Three Lakes, Wisconsin & Tips for Vacationing As An Adult

I was initially really worried about my vacation to my family’s summer home in Three Lakes this year. I had considerably less time there than I’m used to (i.e entire summers as a kid) and I was honestly scared that seeing my family for such a limited amount of time would bum me out more than anything else. But it turned out to be one of the best vacations in recent memory, and although no amount of time with my family feels like enough, I feel really lucky to have such a great weekend to look back on!

I think the key to this successful (albeit short) vacation was deciding that I was going to be an efficient vacationer. I know, this sounds a little bit like an oxymoron. But hear me out because I actually think it makes a lot of sense. If you have a limited amount of time on vacation, make a list of all the things that you absolutely have to do to make the vacation feel successful and memorable, and find a way to fit all those tasks into your allotted time. Sure, you might not be able to sleep in as late as you want or just sit around and relax for as long (unless those are top of your list) but I believe that filling your time with activities you really love will revitalize and invigorate you even more effectively than lounging around will!

I knew going into my trip that I wanted to do the following:

  • Make a fire and eat s’mores
  • Make a festive pie with mom
  • Picnic on the pontoon boat
  • Spend a day waterskiing, tubing, and playing on a speed boat
  • Run through the woods
  • Family bike ride though the woods
  • Eat favorite ice cream at Lick-a-Dee-Splitz
  • Go to traditional Fourth of July festivities
  • Read on a hammock
  • Read on boathouse porch swing
  • Swim in the lake, lounge on the pier

Doing all these tasks over the course of 72 hours was no small feat, but I managed to do them & more, so it really felt like I almost got the full Three Lakes summer experience! Below are some details of the day-to-day breakdown.

Saturday, July 2nd: I left LAX at 6:30 am and got to my cabin at 4:30 pm. I was exhausted after a full and early day of traveling, but ready to get the ball rolling. Once my parents arrived with our favorite pizza (Rocky Rococo’s) and beer (Leinenkugel’s) in tow, we loaded onto the pontoon boat and ate dinner in the middle of the bay as the sun set. Then it was time for bed, because tomorrow was going to be a big day!


Sunday, July 3rd: Dad and I woke up and walked over to the marina early (8:30 am) to pick up the speed boat. It couldn’t have been a more perfect day for the boat, warm and sunny without a cloud in the sky! I started the day with some short waterskiing sessions before the lake got too crowded with other boats, followed by a quick break for breakfast at a restaurant right on the water. Then it was back to waterskiing and tubing for the rest of the day with my parents and cousins. I may have literally gotten a fat lip from the beating I took on the tube (Thanks, Dad) but it was the most fun we’ve had on the boat in a long time. My dad even got his turn to ski! Once all of our arms and legs felt like jelly we called it a day. I spent 30 minutes reading Harry Potter bundled up in our hammock and for dinner we ate fish tacos with our extended family made from the fish my cousins caught from the bay. We ended the night reading and eating s’mores by the fire.


Monday, July 4th: Woke up early and ran the 3.5 miles from our cabin into town with my dad, where we met my mom at the town’s Independence Day parade. Picked up an Italian soda at my favorite coffee shop, Deja Brew, and even caught an ice-pop from one of the floats! After the parade finished we went home and I spent the morning/early afternoon making a pie with my Mom, swimming in the lake, and laying out on our pier. Our neighbors throw an annual picnic and bocce ball tournament on the 4th, so I got the chance to catch up with everyone from the lake there and overindulge in beer and sloppy Joe’s. Then it was time to make our way over to the baseball field for the town’s firework show. We brought a big blanket, some pillows, snuggled close together and Ooh-ed Ahh-ed at our favorite fireworks. I always like the ones that look like chandeliers as they fall down.


Tuesday, July 5th: I felt a little somber knowing it was my last morning, but determined to make the most of it! I took my morning coffee and Harry Potter down to the boathouse pier and spent 30 minutes intermittently reading, watching the lake, and listening for loons. Then my parents and I got the day started with a 17 mile bike ride through the woods. On our way back home we stopped for ice cream at Lick-A-Dee-Splitz and to shop at an adorable thrift store in town called Collective. We got back to the cabin and I packed so I didn’t have to worry about it, then spent the rest of my time swimming. I even washed my hair in the lake water which makes my hair feel so soft and healthy, but also reminds me vividly of my childhood when bathing in the lake was the norm since we had limited running water (we hadn’t yet modernized the cabin). It was the perfect end to a perfect vacation.

Or so I thought. What actually ended up happening was that my 2 hour layover in Minneapolis turned into an 8 hour layover and instead of getting home at 10 pm on Tuesday, I got home at 5 am on Wednesday. So here’s another tip for successful vacations as an adult: If you can, give yourself a day between coming home and starting real life again. I felt so grateful to have the luxury of sleeping in and not having to go directly to work. Plus, when I did eventually wake up, I had time to unpack, go grocery shopping, and have a special date night with Mark! More on that later, but it brings me to my final tip for happy vacationing: Plan something really fun for when you get back, so that you have something to look forward to and you’re not just focused on being sad that your trip is over. I felt so consumed with sadness when I first got home because I missed my mom and dad so much, but then all that took a back seat to how excited I was and how much fun I was having with Mark on our date!

So there ya have it. You don’t need all the time in the world to have a great vacation as an adult. You just gotta plan effectively. And I don’t know about you, but now I’m feeling extra inspired to fit in fun excursions/activities (like the ones I wrote on my summer bucket list here) into otherwise average days to make them extraordinary!

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.