You may have seen the video I posted back in May, asking for suggestions on where to go during an upcoming two-week road trip I was taking “Up North”.
Well, that Up North road trip didn’t fully happen, but still happened. A little event called the Bucks’ first championship win in 50 years interrupted the original plan and brought me back to Milwaukee alongside pretty much every other Wisconsinite.
But, I still managed to see a lot on my first trip north of Rhinelander and tried to capture as much as I could to share, especially with all the folks who took the time to give recommendations.
Follow along as we post new videos every day and update this blog post with all the stops we made.
But first, meet my co-star
Meet Michael, the captain of the trip and leader of the ship, lover of country music and fish fry connoisseur.
Sweet Memories – Lakewood, WI
Our first stop was Sweet Memories in Lakewood, located slightly more than an hour’s drive from Green Bay. Not to be confused with the few details about your behavior your friends disclose to you the morning after a Bucks championship bar crawl, this candy shop has any treat you could ever dream of.
The store opened in 1991 and made the long pilgrimage to their current location across the street in 1993. That upgrade included adding 52 more flavors of saltwater taffy, 44 more flavors of jelly beans, 36 flavors of homemade fudge and permanent ice cream and chocolate cases. They also became open year-round.
It’s safe to say Sweet Memories has any of your cravings — as specific as they may be — covered. The shop is a perfect snack break for road trips, and you won’t have any difficulty finding the place. They have a Sweet Memories Lane x Chocolate Drive road sign displayed prominently in front.
But, don’t expect to emerge from this multi-level candy paradise quickly. I became particularly obsessed with the wide variety of Pez dispensers available.
Wabeno and its Logging Museum
Next, we made our way up to Wabeno to visit its logging museum and many historical artifacts covering Northern Wisconsin’s logging history. The spot was a real glimpse into a different era, where everything was made out of wood and a nasty tweet was only a sound a dying bird made.
We saw the logging museum — built in 1941 to resemble logging camps in Forest County — and the “Bandshell ” built in 1940 and still hosts events for Wabeno. You can’t miss the 20-foot statue of Larry the Log Roller standing prominently outside the Bandshell, a figure that might get slightly terrifying if you visited the area at dusk. Or could make a great villain for a slasher movie in the logging museum.
But, the site has multiple other structures that are equally as wholesome. Built in 1897 by the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Company, the Wabeno Public Library building was one of the first buildings in Wabeno. It’s still open six days a week and uses a physical card system to check out books, so you don’t have to worry about some hackers snooping on that slightly embarrassing book you got. Maybe just the librarian.
There’s also a small schoolhouse on the property that was built in 1897 and began instruction in 1898 with four students. It’d be pretty hard to exchange answers during tests with that small class size.
If you’re in the area, stop by! The museum is open every day of the week during the summer and just the weekends after Labor Day.
Black Forest Pub and Grille – Three Lakes, WI
We ventured even farther towards Canada for our next stop in Three Lakes to visit the Black Forest Pub and Grille. This joint is no ordinary pub and grill — if you couldn’t already tell from the “Grille” spelling — that has a rich history dating back to 1934. Former MLB player-turned architect Frederick “Cy” Williams was hired to design the building to resemble the beer gardens found in Germany’s Black Forest region.
Williams did just that, as the building has wood-beamed interior and outdoor walls. In 1940, the owners added a new dining room and bowling alley to create more space for a surge in Northern Wisconsin tourism. Unfortunately, a roof collapsed on the bowling alley in the mid-1990s, cutting its life short. Did anything good happen in the mid-1990s anyway?
Thankfully, most of the Grille’s history continues on. A German-Born Marcel Biró and Heather Biró took over operations in 2014, continuing the German vibe and style at the restaurant. They did update the electrical and plumbing which is probably a good idea for an 80-year-old building.
If you want a genuine taste of Europe in Northern Wisconsin, this is the place for you. Make sure to bring your drinking cap.
And if you’re looking for the book we bought while we were there you can buy it from the Wisconsin Historical Society – Bottoms Up: A Toast to Wisconsin’s Historic Bars & Breweries