The Best Lake Towns in Wisconsin’s Northwoods

Nestled in north central Wisconsin on the border of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Northwoods region of Wisconsin offers an idyllic year-round vacation lifestyle complete with sparkling lake towns perfect for fishing, boating, canoeing and more. The lush greenery of the area is perfect for anyone outdoorsy, with popular recreational activities including cross-country and downhill skiing, snowmobiling, hunting, hiking, biking, dining, and camping. The land is ripe for roaming, with vast public properties including the Northern Highland State Forest, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Ottawa National Forest, and countless county forests. With over 3200 streams, rivers, and lakes and over ½ million public forest acres to explore, Wisconsin’s Northwoods is sure to have the perfect lake town for any outdoor enthusiast.

Minocqua, WI

Home to 2,300 bodies of water, the Minocqua area is colloquially known as “Nature’s Original Waterpark,” and it certainly lives up to its name, with year-round lake and water activities. The natural beauty of the rich forests and crystalline lakes are certainly one of Minocqua’s main attractions, but by no means its only, as the town is home to numerous boutiques, antiquing, and other shopping opportunities, and seasonal celebrations including Beef-O-Rama, the Minocqua cow-themed annual fall festival. Trails, hunting, and year-round fishing make Minocqua a perfect destination for anyone with a passion for outdoor exploration. The Minocqua Chain of Lakes contains 6,000 acres of water and more than 15 miles of shoreline, offering a plethora of opportunities for water-based recreation including swimming, bass fishing, and boating (with plentiful boat rentals), as well as waterfront dining. In the colder months, the lakes freeze into a winter wonderland perfect for ice skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and more.


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Lake Life Reimagined

Relax & Recharge in the Northwoods.

Tomahawk, WI

A stunning Northwoods getaway, Tomahawk is full of scenic roads, rich forested lands, countless hiking trails, stunning lakes perfect for swimming, boating, fishing, and lakeside restaurant dining. Tomahawk is surrounded by water, located right where the Somo, Spirit, Tomahawk, and Wisconsin Rivers converge, and densely populated with sparkling freshwater lakes of all sizes. In the winter, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling are popular, with Tomahawk boasting some of the best-groomed trails in the state. Public boat landings are plentiful, and before the lakes ice over, bass, walleye, and muskellunge are plentiful for anyone looking for a prime fishing destination. When it comes to Tomahawk, there is the perfect lake space for everyone in all sorts of weather, from quiet coves that offer the perfect peaceful paddling destination to open water ideal for water skiers and countless nooks and crannies anglers can claim as their own hidden spots. 


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Rhinelander, WI

Deep in the heart of Wisconsin’s Northwoods lies Rhinelander, a pinnacle of outdoor recreation full of lake activities for every season, unique shopping, fine dining options, and thousands of miles of lakeside trails perfect for hiking. In the winter, snow-covered woods sparkle with opportunity for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, with sparkling, icy lakes to view and rustic trailside cabins perfect for warming up by a cracking fire. A popular ice fishing destination, Rhinelander is also a great destination for more traditional angling. On the north side of Rhinelander, Boom Lake is a popular destination for fishing, swimming, and boating, with more than 365 acres of water. On the shores of Boom Lake, the large Hodag Park is home to a swimming beach ideal for launching canoes or kayaks and the famous Hodag Water Shows. Another popular Rhinelander lake is Lake Thompson, a 400-acre lake known for its plethora of panfish, walleye, musky, and northern pike – any angler’s dream.


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Mercer, WI

Known as the “Loon Capital” and nestled in the heart of the Wisconsin Northwoods, Mercer is known for its scenic beauty, with over 74,500 acres of lush public land ripe for exploration and 214 area lakes ideal for fishing, paddling, swimming, birding, and more. Depending on the weather, the lake town of Mercer can be explored by ATV, snowmobile, car, camper, boats, bikes, skis, or of course by foot, with exciting discoveries abounding regardless of your mode of transportation. The Mercer rivers, lakes, and flowages boast a wide array of fish species including walleye, muskie, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, northern pike, and panfish. Perhaps best known for the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage and Trude Lake, those two water features combined offer 14,326 acres of stunning water and 21,300 acres of scenic land, often compared to the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, a favorite destination for paddlers, campers, and wildlife aficionados – especially birdwatchers. 


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Hayward, WI

Hayward is a lake town in Sawyer County known for Hayward Lake, a stunning 191 acre lake with a maximum depth of 17 feet, a plethora of different fish, and the perfect combination of natural beauty with urban convenience. With shopping, restaurants, and entertainment all within a mile or two, Hayward is a lake town where residents and visitors can really have it all. Deep and clear and surrounded with different sized cabins and lake homes, Hayward Lake is known for its many species of fish, including muskies, northerns, walleyes, largemouth bass, and panfish. The lake offers easy public access at the western end via a boat landing located right by the dam. An immaculate swimming beach is located conveniently nearby. Popular during the warmer months, Hayward quiets down during the off season, offering a pleasant lakeside retreat for those looking for beauty, convenience, and serenity all in one place.

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