24 hours in Eagle River: Spring Edition

With the title “Snowmobile Capital of the World,” the gorgeous colors of fall, and the promise of endless summer fun on area lakes, spring can sometimes get overlooked in Eagle River. However, as it turns out, the cure for spring fever lies here in the Northwoods. Still not convinced? Well, check out our 24-hour spring break in Eagle River.

If you’ve been following our 24 Hours in Eagle River series, you’ll know we pack our schedule to the brim, and usually fill our cups to the brim as well, so an overnight stay made sense for us. We stayed at the Best Western Derby Inn, but there are plenty of lodging options here.

We arrived at 8 a.m. and needed to fuel up for the long day ahead of us. We stopped over at Leif’s Café for coffee and breakfast. Leif’s has been an Eagle River staple for over 30 years. Judging by their skillets, it was easy for us to see why.

After breakfast, we decided to test our artistic skills at the Warehouse Art Center. It was a good thing they offer classes in many disciplines, because while the advanced pottery students were putting the finishing touches on a vase or bowl, I was staring at a sad pile of clay. Thankfully, the Warehouse offers classes and activities for artists of all skill levels and ages, from children ­to seniors. The pottery class was one of my favorite parts of the trip, because as bad as I was at sculpting clay, it was very cathartic, as I slowly (but surely) improved.

I’m looking forward to trying my hand at pottery again this summer during the Warehouse’s weekly classes, but if pottery isn’t your cup of tea, don’t worry. They also offer painting, yoga, and even activities for children.


I would get the meatball bomber again in a heartbeat, but I think next time I would’ve avoided eating it right before riding an ATV through the Northwoods. Shortly after lunch we made our way to some trails to ride ATVs. The crisp spring air and sun shining down on us as we flew through the trails made the recently departed snow a distant memory. Wisconsin winters often seem to overstay their welcome as we begin to itch for warmer days, but we couldn’t have asked for a better day to ride.

After exploring the trails we had a little time to kill before dinner. We found our way to Tribute Brewing. Like the name suggests, Tribute pays homage to the rich history of Eagle River and is the epitome of Wisconsin craft brewing. I decided on the White Legs Jalapeno Wheat Ale. While I was a little uncertain of my choice, the bartender assured me I would enjoy their gold medal winning brew. He was right. The ale had a clean and refreshing taste that hit the spot after our ride. The light carbonation allowed for the pepper flavor to come through without being overpowering. We enjoyed our drinks and talked with some friendly Eagle River locals at the bar before heading to dinner.

After making it through an infamous Midwest goodbye or two, we made our way to Chef Rene’s at the Inn. We stopped at the bar of the supper club on our way in, because we figured a trip to the Northwoods wouldn’t be complete without an old fashioned. Personally, I prefer my old fashioned sour, but to each their own. After wrestling over the many seafood and steak options, I eventually settled on a surf and turf compromise. This was another excellent choice of meal, but after a few drinks and a long day, we were exhausted. After dinner, we made our way back to the Best Western, and I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.


To jumpstart our second day, we stopped at Eagle River Roasters. This cozy café had plenty of coffee, sandwiches, and pastries to make almost anyone a morning person.

No trip to Eagle River would be complete without checking out the shops downtown, which is where we headed after breakfast. We stopped at Glik’s, which I had never been to, and it did not disappoint. Glik’s carries big name brands and trendy clothes while still maintaining the small-town charm of Eagle River.

We ended our trip in Eagle River by going back to where the city began. At the Eagle River Historical Society Museum, we got a glimpse into the city’s rich history, frozen in time much like Eagle River’s famous ice castle. We did hear the origin of the ice castle, and it turns out it began as a marketing tactic for a local ice business. The castle was much smaller than the one we know today but, to be fair, Charles Hanke built it by himself. It was fascinating to see Eagle River through a whole new light, so even if you think you know the ins and outs of the town’s history, I encourage you to check out the museum.

Our time in Eagle River came to an end much sooner than we would have liked, but we left with our heads full of knowledge and our stomachs full of delicious food and drinks. Spring in Eagle River proved to be better than advertised. After a long and grueling Wisconsin winter, many of us are itching for warm summer days on the lake. But there is a beauty to the spring. Birds start chirping, the sun shines a little brighter, and the crisp air is refreshing after being cooped inside all winter. Spring in Eagle River provides hope for warmer days that lie ahead, and it is not a season to be overlooked.

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