate, the Minocqua area does not disappoint. Visit The Waters of Minocqua, which contains an indoor waterpark. Overnight guests receive free passes to the 10,000-square-foot play area, which includes two body slides, indoor-outdoor pools, a kiddie play area and hot tub. Walk-ins pay a modest daily fee. The resort also has an arcade, pub and café.
8. Northwoods Children's Museum. Check out the museum's 24 interactive exhibits while keeping an eye peeled for Ivana Playalot, the resident "play expert." Ivana leads visitors through hands-on activities and experiments, such as crafting a lava lamp out of household items. The museum also offers a variety of special events and programs for kids and grown-ups alike, such as a father-daughter dance.
9. Minocqua Zoo. More than 1,000 animals call Wildwood home, including giraffes, tigers, zebras, kangaroos and leopards. Stroll through the park and see them all, then take in an educational program before heading for the interactive petting zoo. Guests can also feed trout, parakeets, giraffes and even bears.
10. Clear Lake Beach. Nothing says summer like hanging at the beach, and Clear Lake is the perfect spot to go. Play in its sugar-white sands, splash around in the crystal-clear water or climb in a boat and try to snag panfish, trout, walleye or bass.