Quick Trip to Mercer, WI
Back at you with another weekend get away filled with fun spots to check out. Mercer, WI is just over two hours from Duluth and about four from Minneapolis - on the very northern tip of Wisconsin (nearing the Michigan border). If you're a winter sportsman, this is a great weekend getaway spot; busy with snowmobilers, beautiful state parks and snowshoe/skiing trails (and the occasional townie bar for rest in between...) I'll share my scoop on a few trails, taverns and good spots to stop at during your visit.
MECCA Trail System: Little Turtle Trailhead
We tackled the MECCA trails and did just over 5 miles of snowshoeing between the Little Turtle Trailhead and Hidden Rivers Nature Trail (part of the Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area). These trails seem never-ending (in a good way) with new scenery around every corner. Very well maintained, these groomed trails are made for snowshoers and skiers in the winter and runners, hikers and bikers in the warmer months. If you're going to tackle snowshoeing, you'll find yourself able to treck a bit longer on Little Turtle Trailhead, as it's very groomed as opposed to Hidden Rivers Trail with it's deep, less traveled paths - but both very beautiful trips. I didn't get a chance to try out all of the trails the Turtle-Flambeau Waters Area has to offer but if you have more than a day to explore I'd recommend it.
A hard day of outdoor activity deserves a good beer or two, right? Aqualand Alehouse (Boulder Junction, WI) was a perfect stop to relax and try some new brews. They only have a few of their own beers brewed in house but man do they make up for it based on the stellar selection they have on tap - not just your typical midwest beers - they have some of the best local, regional and national microbrews and imports. Being a beer snob, I can attest to them taking their selection seriously - it's rare that I find that many good beers that I haven't ever tried.
As cheesey as they seem to a northern native, I really loved the Musky and Walleye flights... and without further ado, here are the beers sampled... I highlighted a few favorites.
Southern Tier Creme Brulee Stout - A little on the sweet side but it was my favorite of the night, sweet savory deliciousness.
Stevens Point Whole Hog Espresso Stout - slight hints of coffee and chocolate undertones, great beer!
Aqualand Musky Spit - Strong Whiskey flavor, it's got a good bite.
Lakefront 'My Turn' Josh Imperial Black I.P.A.
Stone Arch Vanishing Vanilla - This is the perfect name for this beer, it finishes with a subtle hint of vanilla.
Lagunitas Brown Shugga 2015
Heart of the North
Quick shout out to Heart of the North - it's a simple, local bar with everything you'd expect in a hometown hangout; burgers and steaks, beer, darts and a little gambling. I may be slightly biased about this place because I won half the pot in "Shake of the Day" dice game... but it's a laid back hang out spot for dinner or a beverage to warm you up as you pass through town.
Little Bohemia (Little Bo) - Manotowish Waters, WI
I have to start out by saying that we did not visit this place for the touristy draw, but I have to admit that it adds to the fun... Little Bohemia Lodge is the original site of John Dillinger and the Dillinger Gang's epic shootout with the F.B.I., In fact, the Lodge is also the filming location for the film Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp as John Dillinger.
This place is huge and has an awesome rustic vibe that makes you want to hunker down for the weekend - a bar nestled by a stone fireplace, seating surrounded by wood and rustic decor. The dining room still has windows with the original bullet holes from the shootout nearly 80 years ago. Oh, and their Eggs Benedict is pretty good ;)
Feeling the itch to get away for the weekend? You don't have to dream big for a mini vaca, this area is a great winter getaway when your options are limited due to the cold - get out there and explore!