Views of small town USA — Marinette, Wisconsin
Never heard of Marinette, Wisconsin?
You may have heard of Door County in Wisconsin (called the “Cape Cod of the Midwest” just a four-hour drive from Chicago) — a destination for weekend getaways, summer vacations, fall foliage, or winter solitude. Just across Lake Michigan’s Green Bay is another area that has not seen much of the tourism trade, and has experienced declining population in recent decades since the days Mr. TWS was growing up there.
For over 20 years, I’ve had many occasions to visit the town of Marinette, Wisconsin and surrounding area to spend time with Mr. TWS’s family. If you’ll be driving through Northern Wisconsin sometime on your way to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, enjoying northern Wisconsin’s many year-round outdoor activities, or just looking for something new, Marinette County offers an unexplored slice of small town USA. Here’s a glimpse of scenes and activities in Marinette that have captured my attention during recent visits.
Green Bay Packers Territory
Located just about 50 miles north of Green Bay, people here are big fans of the Packers NFL football team. Green and gold bumper stickers and other signs of support are seen all over town.
Along the Menominee River
The Menominee River separates Marinette from the town of Menominee, its twin city, on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
A walk in the woods
Wine – how sweet it is!
Although you wouldn’t think of Wisconsin as being wine country, Marinette is home to the Forgotten Fire Winery which opened in 2011. The actual location is in neighboring Peshtigo, but the mailing address is Marinette, so close enough! The name comes from the Peshtigo Fire which occurred at the same time as the famous Chicago Fire in 1871 (and so is lesser known). The winery gets most of their grapes from Traverse City, Michigan which has a climate conducive to growing sweet wine grapes. The majority of their varietals are fruit wines made with fruit from Sister Bay in Door County and cranberries from the state’s numerous bogs. On selected afternoons during the summer, the winery hosts entertainment on their outdoor patio.
Bikes and boats
The terrain is generally flat around Marinette, making it great for bike riding, one of my favorite outdoor activities. Here I was at Red Arrow Beach last summer where we’ve also had a lot of fun throwing frisbees, playing in the water, and watching the boats on the bay on warm summer days.
A few downtown scenes (via @travelingwithsweeney on Instagram)
When we visit Marinette, we make a point to get pizza from Real Pizza at least once. Using all fresh ingredients, the pizzas are made to order by the couple who own the establishment. While waiting for your pizza, play a game on the vintage Ms. Pac-Man machine.
Go ahead, jump in!
It would be nice to see Marinette and the surrounding area get some publicity. There’s a lot of natural beauty — besides Lake Michigan and the Menominee River there are many smaller lakes, rivers, waterfalls and forests for recreation and relaxation.
So now you know a little about Marinette, Wisconsin. Do you know of a small town that could use some publicity?
Can’t say that I’ve heard of Marinette but it looks like a laid back kind of place and I do like the thought of biking along the beach in summer.
Love the Young Swimmers sculpture.
It’s a wonderful city, so charming and cozy. I wish I could go for a bike ride there. Must be so relaxing!! 🙂
Can’t say I’ve heard of Marinette either and have been to Door County dozens of times. I like the old, little Midwest city feeling to it. Kind of like the town I live in (West Dundee, IL). I should do an article on that! thanks for sharing and given me an idea. 😉
I join the other comments in saying I’ve not heard of Marinette but what a lovely overview of Americana you’ve provided us in this post. Love those billboards – they are my favorites on road trips.
What a charming town – looks lovely!! I love places like this! Great pictures.
Thanks for sharing a little bit of Mr. TWS’s history—and yours!
It looks like a very american place! I like the photo of you on a bike! Gorgeous!
My great-great (or thereabouts) uncle went to Wisconsin when he was young, must have been around 1900 – to work and mostly play – and I’ve his America-trunk still. He was in a town called Eau Claire. Apparently heaps of Scandinavians emigrated to this area. That’s about all I know about Wisconsin. Curious about this part of the USA – Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas…
🙂 oddly enough, I was born in Eau Claire, raised in Marinette and then, lived the last 8 years in Eau Claire again! I just moved to Milwaukee, but spent most of my life running around WI MN and the Dakotas. If you have any questions; fire away!
I can vouch for the massive number of Scandahoovians in the area, as well as the Germans. The area sits on almost the same Latitude as the old mother countries, and looked and felt familiar to the first immigrants. And it is good to see that Mickey Lou’s made it on there, best Burgers in the midwest, hands down.
Thank you Nick for sharing those thoughts! I have lived near Toledo, OH for 20+ years, but I came to Marinette WI in the 60’s and did my college days in Eau Claire!!!! I have a lot of wonderful memories of Wisconsin, and I get to go strolling around in WI, because one of my sisters still lives there, and I have friends around the state!:)
Anyone born in Wisconsin is my kind of Packer “cheesehead.” My hubby and I were born ‘n raised in the Green Bay area. We traveled to Marinette many times through the years and thrilled to see the town is still going strong. My dad grew up in Peshtigo and the fire is a story in itself. I love the statue and so glad to visit the area again through your pictures.
What an inviting and beautiful town to visit. Your pictures capture a place from another time – no chain stores and restaurants or strip malls. And I love the photo of The Young Swimmers sculpture!
I like exploring small towns, Cathie, so thanks for the tour. Love the swimmers sculptures, and that photo of the restaurant with the red sign and awnings looks quite surreal!
I was just thinking the other day about getting out to explore some small towns here, so I should be answering your question in a future post on my new blog.
Looks like a place to sink into. Thank you!
I’ve never visited Wisconsin. I met a very nice lady in New Zealand at Trey Ratcliff’s photo workshop and would love to visit her one day. Marinette looks like a very nice place!
The place looks great! River, forest and biking! Sounds like somewhere I would go to 🙂
At first I thought of Marietta, then I realized it was Marinette. Can’t say I’ve heard of it but it does look quite inviting and wholesome. The perfect place to grow up (and to live).
Lovely photos 🙂
It looks like a quaint place. Reminds me of a movie set. I think you have presented it well. I Like the sound of the pacman pizza joint.
I’d not heard of Marinette, but I have heard of Door County. It looks like a quaint town, one I would like to explore- and when/if I do, I’ll be sure to stop by Real Pizza. My teens never tire of pizza so we normally make it a point to grab a pizza from a local business when we travel.
I’ve never heard of Marinette, Wisconsin either but I’m glad you wrote this post to introduce us. I love small American towns like these. I’ve only been to Milwaukee so this is a wonderful glimpse to another side of Wisconsin. I never would have associated Wisconsin with wine. I loved that photo of the missing bride since you posted it on FB.
Never heard of it, but it looks like a quaint, relaxing place to spend a few hours. The winery really surprised me!
What a nice quaint looking town. In fact, it looks like it could be used in any movie featuring “small town” America. Love those lifelike swimming sculptures. I did catch a glimpse of the bride’s dress!
An amazing location… a wonderful town… and I love the shot of the Young Swimmers sculpture on the Menominee River.
It looks tiny but very cosy. It’s great to hear about places off the beaten track like this one 🙂
That is amazing!!! I was the groom of the wedding party outside of Cusack’s Bar. The wife and I got a big kick out of seeing that picture.
Thanks so much for leaving your comment.Congratulations to you and your bride on your marriage! I couldn’t believe my timing with the photo.
Having split my years between the two, I’m always torn whether to say I’m from Wisconsin (Marinette) or Da Yoopee (Menominee). Regardless, these twin towns separated by a river were a great place to have come of age. Thanks for a great post!
Moved here last August and purchased a home in the area. Left San Diego and the rat race. No more working 14-16 hour days 7 days a week just to pay a $2000.00 house payment. Never had time off to do any thing. Now I am living the dream. Bought my house off the internet and won’t ever look back. Encourage those that want a simple life Marinette, Wisconsin is the place to look.
Someone shared ur article on FB and since I’m from Marinette. I figured I needed to read it! The town is quaint and lovely and you did a wonderful job capturing the town. I would suggest to anyone wiping there to check out Brother Three pizza right on Marinette Ave great food and the place has a great atmosphere. Through out the summer you can catch free music concerts on various nights of the week either at Stephenson Island (where the swimmers sculpture is) or go to neighboring Menominee to the Marina Bandshell. Thank you for sharing my beloved hometown!
Ah… this is home. Thanks for the sweet reminder of where I’ve come from. And Mickey Lu’s… omg those are the best burgers in the world, cooked over an open grill. This is a picturesque town with a lot of character.
Very well done!! I moved to Marinette from Miami as a child. My dad was in the Coast Guard and relocated to finish out his career there. After he retired we moved to Eau Claire and am currently attending UWEC. I definitely recommend visiting either one of these cities. Both have the same small town atmosphere and if you’re into outdoor activities you’ll be hooked. Another fantastic city I’ve lived in was Bozeman Montana. If you like to ski/hike that’s the place. Everything’s in town and Bug Sky is 30 min away!
BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS-MARINETTE NOT CHANGED-STILL HAVING THAT CHARM-BROUGHT BACK SUCH BEAUTIFUL MEMORIES -ESPECIALLY OF MY HIGH SCHOOL YEAR AT MARINETTE! I HAVE TO COME BACK ON A VISIT!!!!
A few years ago while visiting family there, we saw two nearly completed, giant orange Staten Island Ferry boats being built at the Marinette shipyards and soon to travel through the lakes and out the St. Lawrence River before turning right (starboard?) to head south to NYC. Nice to be know for something totally unexpected!
Also a surprise gem is the River’s Edge Restaurant: http://www.riversedge.biz/ (rated #7 locally)
Really nice on Friday an Saturday nights just like a ghost town people are scared to go out because of all the police ing check points for are safety
The blue building was a Napa store until it moved locations.
I grew up in Marinette, Wisconsin and consider myself very lucky to have such a wonderful childhood! I lived in several cities and states since Marinette but would move back there in a minute! Thanks for the memories!
I grew up in Marinette (well really the outskirts in Porterfield) – not surprised many of you have never heard of it…..very small, but welcoming community. I entered the Air Force and have been gone many years, but spend summers and every Christmas back home. I urge anyone making the visit to check out all the little communities. Crivitz is a wonderful and thriving small town with great restaurants & white water rafting. Peshtigo, Wausaukee, Oconto, Coleman…..sweet little slices of old time Americana. LOTS of camping amenities abound throughout the entirety of Marinette County. And I swear you have never met friendlier people in your life (as long as you’re not a Bears/Vikings fan….lol!) I must say you HAVE to visit at least one of the amazing supper clubs in the area. If you have never been to a “real” supper club, you’re missing out. Popp’s Resort, Maiden Lake Supper Club……..just ask a local, they’ll point you to the nearest. Thanks so much for featuring my little hometown…..just wonderful!!!
My Grandmother grew up in Marinette and we go there every summer. Liked all the other comments where they said they’d “never heard” of Marinette. We hope it stays that way and avoids the over-development problems and traffic of Door County. Oh, Mickey-Lu’s was voted best hamburgers in Wisconsin by USA Today
Thanks to all of you who commented! To those who were from or live in Marinette, big thanks for your insights and recommendations. Maybe I’ll see you around town next time I visit.
I haven’t heard of Marinette, but I’m digging that beach and the sculpture of the swimmers.
Born and raised in Marinette I recently moved back to my hometown after living in Florida for the last 30 years. After living in a city of 1.5 million people with gridlock traffic, crime on every corner and oppressive heat 9 months of the year I can say, “its good to be home” I came back home often and always dreamed of moving back home. The article on Marintte is spot on. Brothers Three pizza is however, the best pizza in town. Thanks for profiling our wonderful slice of heaven.
It is nice to see such a fine collection of pictures of my home town
Having grown up in Marinette and moving away after graduation it does not surprise me that folks have never heard of Marinette. We heard that a lot too when folks asked where we were from. It is always nice to take a walk back down memory lane. It was a great place to grow up. There was City Park with the ice rink and Labor Day Picnics every year, that it seemed ‘everyone’went too and you could walk there and not worry about anything. There was roller skating at Catholic Central HS which a lot of us enjoyed too. Looking at the newer pics of the area, Red Arrow Beach looks much different than it did in our day too, but also a favorite place to go. There were also two High Schools, Marinette High and Marinette Catholic Central.
There were also a couple other Restaurants we liked….The Brothers Three Pizza, Olsons, Shriners, and the A&W Drive In, which were among a few of my favorites, as well as the favorite Mickey Lou’s and of course don’t forget Lauermans Department Store ! It still stands but is no longer a store.
also didn’t mention Menominee, Michigan which is right over the bridge where we also went often, walking around what was called “The Loop” where you started at one point in Marinette over the two bridges connecting the two cities, and back again. Teenagers did that often, seeing friends going by ‘cruising.’ Life was good in Marinette and we even went back and lived there for awhile after marriage, but didn’t stay but instead moved to other parts of the state. Good job presenting Marinette……to get the ‘real feel’ though, you have to visit. It is just beautiful there any time of the year. Thanks
Marinette is an awesome town to live in. Great life for anyone. You can walk down the streets at midnight and no one would bother you.
That’s my hometown…love that place!
Nice shots on a great place!
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