20 Wisconsin Beaches

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Wisconsin is known for its dairy, lumber and beer, its Native American Culture and for being the home of the Green Bay Packers. It is not known for – at least on a national or international level – its beaches. So an article entitled the ’20 Best Beaches in Wisconsin’ may raise your eyebrows. Although it lies about 1000 miles (1600 km) from the nearest ocean, this Midwest state does, in fact, have some fantastic beaches.

The beaches in Wisconsin are situated around the coastlines of the many beautiful lakes in the region, particularly in the north, central and southern parts of the state. Whether you prefer small, remote beaches that provide tranquillity and scenic beauty, or a buzzy recreational beach that offers loads of opportunities for watersports, people watching and waterfront dining, Wisconsin has a beach for you. Here are 20 Wisconsin beaches to visit.

Also read: 21 Landmarks In Wisconsin

Wisconsin Beaches

Best Beaches in Southern Wisconsin

1- Riviera Beach, Lake Geneva

lake geneva wisconsin beach full of people
One of the most popular Wisconsin beaches is located on the shores of Lake Geneva.

Lake Geneva is a beautiful spot with some sensational beaches and one of the best of them is Riviera Beach.

At roughly 590 ft (180 m), it is a relatively small stretch of sand, but its pristine nature will very much impress you.

To enter the beach, you will have to pay a small fee, which funds its maintenance and the presence of lifeguards, but it is worth it.

As well as being a great spot to swim, you can also hire a boat to spend a day out on the water.

There are also several excellent hiking trails just off the shoreline, should you fancy doing a bit of exploring.

2- Racine Beach, Lake Michigan

Wisconsin Beaches three pairs of legs standing in the water
Looking for the best Wisconsin beaches? Check out our list of 20.

Nestled on the fringes of the Lake Michigan waterfront, Racine Beach is widely acknowledged as being the best beach in Wisconsin.

The first beach in the state to be certified as a ‘Blue Wave’ clean beach by the National Clean Beaches Council, it was also rated as one of the ’51 Great American Beaches’ by USA Today.

Midwest Living Magazine also awarded it the title of ‘Top City Beach’ while Parent Magazine labelled it one of the ‘Top 10 Family Friendly Beaches’.

So it has some pedigree.

Spanning over 750 metres, it’s an excellent spot for swimming, fishing and picnics, and the iconic Racine Breakwater Lighthouse is well worth a visit too.

3- Simmons Island Beach, Kenosha

beaches in Wisconsin red and black lighthouse in Kenosha
Kenosha’s Pierhead Lighthouse is at one end of Simmons Island Beach in Wisconsin.

Another great beach that flanks Lake Michigan is Simmons Island Beach.

A lovely sandy beach located in Kenosha, it’s the perfect place for a bit of sunbathing.

It is a family-friendly destination with playgrounds, bike trails, numerous picnic spots, an open-air pavilion, and two historic lighthouses, making it a splendid place to set yourself up for the day.

This lovely beach also has a boardwalk that runs from near the paved bike trail to the lighthouse pier, which showcases picturesque views.

4- Fireman’s Park Beach, Verona

In Verona, Fireman’s Park Beach is fairly small but stunning.

It’s also another lovely family-friendly destination that offers plenty of opportunities for fun and relaxation.

Kids will love the water slide that will lead them right into the lake and the playground area adjacent to the sand.

The beach is also perfect for swimming, though it might be a bit cold for some, and is a haven for fishing.

So you should be able to catch something for dinner here.

Best Beaches in Northern Wisconsin

5- Newport State Park, Ellison Bay

Lake Michigan Beaches Wisconsin rocky cliffs and lush green trees
Lake Michigan also has several excellent Wisconsin beaches to visit.

If you love your beaches with a healthy dose of outdoor adventure, then head to Newport State Park.

A designated wilderness park, it’s a stunning landscape of hardwood forests, upland meadows, wetlands and a rugged coastline that flanks Lake Michigan.

As well as a stunning waterfront location, which has plenty of sandy stretches to lay down a towel on, the park also offers 30 miles of hiking trails to explore the locale.

It’s an excellent spot for kayaking, and if you are here at night, during the summer months especially, you might see incredible views of the northern lights.

For more beaches around the world read:

6- Big Bay Beach at Town Park, Madeline Island

Madeline Island Beaches Wisconsin
Madeline Island on Lake Superior has some excellent beaches to visit in Wisconsin.

Right on the northernmost tip of Wisconsin lies Madeline Island.

Forming part of the Apostle Islands, it features the spectacular Big Bay Beach, the largest of all beaches in the region.

It extends for over two glorious miles and provides plenty of walking, beachcombing, swimming, and fishing opportunities.

The island also has several boardwalks that provide easy guided walks along Big Bay Beach.

This makes it a romantic spot, as you can lose yourself in the gentle sound of waves lapping on the shoreline as you take in the fabulous views of Lake Superior that appear between the trees.

7- Julian Bay Beach, Stockton Island

Best beaches in Wisconsin (a mauve sunset over Lake Superior)
If you’re looking for a pristine beach in Wisconsin, those on the shores of Lake Superior will not disappoint.

Over at Julian Bay Beach on Stockton Island, don’t be surprised if you hear singing.

Nestled within the Apostle Islands, on the eastern shoreline of Stockton Island, the beach here faces out to Lake Superior, which covers a distance of some 300 miles (482 km).

Due to the distinctive shape of the sand granules, the sand appears to ‘sing’ as you stroll along it with your bare feet.

Only a small percentage of beaches in the world have this quality, so it’s worth coming here to experience that.

8- Whitefish Dunes Beach, Sturgeon Bay

Whitefish Dunes Beach In Wisconsin
Whitefish Dunes Beach In Wisconsin is a beautiful beach to spend time on.

Outdoorsy folks will love Whitefish Dunes Beach.

Situated around Sturgeon Bay in Door County, the beach sprawls for some 853 acres and comprises sandy dunes and lush surrounding forest.

It’s the perfect spot to set yourself up for the day with a good book, some tunes and a picnic.

Stretch your legs along the 15 miles (24 km) of hiking trails and oenophiles will want to check out the four wineries in the local area.

9- Schoolhouse Beach, Washington Island

One of the most picturesque beaches in Wisconsin has to be Schoolhouse Beach.

You’ll find it on Washington Island, and when you get there, you will immediately notice the beach has no sand.

Instead, it is made entirely of smooth limestone pebbles that look fantastic and gently massage your feet as you walk on them.

A geographical wonder due to its unique composition, this isn’t the best beach for sunbathing, but you should enjoy a good swim here, and there will be plenty of Instagram worth shots you can take.

Although tempting, please do not take any of these rocks home as it’s illegal to do so, and you could land yourself a hefty fine.

10- Nicolet Beach, Peninsula State Park Beach

Peninsula State Park Beach Wisconsin orange sunset over the water
Peninsula State Park’s beaches in Wisconsin are stunning.

If you go to Peninsula State Park Beach, you won’t be alone because more than a million people visit this fantastic park every year.

Many of these visitors head straight to the fabulous Nicolet Beach.

An excellent spot for swimming, kayaking, fishing and sunbathing, this is a lovely place to enjoy a pleasant afternoon.

The beach area accommodates playgrounds, picnic spots, sand volleyball courts, and a snack bar.

You can also hire water sports equipment if you don’t have your own.

11- Pattison State Park Beach, Interfalls Lakes

You can find one of the nicest beach experiences in Wisconsin at Pattison State Park around Interfalls Lakes.

A beautiful 1,436-acre (581 ha) park notable for featuring one of the highest waterfalls in the state, the beach here is small, running for just over 90 m.

But it is a lovely place to camp and features a range of guided hikes, a nature centre and various nature programmes.

It’s the kind of beach you visit to connect with nature, and if you can come here in the fall, you will be amazed at the magnificent colours of fall in full effect.

12- Baileys Harbor Ridges Park Beach, Baileys Harbor

There are many idyllic beaches in Wisconsin, but few can match Baileys Harbor Ridges Park Beach for its sheer tranquillity.

Located in Baileys Harbor, on the shores of Lake Michigan, it is framed by stunning forest and marshland.

It’s an excellent location for those who love to draw or paint.

The beach is hard to find as it is hidden behind the flora, but you are likely to have it all to yourself if you do stumble across it.

You might find it too cold to swim, but if you just want to get away from the pressures of your daily working life, there is no better place to go.

13- Meyer’s Beach, Cornucopia

Best Wisconsin Beaches apostle islands lake superior at sunset
Some of the best beaches in Wisconsin are on the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior.

Around Lake Superior, near Cornucopia, Meyer’s Beach is another very scenic beach in Wisconsin.

Regarded as the gateway to the Apostle Islands, the National Park Service operates the beach, so it’s in immaculate condition.

There is plenty of space to relax on the shoreline, play a bat and ball sport, or swim in the water.

It is also close to the famous sea caves on the Bayfield Peninsula, a must-see.

The beach also offers clean toilets, picnic benches and plenty of parking spaces, whilst you will find a plethora of excellent restaurants and eateries in the area.

Best Beaches in Central Wisconsin

14- Point Beach State Forest, Two Rivers

Situated near Lake Michigan, Point Beach State Forest is a fantastic beach for families.

The sand extends for a reasonable length, which makes it a lovely place to sunbathe, search for shells or paddle around in the water.

There are also several decent spots for a picnic and a beach house that opens during the summer.

You’ll find a good range of cycling and walking trails here too, should you fancy exploring the area further, and there are some excellent hotels to enjoy a meal or stay overnight.

15- Lake Delton Public Beach, Wisconsin Dells

The Wisconsin Dells has some fabulous natural and manmade beaches to enjoy.

One of the best of them is Lake Delton Public Beach. Although the sand expanse is relatively small, the area is beautiful.

It also features a bbq area, public toilets and good parking for your convenience.

You can swim here, but signs dotted around the area advise that you do it at your own risk.

So you might prefer to stay on dry land and relax in the serenity of the surroundings.

16- Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve, Grafton

Situated on the Lake Michigan shoreline in a largely untouched bluff of land that stretches from Port Washington down to Mequon, the Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve is another great place to get away from it all.

You can only access the beach here through a hiking trail that eventually leads you into a gorge, from which you have to descend a long staircase to get to it.

Surrounded by dense woods, bluffs, hilltops and marshland, all of which are offset by the glassy waters of Lake Michigan, this is a lovely spot to skim stones, stroll around the shoreline and generally marvel at the beauty of nature.

17- Kohler-Andrae State Park Beach, Sheboygan

If you are looking for a beach with a real ‘wow’ factor, look no further than the beach at Kohler Andrae State Park.

Nestled in a quiet area of the town of Sheboygan, within Lake Michigan, the beach stretches for miles and features the most majestic dunes you could ever hope to see.

Complimented by the stunning blue waters of the lake and the surrounding wetlands, this is a perfect destination to spend the day.

You can swim or explore the dunes, and if you are hungry, there is an excellent café right on the beach.

18- Devil’s Lake State Park Beach, Baraboo

Wisconsin Beaches blue water and greenary
Devils Lake State Park is home to some of the best Wisconsin beaches.

Attracting more than three million visitors yearly, Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo is one of Wisconsin’s most popular state parks.

Covering more than 27,000 acres (11,000 ha) of natural and parkland areas, it features a fantastic sandy beach adjacent to a magnificent 500 ft (152 m) quartzite bluff that is well worth hiking up to.

The beach is a lovely place to walk, sunbathe and generally relax, while the lake is a playground for swimming, kayaking and canoeing.

There are even children’s play areas in the vicinity for the little ones to play on while you chill out on the sand.

Urban Beaches in Wisconsin

19- Bradford Beach, Milwaukee

Bradford Beach is undoubtedly the most popular beach in Milwaukee.

Located around Lake Michigan, this city beach in Wisconsin is always busy and regularly holds events like music festivals and volleyball tournaments.

Supervised by lifeguards in the summer months, it’s where locals come to relax, cool off, play, people watch and de-stress from the rigours of daily life.

One of the best aspects of this beach is that the water quality is constantly monitored, so you will know at any given time if it is safe to swim.

20- Vilas Beach, Madison

madison
The city of Madison is located on the water as it’s surrounded by lakes.

Out in the city of Madison, Vilas beach is a picturesque expanse of sand that gently arcs along Lake Wingra’s north shore.

Replete with two piers, it’s a popular spot for fishing, kayaking and paddleboarding, while the sandy beach also makes good as an area for sunbathing and swimming.

Located within a park of the same name, there are also six tennis courts, two children’s playgrounds, a baseball diamond and even a zoo.

It’s the perfect place for a complete fun family day out. 

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Spencer is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years experience producing written content for tourism-related businesses. A thalassophile who was afflicted with wanderlust from a young age, he has visited over 40 countries in the world. An ex-pat Brit who now lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, he cites Miami Beach in the USA and Palm Cove in Australia as his favourite travel destinations. Specialising in writing about beach destinations around the world, he would probably bleed sand if you cut his arm open