3 Walkable Small Towns with Big Charm

By Dan Rose

Special to TravelWisconsin.com 

Wisconsin has a few great getaways that provide plenty to do within walking distance from your lodging. These vacation spots are bursting with small-town charm and are best explored by foot, so leave the car behind and head out for fun and fresh air!

Ephraim

This small town in Door County may be one of the most walkable vacation spots in all of Wisconsin.

Where to Stay:
Ephraim has a variety of excellent lodging options that will keep you within walking distance of everything you want to do. Consider the Ephraim Village Cottages if you have kids, as their spacious, wooded property provides ample space to play. If you know you want to spend a lot of time in Peninsula State Park, the Park’s Edge Cottages provide the best walking access to the beautiful park. If you are looking for a more upscale experience, the Bay Breeze Resort is right in the heart of town and has access to both an onsite pool and a private beach.

What to Do:
Ephraim provides easy walking access to the East Entrance of Peninsula State Park, which also has a popular golf course. Red Putter Mini Golf and the Northern Sky Theater are both excellent family activities in the northern part of town. The Ephraim Public Beach is one of Door County’s best sand beaches and is just a short walk from where you’ll be staying.

Where to Eat:
No visit to Ephraim would be complete without a stop at Wilson’s Restaurant, where the ice cream is incredible and the burgers are one of the area’s best kept secrets. For breakfast, make sure you try Good Eggs, which provides wonderful breakfast food in a family friendly environment.

Bayfield

This north shore gem offers beautiful views of Lake Superior and easy access to Madeline Island.

Where to Stay:
To get the most out of walking Bayfield, you’ll want to choose lodging that is either on or close to Rittenhouse Avenue. If you’re traveling with a family, the Bayfield Inn is an excellent choice that provides a cottage-like feel with the amenities of a modern hotel. For couples, the Old Rittenhouse Inn is one of the most romantic spots in Bayfield and is a good place to reconnect. For families seeking the Bed and Breakfast experience, consider the Solarium Room at the historic Lucy’s Place.

What to do:
Leave your car behind and catch the ferry over to Madeline Island where you can enjoy one of the highly-rated walking tours. You can also book a spot on the Apostle Island Cruise Service and see the islands and the legendary sea caves. The Bayfield Maritime Museum and Stone’s Throw art gallery are both just a short walk from Rittenhouse Avenue and are a great way to take in some local culture.

Where to eat:
Big Water Coffee Roasters is worth stopping at even if you don’t drink coffee, as their baked goods are as delicious as their coffee made from beans they roast on-site. The old fashioned Candy Shoppe on Rittenhouse Avenue is known for their traditional Croatian wine bread that features local fruit. For a full meal, be sure to dine at the Fat Radish, where they do simple food with big flavor.

Boulder Junction

This small town in Northern Wisconsin is known for its legendary local hospitality and as the “Musky Capital of the World.”

Where to Stay:
To maximize Boulder Junction’s walkability you’ll want to book lodging that is close to Main Street. If you are traveling with younger children, the Acorn Lodge is centrally located and kids 7 and under stay for free. If you’re looking for unique, Northwoods-style accommodations, the Big Bear Hideaway’s beautiful cabins won’t disappoint. The Boulder Junction Motor Lodge is the perfect place to stay if you plan to also bring your bicycles, as it provides easy access to the Heart of Vilas County Paved Bike Trail.

What to do:
If you’ve never gone fishing before, the Boulder Junction Community Center offers free seminars every Sunday during the summer that will help your family hone their angling skills. For a bit of shopping, stop by some of Boulder Junction’s unique stores like the Blueberry Patch, featuring local goods, and the Boulder Junction Trading Company.

Where to Eat: 
Boulder Junction has no shortage of excellent local options for dining. The Outdoorsman Restaurant and Inn has excellent, home-cooked meals every day for breakfast and lunch. Don’t miss the Aqualand Ale House, which features more than twenty tap beers and an authentic gastropub style menu. For some of the best baked goods in Boulder Junction, be sure to stop by The Bakery, which is adored by both locals and travelers.

Ready for your next Wisconsin getaway? Check out these 7 desinations for small-town charm!