Lake Michigan Circle Tour

Along Lake Michigan, state and county parks, major cities and harbor towns dot the freshwater coastline. With so much to see and do along this Great Lake, one of the best ways to soak it all up is on a road trip with family and friends. 

More than 1,000 miles long, the Lake Michigan Circle Tour would take about 14 hours without stops to complete. As the name implies, the route is a circle and weaves through four states — Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and, of course, Wisconsin. 

Spend a day or a week exploring this lakeside road. One day, roast marshmallows at a remote campsite and the next, toast to new and old friends at an iconic big-city brewery. Nothing is off-limits on the circle tour. 

Starting South

The Wisconsin leg of the tour starts at the Illinois border and moves north on Wisconsin Highway 32 alongside picturesque Lake Michigan.

When you hit Kenosha, not far from the border, we suggest visiting the harbor town’s two scenic lighthouses — Southport Light Station Museum featuring an 1800s lighthouse and North Pier Lighthouse, which houses an art studio.

Next up is Milwaukee. The city is well known for its craft breweries. Many are dog and kid-friendly and also serve food. Try a classic IPA or a seasonal offering at Third Space Brewing west of downtown, or head to the Deer District for Good City Brewing Co

Before jumping on Interstate Highway 43 to continue the tour, grab lunch and shop for goods at the up-and-coming Deer District across from the Fiserv Forum where the Milwaukee Bucks play. 

As the cityscape gets smaller on your rearview mirror, more outdoor fun awaits. 

When you hit Sheboygan, make a pit stop at the scenic Kohler-Andrae State Park to see incredible lake views and explore the area's beaches and sand dunes. 

For more beaches, historical museums and boating fun, stop at the next city over, Manitowoc. 

Greener Pastures

Soon enough, you’ll find yourselves in Door County, one of Wisconsin’s most popular destinations, known for its gorgeous beaches, wineries and historic lighthouses. 

When you get to the tip of the peninsula, take the car ferry over to Washington Island and explore popular attractions, like the Farm Museum and Rock Island State Park.  

At any point along the tour, if you’d like to stay the night and spend more time at a city or harbor town, there are plenty of lake resorts, campsites, cabins and hotels for your choosing. 

Before leaving Door County, stop in Sturgeon Bay, a ship-building hub, and visit must-see attractions, like the Door County Maritime Museum, Door Peninsula Winery and Cave Point County Park. 

Next up is Wisconsin’s oldest settlement, Green Bay. Home of Lambeau Field and the Packers Hall of Fame, also tour the Oneida National Museum and National Railroad Museum while you’re there. 

Then, it’s on to Marinette, Wisconsin’s northernmost point on the Lake Michigan Circle Tour. Tour the area waterfalls before crossing into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Wisconsin offers the best of Lake Michigan’s beauty and commercial appeal. Take your time as you make the journey along the coast and around the Door County peninsula. You may find the best memories are the ones you never expected.