While the Midwest often gets ragged on for its freezing temps and epic winter snowstorms, the summer is no picnic either. While beach days at the lake are a great way to beat the heat, if you’re looking to really escape the humidity and have some fun, grab your crew, a six-pack (or more, no judgments) and head north. About 3.5 hours from Chicago, Wolf River in New London, Wisconsin is one of the Midwest’s true hidden gems and a summer must.

Car camping at it’s finest; Wolf River is a party on the water. The main grounds are where you’ll find the most drunk teenagers and young adults, stumbling distance from the bar and pay showers, but if you want a quieter night or more one on one time with nature that’s better for the kids, they also have a rustic campground 1.5 miles away.

Like a nightclub…in the woods

With a country bar and grill on site, there’s no need to bring food to cook or do much planning of any kind unless you want to. Your only responsibility: saddle up and dance the night away with Wisconsin’s rowdiest cowboy crowd. Beer can be purchased in 6 packs, 12 packs, or cases if you forgot to make that pit stop I mentioned, or they also make frozen drinks like pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris if you want to mentally transport yourself to the islands.

Photo Credit: Bart Everson

Floating, floating merrily down the stream

While the river allows for canoeing and kayaking, what people really go there for is the tubing. With raft rentals available for both people and coolers, it’s basically a floating frat party. The length of the trip depends upon water levels, but every time I’ve gone, the water’s been so shallow that your butt is firmly planted on the ground so it’s more of a scoot than a ride, perfect for making frequent beer bong pit stops. Unlimited shuttle service runs from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily to take you back to the top when you’re ready to do it all over again (because buses are the best kind of DDs).