Grab your phone and visit Vilas County’s scenic and historic photo hotspots—here’s a look at some of the Northwoods of Wisconsin’s most Instagrammable destinations.
Natural beauty abounds in Vilas County, giving you a great backdrop for your Northwoods selfie. In Boulder Junction, head to Cathedral Point (a peninsula that separates the north and south ends of Trout Lake) to marvel at 100-foot pines or use the Travel Wisconsin selfie stand at Crystal Lake.
Stroll through charming downtown Boulder Junction to find several more photo ops, including the downtown mural (on the site of Badger Heating and Air Conditioning), the giant rocking chair outside Peeplelures and the benches outside Sauter Builders.
Head to the Boulder Junction Chamber of Commerce office on Hwy. M (Park Street) to see the new, much-larger-than-life statue of Marty the Musky. And don’t miss the giant musky painted on a propane tank on Hwy. K West, which welcomes visitors to the Musky Capital of the World. Head to Northern Highland Sports to snap a pic with the “What Fish Are You?” sign.
In Eagle River, you’ll find lots of historic spots for a selfie, including the 1920s-era Eagle River Depot Museum (fittingly located on Railroad Street) and the Eagle River Sports Arena (affectionately known as just “The Dome”), which was built in 1933 and still hosts hockey games. Roadside stops for photo ops include the stone arch in Riverview Park, the massive eagle sculptures at the entrances to the city and the blue cow outside the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce. Head to Pirates Hideaway to get a selfie on a pirate ship (you can even take a ride!), or explore Eagle River’s amazing chain of 28 connected lakes (the largest freshwater chain in the world) for an on-the-water selfie experience.
Land O’ Lakes
Land O’ Lakes, located on the border of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan in far northern Vilas County, is home to several downtown murals that provide a good background for your Northwoods selfies. Murals can be found throughout downtown Land O’ Lakes, including on the wall of the Land O’ Lakes Public Library. A new mural honoring four athletes from Land O’ Lakes and their achievements was unveiled in 2022.
The small town of Manitowish Waters in western Vilas County has lots of great photo opportunities, too. The Heart of Vilas County Paved Bike Trail System—which covers more than 50 miles throughout the Northwoods—runs through Manitowish Waters, and there are several scenic bridges along the trail that are the perfect place to stop for a photo. Other outdoor attractions that make for good photo ops are Rest Lake Park (home to the area’s Skiing Skeeters waterski shows) and Koller Park (home to a giant bass sculpture that’s a great selfie partner). If you’re an early riser, start your day with a fresh-brewed cup of coffee and an outstanding view of Vance Lake on the outdoor patio at Dixie’s Coffee House.
When you’re visiting the Island City, stop for a selfie in front of the welcome mural on Oneida and Chicago Streets or the historic mural on West Milwaukee Street. The Minocqua Area is home to some photogenic roadside attractions, too— learn about a famous 1950s fundraiser by visiting the World’s Largest Penny near Hwy. 51 and Hwy. 47 in Woodruff. In the winter, don’t miss “Snowmy Kromer,” the 30-foot-tall snowman that stands by the roadside along Hwy. 51 as you pass the Let’s Minocqua Visitors Center.
See where the Wisconsin River gets its start at Lac Vieux Desert, about 7 miles northwest of Phelps—there’s a historical marker noting the headwaters of the Wisconsin River (along with some great scenic views) at Lac Vieux Desert Reservoir Park. Lakefront Pines Park at the intersection of County Hwy E and Hwy 17 is also a good place to stop for a photo. If you’re on a bike, stop and take in the scenery along the Vista Lake Bike Trails or the Conover-Phelps Bike Trail.
You can snap a pic with a slightly smaller version of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox outside the Vilas Historical Museum in Sayner-Star Lake. Visit the historic Frederickson’s Bait Shop (The Minnow Shop), which sold bait on the shores of Star Lake for more than 75 years. There are also numerous hiking trails in the area worthy of a photo op—don’t miss the scenic Trampers Trails and the boardwalk to the Black Lagoon on the Star Lake Nature Trail.
At the intersection of State Hwy 70 and State Hwy 155, next to the St. Germain Area Chamber of Commerce, stands a 15-foot-tall statue of Chief St. Germain. It’s a good place to stop for a roadside photo and to pick up some travel information about the community.