A ferry is one way to travel to and around Wisconsin and its isles. Home to two Great Lakes and tens of thousands of smaller ones, a ferry is both a scenic and a practical option, one that will help your Wisconsin family vacation run smoothly. Plus, while onboard, you may discover some unexpected gems along the way. 

Welcome to Wisconsin

A ferry is a great option if you're traveling from a neighboring state and bringing along a vehicle and a few fellow travelers. It’s also the perfect way to start making memories even before reaching your final destination.

The Lake Express, for instance, runs between Muskegon, Michigan and Milwaukee. It takes about 2.5 hours to make it across to Wisconsin. While onboard, enjoy snacks and beverages and watch a movie or the passing lake views of beaches and sand dunes. 

The Lake Michigan Car Ferry (S.S. Badger) also crosses the lake but connects Luddington, Michigan and Manitowoc. Board the coal-fired steamship, and during the four-hour trip, grab dinner and a drink at the onboard restaurant, watch a movie in the theater room and even relax in one of the lounge chairs on the outdoor deck. 

And if you’re visiting from Iowa, hop on the Pride of Cassville, which runs between Millville, Iowa and Cassville. The quick, 15-20-minute ride boasts gorgeous views of the Mississippi River. 

For rates, times and more information, check out the individual ferry websites. 

Making Connections

A ferry is also a way to get to some of our most beautiful islands, not accessible any other way. 

Hop on the Washington Island Ferry Line and explore a magical world on Lake Michigan just beyond Door County. The ferry, stationed at the Northport Pier, offers quick rides to and from Washington Island — several miles north of the peninsula’s tip — where shops, galleries, a lavender farm and a state park provide you and your family with many adventure opportunities. 

From there, if you wish, hop on the passenger-only Rock Island Ferry, which transports you to another nearby island called, you guessed it, Rock Island. Here, explore picturesque beaches and Wisconsin’s oldest lighthouse

Meanwhile, the Madeline Island Ferry Line cruises across Lake Superior between Bayfield and La Pointe in Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands archipelago, although not considered a part of the national lakeshore. The short, 25-minute trip provides passengers spectacular partial views of the island chain. When you arrive on Madeline Island, enjoy scenic hiking trails, water activities like kayaking and miles of sandy beaches.

Whether you’re visiting from a neighboring state or wishing to see some of our most scenic isles, a ferry can be a great addition to your family vacation.