If I had my way I would chase perfect weather across the country, moving my RV as the seasons changed, leaving behind bitter cold or melting heat and humidity.
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Right now a house, job, and kids activities keep us stationary, allowing for long weekend getaways and extended trips.
While it seemed like my Midwestern home went from winter to summer, with barely any spring, our rains caught up in June, bringing intense humidity. By early July I was more than ready for our escape ‘Up North’ to Hayward, Wisconsin.
If you’re not familiar with Hayward, it’s a lovely northern Wisconsin resort town nestled in tall pine trees with a gorgeously clear river flowing through it. Only an hour from Lake Superior, the cool lake breezes filter through the forest, creating a perfect summer haven.
Fun At the Campground
Our campground of choice for this trip was Hayward KOA – definitely more resort than campground! Two big selling points for my family were the heated pool and the dog park.
Like many KOAs, Hayward had fun, organized activities for the kids – bike decorating, watermelon eating, wagon rides, movie nights, and even a dance party. The girls would let us know where they were going to be, we would hand them a walkie talkie, tell them to stay together, and off they would go, leaving Doug and I happily sitting by our campfire enjoying the freedom RVing brings.
Hayward KOA has a couple other great features we took advantage of – a big, fun, fast waterslide and river tubing services.
Though the kids could have gone down the waterslide continuously on their all-day pass, we forced a break for afternoon river tubing. If you’ve not enjoyed an afternoon on a tube, think of it as the Lazy River at the waterpark with nature and beverages. As we were camping with family and friends, our group was quite large and made a rather cumbersome flotilla after attaching the tubes together with twine.
Things were easier after we entered the cool, clear waters of the Namekagon River where we floated, as peacefully as you can with 5 kids, downriver for 2 hours. Absolute perfection.
To De, See, and Eat in Hayward
As I mentioned before, Hayward is a resort town for all seasons. The super cute Main Street is lined with fun shops, terrific for a leisurely stroll. The old Carnegie Library is now a bike shop, while across the street and down a couple doors is the Hayward Mercantile Co. where you can buy pure Maple syrups, tasty olive oils, and Balsamic vinegars.
We bypassed sporting goods, T-shirt shops and a bakery before the girls were drawn to the window of Olde Time Candies. Baskets, buckets, and jars of candy line this store. New treats like Jelly Belly sit across from favorites of my childhood like Bit-o-Honey and Chick-o-Stick. Samples of store-made peanut and cashew brittle site next to pre-packaged bags of the sugary goodness.
Bag of candy in hand we continued our wanderings, our next stop at West’s Hayward Dairy for their premium homemade ice cream. Though the girls indulged, I just couldn’t; I got a sugar rush just from walking through the door!
As we finished our downtown stroll I couldn’t help but take the girls through the Moccasin Bar, after checking with the bartender on duty first. This unassuming bar sits at the busiest intersection of Hayward, its signs touting it as the home of Cal Johnson’s World Record Musky as well as a Wildlife Museum.
Make no mistake; this is a small town bar, dim lighting, pool tables, and all. But along the walls are displays of taxidermy that must be seen to be believed. Some animals, like the albino deer and snowy owl are set in wooded displays, appearing wonderfully natural. But it’s the other displays that are most enjoyable. Like the boxing raccoons, card playing bear, and fishing chipmunks. So, maybe not a Wildlife Museum, but a fun place to walk through!
For a real museum, visit the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum. The two story Musky is the star attraction. Climb to his mouth and stand beneath three rows of razor sharp teeth for a fun photo opp. The cement pond beneath offers free fishing for the kids, and statues of other fresh water fish are spread through the grounds. Museum buildings hold everything from boat motor displays and world record fish to fishing lures, reels, and artifacts. (This is a great stop on your way out of Hayward as they have a huge parking lot that welcomes RVs!)
We don’t often eat out when camping, but we did have one lunch in Hayward. The River Deck Restaurant sits next door to the arena where the Lumberjack World Championships are held each year. We didn’t stay long enough to watch the afternoon Lumberjack Show, though the girls did enjoy feeding the fish and turtle that congregated beside the restaurant patio.
While the kids menu was pretty typical – and our girls’ palates weren’t very adventurous— Doug and I shared a Walleye Sandwich with Wild Rice Salad and a Baked Brie that was so beautifully creamy and sweet with the Cabernet Syrup that it could have been a dessert.
Hayward, Wisconsin easily convinced me that ‘Up North’ is a perfect summer RV getaway – we’re already talking about a return next year!