Sure, Wisconsin has some great traditional lodging. But why book a room when you can book an experience? Below are some one-of-a-kind places sure to make your Wisconsin getaway truly memorable.

Candlewood Cabins, Richland Center

BACKSTORY

Once upon an 80-acres circa 1995, in Richland Center, Norbert and Susan Calnin started Candlewood Cabins (pictured above) with just one cabin. Today, there are five, including three glass cabins. All offer expansive views, nature trails on the property, and are enjoyed by visitors from all over the world.

WHY STAY HERE

“It’s really very private,” says Norbert.  “People feel like they have their own space … and are able to interact with each other and have contact with nature.”

WHAT TO DO

Candlewood offers on-site nature trails, and there are also five state parks or county recreation areas within an hour’s drive. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin is only a 30-minute drive. In winter, the main house rents out snowshoes.

HOW TO BOOK

International press on the glass cabins has increased demand beyond the owner’s wildest expectations—currently, reservations before 2020 are limited. Rates range from $140 to $245 a night, depending on the cabin selected, for the 2020 season. If you’re feeling spontaneous, watch their social media pages for last-minute cancellations. You can book online at candlewoodcabins.com/reservations.

Canoe Bay & Escape Village, Chetek

BACKSTORY

Canoe Bay is a former church camp that has been transformed into a couple’s-only retreat and is now in its 26th year. Two hours east of Minneapolis, and one hour north of Eau Claire, the property boasts 27 upscale units. Most are freestanding cottages, but six are in multi-unit buildings. Adjacent to Canoe Bay is ESCAPE Village, an enclave of uniquely designed, eco-friendly tiny homes for those who want to try the small life. If it suits you, you can order one for delivery just about anywhere in the United States.

WHY STAY HERE

“It’s a quick detox for everything that is stressful about modern life,” says Lisa Dobrowolski, who owns the resort  with her husband, Dan. “There’s immense peace and quiet.”

WHAT TO DO

You’re always welcome, and even encouraged, to do nothing. Inroom massages are available to make your nothing even more relaxing. The lodge features books and DVDs for guests. In winter, crosscountry and downhill skiing are close by, and you can snowshoe for free on the property. A three-course dinner in the glass-enclosed, lakeside dining room is also available for $170 per couple.

HOW TO BOOK

A basic room starts at $350 a night, with a two-night minimum, and goes up to $999 a night for the Edgewood Villa. Rates include breakfast and access to Wahdon Lake and nature trails. Tiny homes in ESCAPE Village start at $195 a night. Some amenities in Canoe Bay not be available in the ESCAPE Village. Visit canoebay.com and escapevillages.com to book.

Mcintyre’s Resort, Delavan

BACKSTORY

Want a cabin your grandparents would recognize?  Check out McIntyre’s Resort on beautiful, spring-fed Turtle Lake in Delavan. These beautifully preserved time capsules were the original cabins at Lake Lawn Resort, on nearby Delavan Lake. Owned today by Pat McIntyre, the tiny resort was purchased by her father, Louis, a police officer, in the 1940s.

WHY STAY HERE

Humble, family-run resorts like this were once common throughout the Midwest. “It’s magical here,” says Pat. “It’s a special place, and people feel it the moment they arrive.”

WHAT TO DO

Turtle Lake, just steps from the cabins, is ideal for rowing or paddle boating, which McIntyre’s offers free to guests. Ice fishing is good in the winter. Enjoy breakfast at Elizabeth’s Cafe on the historic brick road in downtown Delavan. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike, bike or ski in the southern unit of the Kettle Moraine.

HOW TO BOOK

Call Pat directly at (262) 728-9313. Rates start at $125, depending on the season and the number of people staying.

Still Bend/The Bernard Schwartz House, Two Rivers

BACKSTORY

If staying in a Frank Lloyd Wright designed home is on your bucket list, Still Bend is calling. The home was built in 1939 for Two Rivers businessman Bernard Schwartz via LIFE Magazine’s Dream House program. In 2003, it was purchased by Michael Ditmer and his brother, Gary, with the goal of making it  something the masses could enjoy.

WHY STAY HERE

“What I love about the home is, I’m sure, what other people love about the home—it’s the warmth and grandeur all in the same space,” says Michael.

WHAT TO DO

Two Rivers is still active as a deep-water fishing port, and features a lighthouse on the National Register of Historic Places. Plenty of hiking trails abound and the community is along Lake Michigan. Be sure to enjoy a Wisconsin supper club experience at Machut’s.

HOW TO BOOK

Off season, rates start at $350 a night with a two-night minimum.  Online booking is available at theschwartzhouse.com/renting.

Rustic Yurts, Bayfield

BACKSTORY

Genghis Kahn stayed in yurts, and you can, too. The forestry department in Bayfield tested the yurt waters with structures in Cable and Mt. Ashwabay. It went so well they added a second yurt in Mt. Ashwabay. It’s a humble way to lodge, and you have to hike about a half-mile in and bring all of your own bedding. Restrooms are primitive, but the yurts are available year-round, thanks to a wood stove for heating. All cooking must be done outdoors, just like Khan did, and firewood is provided.

WHY STAY HERE

“It’s basically a big tent. You can hear all the noises outside and it’s a lot less work. It’s definitely a very cool experience. It’s camping without a lot of work,” says Jen Bratsch, a recreation forester with Bayfield.

WHAT TO DO

Heard of forest bathing? Well, this is the place to do it—simply bathe in what nature offers. In fall and winter you can hike, cross-country ski or snowshoe. Enjoy dinner at one of the many great restaurants in Bayfield near the Ashwabay yurt that feature fresh Lake Superior whitefish and trout. In Cable, it’s easy to pop into town to enjoy a meal at the Rookery Pub, Rivers Eatery or the Brickhouse Café.

HOW TO BOOK

The yurts sleep six, and booking is only available on airbnb.com.


This article originally appeared in the 2018 fall/winter issue of Experience Wisconsin magazine. The contents of this article were checked for accuracy when it was published; however, it’s possible some of the information has changed. We recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the destinations, attractions or restaurants mentioned in this article.

No portion of this article or magazine may be reproduced without prior written permission by the publisher.

Author

Lisa Schmelz is an award-winning freelancer writers, whose work has appeared in majory daily newspapers, national magazines and books. She lives in Delavan, where she also works as a special education teacher.

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