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19 Best Things to Do in Hayward, Wisconsin

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Hayward is a quiet city surrounding Hayward Lake in northwestern Wisconsin. This midwestern town’s unique community offers surprisingly diverse tourist attractions.

Surrounded by over 2000 freshwater lakes, including the intercity Hayward Lake, Hayward, Wisconsin, provides easy access to fishing, kayaking, ATV riding, hunting, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowboarding, skiing, and snowmobiling.

Nine trails crisscrossing 448 miles in the Hayward area support the outdoor lifestyle. These paths range from easy walking or biking trails like the Gandy Dancer Trail to a more challenging 3.5-mile Hatchery Creek Trail. 

Hayward is also a popular spot in Wisconsin for golf. This small town has nine professionally designed golf courses spread across 30 miles, supporting Hayward’s moniker — the Golf Capital of Wisconsin.

The casino-based Big Fish Golf Club and the Hayward Golf Club are well-played in the area. The Hayward Golf Club is a strong sponsor of the annual Hayward Open, a two-day event at the start of the summer.

But reveling in the great outdoors is not all there is to do in Hayward. The town boasts a movie theater and local performance groups are housed in The Park Center Theatre, a performing arts school.

Downtown Hayward

Easy to get to and simple to navigate, Hayward is one of the best small towns in Wisconsin, whether for a weekend or an entire week.


  • Most significant landmark – Big Muskie
  • Park to visit – Hayward City Beach
  • Free activity – American Birkebeiner Trail
  • Activity for kids – Joyful Journey Alpacas
  • Activity for adults – Art Crawl
  • Place to eat – Angry Minnow Brew Pub and Restaurant
  • Nightlife – Sevenwinds Casino
  • Place to stay – IHG Holiday Inn Express

Things to Do in Hayward, Wisconsin

1. Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame

Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame Sculptures
Downspec, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 10360 Hall of Fame Dr, Hayward, WI 54843

But what is there to do in Hayward? A tour of the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame is one of Hayward’s best things to do.

Situated on a six-acre plot, the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame complex offers fishing enthusiasts seven buildings that cover about 25,000 square feet of freshwater fishing heaven. Popular exhibits include 300 freestanding outboard motors and 400 mounted fish.

Over 100,000 tourists flock to the museum and its larger-than-life anchor point, Big Muskie! Popular exhibitions include 300 freestanding outboard motors and 400 mounted fish.

The Muskellunge is a type of predatory freshwater fish common in Wisconsin waters. But the Big Muskie is a five-story, 143-foot tall fiberglass statue that dominates the area – complete with a smaller perch companion. The statue’s lower jaw serves as an observation deck and event space.

2. Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

Address: 500 Hanson Lake Rd, Rhinelander, WI 54501

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest sits 79 miles east of Hayward and covers roughly 1.5 million acres of scenic woodland in Wisconsin. This forest park offers Cathedral Pines, a 40-acre grove of white pine, hemlock, and red pine that escaped cutting by lumberjacks in the 1900s.

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream and an excellent place for the entire family. The area offers visitors camping, hiking, and mountain biking. Many trails are dedicated to motorized trail riding – that’s ATVing for non-locals.

The forest features more than 2,000 lakes, with roughly 600 of them larger than 10 acres. The lakes are served by 100 boat ramps and 60 walk-in trails, providing more extensive lake access. With hundreds of fingers and inlets surrounding the lakes, it is not surprising that kayaking, paddling, and fishing are popular.

The forest changes with the seasons, where hiking trails become a winter wonderland for winter activities like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing routes, and the trees provide an otherworldly explosion of Fall color. Do not forget your camera if you visit in the fall or winter!

See Related: Things to Do in Green Bay, Wisconsin

3. American Birkebeiner Trail

American Birkebeiner Trail
image by Steven A/TripAdvisor

Address: American Birkebeiner Trailhead, 14875 Mcnaught Rd, Cable, WI 54821

Hiking the American Birkebeiner Trail is one of the best things to do in Hayward. Affectionately known as The Birkie, this incredible trail system is appropriate for all ages and skill levels. The American Birkebeiner Trail is well-used by skiers, bikers, ATVers, and hikers, and the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, a non-profit agency, maintains its roughly 60 miles.

American Birkebeiner Trail hosts over 12 national and local sporting events and challenges, including the Slumberland American Birkebeiner and the Fat Bike Birkie, sponsored by local brewer Fat Tire Beer. There is also the Birkie Trail Run and the Turkey Birkie. 

4. Cable Natural History Museum

Cable Natural History Museum
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 13470 Co Hwy M, Cable, WI 54821

The Cable Natural History Museum is a unique tourist attraction in Hayward. It is a little part zoo and a little part aquarium – a zooquarium.

Adults at the museum can participate in naturalist education and travel, such as a Mushroom Foray. At the same time, children can learn from the reptile galleries and virtual exhibits that highlight area fish and insects.

The Tree Climber Exhibit allows children to take stairs to the top of a tree or view the canopy with a periscope. And for those who want to climb more, the museum also has a climbing wall.

Outdoors, a live raptor program including owls and hawks, many of the buteo genus, focuses on these native birds of prey. At the same time, a separate area highlights the snakes in the region. The Cable Natural History Museum is a great way to spend a few hours in Hayward with the kids.

See Related: Best Walking Cities for Vacation in the US

5. Joyful Journey Alpacas

Alpacas during winter in Joyful Journey Alpacas
Joyful Journey Alpacas Facebook

Address: 13920 WI-77, Hayward, WI 54843

Joyful Journey is a working Alpaca farm situated in the heart of Hayward, Wisconsin. These gentle and playful camelids wander fenced pastures. 

Alpacas are often used as sheep herd guards against foxes. They are trusting and usually respond more affectionately to children than adults. While cuddling an alpaca is out, the animals display their affection by gently bringing their noses to you for a brief kiss. Pucker up, buttercup.

Alpacas are also highly prized for their wool. Alpaca fleece is the natural fiber sheered from an alpaca. It is naturally fire-resistant, hypoallergenic, soft, extremely warm, and even slightly water-resistant.

While at the farm, you can spend time at the petting pen for interactions with the new cria (or baby alpacas, if you will). On your way back to Hayward, you can pet the puppies and kittens at Northwood’s Humane Society. This non-profit organization cares for unwanted animals found in the area.

See Related: Best Restaurants in Door County, Wisconsin

6. Downtown Hayward

Downtown Hayward Wisconsin
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Location: Hayward, WI 54843

Downtown Hayward centers around the cross-section of State Highways 77 and 63. It contains an eclectic mix of vintage and designer boutiques, antique stores, restaurants, and outdoor equipment shops. 

Hayward City Hall sits directly downtown, and Shue’s Pond Park is a popular community green space a few blocks west of the town’s center.

Downtown also borders the north and southwestern shore of Hayward Lake. On the banks of the lake’s south shore sits the IHG Holiday Inn Express, an alpine lodge-styled hotel with daily amenities. The hotel is perfect for golf and outdoor enthusiasts visiting the Northwoods area of Wisconsin.

Just a short drive from downtown is the infamous Ranch Supper Club. Originally opened as the Aladdin in 1931, The Ranch Supper Club quickly became a favorite location for loggers, businessmen, and nefarious drifters. Today, it is a landmark steakhouse and nightspot. 

See Related: Things to Do in Tomah, Wisconsin

7. Hayward City Beach

Address: 15627 S 2nd St, Hayward, WI 54843

Hayward City Beach is an inner city community greenspace that sits along the peninsular shores of Hayward Lake and is just a few minutes from the Freshwater Fishing Museum.

Open Memorial Day through Labor Day, this rustic beach has no amenities, including no lifeguards. But swimming within the buoys is allowed – know your limits and keep an eye on the kids. The space is also great for the entire family, offering a playground, picnicking, or a few minutes of respite from the busy day. 

Hayward City Beach is located feet from the Hayward Boat Landing, a public boat ramp. The beach is also a few miles from River Deck, a trendy waterfront seafood restaurant offering fresh, locally sourced fish and craft beer.

Many beachgoers opt for a local hotel, Flat Creek Lodge, central to the lake and landing. This small cabin-esque retreat offers full amenities and an indoor heated pool.

8. Hayward Art Crawl

Location: Hayward, WI 54843

If you are touring this neck of Northern Wisconsin in late summer, take some time to visit one of the best tourist attractions in Hayward. This multi-day local visual arts event is known as an Art Crawl. It is organized by the city’s artistic community and the Cable Hayward Area Arts Council.

Usually planned in partnership with area non-profits, Hayward Art Crawls celebrate the talents of local artists. Sculpture, leatherworkers, painters, photographers, and bead workers exhibit at roughly a couple dozen sites around the city.

Area businesses that participate include the local Hayward Farmers Market in Lumberjack Bowl, the community library, and the Lumberjack Village. And while you are bouncing from exhibit to exhibit, grab a strong drip or a Cafe Americano at the centrally located Backroads Coffee in downtown Hayward.

See Related: Best Things to Do in La Crosse, Wisconsin

9. Sawyer County Historical Museum

Address: Sawyer County Historical Museum, Hayward, WI 54843

Curated by the Sawyer County Historical Society, the museum preserves the history and heritage of Sawyer County in Northern Wisconsin. The Sawyer County Historical Museum is an intimate museum with authentic exhibits highlighting local history, including the Ojibwe Tribal Culture, Logging and Pioneers, the Victorian Lifestyle, and fishing.

Even the 1928 DNR Ranger Station museum building is part of local history. Summer and winter times vary; a museum tour takes roughly two hours.

Sawyer County itself was formed in 1883. It sits in northwest Wisconsin, 70 miles south of Lake Superior. The City of Hayward was organized later that year to support the growing lumbering industries.

The area was the epicenter of Wisconsin logging from the 1870s through the early 1900s. But lumbering and resort tourism is vital to Hayward – which thrives in the forest and lake-covered region.

10. Angler’s Bar and Grill

Angler's Bar and Grill
image by Michael V/TripAdvisor

Address: 10547 Main St, Hayward, WI 54843

Angler’s Bar and Grill is a favorite for locals and visitors. Located in the heart of historic downtown Hayward’s busy Main Street, the Johnson Brothers established this iconic landmark in the early 1930s: Cully, Oscar, and Buck. There have been many owners since the Johnson Brothers, but it has always remained a family-owned and operated establishment.

Patio or indoor seating and a family-friendly atmosphere make Angler’s Bar and Grill a hotspot for juicy burgers in a casual dining experience.

Quirky decorations and wooden booths highlight great food at this local haunt. If you suddenly feel the urge to bowl a few games, Angler’s Bar and Grill has you covered with a bowling alley and arcade games attached for visitors.

11. Angry Minnow Brew Pub and Restaurant

Angry Minnow Brew Pub and Restaurant
image by Michael V/TripAdvisor

Address: 10440 Florida Ave., Hayward, WI 54843

The Angry Minnow Brew Pub and Restaurant was built in 1889 by businessman Robert L. McCormick to house his offices south of downtown Hayward. Methodical restoration of its original features retained the archways, exposed walls, and high ceilings, continuing to give the pub a curiously modern speakeasy vibe. This ground-floor historical landmark still stands a few blocks south of downtown Hayward.

Its microbrewery and outdoor beer garden offer handmade cocktails (get the Old Fashioned) and yummy craft beers, including McStukie’s Scotch Ale and Honey Wheat. The pub-styled restaurant features good food for lunch and dinner on the outdoor patio, front deck, or bar.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in the US

12. Hayward Lakes Visitors & Convention Bureau

Hayward Lakes Visitors and Convention Bureau
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 15805 US Highway 63, Hayward, WI 54843

The Hayward Lakes Visitor & Convention Bureau seems like an unlikely tourist attraction for those in Hayward and nearby cities. But, in addition to being a source of northern Wisconsin information, the Visitor Center hosts dozens of local and international events for those looking to explore Hayward. 

Hayward Lakes Visitor & Convention Bureau has registration and location information on the Tribal Earth Powwow in July, the American Birkebeiner held in February, the Lumberjack World Championships in July, the Cranberry and Fall Festivals, ski and snow trail information, and even the inside scoop on the whereabouts of Santa Clause during Hayward’s Christmas celebrations.

Stop by for more information, discounts, and a friendly welcome on your next trip to Hayward, Wisconsin.

13. Lumberjack Village Mini Golf

Lumberjack Village Mini Golf
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: Lumberjack Village Mini Golf, 15642 County Hwy B, Hayward, WI 54843

Lumberjack Village Mini Golf is an excellent miniature golf course with a natural waterfall that feeds many fountains and ponds. Each hole feels unique.

The terrain is challenging, with hidden hazards and water obstacles complementing the experience. However, the course is fun for all ages and skill levels.

The Mini Golf course is well-maintained with native flowers and granite cliffs as part of the Lumberjack Village. Playing mini golf is one of the top things to do in Hayward, with kids or without.

The course is within walking distance, and just a 1 mile from Downtown Hayward are easy-going accommodations, The Steakhouse and Lodge. The newly renovated motel rooms offer affordable price options for a convenient Hayward location.

14. The Chippewa Inn

Chippewa Inn Sign
image by reeftank45/TripAdvisor

Address: 9702 Co Rd B, Hayward, WI 54843

A local hotspot located north of Musky Lake, roughly 14 miles east of downtown Hayward, the Chippewa Inn is a favorite local steakhouse. 

The Chippewa Inn serves delicious food and handmade cocktails. While it has had several different owners through the century, it is one of the city’s iconic landmarks, serving delicious food and handcrafted cocktails.

Popular with locals, the Chippewa Inn is known for the best steak in the North Woods area – meticulously dry-aged. The landmark also serves ribs, seafood, pork chops, and authentic German dishes.

See Related: Beautiful 7-Star Hotels from Around the World

15. Out of the Woods Winery

Out of the Woods Winery
image by Michael V/TripAdvisor

Address: 10588 Main St, Hayward, WI 54843 

Out of the Woods Winery is one of Hayward’s best places to visit for adults. Formerly known as the Hook Stone Winery, the winery has some of the best varietals in the area.

A MacLaughlin Family enterprise, Out of the Woods Winery focuses on producing delicious wines, including white and fruit wines, such as old vine zinfandel, a semi-sweet red, a Moscato, and several fruit wines, including a honey-grape and a blueberry wine [swoons].

In addition to wine tasting and tours, the winery offers ciders, meads, and a small food menu for cheeses and snacks and hosts live local music each weekend.

There is also an art gallery, the Patricia MacLaughlin Gallery. This intimate art space rotates exhibitions of local artists and was named for the winery’s matriarch, painter Patricia MacLaughlin.

16. Spider Lake Ranch Riding Stable

Spider Lake Ranch
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 10881W WI-77, Hayward, WI 54843

Spider Lake Ranch Riding Stable is incredible fun in Hayward, Wisconsin. The stables are family-owned and operated on the city’s east side, 14 miles east of downtown. The stables offer hour-long controlled horseback rides through the Northwoods forest.

With over 180 acres of meandering trails, guides offer tantalizing tidbits about the region’s history, flora, and fauna. The stables provide a choice of equestrian mounts.

No experience is necessary, but riders must meet minimum age and weight requirements to join a trail ride. Riders must be seven years old and 48″ tall to ride. The weight limit is 220 lbs. Everyone is weighed upon arrival except small children.

17. Scheer’s Lumberjack Show

Scheer's Lumberjack Show in Hayward, Wisconsin
Katherine H / TripAdvisor

Address: 15640 W County Road B, Hayward, WI 54843

Scheer’s Lumberjack Show – part comedy, part slapstick – is a veritable chainsaw circus and easily one of the top things to do in Hayward. It is easy to find on the banks of Hayward Lake in Scheer’s Lumberjack Village, one mile east of downtown.

Made famous by ESPN’s Great Outdoor Games, the Fred Scheer’s Lumberjack Show is a ten-part event. This unique homage to all things timber combines history, sport, and comedy for a one-of-a-kind experience. It lasts an hour and a half and is good for children of all ages.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Baraboo, Wisconsin

18. Wilderness Walk Zoo

Deer in Wilderness Walk Zoo
image by Jason N/TripAdvisor

Address: 9503 WI-27, Hayward, WI 54843

Wilderness Walk Zoo is one of the best things to do with kids in Hayward, Wisconsin. Located south of the city off Citizen-Soldier Highway, Wilderness Walk Zoo is a great wildlife museum for the entire family, with established trails, a wilderness maze, and interactive exhibits.

The Wilderness Walk is home to Black Timberwolves, African Porcupines, black bears, baby animals, lemurs, and woodchucks.

In addition to visiting the animal habitats, there is a petting zoo where kids can get up close and personal with goat kids, fawns, bunnies, coyote pups, and fox kits. Grab some corn to feed the deer or bond with a turtle.

19. Sevenwinds Casino

Sevenwinds Casino
image by Richelle N/TripAdvisor

Address: 13767 W County Road B, Hayward, WI 54843

Roughly one mile from downtown Hayward is Seven Winds Casino. Curated by the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe, the Sevenwinds Casino is also home to a Pete Dye-designed 18-hole Championship golf course, the Big Fish Golf Club.

Sevenwinds Casino Lodge and Conference Center serves the Northwoods region. It is perfect for visitors looking for poker or tabletop games. And there are over 600 slot machines.

If you get hungry while you play, try the Kinnikinnick Basket for an old-fashioned hamburger or the casino buffet. After a long day of play, the Lodge at the Casino offers a range of accommodations.

Places to Stay in Hayward

1. Holiday Inn Express & Suites Hayward, an IHG Hotel Top Recommendation

Looking for a place to stay when visiting the Northwoods area of Wisconsin? Look no further than Holiday Inn Express & Suites Hayward! This hotel is located on Lake Hayward, and close to many popular area attractions. For the outdoor enthusiasts, there are several golf courses, lakes, beaches and hundreds of km of snowmobile trails nearby. The Hayward area is also great for shopping, with many antique stores, craft shops and souvenir stores to choose from. And when you're ready to relax, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Hayward offers all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay, including a fitness center, indoor pool and hot tub.

2. Flat Creek Lodge

Looking for a Hayward hotel with all the amenities you need for a relaxing stay? Look no further than Flat Creek Lodge! The indoor pool is perfect for a swim, and the Flat Creek Eatery offers delicious international cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can also unwind with a drink at the bar/lounge, or relax in the spa tub. Plus, there's an in-room conveniences like refrigerators and microwaves that will make you feel right at home.

3. AmericInn by Wyndham Hayward

The AmericInn by Wyndham Hayward is the perfect place to stay whether you're in town for business or pleasure. Situated within 2.4 km of the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and 1.3 km of Hayward, the hotel offers a convenient location for exploring all that the area has to offer. The rooms are comfortable and well-appointed, with a desk, flat-screen TV, private bathroom, and bed linen and towels provided. The hotel also has a shared lounge area, perfect for relaxing after a long day of sightseeing or meeting up with friends.


What is Hayward, Wisconsin, known for?

Hayward, Wisconsin, was known as a logging town for a long time. Now, sports enthusiasts from all over claim Hayward for various summer and winter outdoor activities. Fishers value the abundant game, and cross-country snow skiers obsess over the Birkie. Some would even call it the ATV riding capital because of hundreds of miles of easy-to-challenging area trails.

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