Lakes & Rivers

Wisconsin is home to two Great Lakes and over 15,000 smaller inland ones. Our rivers and streams, including the mighty Mississippi, wind their way through and alongside small towns and major cities, spanning over 80,000 miles in total. Given our rich aquatic surroundings, being on or near the water is one of the best ways to spend time in Wisconsin. 

During your visit, lounge on an ocean-like beach along Lake Michigan while the kids build sandcastles nearby. Or charter a boat and spend a day out on a lake fishing. Perhaps tube down one of our pristine rivers. However you spend your time on our lakes and rivers, it's time well spent, especially in the company of family and friends.  

Great Times On the Lakes

Our Great Lakes — Superior and Michigan — offer scenic views of urban and natural landscapes and countless freshwater activities above and below the surface. 

Scuba diving is a popular pastime off the coast of Door County in Lake Michigan, the second-largest by volume of the Great Lakes, where hundreds of shipwrecks live, over 200 of them to be exact. Many of them are visible from a kayak, canoe, or boat. You can also find the Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast between Port Washington and Two Rivers, designated a National Marine Sanctuary with 36 recognized shipwrecks discovered to date.

Find fun above the water’s surface while freshwater surfing just five miles from Sheboygan, also known as the “Malibu of the Midwest.” When winds hit 20-25 mph, the lake becomes a popular surfing hangout spot pretty much year-round. Peak season runs between September and March.

Our other Great Lake, Superior, is the largest by volume and the deepest. 

Featuring sandy beaches and majestic cliffs, Superior is home to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, where you can paddle around or hike to sea caves, which turn to ice in the winter. 

On and along Superior and Michigan, you can enjoy fishing, boating, scenic cruises and lighthouses. 

Water Activities

There’s water nearly everywhere in Wisconsin. Our Great Lakes, scenic islands and freshwater…

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Waterfalls

Some of Wisconsin’s most spectacular sights center around our state’s many…

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Lake Superior Shoreline

To the north, Wisconsin is bordered by the largest of the five Great Lakes, Lake Superior. A region…

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Beaches

Relax and soak up the sun at Wisconsin’s lakeshore beaches and swimming areas. Put your toes…

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Boating & Sailing

With over 15,000 lakes, you’ll find a great place for boating in Wisconsin. Explore a calm…

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Rafting & Tubing

Take an adventure down one of Wisconsin's rivers and streams while white water rafting or kick…

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Fun On Inland Lakes & Rivers 

Wisconsin is home to countless inland lakes and rivers, all waiting to be explored by you and your family.

Tens of thousands of smaller lakes populate the Wisconsin landscape, including Pepin and Monona, which features an urban landscape with paddle activities and a bike loop along the shoreline.

Along the Wisconsin-Minnesota border, the Mississippi River is a popular attraction. One way to enjoy the river is on board the La Crosse Queen, an old-fashioned paddlewheel cruise boat, like the ones used in the early 1900s, which cruises around the upper part of the river. Choose between several cruise options, including a sightseeing tour and a dinner or brunch cruise. You can also rent a houseboat to experience the river at your own pace with your family and friends.

The Wisconsin River, a Mississippi River tributary, is the state’s longest river, at 430 miles long. The lower portion features over 90 miles and passes through river cities and towns like the Wisconsin Dells and Prairie du Sac and natural parks and campgrounds, including Buckhorn State Park. Along the river, find some of the best waters for activities like tubing, kayaking and paddleboarding. 

Above and below the water’s surface, you’ll find adventure, beautiful scenes and precious moments with family and friends.

Endless Exploration

No matter what outdoor activity you gravitate towards, there's something for everyone in Wisconsin