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5 Charming Day Trips in Southeast Wisconsin

Milwaukee is just the beginning of exploration in Southeastern Wisconsin. Consider a day trip to experience any one of these smaller gems in this green corner of the state.

Sheboygan

Often associated with bratwurst, Sheboygan lies along the Lake Michigan shore with the impressive Kohler-Andrae State Park sand dunes just south of town. The city’s harbor offers water-based recreation, from paddleboarding and surfing to fishing and sailing.

Occupying a converted Coca-Cola bottling plant, one of the finest brewers in the state, 3 Sheeps, is based here, offering tours and rare beers. The dining scene is impressive, especially if you love Italian: two local pizzerias, Il Ritrovo and Harry's Prohibition Bistro, have true Neopolitan pizza certification from Italy. And yes, there are brats: stop in at Miesfeld's Market for some of the best you can find.

Hartford

Once home to Kissel luxury car manufacturer, Hartford now hosts the Wisconsin Automotive Museum, a collection of classic antique cars and auto-related memorabilia. Drive a few minutes south and you may think you’re in Ireland when you hit the links at Erin Hills, one of the top ten public golf courses in the USA and previous host to the US Open. Also nearby is Holy Hill, a stately basilica and religious shrine built atop a glacial kame, with a steeple-top view all the way back to Milwaukee.

Racine

Danish heritage lives on here in the kringle capital of Wisconsin. Be sure to pick up one of these large traditional pastries from O&H Bakery. The downtown has over 70 historic buildings including the Racine Heritage Museum, set in a 1904 Carnegie library. Don’t miss a burger and shake at Kewpee Sandwich Shop, a 1920s cash-only diner.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Trail begins in Racine with Wright-designed buildings at the SC Johnson Headquarters and the former Johnson home Wingspread, both open for tours. Climb the tower of the picturesque 1880 Wind Point Lighthouse for a great lake view.

Lake Geneva

Once an escape for Chicagoans, this city on scenic Geneva Lake has a long history of resort life. Set sail with Lake Geneva Cruise Line and stop for a tour at the 1888 Black Point Estate and Gardens. Alternatively, a long lakeside public walking path grants views of the impressive homes and gardens. Food options are plentiful, from fine dining at Geneva Chophouse to cozy breakfasts at Great Eggs, and a stop at The Cheese Box for something to take home is recommended.

Eagle and Palmyra

Not ten minutes apart, these two little towns lie along the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive, a 115-mile route winding through connected swathes of state forest and passing impressive geological formations left by the last glaciers of the Ice Age. Enjoy Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail north of Eagle or take a longer hike along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The nearby office of the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest has an abundance of options for you.

Step into the pioneer days at Eagle’s open-air museum, Old World Wisconsin, a collection of ten farmsteads with docents dressed in character. Rent a mountain bike from Backyard Bikes south of Palmyra and take on the John Muir or Emma Carlin Trails. Farm-to-table is very short trip at Rushing Waters, a trout farm with its own restaurant, The Trout House.

Keep exploring with our tips on exploring Wisconsin's hidden gems!

This entry was posted in State Parks & Forests

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