The Badger state has captured the attention of Architectural Digest, naming two of its small towns some of the most beautiful in the nation.
We all know Wisconsin has some truly beautiful small towns worth visiting—and now, apparently, Architectural Digest does too.The publication recently released its annual list of “The 55 Most Beautiful Small Towns in America,” and not one but two of our communities made the list. Those places were picked for features like easy access to nature, the presence of historic or design districts, and topography that’s appealing in its own right—whether it’s beaches or mountains, or maybe a riverside perch.
# 31 Baileys Harbor
Baileys Harbor is a coastal town in Lake Michigan’s scenic Door County. It’s known for its nature preserves, fishing, beaches, boating, and water sports. The town’s three iconic lighthouses (Baileys Harbor Range Lights, Birdcage Lighthouse, and Cana Island Lighthouse) are must-see attractions. The Cana Island Lighthouse celebrated 150 years of standing watch on the shore of Lake Michigan. You’ll have to climb 97 steps of the tower’s spiral staircase to reach the gallery deck, but you’ll be rewarded with a sweeping panoramic view of Lake Michigan and the Door County Peninsula.
While Architectural Digest mentions the “cute A-frame coffee shop, a microbrewery’s taproom, a nature sanctuary with hiking trails, and adorable inns,” another thing that makes Baileys Harbor so unique is Waseda Farms. Spread over 500 acres of land, the farm includes a garden and miles of hiking trails.
#38 Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva, located in Walworth County, made the list for its “opulent mansions once belonging to wealthy Chicago families (Sears, Wrigleys, etc.) and, even today, are rich in affluence and design,” according to the magazine. Known as the “Newport of the Midwest,” Lake Geneva is a resort city with over 5,000 acres of crystal lakeshore. It’s full of many year-round attractions like ice castles, ski slopes, tours (on boat and land), horseback riding, orchards, and farms.
Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention a few of the small towns in our neighboring states that were also highlighted in the article—after all, we’re all Midwesterners here.
#45 Grand Marais, Minnesota
Grand Marais, located between Lake Superior and Sawtooth Mountains, “is the oldest art colony in Minnesota—no wonder Architectural Digest highlighted it for being “rich in the arts.” It’s also home to the North House Folk School, which focuses on teaching traditional northern crafts and emphasizes learning for the sake of learning.
It’s not the first time Grand Marais has been named one of the best small towns around; it has also been featured in Budget Travel Magazine, Outside Magazine, and National Geographic Magazine.
#55 Holland, Michigan
The last town on Architectural Digest’s list this year is Holland, Michigan, which is located near Lake Michigan. Its annual Tulip Time festival is one element that makes the town attractive, as it “ brings visitors to the area to see the colorful flowers in bloom,” according to the article. The authors also mention Windmill Island, where you’ll find De Zwaan, a 250-year-old, 125-foot-tall windmill. It’s also the only authentic Dutch windmill operating in the U.S. The town is also home to Nelis Dutch Village where you can enjoy beautiful Dutch architecture, listen to a street organ, or watch old Dutch craft demonstrations.
These midwestern towns also made the list: Galena, Illinois; Rocheport, Missouri; Decorah, Iowa, Yellow Springs, Iowa; Houghton, Michigan; Nashville, Indiana; Deadwood, South Dakota; and Columbus, Indiana.