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Our Summer 2020 Bucket List

June 12, 2020
Lake Michigan Overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Our Summer 2020 Bucket List

June 12, 2020

When we first started working on our list of summer plans, there were no complications with virus, closures, and social distancing. I’ve chosen to still include some of the ideas we had even if they aren’t going to be possible this summer due to the variety of factors in place. This may spark some ideas of things you can do in your own area or make modifications to still enjoy all summer has to offer, while keeping healthy and safe as well.

We’re doing a running series this summer called “Adventure of the Week” where we’ll be sharing some sort of outing, activity, or trip each week. Check it out on the blog by clicking the “adventure of the week” category, or follow along on Instagram!

We envision this summer looking a bit more like the summers of our childhood and keeping it “old school”. We’ll be sticking to the simple stuff like re-exploring our own backyards and familiar places, bike rides, campfires and camping trips. Basically, quality over quantity and making all the memories because it’s been quite the memorable year already!

Cheap, Easy, and Local activities


Family day spent at New Glarus Brewing Company

We love visiting local breweries, especially in the summer. Even if you’re not a beer-lover or drinker, there’s still plenty to enjoy. Most of these breweries have great outdoor spaces and often feature live music and special events. Some serve food and some don’t – but will usually specify if carry-in and/or delivery food is allowed. While these are all beer establishments, they are all kid-friendly during the day and evening hours. Wisconsin has no shortage of breweries but these are the ones we’ve personally visited and enjoyed:

Aqualand Ale House in Boulder Junction
Hop Garden Tap Room in Paoli, WI
Wisconsin Brewing Company in Verona

Parks + Trails

Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo, WI

Again, this list is nowhere near exhaustive since Wisconsin has such a huge park and trail system. While the state parks get the most attention, check out some local county parks as well – sometimes these are hidden gems. We’ve both got dogs that can usually tag along on these adventures as well, but check the dog-friendliness of a place first. Consider utilizing the water as well. The beaches can be fun, even if the water safety isn’t good for swimming – some of the parks have water sport rentals available. (Our kids LOVE standup paddleboarding after discovering it in Colorado!). Katie reviewed some inflatable kayaks in this post, if you’re in the market for buying versus renting.

Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo, WI
Pheasant Branch Conservancy in Middleton, WI
Gibraltar Rock overlook in Lodi, WI
Governor Dodge State Park in Dodgeville, WI

Day Adventures And Weekend Trips

Heart of Vilas County Bike Trail in Boulder Junction, WI
  • Exploring “new to us” cities and towns in Wisconsin
    • We have so much fun picking “super cute” new towns to visit. We like to check the local chamber’s events pages and see if anything is going on, along with trying new restaurants and sights (see our posts on day trips exploring Baraboo WI and New Glarus WI)
  • Indiana Dunes National Park – Dune Acres, IN
  • Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail
    • One of the most popular trails in the country
    • 32.5 miles and travels through several small towns
  • Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
    • So many options – we’re novices so we’ll likely use an outfitter company for our gear and do short day trips
    • There are many “resorts” in the area, as well as private cabin rentals, bunkhouses, and camping options for lodging
  • Camping trips
    • Crystal Lake Campground – one of many campgrounds in the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest
      • Justin camped here every summer as a kid and is anxious to return with our own families
    • Wildcat Mountain State Park – Ontario WI
      • Canoe rentals available to canoe the Kickapoo River
    • Peninsula State Park – Door County WI
      • Super popular, so we’ll have to plan ahead for reservations next summer on this one
    • Mirror Lake State Park – Baraboo WI
      • The four of us camped here as poor college students on a whim one weekend and had a blast. It’s also close enough to home that we can abort if needed for weather or kid trouble 🙂
  • Northern Michigan – we had SO MUCH FUN on our road trip exploring northern Michigan a couple summers ago, we’d love to return!
  • Northern WI – the options are endless. We spend a lot of time up north with family
    • Some of our favorite “up north” towns include Mercer, Manitowish Waters, Minocqua, Hayward, Eagle River and Boulder Junction
    • The four of us and three kids (Katie was pregnant at the time) spent Labor Day weekend in Bayfield, WI a few years ago. We talk often about getting back up there – even though it’s “up north” it has a different vibe than the northwoods and is the cutest town!
Winter weekend in Eagle River, WI
Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan
Exploring Sleeping Bear Dunes in northern Michigan

Distance Travel

  • Road trip to Bryson City, North Carolina
    • Assuming it’s safe to travel, this is one trip we’re still planning on later this summer. Our plans include a 15-passenger rental van and driving down to stay at a rental cabin in the Smoky Mountains
Photo Credit: Bryson City NC / Swain County Chamber of Commerce

And not limited to summer, but scouring the internet for other “bucket list” locations we can plan future trips to visit some day 🙂 If you’re looking to read about our past trips – check them out under the Places tab above!

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado

(Just our own personal plea, as healthcare workers during this crazy pandemic, please keep distance and stay safe so everyone can have a fun, enjoyable and healthy summer!)

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