5 Easy Wisconsin Day Trips

an exploration of our state’s beauty is only a short drive away

V1 Staff

Minocqua, WI. Image: www.minocqua.org
Minocqua, WI. Image: www.minocqua.org

It’s pretty easy to love the Chippewa Valley. But as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Sometimes you need to take a day off and go see the rest of the great state of Wisconsin. Here are some suggestions for a few easy and short day trips that are fun for everyone –and quick enough that you can be right back at home by nightfall.

Wisconsin Dells, Image: Travel Wisconsin
Wisconsin Dells. Image: Travel Wisconsin


120 minutes
I-94 East

Leave the tourist traps behind and see what else the Dells has to offer! Take in the scenery on one of the Duck or boat tours, ride a horse-drawn carriage on the Lost Canyon Tour, or even zoom along a zip line. In nearby North Freedom, check out the Mid-Continent Railway Museum: an outdoor, living museum  that recreates life during the “Golden Age of Railroading.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder
Laura Ingalls Wilder


60 minutes
Wisconsin Trunk 85 W and WI-25 S to WI-35 N/Great River Rd in Pepin

Seeking something on the historical side? Then head over to Pepin, birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder. There you can check out the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, which features many items Laura and her family would have recognized and recalls the era in which she lived. Once you check out the museum, you can relax at Lake Pepin. For bird-lovers, check out Tiffany Bottoms, the largest floodplain forest in the Midwest; it’s teeming with nearly every bird you can find in Wisconsin.


150 minutes
East on HWY 29, then north on HWY 51

If you’re looking for something for kids – or kids-at-heart – then check out Wildwood Wildlife Park. The second largest zoo in Wisconsin, it features more than 700 animals from across the world. Wildwood offers a lot of up-close-and-personal experiences with the animals, including an interactive Budgie Encounter, which allows you to hang out in an aviary with 500 parakeets! Trust us, this is an awesome place to spend the day.

Marc Buehler/Creative Commons
Above: Not the real Hodag. Marc Buehler/Creative Commons


120 minutes
East on HWY 29 then north on HWY 51

Located in the heart of the Northwoods, Rhinelander has lots of outdoorsy activities to keep you occupied. Take a trip up the Wisconsin River on one of the scenic Wisconsin River Cruises aboard the Wilderness Queen. They offer a variety of cruises, including sightseeing tours, dinner cruises, a Sunday brunch tour, and some specialty cruises. Just watch out for the legendary Hodag!


80 minutes
North on HWY 53

Home of Wisconsin’s largest landlocked seepage lake, Shell Lake (the town) is a great place to relax. Shell Lake (the lake) is an excellent spot for sailing, swimming, fishing, or just for hanging out on the beach. Catch a show at the Lakefront Pavilion, visit their world-famous Museum of Woodcarving, or check out their Monarch Butterfly Habitat.