Harley-Davidson 115th : Top Rides in Southeastern Wisconsin

Heading to Milwaukee for the Harley-Davidson 115th? When you’re in the city and the craving for an open road strikes, you can head in any direction – well, any direction except towards Lake Michigan – to find fun on your bike. 

Southeastern Wisconsin offers gorgeous rides along the lakeshore, as well as inland through beautiful woods, rolling fields, and lake areas. The Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive runs 115 miles through the region, taking in State Forest and Natural Areas with hilly terrain and unusual landforms shaped by the last ice age.

Taking nearby Henry Maier Festival Park as a starting point, here are some epic rides and destinations worth stopping for.

Direction: North

Destination: Elkhart Lake

Details: Home of the modern-day Road America, the picturesque village of Elkhart Lake has preserved their Historic Race Circuits, original open-road racing courses from the 1950s. Both winding circuits begin at a historical marker on Lake Street. 

Route from Summerfest Grounds:

  • Head north along the lake on WI-32, to US-57 North, then County A west into town. (62 miles)
  • To catch some of the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive (KMSD) on the return trip, head west out of town on Birchwood Drive, then turn left onto the KMSD. Follow KMSD to WI-67, take a right on County PP, another right onto WI-57, which will bring you back to the city. (69 miles)

Direction: Northwest

Destination: Hubertus

Details: Atop Holy Hill, a 1,350-foot glacial hill in Hubertus, you’ll find the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, along with amazing views of the surrounding country’s rolling hills and lakes. Climb the Scenic Tower’s 178 stairs for an even more astonishing vista.

Route from Summerfest Grounds:

Take I-94 west to WI-16. Head north on WI-83, passing Pine Lake on your left, and Beaver Lake on your right. Next up will be North Lake on your left – as you pass it, look for County Hwy VV to your right, and take that over to Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive. Then it’s right on Donegal and left on Carmel to Holy Hill. (37 miles)

To go back to Milwaukee, turn right on WI-167 and head east to pick up WI-57. (35 miles)

Direction: West

Destination: Eagle

Details: The town of Eagle sits within the Southern Unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest, giving you access to the lower stretch of the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive. A big selection of biker bars for such a small town proves the popularity of this area for scenic cruising.

Route from Summerfest Grounds:

  • Just pop down 1st Street to Greenfield Avenue, a.k.a. WI-59, and take it all the way to Eagle. (35 miles)
  • For the return, head north on WI-67 to US-18, turn right and head east all the way back to town. (40 miles)

Direction: Southwest

Destination: Lake Geneva

Details: This historic resort community on Geneva Lake offers old-fashioned charm, plus world-class golf and boating. On the lake’s north shore, follow the Snake Road for a winding ride along the back ends of turn-of-the century estates.

Route from Summerfest Grounds: 

  • Take I-43 south to WI-36, and follow it south to WI-120. Continue to Interchange N and on into town. (47 miles)
  • If you’re feeling adventurous on the way back, take WI-50 east all the way to Kenosha where you’ll take WI-32 north along the lake through Racine (see below), and on up to Milwaukee. (70 miles)

Direction: South

Destination: Racine

Details: Racine’s North Beach, on 2,500 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline, is one of the Midwest’s best. But Racine’s authentic Danish bakeries alone are worth the trip. It would be a shame to visit Wisconsin without enjoying a proper Racine kringle – the Official State Pastry.

Route from Summerfest Grounds:

  • Take WI-32 all the way into town, take a left on Mevlin Ave, then a right on Michigan Blvd, which you can follow south along the beach. (24 miles)
  • Of all your options for heading back, you just can’t beat a trip back up WI-32. (24 miles)