27 Things to do in in Marinette Wisconsin: A Touch of Royalty, a Dose of History, and the Great Outdoors

A visit to Marinette WI is filled with history, the great outdoors, and a touch of royalty.

Marinette is a lovely name for a place. It sounds like it could be a musical instrument, or possibly a nickname for a tiny marina. Considering the town’s location on the shores of Green Bay, the latter would make sense.

But it’s neither of those. Marinette, the city and the county, was named for a woman. And not just any woman. She was half French, half Native American; the granddaughter of a chief; and a fur trader who was named for a queen.

The city of Marinette, Wisconsin, sits on the south side of the Menominee River. It’s a rich land whose abundant forests and location at the mouth of Green Bay made it a prime spot for logging and as a fur trading post. 

Today, its heritage and natural beauty make it a destination for those who love both history and the great outdoors. As a fan of both, I’m happy to introduce you to the city’s namesake and share my recommendations for the best things to do in Marinette.

Full disclosure: my visit to Marinette WI was hosted by the city. However, all opinions are my own and not affected at all by waterfalls and cheese and hashbrown-stuffed gravy-topped omelettes. Also, there may be affiliate links. They’re at no cost to you and help support TLT. Thanks!

Historic Things to do in Marinette Wisconson

Meet Queen Marinette

Monument to Queen Marinette

Begin your visit by seeing the queen herself, or at least a monument to her.

It’s not often you see the words “fur trader” describing a woman from the early 1800s, unless that woman was Native American. 

Queen Marinette’s story is a bit murky, but the important thing to know is that she was a prominent fur trader and businessperson. She was so prominent that mid-19th century Wisconsinites decided to name a town and county after her. 

According to various sources, she was born in 1793 or 1795. They all agree her maternal grandfather was Menominee Chief Wabashish; that her father, Bartholomew Chevalier, was French; and that the family moved to the mouth of the Menominee River in 1823.

She may have been married twice, the first time to John (or Jean) Baptiste Jacobs, and the second to William Farnsworth. She definitely lived with both men and had children in each relationship, but there are no marriage records. 

That’s not surprising, considering this was still the frontier and common law marriages were more common than officially sanctioned unions.

Many traders married indigenous women because of the advantages their familial connections and their knowledge of multiple languages provided.

Most sources claim that both Jacobs and Farnsworth left her, but Gustave William Buchen claims in Historic Sheboygan County, published in 1944, that she left them. According to Buchen, Jacobs was “fond of his drops” and Farnsworth “plied him freely with his favorite beverage.”

“In time he {Farnsworth} managed not only to obtain his stock of furs, but to win away the affections of his squaw, forcing the hapless trader {Jacobs} to leave the country sans wife as well as property.”

This “squaw” was Marie Antoinette Chevalier, the woman who would become known as Marinette. (Her name was most likely a contraction.)

Isaac Stephenson, another early prominent settler, wrote in his autobiography that Marinette’s affection for Jacobs “seems to have cooled, for he relinquished whatever claim he had upon her to George Farnsworth* for a pipe of high wine, and shortly afterward returned to Canada.”

*Stephenson most likely meant William Farnsworth. In the next paragraph, he mention’s Marinette’s son George Farnsworth.

Stephenson also said that Marinette “managed her business affairs with exceptionally good judgment.” 

Marinette couldn’t read or write, but she spoke several languages and gained a reputation as one of the best traders in the region and a charitable person who greatly impacted her community.

This “squaw” built the first frame house on the Menominee River and it was only one of three homes on the river when Isaac Stephenson arrived. By that time, Marinette had been solo for over twenty years, since Farnsworth left in 1833 for Sheboygan.

She may have been solo, but Marinette was not alone. Her home was the place to be, and it’s thought the town got its name because people would say they were going to “Marinette’s post.”

Queen Marinette died in 1865 in Green Bay. In 1987, her remains were moved from Allouez Cemetery to a mausoleum in Marinette’s Forest Home Cemetery.

In 1940, Marinette’s Daily Eagle editor Frank E. Noyes erected a monument to Queen Marinette across the street from where she built that frame house, and you can see it today.

Monument to Isaac Stephenson

Monument to Isaac Stephenson

If you spend any time in Marinette, the name Stephenson will become familiar.

There’s an island in the Menominee River named Stephenson, a nearby town named Stephenson, and the Marinette library is the Stephenson Public Library. There’s also a park and a street with the name.

A lumberman from Maine, Isaac Stephenson crossed the country in the mid-1800s. He ended up settling in Marinette after spending time in other parts of the state, including Milwaukee, Janesville, and Marquette in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Stephenson entered the lumber business and his operations grew exponentially. At one point, he owned the largest sawmill in the world. As someone whose business relied on transportation on Lake Michigan, he was instrumental in opening the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal.

Despite suffering heavy losses during the Peshtigo Fire, which occurred the same weekend as the Chicago Fire in 1871, he rebounded and by 1905 had an estimated wealth of $10,000,000 – in 1905 dollars. 

He was also an active politician, serving as a state assemblyman, in Congress, and in the U.S. Senate. He served as a Senator between 1907 and 1915.

Stephenson, like Marinette, was known for his philanthropy. He died in 1918, and the city erected a monument to him a mere four years after his death.

It’s down the street from Marinette’s, and his grave is near hers as well.

Stephenson's Tomb in Marinette WI

Bronze Signal Cannons

In between the monuments to Marinette’s founder and its prominent politician and philanthropist are two cannons. Isaac Stephenson donated these cannons, forged in 1846 and 1854, in 1914 to be displayed on the lawn of Stephenson Public Library. 

Bronze signal cannons along the Menominee River

At some point they found their current spot along the river across from 1947 Riverside. As the Historic Riverside Avenue Walking Tour brochure says, they were “moved to their present location for reasons forgotten a long time ago.”

Historic Riverside Avenue Walking Tour

Those monuments are part of the Historic Riverside Avenue Walking Tour. Across the street from them is a parade of historic homes. The two oldest extant homes were built in 1885, although one was remodeled in the Tudor Revival style in 1925. 

Frank Lauerman Sr., another prominent Marinette citizen, built his home in 1938. The “Homes of Tomorrow Exhibition” at the 1933-1934 Chicago World’s Fair inspired him, and to this day it’s the only house in Marinette in the International Style.

These homes have been meticulously maintained. I had the rare opportunity to step inside one of the early 20th Century houses and it was a treat to see details like the floor buzzer used to summon servants, and the pink marble fireplace surround.

You can see information on these homes and more on Marinette’s website.

Discover More of Marinette’s Past with the National Register of Historic Places

Marinette has several entries on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Mary and Harry Brown House, one of the homes on the Historic Riverside Avenue Walking Tour.

Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge No. 189 Building, also home to Iron Works on Main

Other listings include:

  • Bijou Theatre Building
  • Dunlap Square Building
  • Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge No. 189 Building
  • Lauerman Brothers Department Store
  • F.J. Lauerman House
  • Milwaukee Road Depot
Dunlap Square Building in downtown Marinette WI

Stephenson Island

Accessible via a footbridge from the Marinette Welcome Center, and also from US Highway 41, Stephenson Island is a small city park in the Menonimee River.

The island may be small, but it’s got quite a lot to see, including The Soldiers Memorial, honoring Civil War soldiers and donated by Isaac Stephenson. 

There’s also a band shell and a playground. Historic sites on the island include the Evancheck Cabin, built in 1897, and the Marinette County Historical Logging Museum.

You can also get a photo opp with the Wisconsin Welcomes Sign, and don’t miss the delightful sculpture of two boys, one diving into the river, on the south side of the island.

Shopping in Marinette

I’m not much of a shopper, but I did manage to visit a few unique places in Marinette.

Seguin’s House of Cheese

Are you even in Wisconsin if you don’t buy cheese? 

Seguin’s House of Cheese is a veritable Wisconsin emporium. Since 1967, the Seguin family has been peddling the state’s most famous product (except for beer and the Green Bay Packers, of course). 

What began as a small cooler filled with cheese and summer sausage became a full-fledged store with its own manufacturing operation.

Known for their cheddar cheese, the Seguins age it anywhere from 2 months to twelve years. They also make other types of cheese.

The store itself offers much more than cheese, though. There are souvenirs, locally produced beer and spirits, sausages, and one of the Midwest’s largest selections of Minnetonka Moccasins.

Seguin’s also has a big selection of Yooper merchandise. What’s a Yooper? That’s what you call folks from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Main Street Antique Mall

Main Street Antique Mall in downtown Marinette WI is a great place to find a piece of history to take home with you.

This sprawling market is room after room of antiques and memorabilia. I saw everything from an old Blatz keg with a connected tap handle, to musical instruments, to an “Edgar Winter Trash Panda,” for $300. You can even get your fill of candy.

For a more modern experience, head upstairs at the Main Street Antique Mall. There’s a wonderful art gallery displaying the works of Rusty Wolfe. His multimedia works have been described as “cosmic, celestial.”

Mr. Wolfe’s work is also on display in galleries in Scottsdale, AZ; San Francisco and Helena, CA; Asheville, NC; Aspen, CO; Provincetown, MA; and Fish Creek in Door County, WI.

Outdoor Things to do in Marinette WI

Red Arrow Park

One of the best places to see the sunset on Green Bay is Egg Harbor, so it makes sense that one of the best places to catch a sunrise is Red Arrow Park, since it’s almost directly across the bay. 

Extending from the mouth of the Menominee River to Seagull Bar State Natural Area, the park was named in 1945. 

The name honors United States soldiers in the Marinette National Guard Unit, Co. A, 127th Infantry Regiment, whose members fought in World War I and World War II and who were part of the Red Arrow Division. 

The park itself has a walking path, a picnic area with shelters and grills, a playground, and sandy beaches. There’s also an enclosed pavilion with kitchen facilities available to rent.

Seagull Bar State Natural Area

Owned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Seagull Bar State Natural Area protects the only true dune complex along the bay of Green Bay (as locals call the Lake Michigan inlet). The sand spit extends into Lake Michigan and curves to shelter a lagoon.

The bar is a critical habitat for Piping Plovers and a destination for many migratory birds, making this an ideal spot for birdwatching.

Menekaunee Harbor Trail

This trail on the south side of Menekaunee Harbor takes you all the way to the tip of Red Arrow Park. 

As you walk, stop to read the many interpretive signs which describe the native prairie plants and restoration efforts.

These include planting wild rice, which used to be abundant. In fact, the origins of the word Menominee translate to “People of the Wild Rice.”

Menekaunee Harbor Park

Across the harbor from the trail is Menekaunee Harbor Park. It’s one of several Marinette boat landings.

There’s a sculpture of a fisherman, and a statue of a bear acknowledges the ancestral homeland of the Menominee. It’s a replica of a bear in the Menominee Indian Tribe’s cultural museum in Keshena.

Menominee North Pier Lighthouse

Continue north into Michigan to see the Menominee North Pier Lighthouse. You can walk all the way to the end of the pier. The existing lighthouse was originally closer to the shore.

It was moved to its present location in 1886. Along the path you’ll see where it previously stood.

If you’re in the area for a weekend getaway between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you can tour the lighthouse Thursdays through Sundays. If you’ve got a U.S. Lighthouse Society Passport, they’ll stamp it for you.

Marinette County Forest

What had once been a land stripped of trees is now a thriving forest. Not only does the forest provide loads of outdoor things to do in Marinette County, it also boosts the economy.

Instead of enriching lumber barons, today the Marinette County Forest makes an average of $1,500,000 per year for the taxpayers, which goes straight into the county’s operating budget.

The forest also “supplies about 60,000 cords of wood a year for forest industries which provide more jobs than any other industry in the county.” Source

At 231,000 acres, Marinette County Forest is the second largest in the state of Wisconsin. Recreational activities include cross-country skiing, hunting, and fishing, with acres of lakes and miles of trout streams. There are also trails for ATVs and snowmobiles. 

Related: Brown County, Indiana, is another area previously stripped of trees that’s rebounded because of efforts by conservationists.

Waterfalls of Marinette County

Dave's Falls

I’m a waterfall nut. I love waterfalls so much, one person who reviewed my book, Two Lane Gems, Vol. 2: Bison are Giant and Other Observations from an American Road Trip, advised that “you should like waterfalls– the photographer does.” 

So when I found out that Marinette was the Waterfalls Capital of Wisconsin, I jumped at the chance to visit.

There are fifteen waterfalls in the county, and several are within Marinette County Parks. I took the Waterfall Route, a 65-mile loop to three falls and a rapids. You can see from the pictures that they are spectacular.

If I’d had more time, I would have tried to see all of them.

The Marinette County Visitor Guide pinpoints them on a map and includes details on how strenuous it is to get to each waterfall.

The accessibility of Dave’s Falls (Pike River) makes it one of the most visited waterfalls in the county.
The accessibility of Dave’s Falls (Pike River) makes it one of the most visited waterfalls in the county.
Strong Falls, in Goodman Park (Peshtigo River)
Strong Falls, in Goodman Park (Peshtigo River)
Veteran’s Falls (Thunder River)
Veteran’s Falls (Thunder River)

Thunder Mountain Overlook

Thunder Mountain Overlook has three miles of mowed hiking and mountain biking trails that wander through prairie and forest. It’s a perfect spot to stretch your legs.

As a Marinette WI county park, admission is only $5. Once you’ve paid your fee, it covers all the county parks for the whole day.

Signs show you where you are, how long the branches of the trails are, and the elevation. Walking through the birch groves and woodland trails took my breath away with its stark beauty. 

Governor Thompson State Park

Although I didn’t visit Governor Thompson State Park this time around, I had previously camped there. It’s one of my favorite campgrounds in Wisconsin, in a state filled with some of the best campgrounds in the Midwest.

The 2,800 acre park includes a beach, picnic areas, and hiking and skiing trails, and it’s next to the Peshtigo River.

Places to Eat and Drink in Marinette

Forgotten Fire Winery

On October 8, 1871, a conflagration destroyed a community. It reduced a town to ashes. People tried to survive by jumping in the river, even if they couldn’t swim.

This wasn’t the Great Chicago Fire, although that’s the one that gets all the publicity. This was the Peshtigo Fire, the worst recorded forest fire in North American history.

Forgotten Fire Winery is located near US 41 in the town of Peshtigo (although the address is Marinette). Joe and Lindsay Callow opened the winery in 2011 and named it to honor the Great Peshtigo Fire of 1871. It’s now owned by Chris and Melissa Joppe.

Whether you’re into the history or not, Forgotten Fire Winery is a place you’ll remember. Stop into their wine tasting room and try seven samples for only $5.

With Lori Loves Adventure and Katie from Forgotten Fire

While they do have the sweet wines typical of Midwestern producers, they also have some dry.

As a fan of drier reds, I enjoyed the Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve and the 1871, a cab-merlot blend. Both of those wines are international medal winners.

They also have fruit and specialty wines, and I was surprised by how much I loved the Hibiscus–enough to take a couple bottles with me.

Forgotten Fire Winery offers tours of the production facility on Saturdays and they’re open seven days a week.

Rail House Brew Pub

Beer flight at Rail House Brew Pub in Marinette WI

More of a beer fan? Rail House Brew Pub has eleven microbrew beers on tap and has a full menu including pizza, steaks, burgers, and since it’s Wisconsin, a Friday Fish Fry.

The brewery’s been around since 1995, so they’ve been in the craft beer game a long time. I got a flight of four and particularly liked Queen Anne’s Revenge Scottish Ale, a smoked dark red malty ale. Their nitro oatmeal stout was also tasty.

The Brothers Three

Brothers Glen, Keith, and Dale Nergard opened the brothers three in 1972 after moving to Marinette WI from Cicero IL, where they’d operated their original spot for four years.

It’s now owned by Jim and April Hansen, and they continue to use the Nergard’s original recipes.

Pizzas are thin crust and the dough and sauce are made from scratch. They’ve also got a full menu with Italian specialties, burgers, and sandwiches.

Mickey-Lu Bar-B-Q

Mickey-Lu Bar-B-Q is a Marinette standby. This 1940s diner comes complete with jukebox, red and chrome barstools, and a teeny-tiny bathroom.

They cook their burgers over charcoal and you can smell it as soon as you near the red and white building. 

La Cabana

In the mood for Mexican? La Cabana will fill you up. They’ve got a massive menu with loads of enchiladas and burritos. Their margaritas are good (get the mango!), and you’ll be licking the bowl if you get the cheese dip.

Hometown Family Restaurant

Did somebody say pie? Stop into Hometown Family Restaurant for their hash brown-stuffed, gravy-topped omelette, but make sure you leave with a slice of pie. 

Apple Jack’s Bar and Grill

You might be in Wisconsin when…

I walked into Apple Jack’s Bar and Grill at 7:15 in the morning and there was barely a seat at the bar. I found one, bellied up, and ordered coffee and a Farmers Omelette, with onions and cheese on my hashbrowns at the recommendation of the bartender.

It might have been seven in the morning, but it was also a Tuesday, which is BOGO wing day at Apple Jack’s.

Men lined up around the bar drinking beer and eating wings, and it was one of the most Wisconsin things I’ve experienced in my many visits to the state, and one of my favorite experiences of this specific trip.

Next time, maybe I’ll order a pint myself.

Where to stay in Marinette, Wisconsin

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson

My home away from home in Marinette WI was at the cozy Country Inn & Suites by Radisson. It’s located around a corner from US 41 and next door to Rail House Brew Pub. 

The rooms come complete with microwave and refrigerator, which I needed for all my leftovers and hibiscus wine.

The first thing you’ll see when you enter is the comfortable lobby with fireplace and bookshelves. The hotel also serves complimentary breakfast.

Check rates and book your room.

Lauerman House Inn Bed and Breakfast

For more intimate and historic accommodations, there’s the Lauerman House Inn Bed and Breakfast.

Built in 1910 by Joseph A. Lauerman, the building is inscribed in the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the Historic Riverside Avenue parade of homes.

Check rates and book your room.

Other Marinette WI accommodations

Marinette WI is a touch of royalty, a dose of history, and the great outdoors. Will you be adding this Midwestern waterfront destination to your travel plans?

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