Every winter for the past 10 years my family has done a winter weekend to northern Wisconsin. Up until this winter we would spend the weekend in Mercer, WI but we outgrew the house we had always rented. We have a large group (my parents, brother, aunt & uncle and their three children. We now all have 2-3 kids ourselves.) A total of 11 adults and 7 kids this year! We chose a new house and location in Eagle River, WI. We loved it.
The group splits up between snowmobiling, ice fishing, and just relaxing at the cabin. This year we stayed at an awesome VRBO. The house was a nice size for a large group and the seating was comfortable. This cabin sits on Catfish Lake just outside of Eagle River, WI. The biggest downfall of the house was the parking and cost. The snow was great this winter for snowmobiling. Unfortunately, it was a bad winter for ice and ice fishing but we made the most of it!
What we did in Eagle River
I made a point to bundle up the kids at least once every single day and play outside. Even though it took what felt like forever to get all the snow gear on, we had so much fun every time we went out. I recently bought my daughter snowshoes. She was excited to go snowshoeing, the problem was that the snow was so deep we didn’t make it too far, oh well! There were options for snowshoe trails but not super close to the cabin we were at. I even loaded up my 2 year old in the baby carrier and took him out for a couple hikes – oof, talk about a workout!
One afternoon we utilized the fire pit after buying some wood from a local gas station. We listened to music, enjoyed a beer, and sat by the fire while the kids played on the swing set. It really doesn’t get much better than that.
Even though the ice wasn’t think enough to drive trucks out, we made it work. We just had to use the small 2 person ice shack, not the trailered one. The little kids also enjoyed going out and catching some fish.
Tips for Meal Planning with a large group
Deciding meals with a big group like this can be complicated. The process we’ve used the last couple years works really well:
First: Everyone decides on dinners for the week. We planned four dinners and food for 2 breakfasts.
- Spaghetti (my aunt has the best homemade spaghetti recipe!), salad, and french bread
- Tacos / Taco Bar
- Cheddar broccoli soup, tomato basil soup, and ham & cheese sandwiches
- Brats, burgers, coleslaw, salad
2: Everybody responded with types of foods our kids prefer for snacks and meals. Ex) chicken nuggets, buttered noodles, apple sauce, blueberries, etc..
3. My mom and my aunt did all of the grocery shopping and combined what all of the little kids would eat. This way there was less duplication and actually saves money on grocery bill to combine it all.
In the past, we used to have everybody bring a meal and their own food. The problem we found with that is people brought excess stuff for one meal. For example, if 2 people needed olive oil for their meal they would both bring it, not knowing. When doing it this way, we were able to combine grocery items. The total food cost per family ended up being about $60.
For lunch, everybody was on their own but there were lots of options. Most of the time the snowmobilers stop while out on the sleds. The ice fishers usually take food out to the ice shack for the day. So, for those in the cabin we usually just snacked after having a bigger breakfast.
If you’re going away with a large group and you have 1 or 2 people willing to take this on, give it a shot! We’ve been loving it!
Eagle river the town:
We didn’t go into town too much, but there were dining options and some stores. Eagle river has a cute small-town main street and downtown area. There are a few bars, restaurants, and some shops to explore.
I really liked the store Walkabout Paddle and Apparel. Note: This store isn’t on the main street in downtown Eagle River.
Another store we enjoyed was Cotton + Birch Collective. This boutique was fun with both clothing and home decor!
We ate at two different places in Eagle River for lunch. Lumpy’s Bar and Grill and Eddie B’s White Spruce Restaurant and Tavern. Everyone thought the food was actually really good at the White Spruce. However, the service at both places was only OK.
There was a new restaurant bar that we noticed in downton Eagle River called The Craftsman American Tavern. It was still under construction but if we go back to Eagle River, I definitely want to check it out. We peeked in the windows and it looked like a fun vibe.