Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Turtle Lake, WI

  • Published 2023/03/19

Turtle Lake is a quaint village between Barron and Polk counties in west Wisconsin.

Upper Turtle Lake and Lower Turtle Lake boost the village’s charm aside from lending its name.

The village’s history traces back to 1875 with the arrival of European settlers.

They were drawn to this area by the lumber prospects of the hardwoods and pine forests around the locality.

One of these pioneers, Stephen Richardson, established a sawmill here, which he named Skowhagen after his hometown in Maine.

The government surveyors who plotted the area, on the other hand, had a different idea.

The turtles they observed laying eggs on the shores of the two lakes prompted them to name them Turtle Lake.

This name stuck for the village instead of Skowhagen; its Post Office and lumber railroad loading station were officially called Turtle Lake.

Learn more about this small village in Wisconsin with this list of the things to do in Turtle Lake.

Try Your Luck at St. Croix Casino Turtle Lake

Signage of St. Croix Casino Turtle Lake

Ken Wolter /

Chances to win abound at the St. Croix Casino Turtle Lake on Highway 8/63.

This local casino offers more than 1,100 slots, roulette, and craps, as well as live poker and blackjack.

Away from the gaming stations, the casino features a vibrant stage for band music at its Event Center Friday and Saturday nights.

Also onsite are several dining venues bannered by the elegant Me-Ki-Noc Restaurant and burger specialist the Book.

St. Croix Casino Turtle Lake also runs a local hotel and a full-service RV campground if you want to do more in Turtle Lake.

Visit Turtle Lake Museum

The history of Turtle Lake as an outpost of the Wisconsin lumber industry manifests in the Turtle Lake Museum.

Located on Willow Street South, the museum is in the west building of a circa 1900 lumber yard.

The museum is free to the public, accepting visitors on the second and third weekends of each month from June to September.

The museum celebrates not only the history of Turtle Lake but also its nearby areas.

Its displays include vintage railroad items, war memorabilia, and an antique phone collection.

Turtle Lake Museum also features outdoor exhibits relating to local agriculture and schools.

The Greater Turtle Lake Area Association, which manages this museum, also hosts village festivals.

Go Camping at Village Park

An overnight stay in Turtle Lake can be affordable if you camp at Village Park.

Located on Maple Street North, the park offers six campsites for RVs and tents.

These campsites, available on a first come-first-serve basis, feature water and power hookups.

Campers can use a wastewater and sewer dumping station on the park’s west side on Pine Street North.

Visitors and campers of Village Park can enjoy its recreational facilities, such as picnic shelters, a ballfield, a basketball court, and a skating rink open in winter.

Watch out, too, for special events, like the Turtle Lake car and craft show typically held in August.

Take the Family to the Turtle Lake Inter-County Fair

Plan a visit to Turtle Lake in the summer and join the Turtle Lake Inter-County Fair.

This fair typically happens during the second weekend of July Friday, featuring family-oriented fun activities.

During the three-day fair, visitors can join a foot race, turtle derby, hit-and-throw contest for kids, and tractor, truck, horse, and pedal pulls.

Other events during the fair include cattle and dairy shows, live band concerts, and carnival rides.

The highlight of the Turtle Lake Inter-County Fair is a grand parade on its final day on the downtown streets of Turtle Lake.

The parade features floats and some of North Wisconsin’s best acts, such as the award-winning Brooklyn Park Lions Drum & Dance Corp.

Explore the Cattail State Trail

The Cattail State Trail is an 18-mile multi-use trail that traverses Turtle Lake and is popular among hikers, mountain bikers, horse riders, and ATV riders.

The trail, which follows a former railroad bed, is also suited for snowmobiles during winter.

It is conveniently accessible from Turtle Lake via the Railway Park on the northwest quadrant of Elm Street and Railway Avenue.

Cattail State Trail extends southwest to the city of Amery in Polk County and northeast to the village of Almena in Barron County.

Trail users can experience a bit of wildlife viewing along the way, as this path cuts across not only prairie farmlands but also quiet forests and wetlands.

Paved parking, a restroom, and a loading zone for trail users is east of Railway Park.

The facilities within the park itself include a picnic shelter and a grass field.

Browse Rare Wares at Turtle Treasures and Gems

Exciting finds of crystals, gemstones, and fossils await shoppers at Turtle Treasures and Gems.

A home-based business on Pine Street South, this store is a one-man operation, thus enabling this store to sell its wares at affordable prices.

This store’s reputation is founded on over 35 years of selling gemstones and crystals.

The picks at Turtle Treasures and Gems include a wide selection from the moonstone family, including green, white, and peach moonstones.

Also popular among shoppers are the skulls and dragon pairs on the store’s shelves.

Another bestseller in the shop, Tigereye, casts spells in its red, blue, and brown variations.

Kayak at the Skinaway Lake Recreational Park

The Skinaway Lake Recreational Park draws visitors mainly because of its namesake 64-acre lake.

The park spreads over 37 acres and is an excellent place for launching kayaks or canoes into the lake.

Only non-motorized boats are allowed in this lake located off Rustic Road 67 on the northern side of Turtle Lake.

With a permit you can also camp in the park and fish in the Skinaway Lake, which is a habitat for largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, sunfish, and panfish.

The facilities of this park, which is open from May to October, include a picnic shelter, grills, restrooms, and ample parking.

Lush forests and some residential communities surround Skinaway Lake Recreational Park.

Mingle with Locals at Spare Time Bowl Bar & Grill

Experience the small-town vibe of Turtle Lake with a stop at Spare Time Bowl Bar & Grill on Industrial Avenue.

This quaint bowling center features eight lanes, with bumpers and a ramp available.

Spare Time Bowl Bar & Grill regularly holds nine-pin tournaments for the enjoyment of locals and visitors alike.

With its happy hour offerings and customer appreciation day, this bowling alley and bar has won loyal patrons over the years.

The popular fare on its menu includes broasted chicken, bite-size pizzas, macaroni and cheese bites, and fish fry.

Visit Growing Wishes Greenhouse and Garden

Turtle Lake visitors with a green thumb will enjoy a tour of Growing Wishes Greenhouse and Garden.

Its expansive acreage spreads on the northeast quadrant of the Gaylord Nelson Highway and 1-3/4 Street with Echo Lake to the west.

The five blooming greenhouses and several acres of a garden easily impress visitors and shoppers.

Plants for sale at Growing Wishes Greenhouse and Garden include succulents, annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees.

Crown of thorns in bloom, ten-inch barrel cacti, and giant ponytail palms are fantastic offerings at this greenhouse and garden.

Paddle or Pedal on Horseshoe Lake

The pristine waters of Horseshoe Lake spread over 398 acres on the northern side of Turtle Lake.

A public boat landing allows easy access to the lake, which is off South Horseshoe Drive and 16th Avenue.

Pontoon boats are available for rent at a nearby Airbnb, Horseshoe Haven, on the south shore of the lake.

Besides boating, the lake is also great for standup paddle boarding, pedal boats, swimming, skiing, and tubing, as well as fishing.

The fish population in the lake includes walleye, northern pike, and largemouth bass.

Catch Fish at the Joel Flowage

Joel Flowage is an 80-acre lake located in the Joel Marsh Wildlife Area off the western edge of Turtle Lake.

The lake is accessible from the village via Highway 8 to 115th Avenue, where a gravel access road leads to the wildlife area’s parking lot and public boat launch.

With a maximum depth of eight feet, Joel Flowage offers anglers the potential catch of Largemouth Bass and Panfish.

The lake’s Joel Marsh Wildlife Area, which opened in the 1980s, also features upland forest and grassland, serving as a habitat for various wildlife.

Besides fishing, hunting and trapping are allowed in this wildlife area, home to upland game, wild turkey, deer, and black bear.

Pick a Crystal Gift or Souvenir at Lingen Tree Rock Shop

The shelves of Lingen Tree Rock Shop brim with unique gifts and mementos of a Turtle Lake visit.

The choices from this shop include a wide variety of specialty gemstone carvings, crystals, and handmade charm bottles.

It also offers oracle and tarot cards, pendulums, incense, smudging supplies, and books.

The shop’s proprietress, Kelly Lingen, is a Master of Crystology and a Certified Crystal Healer.

At the Lingen Tree Rock Shop, you can also inquire about the oracle decks that Kelly has created and published.

Her work called The Revelations of the Crystal Skulls Oracle might pique your interest.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Go Hunting in the Loon Lake Wildlife Area

The Loon Lake Wildlife Area spreads over 3,123 acres on the northern periphery of Turtle Lake, offering opportunities for hunting and wildlife observation.

You can find it in Comstock, Wisconsin, 12 minutes from Turtle Lake.

Established in the 1960s, the Loon Lake Wildlife Area consists of upland forests, flowages, and grassland.

A stretch of the Apple River also traverses the area, with an extensive trail system for access to wildlife viewing and walking hunters.

You can hunt deer, gray squirrels, black bears, furbearers, ruffed grouse, sandhill cranes, ducks, geese, and woodcock.

During winter, visitors of this wildlife area can also enjoy snowmobile riding on its west side, linked to the Polk County Trail System.

Rev It Up at the Barron County ATV Playground

The Barron County ATV Playground is located in Almena, Wisconsin, about 13 minutes from Turtle Lake.

This is an intensive-use area for ATV riders located within a 30-acre site on 14 1/2 Avenue off 8 3/4 Street North.

The playground’s circuit features technical trails with sand bowls, mud, switchbacks, deep turns, and jumps.

This ATV playground is family-friendly, with picnic tables and a large shelter among its facilities.

The Barron County ATV Playground also features a three-acre parking lot where a loading and unloading ramp for ATVs is available.

You can also ride on an ATV directly to this site using the Cattail Trail, which has a trailhead in Turtle Lake.

Buy Prized Cheese at Country Lane Market & Pantry

The Country Lane Market & Pantry is one of the retail outlets of the award-winning Lake Country Dairy based in Turtle Lake.

Other prized items are available at Country Lane Market in Barron, Wisconsin, 25 minutes from Turtle Lake.

The Country Lane Market & Pantry opened in 1996 and sells candies, pasta, gluten-free flour, and fresh produce.

Other bestsellers include healthy snacks from its deli, such as dried fruits, nuts, meat sticks, and lunch meat.

Bring home Country Lane Market’s fresh homemade fudge, which uses genuine Amish roll butter in its recipe.

Final Thoughts

There’s so much to explore in Turtle Lake, which has groomed many points of interest over its long history.

This village is a melting pot of attractions in Polk and Barron counties on the west side of Wisconsin.

Discover the things to do in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin!

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