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Wisconsin in Pictures: 16 Beautiful Places to Photograph

Written by Anietra Hamper
Feb 7, 2020

The imagery of Wisconsin is peaceful. The urban city skylines of Madison and Milwaukee light up the night skies, while the complete darkness of the Northwoods welcomes stargazing at its best. The state is filled with inland canals and waterways but also the vast Great Lakes of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.

Rolling hills and sandstone cliffs add texture to the photos of the state's natural side. Spring and summer decorate photos with flowers in bloom, while the stark winters with deep snow and thick ice create an added element of beauty to the already picturesque landscape.

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1. Madison Skyline

Madison skyline at sunset
Madison skyline at sunset

The skyline of the state capital of Madison is beautiful at sunset when the statehouse dome shines a golden reflection onto Lake Monona. Olin-Turville Park is a perfect spot from which to get the full skyline and the lake in view. Take time to explore downtown Madison to find more beautiful sights.

Accommodation: Best Hotels in Downtown Madison, WI

2. Devil's Lake

Devil's Lake
Devil's Lake

Devil's Lake State Park near Baraboo is a scenic spot for views of the rocky landscape, forestland, and waterways. There is a high vantage point from East Bluff Trail in the park with great views of the hilly landscape down to the water.

3. Cranberry Marshes

Wisconsin cranberries
Wisconsin cranberries

The cranberry marshes in central Wisconsin stretch along a 50-mile section of the state. It is easy to catch a glimpse of harvest season and the acres of cranberry marshes from the side of the road along the Wisconsin Cranberry Highway, which runs from Wisconsin Rapids to Warrens. For closer images of the cranberry marshes, many farms offer tours during harvest season in the fall.

4. Milwaukee Skyline

Milwaukee skyline at dusk
Milwaukee skyline at dusk

The Milwaukee skyline has many interesting features and dozens of unique skyscrapers, including the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Milwaukee City Hall. The skyline comes alive at dusk, when the lights are illuminated and reflecting over Lake Michigan.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Milwaukee: Best Areas & Hotels

5. Cave Point, Door County

Cave Point
Cave Point

Cave Point in Door County is a stunning sight in the summer and in the frozen winter months. The tall, rocky cliffs on the shores of Lake Michigan create a beautiful contrast to the clear green water below. This is just one of the many things to do in Door County.

Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Door County, WI

6. Dells Mill

Dells Mill
Dells Mill

The historic Dells Mill in Augusta, Wisconsin is where time stops. The mill operated since the 1800s and is now a museum and a picturesque spot in the rural community surrounded by farmland. The wooden, red, five-story mill sits along Bridge Creek and is one of the few remaining mills in Wisconsin.

7. St. Croix River

St. Croix River
St. Croix River

The St. Croix River, which runs through northern Wisconsin on the border of Minnesota, has multiple ecological influences, making it a naturally beautiful place to photograph. Dawn is a perfect time to capture the colors on the trees and water in muted tones and sometimes mist rising off the river before sunrise.

8. Northwoods

Sunset over a dock in Wisconsin's Northwoods
Sunset over a dock in Wisconsin's Northwoods

The remote areas of Wisconsin's Northwoods, especially during morning sunrises and sunsets, are pristine and in a class of their own. The magical light on the fringe of the day brings a spectrum of colors, from periwinkle and shades of peach sherbet to neon blue. Capture the sunrise from a lakeside cabin, where boat docks and local wildlife add to the scenery.

9. Sturgeon Bay Lighthouse

Sturgeon Bay Lighthouse
Sturgeon Bay Lighthouse

The Sturgeon Bay Lighthouse in Door County is a dramatically red and unusually shaped lighthouse that always makes for an interesting photograph. The canal lighthouse is on the shores of Lake Michigan, on the property of a Coast Guard station, guiding boats through the waters from Lake Michigan to Green Bay.

10. Apostle Island Rock Formations

Apostle Island arch covered in ice
Apostle Island arch covered in ice

The rock formations on Wisconsin's Apostle Islands are unforgettable and mammoth in size. Some formations on the 21-island chain on Lake Superior are in the shape of dramatic arches, with walk throughs for people below. For a unique view, capture the arches in the winter, when lake-effect snow illustrates the starkness of this natural landscape on the Great Lakes system.

11. Lost Canyon

Horses in Lost Canyon
Horses in Lost Canyon

Lost Canyon is the deepest and longest canyon in the state, located near the Wisconsin Dells. The 3.4-mile canyon loop can be navigated on foot or in a horse-drawn carriage through the narrow passages bordered by towering sandstone cliffs.

Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Wisconsin Dells

12. Door County Winding Road

Door County winding road
Door County winding road

A stretch of Highway 42 in Door County just past Gills Rock is only simply known as the winding road in Door County. The zigzag nature of the road was built by design by a Danish architect named Jens Jensen. It is easy to pull off the side of the road at one end to photograph it, as there is not much traffic. The road is particularly stunning when surrounded by the fall colors on the trees.

13. Sister Bay Harbor

Sister Bay Harbor in the fall
Sister Bay Harbor in the fall

The Sister Bay Harbor in Door County is serene, with anchored sailboats gently rocking side to side with the morning breeze, and kayakers paddling close to the shoreline. The scene is reminiscent of simple cottage vacations that happened here in the 1800s. The fall is a nice time in Sister Bay, when summer tourists are gone and the leaves are changing on the trees making for a colorful backdrop to the water.

Accommodation: Best Hotels in Sister Bay, WI

14. Wisconsin State Capitol

Tulips in front of the Wisconsin State Capitol
Tulips in front of the Wisconsin State Capitol

The Wisconsin State Capitol building is surrounded by beautiful landscaping, so it is always a great place to photograph. The spring tulips and manicured gardens around the statehouse make a colorful image. The dramatically lit capitol dome at night is also a stunning photo to capture.

Accommodation: Best Cheap Hotels in Madison, WI

15. Washington Island Lavender Fields

Washington Island lavender fields
Washington Island lavender fields

Early summer on Washington Island means that the lavender fields are in full bloom. The symphony of the calming scent combined with the electric purple hue of the rows of lavender flowers is tranquil. The lavender only blooms for a short time in the summer, so if you want to catch it at its best, you will want to plan ahead.

16. Holy Hill

Holy Hill
Holy Hill

You do not have to subscribe to a particular religion to appreciate the beauty of the view on Holy Hill in southeastern Wisconsin. The basilica on the hill is the hallmark of the 435 acres of serenity around it. There is a complex of buildings, but your best view is farther away to capture the forestland of the area, which has shades of reds and oranges in the fall.

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