Part of our Summer Bucket List series, we’re sharing where to go and what to see in every part of the Badger State.
More than two million people live in the Milwaukee-Racine-Waukesha combined statistical area–the most populous community in Wisconsin and the 33rd largest in the US.
With so many people, there’s so much to do–great museums, amazing restaurants, and a long list of cultural activities. But don’t ignore the outdoors! You’ll find some incredible ways to connect with nature, too.
Whether you live in the area or are visiting from downstate, here are a few ‘can’t miss’ attractions!
Splash with the Ducks at Horicon Marsh
Location: N7725 Hwy 28, Horicon
Hours: Wildlife area open 24/7, Explorium open Mon. through Fri. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sat. and Sun. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Price: General admission $6, kids are free
The 33,000 acre Horicon Marsh is one of the largest freshwater marshes in the country, where thousands of ducks and Canadian geese stop to rest during migration. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages two-thirds of the land, while the Wisconsin DNR manages the rest. You’ll find three visitor centers around Horicon Marsh, but the Explorium is a must-stop, especially if you’re visiting with kids. It’s a great starting point to watch waterfowl before your hike and a relaxing stopping place after to check out the climbable wooly mammoth replica.
Hike the Ice Age Trail at Kettle Moraine State Forest
Location: 20 segments of the trail run from Whitewater north to east of Campbellsport
Hours: Daily, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Price: Free for hikers, but you need a vehicle admission sticker for parking or a state trail pass for biking
The 1,000-mile Scenic Ice Age Trail winds through Wisconsin, following the terminus of the most recent glacier that existed in Wisconsin back in the Ice Age. Thousands of years later, you’ll still find picturesque glacial remnants along segments of the trail in Kettle Moraine State Forest. Mapped hikes range from one mile to more than 13 miles. Two of the trail’s most popular segments are the Whitewater Lake Segment, 4.6 miles of rolling hills with wooded moraines, kettles, and great views of Whitewater Lake, and the Parnell Segment, where you’ll find numerous glacial formations, including the world-famous Parnell Esker.
Tap Into the History of Beer at Old World Wisconsin
Location: W372 S9727 Hwy 67, Eagle
Hours: Weekends, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May through October, also open Wed. through Fri. from mid-June through August
Price: $18-$20, Wisconsin Historical Society members and kids are free
Wisconsin usually finds itself at the top of the list when it comes to alcohol consumption and production. Old World Wisconsin’s new Brewing Experience (which opened in 2022) is truly distinctive. Visitors learn about the history of brewing and how beer and spirits have become such an integral part of Wisconsin culture. Old World Wisconsin is continuing to expand the area to include a Biergarten, an authentic 1930s tavern, and a garden area that shows where beer ingredients are harvested.
Visit the Harley Davidson Museum
Location: 400 W. Canal St., Milwaukee
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
Price: $18-$22, kids and members are free
You don’t have to be a biker to check out one of Wisconsin’s coolest museums. Harley-Davidson has been building motorcycles in Milwaukee for more than a century and thousands visit from around the world every year to tour its headquarters. The Harley-Davidson Museum features two floors packed with exhibits and memorabilia, as well as a large campus with shopping and dining. For some extra fun, time your visit around a special event, like their annual July festival. You’ll find the history so captivating, you might decide to bring home a Harley!
Indulge in Authentic German Fare at Mader’s
Location: 1041 N. MLK Jr. Dr., Milwaukee
Hours: Mon. through Sat. 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Wisconsin is a land of German immigrants. And, there’s no better place to grab some authentic German food than at Milwaukee’s oldest restaurant—Mader’s. Not only can you connect with the state’s history, and maybe your family’s, too, through the antiques and memorabilia that adorns the restaurant, but you can snack on favorites like schnitzel, sausages, and strudel in this family-owned establishment that opened in 1902.
Take a Selfie with the Bronze Fonz
Location: Milwaukee Riverwalk
Long before Kelso, Forman, Fez, and the gang were hanging out in a Pleasant Prairie basement on That 70s Show, Arthur Fonzarelli, a.k.a. The Fonz, slid his way into the hearts of the Cunninghams, the Milwaukee family from Happy Days. The Bronze Fonz memorializes Henry Winkler’s portrayal of the beloved character, making it the perfect spot to snap a selfie. Click here for its exact location.