14 Best Things to Do in Wisconsin
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Wisconsin has many exciting and unique experiences to enjoy throughout the state, from a stunning, rugged coastline along Lakes Superior and Michigan to the charming small towns along the Door County Peninsula. But this is just the beginning of the things to do in Wisconsin.
The cities of Madison, Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Wisconsin Dells are some of the most popular in the state, with activities from sporting events and museums to historical excursions.
With 42 state parks and five national wildlife areas, the outdoors is a fun and active way to experience the more natural side of the state. From kayaking and swimming in some of the top lakes in Wisconsin, to hiking and fishing, it is easy to plan a mix of activities to enjoy the best experiences that the state has to offer.
Start your planning with our list of the top things to do in Wisconsin.
Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.
1. Get Revved at the Harley Davidson Museum, Milwaukee
One of the top museums to visit in Wisconsin is the Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee because it is an experience beyond just walking through galleries. The history of this iconic American brand is displayed, from its humble beginnings in a small shed more than a century ago to a world-class motorcycle company.
There are many hands-on exhibits showcasing the variations of the teardrop engine through the decades to custom-made Harleys on display, and even a chance for you to get a photo sitting on an authentic Harley Davidson Hog.
Tours are offered at the museum, or you can walk around on your own. Plan a few hours to visit the 20-acre complex, and be sure to grab a bite to eat at the Harley-themed restaurant.
Address: 400 W. Canal Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Official site: https://www.harley-davidson.com/us/en/museum.html
Accommodation: Best Hotels in Milwaukee, WI
2. Catch a Packers Game at Lambeau Field, Green Bay
Football fans travel from all over to fill Lambeau Field on game days for the NFL's Green Bay Packers. Taking in an action-packed game is a great way to experience Green Bay and the culture around the team.
You can become an official cheesehead and support the home team in the stunning stadium, with its five-story high atrium. There are restaurants and pro shops on-site along with the Packers Hall of Fame that is a must-see if you visit.
Before or after the game, take a walk (or bike) along the Packers Heritage Trail, which takes you through Green Bay and features bronze markers signifying historical moments in the team's history and its impact on the community.
Address: 1265 Lombardi Ave, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Official site: https://www.packers.com/lambeau-field/
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Green Bay
3. Hit the Waterslides in Wisconsin Dells
The Wisconsin Dells is known as the water park capital of the world, making it a top priority for tourists, especially for families. The concept of the water park was developed here, and today the town has more indoor and outdoor water parks than anywhere else in the world.
There are so many water parks to choose from, so it is easy to base yourself at one resort the entire time and venture out to experience the other Wisconsin Dells attractions in between your trips down the waterslide.
Some of the water parks to consider include Noah's Ark, the largest in the United States, which sits on 70 acres and Mt. Olympus water park, which is both a water park and a theme park.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Wisconsin Dells, WI
4. Old School Vacation in Door County
Driving along the 70-mile peninsula of Door County inspires a sense of nostalgia for the kind of simplistic getaways that vacationers enjoyed in the mid 1800s. Throughout the 19 communities in Door County, you will find historic homes turned bed and breakfasts, generations-old family orchards, and original ice-cream parlors serving up oversized double scoops and homemade milkshakes.
Take a step back in time in Door County to experience a traditional fish boil, or catch the Washington Island Ferry for a day on Washington Island to visit a working lavender farm and Schoolhouse Beach, with its rock-based shoreline and one of the best beaches in Wisconsin. Find the quirky ways that Door County celebrates its heritage by putting places like Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant on your to-do list, and see the resident goats on the roof.
Bordered by Green Bay and Lake Michigan, the peninsula is a mecca for outdoor activities. There are five state parks that are great locations for swimming, kayaking, fishing, biking, and hiking.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Door County, WI
5. See Art in a New Way at the Milwaukee Art Museum
The Milwaukee Art Museum not only houses spectacular collections, but the building itself is a masterful work of art. The Quadracci Pavilion is the grand architectural feature that most people recognize. Walk through the pavilion to see the 90-foot-high glass roof and the 217-foot "wings" of the Gothic-inspired design that open and close during the day.
Spend a day exploring the 341,000-square-foot museum. There are more than 30,000 works of art and 40 galleries with everything from European art dating back to the 15th century to sculptures, photographs, Haitian art, and American paintings.
Grab lunch with spectacular views of the lakefront at the museum café, which specializes in made-from-scratch dishes and art-inspired coffees.
Address: 700 N Art Museum Drive, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Official site: http://mam.org
6. Be Inspired at Taliesin
Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture is always inspiring, and his 800-acre estate at Taliesin is one of the best places to visit to step into his life and work. Taliesin is Wright's home and studio located near Spring Green and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As you explore the home and gardens at Taliesin, you will gain insight into the natural elements that inspired Wright, including the organic architecture and using native building materials in his home designs. Taliesin is ground zero for Wright's work and where he spent 48 years designing in this studio.
You can take a tour of Taliesin. Advance reservations are recommended due to its popularity. You can also plan an entire trip around visiting Taliesin and the other Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Wisconsin, including the SC Johnson headquarters in Racine, Unitarian Meeting House in Madison, and the Monona Terrace in Madison.
Address: 5607 County Road C, Spring Green, Wisconsin
Official site: https://www.taliesinpreservation.org
7. Explore Ice Caves on the Apostle Islands
Wisconsin has thrilling outdoor experiences in the summer, but winter is the best time to visit one of its most fascinating natural elements: the ice caves on the Apostle Islands. The stillness and beauty of the natural ice formations on the shores of Lake Superior make this an experience you will never forget.
The combination of the winter water, temperature, and wind create stunning ice formations. Even though it is naturally freezing in northern Wisconsin in the winter, conditions must still be just right for the ice to form. Visiting the caves is for the more experienced outdoors person, as it requires a two-mile round-trip hike on Lake Superior on the ice.
It is important to follow guidance and safety recommendations from the staff at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and extra caution is required to ensure safe ice conditions en route to the caves.
Official site: https://www.nps.gov/apis/mainland-caves-winter.htm
8. Relax at Destination Kohler
For extravagant relaxation, Destination Kohler is a five-star resort ready and waiting with a world-class spa, golf course, and lodging. The Kohler Company, founded in 1873, got its household name from designing high quality state-of-the-art home items, from faucets to bathtubs.
Located about an hour away from Milwaukee, the Kohler brand has expanded into a fascinating complex, where you can stay, relax, and redesign your home all in one visit.
The Whistling Straits Golf Course is a links-style course and one of several golf courses available by Kohler.
The Kohler Waters Spa utilizes natural mineral water for its services, which are designed to be restorative. The resort also offers fine dining and shopping. A fun excursion at Kohler is visiting the Kohler Factory, where you can take the two- to three-hour tour and see the latest design fixtures in the Kohler Design Center.
Address: 419 Highland Drive Kohler, Wisconsin
9. Get Lost in Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison
The sprawling grounds at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison are where you can get lost in nature for a day. There are 16 acres of outdoor gardens and a conservatory of tropical plants.
The rose garden is a spectacular display of many varieties that are planted among ornamental grass, perennials, and fountains. The prairie-style layout of the garden was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright designs.
Visit the Bolz Conservatory, which is a glass pyramid housing more than 650 plant species. The sensory experience, with fragrant flowers and flying birds, will instantly transport you to a tropical island.
Other gardens to enjoy are the sunken garden, serenity garden, rock garden, and the Thai Pavilion and garden.
Address: 3330 Atwood Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin
Official site: http://www.olbrich.org
Accommodation: Best Hotels in Downtown Madison
10. Retreat to the Northwoods
The Northwoods region of Wisconsin is a great place to retreat, rejuvenate, and turn off technology. The counties of Forest, Vilas, Lincoln, Langlade, and Oneida in northern Wisconsin have some of the most pristine natural landscapes in the state.
With more than 3,200 lakes and a half million acres of natural forest, the Northwoods is as fun for outdoor recreation, like boating and fishing, as it is for doing absolutely nothing. A typical day in the Northwoods starts with a quiet sunrise, revealing hues of pink, purple, and blues and eagles flying overhead.
There are several communities in the Northwoods to use as a base, including Eagle River, St. Germain, Minocqua, and Three Lakes. There are many cabins available that take advantage of the natural surroundings, making it a peaceful getaway from the city.
11. Take a Stroll around the State Capitol, Madison
It is easy to get your steps in while walking around the state capital in Madison. The pedestrian-friendly city is a fun and active stop if you want to get in a little bit of everything, from trying local cheese curds to museums, history, the outdoors, and seeing the local neighborhoods.
The state capitol building is a great central point as you explore Madison. Take a tour inside to learn more about the history and architecture of this city centerpiece. Then, hit the sidewalks around the capital, where you can walk to the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art or the Madison Children's Museum or indulge in the Dane County Farmers Market, the largest produce-exclusive farmers market, on the Capitol Square from April to November.
Make your way to the Lake Monona Bike Loop for a bike trip, or walk along a section of the 13 miles of paved trails that give you the best skyline views of Madison and take you through local neighborhoods.
12. Explore Natural Underground Wonders at Cave of the Mounds
Wisconsin's natural wonders below the ground at Cave of the Mounds are just as fascinating as those above ground. This National Natural Landmark is located near Blue Mounds in southern Wisconsin. The cave was discovered in 1939 and opened to visitors in 1940.
Take a guided tour or a self-paced tour through the lighted corridors to discover the geological wonders inside the rock, which is estimated to be over 400 million years old. Observe delicate limestone stalactites and crystal formations inside the cave's various chambers.
Cave of the Mounds has plenty of things to do above ground, too, from nature trails and gemstone mining to learning how to open a geode.
Address: 2975 Cave of the Mounds Road, Blue Mounds, Wisconsin
Official site: https://www.caveofthemounds.com
13. Cool Off by the Biggest Waterfall in Wisconsin
There are so many incredible waterfalls in Wisconsin, but embracing the cool spray of Big Manitou Falls, especially in the summer heat, is a memorable outdoor experience. Towering at 165 feet, Big Manitou Falls is the largest waterfall in the state. It is in Pattison State Park, near Superior, and it is open year-round.
The epic waterfall is the result of a glacier that eroded the clay and sandstone created thousands of years ago, leaving a steep gorge. Big Manitou Falls is the fourth tallest waterfall located east of the Rocky Mountains and one of the most stunning natural areas to see in Wisconsin.
You can access the falls by going into Pattison State Park and following the Big Manitou Falls Trail. You can pick up a map from the park office.
Address: 6294 WI-35, Superior, Wisconsin
14. Take a Dip in Geneva Lake
The stunningly clear Geneva Lake has a quintessential cottage atmosphere. Historically the lake had a posh resort scene in the 19th century, and while it is still a resort area, it is more accessible.
Enjoy a morning walk along the Shore Path around Geneva Lake. The 21-mile trail follows the shoreline, taking you past homes and gardens, and offering the best views of the lake.
There are several beaches around the lake for swimming and water sports. Rentals for kayaks, boats, and stand up paddleboards are available from local outfitters. If you just want to enjoy the views, you can take a narrated boat tour and learn about the history of the area and see some of the stunning homes along the waterfront.
The town of Lake Geneva is fun to visit, with small shops and eateries. Lodging ranges from campgrounds and vacation rentals to resorts.
Accommodation: Best Resorts in Lake Geneva