As temperatures rise, beaches become a welcome respite from the heat with their cool breezes and refreshing water.

Surrounded by water on three sides — Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and the Mississippi River — and home to thousands of rivers and lakes, Wisconsin is home to numerous beaches ready for a summer getaway, whether it’s just an hour or two, a day or multiple days.

Looking around the state, here’s a look at some of Wisconsin’s best options for a beach getaway.

By MaryBeth Matzek | Photo: Racine North Beach


Beaches and families go together. Wisconsin has some of the best family friendly beaches around.

Stand on North Beach in Racine and look at Lake Michigan and you may think you’re at the ocean, said Cari Greving, executive director at Visit Racine County.

“People flying into Milwaukee go over it and can’t believe it,” she said.

“It’s huge and the sand is just perfect and well maintained while the water is so blue.”

Families can easily make a day of it at North Beach. Lakeside Oasis is the beach’s hub and features food, picnic tables, a patio table, hammocks, bags and more. There’s also volleyball nets, plus the water is shallow, making it a great place for families to play and swim.

“The beach is absolutely enormous. It can be packed full of people but still not feel too crowded,” Greving said.

Surrounded by water on three sides, the Door County peninsula is home to multiple beaches, including Nicolet Bay Beach in Peninsula State Park and Sister Bay’s public beach, designed. with families in mind.

Sister Bay’s magnificent public beach is a waterfront paradise, said Ellie Soderberg-Guger, marketing and events director for the Sister Bay Advancement Association, adding the beach has 1,900 linear feet of continuous waterfront and 600 feet of a soft sand beach.

The beach also features a charming gazebo, barbecues and picnic tables on a large grassy area. On the water, there’s a swim pier and swim raft, plus visitors can rent paddleboards and kayaks to explore the tranquil waters near the beach.

Nicolet Bay Beach has 944 feet of sandy shoreline offering pristine natural beauty along with convenient amenities, including picnic facilities, a snack bar, a playground and bike and boat rentals.

Along the Mississippi River, La Crosse’s Pettibone Park’s beach provides plenty of space to spread out and the area is packed with things to do on and off the beach, including volleyball, trails, disc golf, fishing and a place where you can rent kayaks and canoes.

Wisconsin’s biggest city — Milwaukee — is home to 1,400 acres of beaches and parkland adjacent to Lake Michigan, providing visitors with a variety of options to choose from. For families, Grant Park Beach is an ideal place to swim, catch some rays or fish. The sandy beach is combed weekly and includes volleyball courts and a children’s playground. There’s also Ferch’s Beachside Grille, which serves up custard, burgers, brats, craft beers and more.

If heading to Wisconsin’s northern reaches, Big Bay Beach on Madeline Island in Lake Superior has activities for all family members from building sandcastles on its two-mile- long beach and wading in the water to paddleboarding and fishing. The secluded beach is nestled among the pine trees and also includes a new boardwalk, providing great views of the forest and water. Beach wheelchairs are also available so everyone can enjoy the experience.


Looking to hit the beach with some friends as part of a girls’ weekend? Several spots in Wisconsin combine beach life with shopping, entertainment and relaxation.

Riviera Beach on Geneva Lake, which sits adjacent to Lake Geneva’s downtown shopping district with its unique shops and restaurants, is an ideal beach getaway for a girlfriends’ weekend, said Deanna Goodwin, vice president of marketing, communication and development for VISIT Lake Geneva.

“The beach is clean and Geneva Lake is very deep, making it clean and clear,” she said. “The beach also connects to the 22-mile Geneva Lake Shore Path so you can walk around the lake and experience its other two beaches, Williams Bay and Fontana Beach. It’s a great way to spend the weekend.”

Milwaukee’s Bradford Beach provides an ideal place for girlfriends to relax and catch some rays after a shopping trip or before the night on the town. The beach is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s top urban beaches featuring a lively atmosphere and plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the sun or a dip in the lake.

Fireman’s Park and Beach in Elkhart Lake is an ideal place to relax after shopping, kayaking, biking or hiking. Along with the sandy beach, there’s a concession stand, picnic tables and grills so you can enjoy the lake’s calm waters.

With its 300 miles of shoreline, Door County has multiple beach options for friends seeking some time at the beach after shopping, visiting wineries or enjoying the outdoors while biking or biking. Egg Harbor Beach is steps away from the village’s popular shopping district and provides a place to soak up the sun or take a dip in the bay’s tranquil waters. Head to the beach after dinner to catch a breathtaking Door County sunset that you won’t soon forget.


Your four-legged best friend also enjoys beach days, playing in the sand and water. Unfortunately, most beaches do not welcome dogs but there are still a few places where you can bring them along.

The Kohler-Andrae State Park on Lake Michigan just south of Sheboygan welcomes leashed dogs to tag along on your beach day. The park features majestic sand dunes along with a golden beach adjacent to the shimmering blue water. There’s plenty of space to spread out and dogs have their own pet swimming area.

While walking or sitting on the beach, keep an eye on the water — Sheboygan is known as the Malibu of the Midwest and surfers can be frequently found riding the waves.

Away from the beach, the park includes hiking areas through whispering pines for owners and their pets to explore.

Located just north of Milwaukee in Shorewood, Atwater Park on Lake Michigan is also pooch-friendly. The park includes 5 acres of open space and a beach where owners can play or just chill with their dogs. There’s a long flight of stairs or a ramp to take you from the top of Atwater where people park their vehicles down to the beach.


People using walkers, wheelchairs or scooters to improve their mobility can take part in a day at the beach at one of several accessible beaches in Wisconsin.

Milwaukee’s Bradford Beach on Lake Michigan is one of the most accessible beaches in the United States. The beach was the first one in the nation to be completely accessible and includes a permanent concrete ramp connected to a Mobi-Mat that leads right to the water, pathways and beach wheelchairs to help people of all abilities get around the beach with more ease.

Further south, Racine’s North Beach also includes a Mobi-Mat, making it easy for people to move from the parking lot to the water.

Both North Beach and Bradford Beach also have accessible restrooms.


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