Welcome to the WashCo Compass Blog
There’s no place like the cabin. As cliché as it is, all cabin-goers know it. For me, it’s a place to escape from the city, be in nature, slow down, and enjoy quality family time without the everyday distractions.
I got lucky and married into an old family cabin on Long Lake. I’ve been coming here with my husband Nick for the last seven years of its 115 year existence. The 2-hour drive up north feels shorter each year. The Scandinavian-style log cabin paired with the backdrop of Washburn County’s great white pines and a shimmering lake reminds me of a storybook fairytale. You can bet this place is filled with cabin history and memories
You don’t need to plan an extravagant vacation to visit Belgium if you are looking for gourmet, melt-in-your-mouth, luxury chocolates. All you need to do is take a wander into a few of our local stores before you notice a trend. What are these beautiful boxes of chocolates and why do so many local shops carry them? Flip over the box and you’ll see that they are indeed made locally.
Where can I find cranberries? That is one of the top questions we hear at the visitor center this time of year - and it’s a great question! While our beloved Stone Lake Cranberry Festival has been canceled for 2020, you don’t have to miss out on picking up Wisconsin’s State Fruit, the red, deliciously tart cranberry...
The vibrant fall landscape with its brilliant pops of yellow, orange and red is enough to remind you of a watercolor painting. If you love the scenery, you’re going to love the art galleries in our area even more! Here are some of my favorite stops...
It’s that time of the year again where the temperatures slowly start dropping and the leaves paint a vibrant canvas across the landscape. When you’re out with the family soaking up all the beautiful colors, be sure to stop by the Burch Barn for all kinds of family fun! The pumpkin patch is opening...
Roll down the windows, let the breeze blow through your hair and take in the crisp fall air! A drive through the northwoods of Washburn County will leave you absolutely in awe during the fall season. As the forests seem to be on fire with yellow, orange and red leaves, you’ll want to have a camera handy to capture all of the beauty surrounding you...
Let’s be honest here. We all pretty much love the vivid colors that fall brings to our landscape. It’s gorgeous. But, if we’re really being honest, it’s the tastes and treasures I find along my fall color path that truly make the memories for me! There’s nothing like watching a hard working cranberry farmer raking in those bright red berries or stopping off at a local brewpub to taste the latest brew infused with all of the succulent tastes of the season. Fall goes by so fast and there are so many amazing stops you can make, I tried to narrow it down for you while you venture through my beloved “backyard.”
While I am one for a good car ride with the windows down, to take in the fall colors… There is something to be said about paddling down the river during the peak fall color and being surrounded by the northwoods wilderness. So let me give you a few inside tips for heading out on the river. First things first, if you don’t have a canoe or kayak, the amazing river outfitters in Washburn County are here to help. They will get you set up, along with a floatation device, paddles, a shuttle to the landing & get you back to your vehicle without a hitch...
Summer seems to come and go so quickly - be sure you’re making the most of your summer in Washburn County! One of my all time favorite summer activities is a picnic lunch. With well over twenty parks in our county, you can find a perfect spot in any of our communities. Whether you want a quiet spot with stunning views of an area lake or river, a picnic table with a playground to wear out the kiddos, or a true summer picnic spot with a swimming area, you’ll find some absolute treasures on this list. Here are a few of my favorites broken down by community, but keep in mind you can find a full list of parks...
Best of WashCo: Water Fun 2020
With the warm summer days, what’s better than enjoying some time outside? And if you want water, we’ve got it! In fact, there are nearly 1,000 lakes & nearly 50 miles of a beautiful scenic river. So how does everyone get out and enjoy the water? Well.. we wanted to find out so we took it to the polls!
The #1 water activity you voted for was floating the Namekagon, which happens to be one of my personal favorite ways to cool off on a hot summer day. I love to get a group of friends together, get some tubes and just float. During the peak summer months, you can tell that it’s a fan favorite around here because you’ll often run into other groups of tubers taking in the beautiful summer days. If tubing isn’t your thing, don’t worry! The outfitters along the river can set you up with a canoe or kayak trip as well!
We know that memories are made when you are out enjoying the water or exploring all the Washburn County has to offer. But, where is your favorite place to stay during these adventures? There’s a little bit of everything to pick from around here, mom & pop motels, beautiful campgrounds, a classic resort right on the water - it seems like there’s an ideal getaway from everyone!
Wide open spaces. The great northwoods. The middle of nowhere. Whatever you call it, we know what you mean. The outdoor adventures are endless in Washburn County, whether exploring one of the many trails, enjoying time on the water, or just sitting back to put your toes in the sand - there’s no wrong way to enjoy Washburn County’s outdoors! And, with so many options we knew that this had to be included in our Best of WashCo series. The nominations came in across the board, but you voted and we listened. So without further ado let’s get to the good part...
As you launch your canoe into the first in a series of extraordinary glacial lakes, you’re sure to notice the intense calm of the Washburn County forest land surrounding you. This little known gem is called the Birchwood Canoe Routes, located in the Sawmill Lake Primitive Area. It’s the perfect little spot to enjoy the solitude of a back-country experience, just a little closer to home. If you’re looking for a boundary waters experience without the travel time, this is it! Many refer to this area as their “mini boundary waters” as it has a similar feel, just on a much smaller scale...
Have you ever wondered how in the world such a great brewpub ended up in a quaint little town tucked away in the Northwoods? We recently had the opportunity to sit down with the Churchill family, the masterminds behind this incredible operation, to dig deep into what started all of this, into what started Round Man Brewing Company.
Let’s Get Back to the Beginning
If you’re from the area, there’s a small chance that you remember China Night at the Spooner Golf Course back in the late 80’s. Well, Jeff Churchill, also endearingly known as The Round Man, and his wife, Sue Churchill, certainly still do. This was their first real look at Washburn County, and just like that, a romance ensued. Shortly after that memorable night, Sue and Jeff found a lovely little rental cabin on Cable Lake right on the outskirts of Spooner. What’s that cliche? And the rest is history?
If you’ve lived in Washburn County for any length of time, you’ve probably at least heard of Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary. For those of you who haven’t spent much time at Hunt Hill, it’s about time for you to head out and do some exploring! While you won’t catch their normal educational programs out there right now, you will want to tune into their “Hunt Hill at Home” on Facebook. Every weekday at 1 p.m., their program director, Sage, presents on different environmental education topics. She’s already covered some great ones like animal tracks, planting seeds, and she even took the viewers...
Y’all sunsets are one of my favorite things...ever! And, I might be a little biased but I think Washburn County has some of the best spots to view sunsets. There are so many nights my little and I hop in the car and drive to look at “the pretty sky and cotton candy clouds”, as she would call them. I have no shame in the amount of sunset photos I have taken on my phone (and will continue to take). So, needless to say this might be one of my favorite Best of WashCo categories - they’re all good, but I am such a sucker for sunsets!
The hundreds of miles of trails in Washburn County are one of my favorite ways to get out and enjoy the northwoods. Even if you’re not able to make your way to the area right now, the trails will be waiting for you! There are so many great trails throughout our area that it made choosing just three a tough choice but we listened to our voters & here is the top three trails for 2020!
If you are anything like me, it’s getting to be that time in the winter season where you are searching for ways to beat the winter blues. Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to get outside on the amazing trails in Washburn County, but I’m missing the lazy Saturdays of shopping at the local farmers’ market and wandering through the authentic downtowns. Wait, why do we need to wait until summer? We don’t! So, let’s not!
January 31, 2020
To kick things off I wanted to talk about The Best Pour. Who doesn’t love a yummy drink? This category was a very tight race and so was Best Bites - but we will get to that in a different month this year. The winner that we are recognizing for The Best Pour in 2020 is Alley Cats Coffee located on the north end of Spooner.
November 6, 2019
The cool nights and frosty mornings have arrived & I don’t know about you, but it makes me fast forward to nights in front of the fire with cocoa and my loved ones! There are so many great things coming our way this holiday season in Washburn County that you just can’t help but feel jolly and get swept away in the spirit of it all.
September 18, 2019
The trees are changing and there is a crisp, coolness to the air - it’s fall, one of the most beloved seasons around the northwoods. And what’s not to love? The sights are beautiful, it’s finally sweater weather again, and the flavors are divine! Yes, flavors of fall are a real thing and around here we get spoiled with just how delicious (and local) they are!
August 24, 2019
Imagine riding along in a private train car, taking in the picturesque views of the Namekagon River on a beautiful fall afternoon…sipping a glass of wine. The new Wine & Cheese train ride at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad allows you to do just that! Make your visit to Washburn County extra special with a Sunday afternoon train ride. The Sky Parlour car, “Namekagon View”, features a mahogany bar, booth seating area, cocktail sofas and plush comfy lounge seats on the upper level. The dome top windows really make the trip an amazing way to see the oranges, golds, and reds of our northwoods this autumn. The bottom level features a 20 seat movie theater which will have a forward engineer eye view on its screen...
June 27, 2019
Bucking broncs, cheering fans, and fearless cowboys. There’s nothing quite like cheering on a cowboy as he holds on tight for the ride of his life. From the cute little cowboys and cowgirls just learning the ropes on the sheep to the experienced team ropers, you’re sure to enjoy the action-packed performances of the Heart of the North Spooner Rodeo. Spooner has been blessed to be the home of a professional rodeo for 66 years running. Did you know that Spooner Rodeo has won the award of Large Rodeo of the Year for the past four out of five years in the Great Lakes Circuit...
June 4, 2019
Did you know that Shell Lake, Wisconsin is home to the longest continuous running jazz camp in the nation?! Did you also know that your middle or high school student can take part in jazz camp, concert band camp, show choir camp or any number of the 16 youth camps that are offered there? So, what is this place? It’s the Shell Lake Arts Center! With over 50 years of experience, the SLAC provides a positive environment where kids can further develop and explore their artistic talents...
June 3, 2019
Have you ever wondered where that monster walleye came from that you caught on your favorite Wisconsin lake? Or what about that first musky that you caught with your grandpa? Well, there’s a good chance that it came from a little hatchery located in Spooner, Wisconsin. Now don’t get us wrong, there is a lot of natural reproduction in Wisconsin lakes, but the Wisconsin DNR definitely helps maintain (and boost) our fish populations with their fish management programs via their fish hatcheries. Spooner, located in the heart of Northwest Wisconsin, is home to the Governor Tommy G. Thompson State Fish Hatchery, known to many as the largest musky hatchery in the world...
May 22, 2019
From a small clay studio set up in a church to The Potter’s Shed that we know and love today, there’s an incredible story behind the music, art, gorgeous garden, and even the fairy doors that make up this well known attraction. Affectionately referred to by their local patrons as simply “The Shed”, it’s no wonder that they won the award for Washburn County’s Tourism Business of the Year in 2018. For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Potter’s Shed and all it offers, this is one of Washburn County’s most well-known and well-loved places to visit and spend time.
May 15, 2019
Nearly 1,000 sparkling lakes, good old-fashioned resorts and Friday Night Fish Fries, Washburn County is the ideal destination to plan your summer getaway. Washburn County is located in Northwest Wisconsin, directly between Eau Claire and Duluth/Superior. You could say that Washburn County is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, but that might be an understatement. With nearly 1,000 lakes, it's one of the premier destinations for outdoor recreation in the state of Wisconsin. Home to both the Bluegill and Walleye Capitals of Wisconsin (Birchwood and Long Lake), fishing is a great family sport to get out and enjoy the water. Here's our "short list" of some of the ways we love to experience Washburn County!
April 29, 2019
While you’re out looking for your new honey hole for the upcoming fishing season, Washburn County will be sure to have what you’re looking for. Here are some fun fishing & lake facts about our area that you may want to know while exploring for the perfect spot to cast a line.
- Did you know Washburn County has nearly 1,000 lakes?! 964 to be exact, according to Washburn County Lakes & Rivers Association (WCLRA). Not all of those lakes are named, but they are out there and some of the best fishing can be found on those little “no name” lakes. If you pick up a Washburn County Highway Map you will see where the public access landings are for you to take advantage of.