Wisconsin boasts 66 amazing state parks, each with its own distinct vibe and atmosphere. They’re where you’ll find towering trees, ribbons of hiking trails and plenty of wildlife, but what you may not know is that our state parks also contain some of the prettiest beaches you’ll ever see.
Famed for their natural beauty, these sandy escapes provide tons of activities geared toward the family. While your little ones may enjoy building sandcastles all day, your big kids can swim or kayak within eyeshot. And you’ll get some much-needed R&R as well.
Here are five state park beaches that shouldn’t be missed.
On Lake Michigan, you’ll explore a two-mile sandy shore that stretches along Sheboygan’s Kohler-Andrae State Park. The dunes and wood-plank trails leading up to the beach look as if they were plucked from an oceanside locale.
After soaking up the scenic views, you and the kids can head out for a swim or paddleboard for some on-the-water excitement. You can even play catch with your pup at the park’s dog-friendly beach. Afterwards, delve into the wooded areas or power down for the day at a campsite located in the park.
See Lake Superior in all its glory at Madeline Island’s Big Bay State Park. With its 1.5-mile sand beach, there’s more than enough room to swim and play while you overlook the stunning sandstone bluffs and caves. You can also appreciate these lakeside sights from the park’s 1.7-mile Point Trail that includes beach and shoreline segments. By land or by sand, this state park offers a wide variety of outdoor experiences.
Situated only 20 minutes from Wisconsin Dells, Baraboo’s Devil’s Lake State Park serves up family-friendly beaches along with its lofty rock formations and trails. There are two sandy beaches next to the lake, readied with bath houses, swimming areas, playground equipment, picnic tables and grills—otherwise known as the makings of an idyllic summer day.
The biking and hiking in Door County’s Peninsula State Park is top-notch, but you should also add the park’s Nicolet Beach to your itinerary. As the park’s only sand swimming beach, you’ll find activities that will keep your family entertained all day long. Rent a kayak, canoe or hydrobike, get your fill of ice cream at the snack bar and visit the camp store to stock up on beach essentials—which is handy if you forgot goggles or sunscreen!
For sun and sand that’s a bit off the beaten path, visit the beach at Buckhorn State Park in Necedah. The beach comes in at 300 feet, but it packs in loads of summertime activities. Swim in the waters of Castle Rock Lake, try your luck at sand volleyball or horseshoes, pack a picnic, rock the playground or rent canoes or kayaks, which are available in the park. Every member of your family is sure to land on an enjoyable activity at this beach.