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Pack up the car, load the kids and enjoy a scenic drive to the Chain O’ Lakes near Waupaca, Wisconsin this Summer. It’s less than two hours away and provides a quiet but fun getaway for a day trip to the lake. 


You’ll arrive before lunch and can check out the local shops downtown. You’ll find a bookstore, antiques and shops with gifts and stylish clothing. It’s never too early to start Christmas shopping, right?


All that walking around will get your appetite going. We love a good lunch at Little Fat Gretchen’s where there is something for everyone on the menu. Their specials of the day are always delicious! 


Drive down the road to The Red Mill for ice cream and to finish up your shopping. You can spend a lot of time exploring the various rooms of unique gifts and treats. We love picking out some good old fashion candy. 


Soon you’ll feel the Summer heat and want to jump in the refreshing cool lakes that wind through the area. There are numerous parks like Hartman State Park and campgrounds with pools and playgrounds to enjoy too such as Evergreen Campsites and Resort, Waupaca S’More Fun Campground and Wild West Campground and Corral. There are so many great options to explore the area and enjoy the day! 


Before you head out, grab dinner at Clear Water Harbor. We love to grab a cold drink and watch the boats at sunset on the patio. It’s picturesque and a great way to close out your day! 


Need other ideas? Here are a few of our local favorites to check out. 




When the local Milwaukee pools and parks are getting old, venture into the Wisconsin countryside for a beautiful day on the lake. Waupaca offers great food, shopping and outdoor activities with a small town charm. 


Be sure to tag us on social media with #WeAreWaupaca! We can’t wait to see you.

Waupaca is a total gem and offers many great places to eat, shop and stay. It combines the best of both worlds with a lively downtown and access to the Chain O’ Lakes. You could easily spend a whole Summer exploring the area but what if you only had 24 hours? 


We’ve created the perfect itinerary for you to experience the best of Waupaca in just a day. Whether it’s a solo trip, a couple’s getaway or a family reunion, you’ll be sure to leave with several wonderful memories. We wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a tradition!


11 AM – You’ve arrived! 

And it’s time to fuel up for the day. Grab an iced coffee or tea from Aquamos Coffee Collaborative downtown. 


Spend the late morning walking into some of the interesting shops along Main Street.


12:30 PM – Lunchtime

It’s hard to narrow it down but you need to grab the daily lunch special  and maybe a slice of pie at Little Fat Gretchen’s


1pm – It’s time to get on the water!

Head over to Wolf River Trips and Campground and enjoy tubing, canoeing and kayaking. There is also a bar and grill to grab a snack. 


5 PM – Check in and get ready for a night out!

There are several places to stay, just check out these options. Whether you like a traditional hotel, an airbnb or a cute B&B, there is something perfect for you. 



6 PM – Dinner

No doubt you’ve worked up an appetite and The Wheel House Restaurant is the perfect place. It’s right on the harbor and will have a great view of the sunset. We love to see the boats drive in too.


Need dessert? Head next door to Scooper’s for ice cream. 


8:30 PM – Enjoy a night cap

HH Hinder Brewery Co. is the perfect way to wind down after a busy day. Grab a local brew and have a seat in the gorgeous tap room. 


Remember, drink responsibly!


8 AM – Goodmorning, sunshine

Let’s grab some breakfast at Johnson’s Waupaca Woods Restaurant and head to the Farmer’s Market. Turner’s has the best local produce – I hope they have a carton of strawberries for you to try. Grab a plant on your way out as a souvenir too!


11 AM – Check out! 

It was great to have you, but it’s time for the next guest! 

Just a short drive from Green Bay or Milwaukee, in the heart of Wisconsin, you’ll find Waupaca and the Chain O’ Lakes. This area is safe, serene and offers the perfect day trip for you and your kids or grandkids. There is a quaint downtown with restaurants and shops as well as parks, lakes and outdoor activities. 

Kids love the opportunity to explore, get messy and cool off in the lakes. Adults love having several food options for the pickiest of kids as well as safe lodging and access to downtown. Here, you get the best of both worlds – an outdoor escape and a safe town to call home base.

Places to Visit in Waupaca:


Tom Thumb Mini Golf

Round of putt-putt anyone? For the kids who love competition!


Scooper’s Ice Cream

Every Summer trip needs a visit to the local ice cream shop!


Hartman Creek State Park

Escape and go on a nature walk and have a picnic at the state park.


Adventure Outfitters

Rent kayaks and more and get out on the lake!


Evergreen Campsite and Resort

This campground has it all: a water park, game room, mini golf, playgrounds and a fishing pond. 


The Red Mill 

For the kids who want souvenirs and great ice cream!


Waupaca Bowl

Need to cool off from the heat? Check out the local bowling alley.


Events to look forward to this month in Waupaca:


June 11 – Park and Watch Movie at the Airport

7pm at the Waupaca Municipal Airport
Bring blankets and snacks and watch The Croods on the big screen!


June 13 and 20 – Waupaca Wisconsin Chain Skiers 

1:30pm at Bear Lake View from Bear Lake Resort by Tiki Hut
Kids will love watching from the shoreline as the skiers show off their routines on the lake.


June 19 and 20 – Strawberry Fest

A weekend of fun in downtown Waupaca
See more information here.


June 19 and 20 – Waupaca Model Railroad Show

Waupaca Rec Center


Food options:




Consider Waupaca for your next day trip – or the next time you run out of ideas to keep the kids entertained! Enjoy the beautiful summer weather and make memories the kids won’t forget at the Chain O’ Lakes.

It’s that time of year again! The annual Strawberry Fest will be held during the weekend of June 19th and 20th in Waupaca, Wisconsin. 


Emma Carson posed in a strawberry cutout while at Strawberry Fest.
Holly Neumann Photo

Locals are ready to share a piece of their home town with you through fun activities, great food and live music. It’s the perfect time to see what makes the Waupaca area so special. Nestled in the heart of Wisconsin along the Chain O’ Lakes, Waupaca offers a serene, summer camp vibe with gorgeous trees and lakes. Stay nearby in a cabin or camp at one of the many parks to get the full experience.

Shop the market on Saturday with 150 vendors. There will be delicious food and a costume contest! Stop by St. Mark’s Episcopal Church for a Norwegian Bake Sale, participate in a trivia contest and enjoy live music. This event is incredibly family-friendly with activities by Tiny Treasures Daycare, Dizzy D. Balloon Twister and Fun Pros Bounce Houses. 


The Strawberry Fest has been held since 1989 and you’ll find it includes a few nostalgic events like the Waupaca Area Model Railroaders Train Show on both Saturday and Sunday.

If you’re a regular, note that this year, Strawberry Fest will be located in the Trinity Lutheran Church’s parking lot, part of Jefferson Street and the back parking lot of the new Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau office building. 

The event is expected to host over 9,000 people this year. Don’t miss out on the fun!


For more information, see the official press release and visit the event page for a full itinerary

You don’t have to break the bank to be able to experience fun activities this summer with the family. Nestled in the heart of Wisconsin on the Chain O’ Lakes, Waupaca offers numerous free family-friendly things to do. 


For extra activities, plan your stay on a weekend with one of our cherished annual events such as Kite Field Day in May, Strawberry Fest in June, the Mid-Western Rodeo in July or our County Fair in August


Explore the beautiful Waupaca Chain O’ Lakes area on a budget with these free outdoor activities!



The Waupaca River Ridge Trail

Enjoy a scenic nature walk or take a family bike ride along the Waupaca River Ridge Trail. There are over 26 miles of trails to explore that connect several parks. Learn More.



Brainard’s Bridge Park

This park truly shows the natural beauty of Waupaca with several photo opportunities, a playground and a picnic area. Bring a lunch and spend the afternoon exploring 19 acres with your kids. They’ll love the islands with bridge connections. Learn More.



Turner’s Fresh Market 

Turner’s is open seasonally from May to October so you can enjoy fresh produce and flowers during your summer getaway. This market has been around in some form since the early 1960s and is rooted in Waupaca’s history. Nothing quite compares to a fresh carton of strawberries from Turner’s on a hot summer day!  Learn More.



Free Fishing Weekend

June 5 – 6, 2021 and June 4-5, 2022

Twice a year, in January and June, the state of Wisconsin waives fishing license fees for a weekend. All 2021-2022 fishing regulations apply, including bag and length limits. Load the family up and spend the day fishing and enjoying a summer weekend in Waupaca. Learn More.



Waupaca Historical Society Museum

While exploring downtown, stop by the museum to see the library, artifact collections, special exhibits and programs, and get a tour of the facilities. For more information and hours, check out their website


A summer day trip to Waupaca doesn’t have to set you back! Sprinkling in a couple of free activities can make a family vacation affordable and offer the same memorable experiences. For more ideas on how to spend your time in Waupaca, see our full list of Things to Do.

Escape from the busy streets and crowded Lake Michigan beaches to Waupaca, Wisconsin this Summer. Nestled in the serene Chain of Lakes, Waupaca offers a summer camp, small-town feel with things to do for the entire family. Shop downtown and eat at one of the many local restaurants then head to the lakes and plunge into the cool water for a break from the summer heat.


Featured places to stay:

When it comes to where to stay, you have many options. Choose a classic hotel or experience a local B&B or privately owned vacation rental. You could also stay at one of the many campgrounds if you are feeling adventurous.



Featured things to do:

There is always something to do in Waupaca during the summer. Monthly craft fairs, shopping, evening concerts, camping and lake activities. There are also many local events to look forward to such as the annual Strawberry Fest in June, the Mid-Western Rodeo in July and the County Fair in August.


HH Hinder Brewing Company
As the first brewery in Waupaca, HH Hinder Brewing Company brings a lot of character and tasty brews to the area. The taproom offers a cool spot out of the sun with several must-haves on tap as well as other favorites such as wine and cider. And don’t forget the food, Hinder has several bar bites and pizzas to enjoy! Sit back, stay a while and enjoy a Waupaca local hang out spot.
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Turner’s Fresh Market
Turner’s is open seasonally from May to October so you can enjoy fresh produce and flowers during your summer getaway. This market has been around in some form since the early 1960s and is rooted in Waupaca’s history. Nothing quite compares to a fresh carton of strawberries from Turner’s on a hot summer day!
Learn More




Tom Thumb Miniature Golf
Hello, nostalgia! Bring your family or have a fun date night at the Tom Thumb Miniature Golf in Waupaca. The 18-hole course is well shaded and is sure to be a lot of fun on a summer afternoon. Don’t forget to stop at the Snack Shack and game room!
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Scoopers Ice Cream
Located across the parking lot from the Wheelhouse Restaurant, Scoopers Ice Cream has all of your ice cream favorites and homemade treats. Stop by on your morning walk to grab a cup of coffee and after a full lake day for a delicious malt or sundae.
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Hartman Creek State Park
The park offers camping, boating, swimming, horseback riding and mountain biking opportunities as well as several picnic opportunities. Located conveniently outside Waupaca, you can have the best of both worlds – a great outdoor experience while also having access to local shopping and restaurants nearby.
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Kayak rentals at the Chain O’Lakes
Adventure Outfitters has 3 locations in the Waupaca area with everything you need to get you geared up on the lake, river or trail. They both sell and rent all the gear you’ll need to explore Waupaca and the Chain O’Lakes. Go on your own or book one of their guided trips! Kayaks, paddle boards, bikes, snow showing and cross country skiing – they have it all.
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Waupaca is a hidden gem you’ll want to bring your family back to year after year. It has everything you are looking for when it comes to a long weekend stay away from the city: local charm, unique experiences, great food and the Chain of Lakes. Pack your bags and make your own Waupaca memories.

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