Burnett County: Miles from Ordinary

Once we passed the only grocery store in town—Wayne’s—and headed down a long, windy road dotted by the occasional bar and nothing else, I knew we weren’t in Kansas anymore. (Kansas, in our case, is St. Paul.) We were in Webster, Wis.—population: 653—on our way to spending the weekend at a friend’s beautiful lake-side cabin.

frozen lake

Photos by Jeremy Nelson

As we drove deeper into the woods, I knew this weekend was just what the doctor ordered. It felt like a complete escape from reality. Once we pulled into the driveway, we were immersed in a sea of tall white birch trees and the sounds of Mother Nature. No traffic, no airplanes buzzing overhead, just the wind in the trees and the occasional call of a bird. Once we were unpacked, we made the most of our setting deep in the woods and went for a (somewhat snowy, slightly muddy) hike to the lake before returning to the cabin for a delicious labor-intensive meal (chiffonade and all), and board games by the fire. There was no TV on as background noise, and we rarely ever checked a clock to see what time it was—our only agenda was spending quality time together. To me, that really is the essence of  a successful getaway.

retreat cabin

Webster, located in Burnett County, is about a two-hour drive from the Twin Cities metro. If we had wanted to explore the area, we could have hiked down the Gandy Dancer Trail in the nearby city of Siren (Webster’s bigger, more modern neighbor), gone bird-watching in the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area (spring is the perfect time for identifying various birds), visited the St. Croix Casino in Danbury, learned about the fur trade in the Folle Avoine region of Northwestern Wisconsin, or checked out the organic Clover Meadow Winery in Shell Lake.

For a list of lodging options in the area, visit burnettcounty.com