A Weekend Trip to Boulder Junction: Two Mix-and-Match Itineraries
Deemed “The Musky Capital of the World,” Boulder Junction has long been known as a fishing mecca. But that’s not all this gem of the Northwoods has to offer! Boulder Junction has an abundance of activities and attractions for fishers and fashionistas, athletes and artists, and everyone in between—making it a perfect destination for your next weekend Up North. We’ve put together two mix-and-match itineraries to help you fit all of your favorite activities into a two-day trip to Boulder Junction.
- After settling into your lodging, relax with a pint of one of the many local craft beers on tap and wood-fired pizza at Aqualand Ale House. Then head back to your hotel or cabin and rest up for tomorrow’s adventures.
- Wake up early and stop in at The Bakery for a cup of coffee and an amazing danish to fuel your morning activities.
- Because of the density of clear lakes with a long history of large catches in Boulder Junction, you are probably familiar with Boulder Junction’s status as a fishing paradise. You’re likely to have ideal conditions this fall: windy days, rainy days, and during changing conditions ahead of a front. To make the most of your time here, plan a half-day or full-day guided fishing trip in Boulder Junction. There are several expert guides in the area who offer guided trips for your preferred species. Erv Keller Guide Service has over 30 years experience and offers musky, walleye, and bass trips for the whole family. Little Lakes Canoe Restoration & Guide Service is another well-reputed guide service offering unique musky, bass and panfish trips to Boulder Junction.
- Head over to Boulder Beer Bar for a hearty lunch to re-energize you for the afternoon. Choose among a large selection of wraps, sandwiches, and burgers, among other equally delicious options. Whether you choose the hillbilly philly with crispy fries or the margarita steak wrap with a side of sweet potato fries, you can’t go wrong.
- After lunch, take your road bike or hybrid bike and your favorite cycling buddies for a long ride on the Heart of Vilas Trail, which you can access right from Coontail Sports. (Coontail rents out bikes if you can’t tow your own on this trip.) Make sure to take the detour at Nichols Lake Road for a beautiful view of Nichols Lake less than three miles away from downtown Boulder Junction.
- For a top-shelf Northwoods dining experience, go to Guide’s Inn for dinner and enjoy one of their excellent entries, such as the chef’s special baby rack of lamb, a juicy ribeye steak, or chicken cordon bleu. Then turn in and rest up for another great day tomorrow.
- Start your day at the Granary Restaurant for a hearty breakfast. Opt for the hunter’s special, or keep it simple with a breakfast sandwich before hitting the trails.
- With your mountain bike in tow, hit the Lumberjack Trail. (Note that you need a state trail pass for mountain biking on this trail.) Once at the trailhead, you can choose your preferred distance. There are 4.6- and 12.5-mile options.
- Before you hit the road back home, fill up on gas and all sorts of snacks for the car ride at Coontail Market.
- Unwind from your travels in front of the fireplace in McGann’s, a cozy Irish pub. Discuss the finer points of your weekend in Boulder Junction over a microbrew or glass of wine and comforting appetizers and crispy thin-crust pizza.
- Wake up early and claim a table at the Granary Restaurant to enjoy a nourishing breakfast starting at 7 a.m. Go savory—with the seasonal chicken apple sausage scrambler—or sweet—with the caramel apple pancakes platter.
- If you’re in town during the last weekend of September, you can follow up breakfast with a paint-and-sip event at Aqualand Ale House at 10 a.m. (That’s Saturday, September 28. Be sure to reserve your spot on Aqualand Alehouse’s Facebook page.) For $40, choose one of the whimsical pieces to paint along with the instructor as you sip a complimentary beverage of your choice.
- After your own artistic endeavors, check out the downtown galleries of local artists. Two must-see art spaces are Moondeer and Friends and Firemouth Pottery and Gallery. Sara Muender is the gallery owner and artist-in-residence of Moondeer and Friends Gallery, and she also exhibits and sells the work of more than 150 other regional artists in this unique space. Along with contemporary fine art, you’ll also find antiques and artifacts from around the world, world music recordings, gift items, and custom framing services. Bill and Cathy Karaffa own and operate Firemouth Pottery and Gallery, which features Bill’s fine selection of handmade pottery as well as eight other Midwestern artists’ paintings, hand-blown glasswork, basketry, sculptures, and more.
- After the morning has whetted your artist’s eye and your appetite, stop at George’s Pub for a satisfying lunch. We recommend the three-cheese grilled cheese sandwich paired with a pint of Some Nerve Oatmeal Stout, brewed in nearby Manitowish Waters.
- When you’re refreshed from your repast, head back out to the eclectic shops of downtown Boulder Junction for an afternoon of great shopping.
- Blueberry Patch‘s charming garden will lead you to the door of a year-round boutique that comprises three shops—Stephanie’s Gifts, Specialty Sweaters, and Christmas at Nana’s—all under one roof. As the name implies, you can find blueberry-centric wares here (like blueberry concentrate and cookbooks featuring this antioxidant-rich berry) but also luxury candles, lotions, outerwear, and accessories.
- Boulder Junction Trading Company is another shop that is a joy to peruse. You’ll find an interesting and eclectic selection of gifts, gourmet foods, wines, candies, clothing, toys, and antiques inside.
- ‘Tis the season for cranberries, but gourmet cranberry goods are available all year at Alder Lake Cranberry Gift Shop. This shop carries an extensive line of the highest-quality cranberry food items—such as muffins, jams, wine and spirits, and even salsas. Alder Lake Cranberry Gift Shop also sells cranberry-focused cookbooks, pottery, and textiles, as well as cranberry glass from both North America and Europe.
- Do you love hunting for beautiful antiques? Boulder Junction has several antique shops in its downtown, including Donna Mae’s Antiques.
- Once you’re spent from an afternoon of shopping, sit down to a delicious dinner at Headwaters Restaurant & Tavern. Located two blocks north of the downtown shops, Headwaters serves delicious, hearty meals (from BBQ ribs to baked vegetarian lasagna—there’s something for all tastes) with a beautiful view of the Manitowish River.
- After a peaceful night’s sleep, wake up on Sunday and treat yourself to a donut or cinnamon roll and coffee from The Bakery. (Also, consider buying some bread to take with you to enjoy with the delicious cranberry jam you picked up at Alder Lake Cranberry Gift Shop yesterday when you’re at home.) Sip your coffee as you take an easy stroll along the Heart of Vilas County Bike Trail that you can access right from downtown.
- Once you’re packed up and ready to head home, a scenic journey along a rustic road will send you off. Take County Highway K (also known as Rustic Road 60) east from downtown Boulder Junction. You’ll drive past several beautiful lakes—such as White Sand Lake, Lost Canoe Lake, White Birch Lake, and Ballard Lake. When you reach the town of Star Lake, head south on Highway N, and follow it through Sayner until you reach Highway M. Take Highway M to return to Boulder Junction (because we know you’re just not ready to say goodbye). Or (if you must) stay on Highway K toward Eagle River and head home from there.
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