By Jake Porter & Vaughn Lowery
There is no better place in the United States to experience as many snow and cold-weather activities in one day as there is in the Northwoods region of Wisconsin. The two larger towns, Cable and Hayward, which are located in the far north of the state, act as home bases for tourists to Wisconsin. Hayward is a small, quaint town in Sawyer County, Wisconsin. It is characterized by its gently rolling hills, while Cable is just 15 minutes away. Aside from being known for it emphasis on outdoor activities, Cable is also renowned for being the starting point of the American Birkebeiner cross-country skiing race. There are also nationally renowned restaurants within a short 30 minute drive. Both locations offer an opportunity to escape from the stress of congested metropolitan cities and relax in the welcoming environment that both towns offer.
Traveling from the west coast, the north of Wisconsin is a dramatic change of pace from the bustling vibes of the many developed metropolitan cities. It is also the top destination for most snow-related adventure spots. The food and travel businesses in the area, the top two largest economies in the northern Wisconsin, are thriving and are welcoming to new small-businesses. With a well-developed and diverse school system in the surrounding communities, both towns are extremely capable of hosting both tourists and accommodating people intending to move to the region.
With their proximity to the great woods of the Chequamegan National Forest and the sparkling waters of Lake Owen and Namakagon, the recreational activities are abundant. Activities range from cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and winter fat biking. Cable is an epicenter for skiers, offering wonderfully groomed trails traversing the relatively flat landscape. At the start of the Birkebeiner trail in Cable, there is a newly built rest area and event center which offers a wide range of amenities including a source of heat in the wintertime. Snowmobiling is a crucial activity for the adventure-seeking traveler. It is also a staple for most of the locals in the area. In addition, ice fishing is a classic wintertime sport and can be done on most frozen lakes in the area. Fat Bike riding and snowshoeing can be done by most any able-bodied traveler. Bikes and snowshoes can be picked up at Howl Adventure Center, while snowmobiles can be rented from Hayward Power Sports.
As for the less adventurous travelers, downtown Hayward, which was named one of five Hallmark-worthy small towns in Wisconsin, is easy to explore. The downtown includes small boutiques and coffee/pastry shops which line the beautiful, quiet streets. Meet the artists at local art shops such as Art Beat and Nordic Northwoods, who specialize in fun, artsy gifts and souvenirs. Hayward Mercantile is a delightful place as well, filled with Wisconsin-made goods, while Ronnings, just a few doors down provides everything from moccasins to sweatshirts. Just 10 minutes away, Glassy Ladies Art Studio provides a fun environment to get your creative juices flowing while you learn glass fusing, bead making, metal-smithing, and how to work with stained glass.
After a long day in the snow, there is nothing better than a hot meal at lunch or at the end of the day. Lucky for you, there are countless, award winning, restaurants within close proximity. Tamarack Farms Winery is not only the number one winery in the area, but also provides small sandwiches and artisan pizza. The Old Southern Smokehouse, a creation of the award winning BBQ chef Dave Anderson, is the epitemy of a BBQ experience. Their menu consists of quality meats, fresh produce, and award winning sauces. The Landing, situated on the Chippewa Flowage is an amazing place known for its nationally renowned fish fry and its liquor bar. The owners, Chris and Elsie Lee are extraordinary people and are extremely hospitable. Located in Cable, The Brick House Cafe is a quaint place featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-in, and Dives with Guy Fieri. Serving sandwiches and fresh salads, they are known for their locally sourced meats and vegetables. It even occupies one of the oldest buildings in Cable, dating back to the 1800s!
Finally, The Rookery exhibits casual gourmet dining at its finest. The Rookery’s ever-changing menu features fresh fish specials and their famous bison steak. Here you will find some of the best vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options you’ll find anywhere in the northern Wisconsin communities. And what’s Wisconsin without cheese? Most of the restaurants and dives nestled in the towns serve a wide range of cheeses and fried cheese curds which are almost like a staple in the state. With all of these amazing options for food in the area, your taste buds are in for a real treat!
Not only is there a multitude of thrilling activities interspersed amongst the trails, forest, and lakes surrounding the area, there are also countless establishments in which to shop and also create art. Both communities are extremely sustainable, and are excitedly welcoming tourists and thrill-seekers alike. The spirit of the towns are quite endearing. The eager traveler definitely has a chance to fully experience what the area has to offer in a 5 day to a week span. Can you imagine visiting a region for the first time and immediately feeling at home and being welcomed by the locals? Can you imagine having access to incredible activities and nationally recognized eateries? Then the sister towns of Cable and Hayward should be at the top of your list of future travels. They are communities that are welcoming and make you feel at home, no matter your background, ethnicity, or culture.
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