Hey, Wisconsinites, share this with a friend and plan your next get-together.
Despite wicked winters with days well below freezing, Wisconsin has a lot of fun to offer. Plus the state is more than just the heart of America’s Dairyland—although we’d be remiss if we didn’t include at least one lactose-filled idea to our list of things to do.
Wisconsin has a little something for everyone—lighthouses, wineries, historic sites, and museums. Some places in the state are better to visit during certain times of the year. Let’s take a look at all the fun the Badger State has to offer, by season.
Love quaint, small towns? What about excellent fall colors? If so, you’ll need to visit Bayfield.
Bayfield consistently ranks among the top small towns in Wisconsin. Located in the northern portion of the state, Bayfield offers excellent dining and shopping options while still being close to the great outdoors.
You can spend a weekend doing a little mix of everything: shopping at the boutiques, hiking, fishing, or taking a ferry to Madeline Island. The ferry ride is only a 25-minute trip and it offers great views of the lake.
A Perfect Day in Bayfield
Stop 1: Begin your day at Wonderstate Coffee. This little coffee shop offers some of the best coffee in the area along with locally sourced baked goods.
“The syrups are all homemade with the usuals and a few new ones, like maple latte, which was delicious if you are looking for a recommendation,” said one Yelp review.
There’s a lot to know about the history of those majestic waters and the Maritime Museum has those stories. You can learn how boats are built, the maritime history of the whole region and learn about the impact of fishing on the area.
Stop 3: Lunch
Stop 4: Shopping in downtown Bayfield.
Stop 5: Time to take in some nature and the views that Bayfield has to offer before the sun sets. Take a trip on the ferry to Madeline Island and make sure to bring your camera for some fun fall photos.
We get it, it’s cold. Now that we’ve established that, let’s remember that there’s still plenty to do if you bundle up and brave the cold.
One of those fun things to do is to visit the ice caves in Wisconsin Dells. Located in the center of the state there are multiple, glittery ice caves to check out like Fern Dell Gorge in Mirror Lake State Park, which locals say is “draped in icicles” during the cold months.
Want to walk around a little? West of this first ice cave is Wildcat Mountain State Park where you’ll find the Ice Cave Tail which is less than a mile and is a great way to see spectacular frozen scenery.
Wisconsin does get some rain as the state transitions out of winter into the slightly warmer months. To beat the rain, spring just might be a great time to visit Milwaukee (although it’s great to visit Wisconsin’s largest city year round.)
Milwaukee has art, food, bicycling, history, nightlife, and outdoor activities for a great weekend away.
Must see: Beer is a big part of Milwaukee and you can see all the steps involved in making this beloved beverage with a brewery tour. Learn a little more with a Miller Brewing Tour or check out a tour at one of the smaller breweries like Lakefront Brewery or MKE Brewing.
Remember the promise we made to have some dairy delights while in Wisconsin? We’re getting to that next.
Try some frozen custard. No, it’s not ice cream—some say it’s better. It’s smooth like frozen yogurt and rich like ice cream. Try some at Kopp’s Custard, where they also have “jumbo burgers” and fish options (for lunch or dinner, those aren’t custard flavors).
Their flavors change each day. Check out their flavor forecaster here.
Check out the nightlife in Milwaukee!
All those breweries mean that Milwaukee also has great nightlife to go along with them. There are bars to visit, concerts to go to, and dance clubs at which to bust a move. Here are a few options to hit the town.
If you want to dance: Lucid Lounge
Think loud music, fun lights, and plenty of mixed drinks
If you want to check out a laid back bar: Camp Bar Third Ward
“This is my favorite bar I have been to in Milwaukee. The decor is cabin themed and it’s just a cozy environment. The drinks are good and the prices are fair. The bartender was extremely nice and attentive unlike many bartenders at other bars. The space was clean and well kept. Highly recommend trying this spot if you are in the area,” said one Yelp reviewer.
If you want a nighttime activity: Holler House
Check out Milwaukee’s oldest bowling alley at Holler House. They also have food and drinks and the alley is so old the pins are still set up by hand—it’s historic and fun!
Wisconsin summer cannot be beat and that means it’s time to get outside. Let’s talk about the state’s best hikes.
For the best Instagram picture: Climb the cliffs at Devil’s Lake
Housed inside Wisconsin’s most popular state park, the cliffs make for excellent climbing and photos. They’re a purple-pink color and tower more than 600 feet.
With that said, it is a strenuous hike up to the cliffs, but those who have traversed it say it’s well worth it.
Good to know: These cliffs are popular so on the weekends the park can get pretty busy. To avoid the crowds check out the park in the morning or during the week if you can.
For peace and quiet: Porcupine Lake
Much of Wisconsin’s wilderness is protected by strong state laws and you’ll even have a break from motorized traffic at Porcupine Lake. You can take a hike or overnight trip to the lake and enjoy the tall trees, greenery, and get to nature.
For some sunshine: Pope Farm
Check out fields of sunflowers at Pope Farm. These sunshiney flowers hit peak bloom in early August and are nestled on more than a hundred acres of land at Pope Farm. You can even hike through the farm on the trails.
Good to Know: There are also guided tours, hikes and special events. The grounds, which are open from dawn to dusk each day, are free to admire.