Amid the lake-speckled country of northwestern Wisconsin and draped over the terrain’s volatile elevation changes rest the bentgrass fairways and greens of Siren National Golf Course. Sculpted into the land in 2001, the course forces players to corral golf balls over terrestrial ripples with peak-to-peak amplitudes of more than 100 feet, but it offers five sets of tees and generous landing areas as a friendly gesture to less experienced players. After starting out with a moderate-length par 5 to warm up, golfers must hit a long uphill shot—206 yards from the back tees—to reach the par 3 third hole’s green, which is fronted by an intimidating rock wall. The designers saved the hardest hole for last, however, as players must make a decision on the 18th tee to use the driver, lay up for a full wedge shot into the small green, or chip onto the back of a carrier pigeon.
Course at a Glance:
Approximately 6,000 years ago, when Sumerian scholars were devising some of mankind's first mathematic systems, a mile-thick sheet of ice began to melt half a world away in the region known today as Minnesota. Slowly, the glacier shrank and poured gallons of water into the land around it, leaving behind gorgeous rock formations dotted with artistic ridges and eye-catching striations. Perhaps most notable of these formations is a structure that resembles a cross, which inspired settlers to name its surrounding river St. Croix, or "holy cross."
Today, modern humans can catch a glimpse of these awesome sights thanks to Wild Mountain. Seasonal activities include skiing, snowboarding, and tubing, where snow-goers explore 100 acres of hills encompassing 26 runs, bunny slopes for newcomers, and four terrain parks for the seasoned veterans. Wild Mountain also holds daily lessons, youth and adult programs, as well as racing competitions and camps run by knowledgable and trained northerners.
Tucked in the cool shadows of old, forest oak trees, St. Croix Valley Golf Course's nine-hole layout invites golfers to swing across 133 acres of rolling topography. Originally sculpted into the woods in 1925, the 3,060-yard course eschews sand traps and favors natural obstacles including ponds, trees, elevation changes, and indigenous photographers who snap their shutters during players' backswings. The golf experts that preside over the pro shop can sharpen swings with lessons, ensure trustworthy equipment with club regripping services, and offer rental clubs so players don't have to hit with the oversized gavel normally used to settle remote control disputes at home.
Course at a Glance:
Anytime Fitness, which boasts 1,689 clubs in North America, makes it easier for average folks to etch out time for exercise by doing one simple thing: staying open 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. As fitness seekers challenge themselves on cardio and Hammer Strength machines and hoist Iron Grip free weights in clean, well-stocked facilities, security monitoring ensures they’re safe and producing enough sweat to meet official government standards. Members can also ramp up their exercise regimens with the help of Anytime Fitness’s staff of personal trainers, who demonstrate moves and sling motivating tips. After workouts, guests can shower in the private restrooms or hop into one of the tanning booths available 24 hours a day.
Ever since the Fawn-Doe-Rosa Wildlife Educational Park's opening in 1963, the deer inside have had terrible manners—no matter how many times they've eaten out of a visitor's hand, they refuse to say "thank you." Most people don't hold it against them, though. They're too busy wandering the woodland yard, petting its free-roaming occupants and keeping an eye out for other species. Aside from deer, the park houses elk, ducks, farmyard animals, and even predators in separate enclosures, including a grizzly bear and a mountain lion.
Many of these animals were hand-raised by the park's owners, who work with conservation organizations, rehabilitation experts, and the USDA to ensure the critters' comfort. By allowing visitors to get up close to their friendly, four-legged residents, they hope to make each trip a learning experience, one that connects humans with nature and sparks an interest in its preservation. They also host group tours that touch on wildlife facts, as well as pony rides for children training for a 21st-century revival of the Pony Express mail service.
At Wild Mountain Winery, everything is local, right down to the grapes and the process in which they're grown. Surrounded by the green hillsides of the St. Croix River Valley, Wild Mountain utilizes the methods of Elmer Swenson—a pioneering breeder who revolutionized grape growing in regions plagued by cold, short seasons, and undomesticated snowplows. Having been perfected over the years, those time-tested processes now result in hardy varietals that represent the local climate, soils, and vines. Travelers along the Upper St. Croix Wine Trail can explore Wild Mountain's territorial flavors in a number of ways, including during weekend tastings that come with a souvenir glass.