Not all islands the Jessetters visit happen to be tropical. Washington Island, Wisconsin is about the farthest thing from a tropical island, but that doesn’t make it any less scenic.
A little disclaimer before we get started though – Washington Island holds a special place in the heart of the Jessetters for a couple reasons…
- Reason One: the Jessetters officially got engaged on the beach here!
- Reason Two: Part of the Jessetter lineage dates back over 100 years on the island. True “Jess”etters emigrated here from Germany in the 1800s, and there is a small graveyard on the island with Jess gravestones that date back just as long. Our family has quite an interesting history here that includes island mayors, Lake Michigan sea captains, and prohibition rum runners (that the Chicago mobs weren’t too fond of). Unfortunately, the Jess’ don’t have as huge a stamp on the island as they used to (thanks a lot Great Depression!).
This is a very cool island, and if you catch it at the right time it can be downright spectacular. The kaleidoscope of colors in the trees and foliage are beautiful in the autumn, and summer would be the perfect time to go play in the water.
Speaking of the water, Washington Island may be in Wisconsin, but the water visibility off the coast is as clear as any Caribbean waters – just not as warm! The best place to dip your toes into that water is on Schoolhouse Beach (the spot where Mr. Jessetter got down on one knee for Mrs. Jessetter). This beach is pretty awesome. Instead of a typical sandy beach, this beach is made of a million small, perfectly rounded rocks. These are hands down the best water-skipping rocks in the entire world! They would make a perfect souvenir, but the government has made it illegal to remove them so the beach can remain intact.
Another spot not to miss: Nelsen’s Hall Bitters Pub. This fun place is the largest purveyor of Angostura Bitters in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Be sure to cozy up to the bar and down a shot of this (not tasty) stuff to become part of the Official Bitters Club – complete with certificate! If you do visit be sure to sign the visitor book and tell them the Jess’ sent ya – hell, there may even be an official Jess sitting at the bar!
Also, don’t miss Mountain Park Lookout Tower. Climbing to the top gives you a great view of most of the island and a couple islands off in the distance.
We only took a day trip here, and it was enough time to get a general overview of the island. There is definitely enough here to keep you busy for a couple days though if you like camping, kayaking, biking, or fishing.