Fishing excursions, home-like resorts, water sports and more in a cozy historic town.
I felt two tugs on the line. To be sure, I waited to feel another one. When it came, I flipped the lever on the rod. “You got something going on there?” asked Joel, our captain and fishing guide. I nodded. “Reel it in.” I started winding the reel, the wrong way. “No, away from you. Wind away from you.” I did. The rod bowed, a steep arch formed, and it got harder to turn the reel. My arms strained, my heart pounded, and Joel grabbed the net. A catfish, the biggest fish anyone in our group caught that day, wriggled and bounced. We snapped pictures of my prized catch, and Joel released the fish back into the water.
My fishing adventure occurred in Green Lake, Wisconsin, the oldest resort town west of Niagara Falls. Joel, of North Bay Sport, has been leading fishing excursions for experienced and novice anglers since 1985. “People get discouraged if hours go by and they catch one or two fish. I bring ‘em out here, and they have fun catching fish after fish.” And that’s exactly what we did.
Throughout my Green Lake visit, I stayed at the Heidel House Resort and Spa. Though the design and lighting could use an update, the lake view more than compensated. From the dock, my balcony, and even the couch in my suite, I enjoyed the lake’s cooling breeze, its glittering shine, and its gentle laps against the bank. In addition to the view, the resort offers cruises on its yacht, The Escapade, and makes rentals available for water sports. World class golf courses are just minutes away, and guests can enjoy the complimentary fitness room, game room, tennis courts, and indoor and outdoor pools.
For deeper relaxation, the resort’s Evensong Spa provides a variety of services. Just walking in calmed me with its soothing sounds, scents, and nature-inspired décor and surroundings. Evensong has earned worldwide recognition, and a #1 ranking among spas in the Midwest.
For more than 150 years, vacationers have traveled to the Green Lake area, and numerous museums honor this heritage. Among these, my favorite was the Grand River Valley Museum and Train Depot. Its presidential tie collection, replica movie theater, and pharmacy — with a soda fountain and list of common cures — educated and charmed me. The property also houses a transportation and farming building with hand-painted murals, and a train depot with original railroad office equipment, and separate men’s and women’s waiting rooms.
I enjoyed even more historic treasures at the Green Lake Conference Center. In addition to once featuring Martin Luther King, Jr., as one its honored speakers, the Conference Center boasts artifacts including one of only three battery-powered boats ever built, two prayer towers and a chapel car. This railroad car, equipped with stained glass, pews, and a pulpit, along with sleeping quarters and a kitchen for the minister, served communities that were located too far from established churches.
Beyond its historic interest, the center offers the general public activities such as hiking, biking, and crafting, providing material and instruction in creating stained glass, ceramics, jewelry and pottery. Additionally, individuals and families are welcome to enjoy the Green Lake Conference Center’s affordable accommodations and dining options. As the center’s website boasts, “Our ‘acre per person’ facility offers contemplative and inspirational quiet places and trails, soccer fields, indoor basketball courts, high and low rope courses with zip line, nationally ranked golf courses and a nine-hole disc golf course — in addition to activities in and on the waters of Green Lake itself!”
Grand River Valley Museum and Train Depot
214 E. John St., Markesan, WI | 920-398-2945
Green Lake Conference Center
W2511 Wisconsin 23, Green Lake, WI | 920-294-3323
Heidel House Resort and Spa
643 Illinois Ave. Green Lake, WI | 800-444-2812
North Bay Sport
501 S. St., Green Lake, WI | 920-294-6462