While the USA has coastlines on both the Atlantic and Pacific as well as the Gulf of Mexico, there are other places where you can enjoy a beach holiday. The Great Lakes are situated on the USA-Canada Border; they are huge masses of water with some lovely lakeside beaches.
Wisconsin is a case in point. This Mid-West State of the USA has harsh winters where few would consider heading to the beach. However, there are many weeks in the year when the weather is good. On a sunny weekend, what better way to get the family into the great outdoors than to head for the beach?
In the case of Wisconsin, those beaches are on the shorelines of Lake Michigan and to a lesser extent, Lake Superior. Freshwater lakes of any size can have beaches. Some, but not all, of the beaches can be fairly busy, especially those in proximity to populated areas. If you don’t like crowds, you can still find a slice of tranquility.
Here is a list of the 15 Best Beaches in Wisconsin.
1. North Beach, Racine, Lake Michigan
‘’USA Today’’ picked North Beach as one of its 51 Great American Beaches.
On Lake Michigan, there is a stretch of beach about 800 meters long where visitors can relax, swim or fish.
It is a lovely place for a picnic and its quality status has been reinforced by its inclusion as a designated Blue Wave Beach.
This is the USA’s means of recognizing its environmental value.
Close by, you will find concessions and regular musical performances at weekends.
The children’s playground is an added feature to attract families.
2. Simmons Island Beach, Kenosha, Lake Michigan
Kenosha’s only beach, this is a well-maintained strip of sand that is rarely very busy.
The boardwalk connects it to the North Pier Lighthouse.
Some arrive here by boat rather than walk.
A second lighthouse is found along the harbor.
You can rent a bike to explore Kenosha itself but if you live in an urban area and want a day at the beach, why bother? Stretch out and get a suntan instead.
If you want to stay longer, just pitch a tent nearby.
It is a safe area for children so you can definitely make it a family trip.
3. Schoolhouse Beach, Washington Island, Lake Michigan
While Schoolhouse Beach is a stony beach, it is still a place that children will enjoy.
The small limestone pebbles have been fashioned by the waves on Lake Michigan and most of them are beautifully smooth.
The depth offshore increases fairly rapidly, so snorkeling, rafting, and diving are popular pastimes here.
You should swim in the marked areas for safety and keep an eye on the kids.
Please don’t take any rocks with you when you leave; lovely handmade signs remind you of that at every turn.
Enjoy a picnic or BBQ here for a fantastic day out.
4. Kohler-Andrae State Park, Sheboygan, Lake Michigan
The stunning sand dunes in this State Park sit behind kilometers of golden beach, which looks stunning against the shimmering waters on a sunny day.
These dunes are the largest such area on the whole of Lake Michigan.
The wetlands are a place where rare flora is found, some unique to this area.
The range of bird species is equally impressive – 150 or so, including waders, ducks and warblers.
There are refreshments served locally and grocers if you want to prepare your own picnic.
Sheboyan itself is interesting if you want a break from the beach.
5. Point Beach State Forest, Two Rivers, Lake Michigan
This family-friendly beach is a lovely stretch of sand and an ideal place to relax or enjoy some activities – or both.
There are a few trails for walking and cycling; Rawley Point Recreational Trail to the Rawley Point Lighthouse is an interesting choice for cyclists to try.
Nice spots for a picnic are easy to find, while the beach house with some concessions is open during the summer.
The Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum is one of the few of its kind worldwide and has 1.5 million exhibits.
It’s worth taking a little time away from the beach to visit.
6. Bradford Beach, Milwaukee, Lake Michigan
Not surprisingly, with Milwaukee on the doorstep, Bradford Beach can get busy.
It is probably a place you would visit when you know there’s an event scheduled; maybe the annual karaoke concert in August or the end of season party.
With Milwaukee so close, there are facilities here, including concession stands, volleyball, 3 Tiki huts, and cabana rentals.
You can join in any of the events taking place or just be an onlooker.
A day here is a change from city life but don’t expect a quiet beach experience.
7. Peninsula State Park, Green Bay, Lake Michigan
While you can sunbathe and swim and do nothing else here, there are hiking and cycling trails behind the beach for you to get active as well.
There is even an 18-hole golf course on hand and during the summer, there is a programme of open-air events.
There is plenty of variety that should keep the whole family happy during time in the park.
Green Bay is well-known for its successful NFL side but that sport is strictly for the cold weeks of winter.
Once they have gone, Peninsula State Park comes into its own.
8. Newport State Park, Ellison Bay, Lake Michigan
If you are looking for a quiet beach in Door County, this is the spot for you.
The park attracts hikers and those in love with the natural environment.
As you walk the trails, you will see a vast array of wildflowers.
The beach – which is best accessed after you park in Lot 3 – is typically made up of small pebbles.
The gradient of the slope down into the waters is fairly gentle.
Sunset is a lovely time at Newport, which is one of the few Dark Sky Parks in the Mid-West.
The clear night skies make the beach a great place for looking at the stars.
9. Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve, Grafton, Lake Michigan
Lion’s Den Gorge is one of Wisconsin’s hidden gems.
The nature trails, which are dog-friendly, run through a great natural environment of woods, marshes and bluffs.
When you take the hilltop trail you will have stunning views of Lake Michigan.
As you reach the end of the trail, you drop down into a gorge and through to the rocky beach.
If you have a family day out, the kids will love skipping stones into the water.
It is rare that there are many people around, particularly in the morning.
10. Devil’s Lake State Park Beach, Baraboo
This State Park has everything – a pretty beach, pleasant water, and hiking trails for those wanting to explore the immediate vicinity.
There are bluffs 150 meters high from where the views across the 360-acre lake are exceptional.
Even if hiking does not appeal, you will love your surroundings as you sit on the beach with a picnic.
Swimming is a joy and canoeing over the waters great fun.
You may like scuba diving or rock climbing, and bird watchers are in their element.
There is something for everyone, but if your aim is simply to relax and do nothing, feel free.
11. Crystal Lake, Sayner, Sheboygan
This beautiful, clear lake is less than 10 kilometers to the west of Sayner.
It is hidden within an attractive forested-area, where you will find two equally impressive beaches.
You will find public restrooms, a landing that anyone can use, and a picnic area.
Fishermen come here in search of trout, bass, and panfish; many get quite a catch.
Many is relative, because Crystal Lake is rarely busy, especially on weekdays.
There are paved cycle trails that do not detract from the natural environment and campsites if you want to linger a while.
12. Nichols Beach, Boulder Junction, Vilas County
Nichols Beach is on the north side of a small lake that gets to a maximum depth of five meters.
It’s a great place to relax and just absorb the natural environment.
The stretch of sand is fairly large and a perfect day out for the family.
Swimming is a joy and windsurfers enjoy the breezes that blow across the lake.
It is just five kilometers from downtown Boulder Junction, so can be busy at weekends.
The beach is well sign-posted and is found at the end of Nichols Lake Lane.
A good place for fishing, anglers find panfish or bass likely to take the bait.
13. Meyer’s Beach, Cornucopia, Lake Superior
For some reason, Meyer’s Beach does not get the recognition it deserves.
It is the gateway to the Apostle Islands and their famous sea caves.
Most who come to the beach are there simply to head off by kayak, or go hiking further down the coastline.
The lovely sands and tempting surf tend to be ignored.
There is a parking lot close by and families who want to enjoy a beach with few people around should make this their first choice.
If you want to see the caves, however, take the trail and look down on them before returning along the sands.
14. Big Bay Beach at Town Park, Madeline Island, Lake Superior
If you go to the most northerly point of Wisconsin, you can visit Madeline Island, one of the 22 Apostle Islands.
You can walk along the boardwalk spanning Big Bay Beach and enjoy the sound of the waves and views of Lake Superior.
The stretch of sand is around 3 kilometers long.
Whether you just want to relax, swim or fish, this park offers all you can ask for; it’s secluded and entry is free.
Surfing conditions are good, while others try paddle boarding, canoes or kayaks.
There is Tom’s Burned Down Café for a cold beer at sunset.
15. Pattison State Park Beach, Lake Superior
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There is plenty to see and do in Pattison.
Big Manitou Falls and Little Manitou Falls are two of Wisconsin’s best-loved waterfalls and are found just south of Lake Superior.
While the beach is fairly small, it is pleasant.
You can take in the sun’s rays and enjoy the odd dip in the water.
If you want to stay overnight or longer, there are camping facilities, while canoeing and kayaking on the lake are permitted.
Facilities on hand include restrooms and showers but there is no bar to quench your thirst.