WAUPACA, Wis. — The summer season can have a big impact on Wisconsin tourism. When you think of warm-weather visitor hot spots in our state, Wisconsin Dells, Lake Geneva and Door County typically come to mind.

But there are so many more communities throughout the state that rely on out-of-town visitors during “the busy season.”

Waupaca is one of them.

What You Need To Know

  • Waupaca saw a busy summer travel season this summer

  • Participation in outdoor activities remained strong

  • Summer is key for many tourist-focused businesses

  • Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce stays focused on extending tourist season 

When you walk through downtown Waupaca on a weekday after Labor Day all is quiet, however in the middle of summer things look much different. 

Mitchell Swenson is in charge of tourism in the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce. He said the summer means a lot for local businesses and the community as a whole. 

“Essentially, as a population we about triple in size in the number of people here in our community (during the summer season) so it is very important,” said Swenson. 

Many of Waupaca’s tourist activities revolve around the outdoors. From biking at state parks to boating on the Chain of Lakes, having as many outdoor options as possible is important. Swenson said the area saw a boost in outdoor tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people developed new hobbies like kayaking or biking. Even post-pandemic, Swenson said those hobbies continue. 

“It seems like that trend is still carrying on,” said Swenson. 

While Swenson won’t get solid total numbers on tourism until early next year, he believes this past summer season represented growth. One factor could be the relatively good weather we experienced, especially at critical times. 

Tim Lencki owns Adventure Outfitters in town, which sells and rents kayaks and bikes. Lencki said good weather is key to his store’s success, especially during the busiest summer holiday weekends. If the weather is bad, it is not good for his bottom line. 

“Sometimes people are only here for the weekend. Whether Memorial Day weekend, Labor Day weekend, Forth of July weekend, if they come in just for that and it is a rainy day or two, it is a complete loss of business. We don’t get that back because that is pretty much the only time they are here,” said Lencki. 

As the summer winds down, Swenson said the Waupaca Area Chamber Commerce says it's focusing it's attention on extending the tourism season through the fall with numerous events. including a blues festival and wine walk event.