Field Notes 002: The Wisconsin Northwoods

Nov 2, 2021

If you ever need a midwestern getaway to a place that feels like the mountains, northern Wisconsin is your must-visit destination. And more specifically, Manitowish Waters and Alderwood Resort. 

Last month I took a quick trip up to Alderwood Resort with Morgann from A Well Worn Story, and we felt right back at home in our cabin – we’ve been to Alderwood 5 times or so and the nostalgia, comfort and fun it brings is unmatched. From hosting retreats to adventuring with family and friends, it’s truly one of my favorite spots to visit – no matter the season.

We generally make Alderwood our home base and explore the area for a few days – from the coast of Lake Superior in both Wisconsin and Michigan to hiking in state parks all around the area, there is an endless supply of fun things to do. 

I’ve now been up to the Northwoods in each season, and I have to say that fall is by far my favorite. The colors changing, the cranberry harvest and morning coffee on the dock after wading through crunchy leaves is just the best.

It’s the best feeling in the world when the road turns from four lanes to two lanes and you start seeing white and black arrow signs and white pines lining the roads. If you know, you know. 

Today I’m going to share a few of my favorite spots! 

001 / Alderwood Resort

Like I mentioned earlier, consider Alderwood Resort your homebase. With a group of cute red cabins and a brick ranch house (appropriately named The Brick House) right on Lake Alder, you really don’t even need to leave the resort. 

I’ve stayed in three different cabins along with the Brick House and have never been disappointed. They have a Northwoods vibe but with modern amenities + each have their own private dock and fire ring. 

You can also enjoy canoes, kayaks, bikes and a mini beach that are included with your stay, and Becca is an amazing host who has become a friend. And don’t get me started on the sunrises, sunsets and stargazing. I’ve enjoyed all three to the max and can’t get over how beautiful it is.

Don’t wait to book your stay though, they’re booked through 2022 with the exception of the Brick House, which you can book for the winter as well (which you SHOULD!) 

002 / Dixie’s Coffee House

Before you head from Alderwood onto your daily adventures, make sure you stop at Dixie’s. It’s our go-to coffee shop in the area with the coziest vibes and most beautiful views. You can also kayak here in the summertime, and their quiche is one thing I look forward to each time I visit. 

003 / Hiking at Copper Falls

One of my favorite fall spots to hike is Copper Falls. A gorgeous drive in the autumn and just the most beautiful hike around and over the falls – when we got down to the water I felt like I was in Colorado, which I’ll take any time.

004 / Hiking in Bayfield + Ferrying to Madeline Island + the Apostle Islands

Driving to Bayfield and taking a ferry over to Madeline Island in the winter will be one of my most favorite memories of being up north. We hiked just outside of Bayfield and took pictures on the shore of Lake Superior, then drove our way even further north to visit Wonderstate Coffee and hop on the ferry to cross over to Madeline Island. In the winter you can sometimes catch the ice caves on the Apostle Islands if it’s cold enough, but it wasn’t when we went so we just adventured around the island and got stuck in a snowstorm while we were there. Totally worth it. 

005 / Hiking in Porcupine Mountains State Park

Porcupine Mountain State Park has become one of my other favorite places to visit while up north. This is in the UP of Michigan, just an hour or so north of Alderwood and made the perfect morning trip. Again, the leaves in the fall were a gorgeous site and we found our way to the coast of Lake Superior once again. We stopped at the Lake of the Clouds overlook, but the fog was so thick that we could only see a few feet in front of us. I can’t wait to go back when there are clear skies so we can take in the beautiful sights! 

006 / Ironwood, MI

I didn’t snap many pictures here, but Ironwood is about a half-hour or so away from Alderwood and is home to a few fun spots! We love visiting Dan’s Antiques downtown – it’s the perfect spot for some vintage browsing, with a specialty in Northwoods goods + tons of tiny trinkets. Definitely worth the stop! 

We also love to stop at Stormy Kromer! They make “the coolest thing made in Michigan” – the perfect hat for northern WI + MI winter days. You can stop in their showroom and pick out tons of different hats, apparel and accessories. My whole fam has a Stormy Kromer and we love them! 

007 / Old Fashioneds + Friday Fish Fry at Little Bohemia

Last but not least, no trip to the Northwoods is complete without a stop at Little Bohemia for their Friday night Fish Fry and a brandy old fashioned sweet. Little Bo was home to the infamous shootout between the FBI and John Dillenger (check out the movie Public Enemies!) but is FAMOUS in my book for their chicken tenders (yes, I went there), their fish fry and their ice cream drinks. We ALWAYS stop here at least once per trip and just love the supper club atmosphere so much. You have to experience it.

And that’s my round-up! I know I’m leaving things out, but these are the tried and trues, the places I always gotta stop while I’m up north. 

Have you visited the Northwoods? What spots would you add to the list? Leave them in the comments!

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