A tank full of gas and seats filled with family and friends — that’s all you need for a fun-filled road trip along the byways and scenic drives found in all our regions. Along the way, discover picture-worthy sights, must-see attractions, delicious eateries and another surprising side of Wisconsin.
Spend a day or a few exploring our scenic rivers, vibrant towns and national landmarks on one of our five byways. Don’t worry about getting lost — each of our byways has maps and plenty of road signage for a smooth family adventure.
The Great River Road, for instance, is marked by signs of a green-and-white pilot's wheel. The byway, established in the 1930s, runs along the Mississippi River for 250 miles on the Wisconsin State Highway 35 and weaves through ten states, including ours. The Great River Road is designated as a National Scenic Byway and an All-American Road by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Along this route, discover wineries, prime fishing spots, historical landmarks, museums and more.
Looping 66 miles around the Green Bay bluffs and Lake Michigan, the Door County Coastal Byway is a must-see attraction found on a scenic peninsula. The national scenic byway features state and county parks, lighthouses, orchards and plenty of spots for recreational activities like boating, fishing, hiking and golfing.
Up North, the Bayfield Peninsula is also home to another national scenic byway. The Lake Superior Scenic Byway is a 70-mile route that passes through the Houghton Falls State Natural Area and the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation with views of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Stop at any of these outdoor attractions for a couple of hours or stay overnight and enjoy them a bit longer.
At 145 miles long, explore the Nicolet-Wolf River Scenic Byway and make it a weekend trip. In the heart of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, the byway weaves through northern Wisconsin counties, the Wolf River and attractions like restaurants and shopping. And, last but not least, the 100-mile Scenic Byway 60- Lower Wisconsin River Road features beautiful vistas of the Driftless Region, home to vineyards, Amish Country, outdoor attractions and more.
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Hit the Road
Besides the byways, Wisconsin has many other types of scenic drives.
Wisconsin’s rustic roads are short trips along lightly traveled roads. Spot them in more than 60 counties with brown and yellow signs. Over 100 rustic roads, all maintained by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, are a great alternative to the highway or interstate, allowing you to see more of Wisconsin’s natural beauty, perfect for family photos and adventures with friends. They’re built for motorists, hikers and cyclists as well.
Another scenic drive is the Lake Michigan Circle Tour, which weaves through four states and is over 1,000 miles long. The Wisconsin portion features restaurants, outdoor attractions and historical landmarks from Milwaukee to Green Bay. And there’s also the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive, a 115-mile route from Elkhart Lake to Whitewater Lake.
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Fall In Love
Our scenic drives are perfect for any time of year, but if you’d like to see our vibrant fall colors on full display, hop on any of our best fall drives in northern and southern Wisconsin, many of which include our rustic roads.
Down south, in Lake Geneva, drive on the area’s three quiet rustic roads, including R-11, R-12 and R-36, which total nearly 20 miles. Through these roads, you’ll discover maple and hickory tree-filled woods and old cranberry bogs as well as churches and the small town of Lyons. Stay in the area and enjoy all the Lake Geneva attractions, including boutique shopping, dining, lake cruises and golf courses.
And Up North, journey on the Marinette Fall Color Driving Tour, a self-guided drive along gravel and paved roadways with stops at the county's famous waterfalls, like Dave's Falls, rapids and a mountain overlook.
Before visiting, check out the Fall Color Report with up-to-date information on where the leaves are at their best, depending on the time of the season.
With so many road trips to take here in Wisconsin, you’ll rack up countless heartwarming memories with family in no time.