As you dive into American history, one region of the nation that’s rich and dives deep into the country’s past is the Midwest.
Whether you’re looking for real-life contact with some of America’s most significant moments or you just want to grab a beer at some of its most famous breweries, Milwaukee is a great place to start.
Not only does the city have plenty of popular destinations, touristic and homegrown, it also has some pretty locations surrounding it—just a day trip away.
Here are the top 15 day trips from Milwaukee:
1. Milwaukee Mile
Whether you’re visiting the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in West Allis or coming here for this attraction specifically, you can experience the rich history deep-rooted at the Milwaukee Mile or better known as “America’s Legendary Oval”. This speedway has stood the test of time as one of not just the country—the world’s oldest motor speedway still in use.
The one-mile “flat oval” track has been driven on since 1903 and has been host to a handful of IndyCar Series races and NASCAR events.
It’s also one of the only speedways left in the country that is still independently owned.
2. Six Flags
If you want to get behind the wheel yourself, you can easily drive over to Six Flags Great America.
In less than an hour from Milwaukee’s city borders, you’ll have your pickin’ of over 60 rides—some of which are the most popular, scariest, or largest in the country.
Especially if you’re traveling with your kids, this is a great day trip to take for the whole family to enjoy.
If it’s an extremely hot summer day, you can also hop on over to Hurricane Harbor water park, which is right next door to Six Flags Great America.
3. Old World Wisconsin
This open-air, 576-acre museum set in the 19th century is home to a collection of 65 historic pioneer-era buildings to mimic the homelands of the first settlers to set foot in the area.
This life-size recreation of pioneer life employs costumed staff who put on re-enactments as the area’s first settlers—from Germany, Norway, Finland, and Denmark.
If you love what you see, you can send your children off to their summer camps or workshops and even have them sign up for vintage baseball.
During the holidays, as a treat, the museum puts on a Halloween Dinner Theatre and a Christmas program, as well as hosting annual ethnic dinners representing various countries.
If you’re looking for a view of a lighthouse, you can find one in Racine at the Wind Point Lighthouse.
Constructed originally in 1880, the lighthouse stands at 108 feet tall and serves as one of the most characteristically and historical points of the old Midwest.
You can also visit the Racine Heritage Museum, which with no doubt recounts the story of the lighthouse, serving as a beacon of light for ships since that was a location where there were frequent shipwrecks because of the darkness.
Orlando Metcalfe Poe, a Brigadier General in the Civil War had erected the Lighthouse and it still stands today as a visual beacon in Milwaukee’s history.
Home to plenty of touristic attractions, like Millennium Park, Willis Tower, and the Bean, Chicago stands only 100 miles away from the city of Milwaukee, easily reachable for a day trip.
The big city is a perfect excuse for a touristic getaway, whether you are looking for the big-city feel or want to have a taste of artistic culture at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum or the Shedd Aquarium, you can easily make the drive down and indulge away.
Chicago is also home to some sports greats.
So, if in-season, you can always catch a Bears, White Sox or Cubs game.
6. Fort Atkinson
Home to entertainment held both indoors and out, Fort Atkinson can be an exciting day trip from Milwaukee.
This small town is a great excursion for some live music or visiting the two museums in town if you want to pop in for a bit of historic culture.
Whether you fancy going window shopping and grabbing some snacks at the Simple Life Country Store or Jones Market or hiking down the nature trails by Rock River, you can even choose separate paths from other people in your group—to only meet in the evening for a dinner show at the Fireside Dinner Theatre found on Rock River.
Making a two-mile loop along the shoreline of Kenosha, the Electric Streetcar Circulator takes you through the city’s downtown and historic districts, where you can easily hop off and visit any of these attractions:
The Kenosha Public Museum is home to various diverse historic exhibits and has a broad collection of fine and decorative arts.
The Civil War museum also offers a trip down historic battlefields and visuals to tell their stories.
The Anderson Arts Center sits inside a 9,000 sq. ft. mansion, which is definitely worth the visit.
The lighthouse, one on a sandy beach located on the short along the pier, which is home to another lighthouse: the 1901 Pierhead Light or the other, the 1866 Southport Lighthouse up on the hill.
8. Kettle Moraine State Forest and Ice Age National Scenic Trail
If you are on the lookout for a little adventure, you can head out west to the outdoor playground.
Whether it’s summer or winter, there’s fun to be had for everyone—either a hiker’s heaven or skier’s snow-paradise.
The trail of kettle lakes has a nearby glacial landscape which can make for a beautiful hiking day—especially if you get up early enough.
The Ice Age National Scenic Trail crosses the forest area, making the best of both worlds literally collide.
These grounds are open all year long—perfect for a summer getaway or a day of hitting the slopes.
9. Lake Geneva
This summer resort beach is just less than an hour away from Milwaukee’s borders.
Whether you are looking to lounge about on the Lake Geneva Cruise Line or you’re looking for more adventure on the 26-mile walking path, there’s something there for everyone.
After hiking all day or being out on the water, you can head downtown for some window-shopping in quaint boutiques or spend the rest of the day at Riviera beach.
After a bite to eat at some of the cafes or restaurants downtown, you can head out again on some major trails—over 250 acres at Big Foot Beach State Park.
It doesn’t matter who you are—whether you love to eat, love to shop or love to golf, there’s something for you to do in Kohler, Wisconsin.
You can even have a spa day at Kohler Waters Spa if you’re looking for something relaxing.
This village is the perfect place for a getaway—from escaping the city-life of Milwaukee to having whatever you fancy at your fingertips.
There are factories to tour and mounds of chocolate to eat—from the Blackwolf Run to the Craverie Chocolatier Café, you can choose your pleasure and pick your poison.
Home to a historical getaway just half an hour outside of Milwaukee, Cedarburg is a quaint little village with modern-day shopping and an old-world feel.
Take a step back in history with buildings designed like the 1855 Greek Revival Grist Mill and the 1920s filling station.
You can take your chances on an 1876 bridge made of planks and wooden pegs while passing through stone cottages and dining on some crepes and coffee.
Cedar Creek Settlement along with Cedar Creek Winery is a great suggestion when simply just looking to escape—whether it’s the modern world or your everyday life.
12. Green Bay
Host of the ever famous Green Bay Packers, you can travel just a quick-shot 100 miles north of Milwaukee and grab your tickets to catch a game and see the players in action.
Lambeau Field awaits you—as long as it’s football season—so don’t miss a day out in the stadium to cheer on the green and gold.
If you’re not into American football or you are and it’s unfortunately not football season, you can take the young ones to the Green Bay Children’s Museum, bring the whole family to the Bay Beach Amusement Park or hop on any of the cruises that go on the bay.
There’s also the public museum for a rainy day.
13. Horizon Marsh
If bird watching is your thing, there’s no better place to do it than Horizon Marsh.
It is the biggest freshwater cattail marsh in the whole country, home to ducks, geese, and many, many more.
This wildlife protected national and state refuge also has programs for visitors and birdwatchers.
If you’re planning your trip, aim for the months of September and October for a parade, where you will see hundreds or thousands of ducks making their way as they head down south or take a trip in May when the migration moves on back north and there is also the Horicon Marsh Bird Festival taking place.
14. Indian Mounds and Trail Park
Preserved to the best quality, eleven mounds shaped like various animals which were formed back almost one thousand years ago, call the Indian Mounds and Trail Park Home.
These were grounds for the indian people who used to live there hundreds of years ago and the center of their ceremonies.
Today, they are one of the top tourist attractions close to Milwaukee.
With its village partially re-made for visitors to enjoy, it has a stockade, the conical temple mounds, and a priest’s house located on the top of one of them.
The town nearby also has a dairy shrine and a museum of history, as well as the Lincoln Exhibit.
So if you are a history buff—this attraction is definitely right up your alley.
15. Ten Chimneys
25 miles west of Milwaukee, you’ll find the Ten Chimneys, the holiday house of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, in a quaint town called Genesee Depot.
Back when it was in use in the first half of the 20th century it was a hotspot for parties, rehearsal, and a getaway of sorts.
In this stunning house, American stars of the stage set foot as visitors of the couple, like Katherine Hepburn, Carol Channing, and Helen Hayes.
Nowadays, Ten Chimneys has been protected and given name as a historic landmark where they offer many tours to city visitors.