Wisconsin, USA: Caribbean of the Midwest

If you thought crystal blue water could only be found in the Caribbean, you’d be wrong! Raven from Lattes & Luggage takes us on a trip to her hometown.

In a small town with a population of 6,069 people, rests the Caribbean of the Midwest. I grew up in this place, known as Waupaca, Wisconsin, which is home to the incredible Chain O’ Lakes. The Chain O’ Lakes are exactly what they sound like: a chain of 22 lakes. However, these aren’t just any old Midwest lakes. You’ll find the same bright blue water that you would in Fiji (trust me, I know ) equipped with hot summers and mojitos on the shore of your favorite restaurants. With that being said, I have a few tips for those who are unfamiliar with the area, but would like to stop through.

Marl Lake

My suggestion for you is to start at Marl Lake. This has a small public dock unknown to most people besides the few locals where you can swim from or start your kayak journey from. Both are great options! From here, you can take your kayak up through any of the 22 lakes as they’re all connected.

Rent a Boat

If you’re more into relaxing than exercising while on your vacation, rent a boat from one of the marinas! We have a few in town, but I suggest stopping at Taylor Lake Marina, right next to Harbor Bar & Grill. This way, if you’re getting hungry or are in need of a refreshing drink, you can pull up your boat right to the dock of the restaurant and be served in style before heading out for a lake day.

Listen to a Live Band

Surprisingly enough, small towns still have great gigs! You might get lucky and enjoy a performer while having lunch or dinner at the Harbor Bar & Grill. Otherwise, you can stop by the Indian Crossing Casino. No, this is not the gambling kind of casino that you’re used to seeing. It’s a newly renovated building that you can dock your boat up at or simply come from the parking lot anytime. There’s food, a full bar and great views all right on the water. You can watch for their upcoming events and concerts here:

Scream for Scoopers

Scoopers is one of the most well-known places in town. Every spring, we would sit in class and refresh our browsers, waiting to see that “Scoopers is now open for the summer!” post. Scoopers is an ice cream shop near the Indian Crossing Casino and right next to the Wheelhouse Restaurant, another

great dinner spot in town. They have tons of flavors here and it’s really inexpensive for how large of portions they give you. Honestly, I can never do more than the kids scoop!

Grab a Coffee from Red Mill

Red Mill is an old mill house along the river that was newly renovated and beautifully so. It has now turned into a gift shop and also has a vintage candy shop, where you can get bags of homemade taffy or those old peppermint sticks you used to love while growing up. They also have a café with amazing coffee and ice cream made in Madison, Wisconsin’s capital. Personally, I think this ice cream is arguably even better than Scoopers, but hey, that’s for you to decide.

Enjoy a Hike at Hartman Creek State Park

Growing up, I used to bike to Hartman Creek after school every day to go on hikes around the lake or swim at their small beach. If you’re feeling more adventurous than the traditional tourist cabin rentals on the Chain O’ Lakes, you could also rent a campsite at this park. It’s a really nice area to relax, fish, hike and lay low for a few days, but there are electric sites here as well, so you don’t have to go full- on ghost mode.

If you’re not convinced of Waupaca’s charm yet, email me because we need to have a chat! From the blue waters to the hot summers and ice cream checkpoints, there really is no way to go wrong while stopping by the Caribbean of the Midwest. If you have any other questions or need advice on planning your trip, feel free to reach out or comment below! I’d love to help.

Follow Raven over at her blog Lattes & Luggage

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