If you’re looking for an adventure that transports you away from the hustle and bustle and pauses time, grab your kayaks (or rent them from JNT’s Parkside Marina) and head to the oak-filled peninsula, Dr. O.R. Rice Memorial Picnic Area on Rice Lake.

Snuggled up to the Kettle Moraine State Forest, this 144 acre lake takes 1-2hrs to circle depending on your desired level of leisure and offers a wildlife experience you rarely find on nearby lakes. Complete with heron, sunning turtles, egrets, jumping fish, damselflies and dragonflies, and the occasional beaver, you’ll swear you’ve ventured into a documentary on wild Wisconsin.

Gear up on the peninsula and launch into Rice Lake from the “beach” (an eroded, gravelly spot perfect for wading on a hot day) and paddle to the right where you’ll spend a majority of your time hugging the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

On a busy day, you might share the lake with a boater or two out jet skiing with friends, but most often you’ll find you have the entire lake to yourselves or that you’re sharing with a fisherperson in a motorboat. 

At golden hour, the calm of Rice Lake delivers only the sounds of your kayak gliding over the water and beautiful bird calls you don’t hear in your own backyard.

And if you’re lucky, you may catch a gorgeous Wisconsin sunset to guide you back to the peninsula as it casts its rich glow over the lake and forest. Pause your paddle, lean back, and take it all in.