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Aerial view Lake Michigan coastline featuring Lake Park, Bradford Beach and downtown Milwaukee skyline.

The Best Activity-Filled Beaches In Wisconsin That Locals Want All To Themselves!

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Did you know that Wisconsin is known as the ‘Dairy Capital of the United States?’ It’s no wonder too, as 21 million gallons of ice cream are enjoyed by Wisconsinites each year. Apparently one-third of that is eaten at, you guessed it, beaches!

While many think of this state as vast forests and farms, there are several wonderful Wisconsin beaches that lay on lakesides waiting to be enjoyed.

As we know the ‘Badger State’ well, we want to share with you what we believe are the best ten beaches in Wisconsin. So grab that ice cream, read on, and get ready to plan your own beach adventure!

Beach bag, beach toys and a little girl on the beach.

1. Schoolhouse Beach, Washington Island

The first thing that comes to mind whenever we think about Schoolhouse Beach is the beautiful small white limestone pebbles that make up this place.

Smoothed and surfaced by glaciers thousand years ago, this unique feature is one reason the beach is widely visited.

There’s many other reasons too of course. The calm flow of the exceptionally clear turquoise water here and the greenery of the surrounding grove of cedar trees comes to mind as well, all of which creates the perfect atmosphere to wind down and have some fun.

This Wisconsin beach is ideal for families too as it’s great for swimming, you can take a dive into the water from the freely available diving raft, and the gentle water is perfect for paddle boarding with friends.

After having some fun, head over to the array of picnic tables and grill area that’s just past the parking. This beach is our go-to on the fourth of July!

Beach white rocks Washington island bluff park hiking camping swimming pristine clear water transparent cold Rissing

2. Bradford Beach, Milwaukee

If you’re looking for a more lively beach experience then Bradford Beach will be for you. Expect a mix of sunbathing tourists and fun-loving locals.

You’ll find kids flying colorful kites here, people playing beach volleyball or soccer, as well as picnics and family gatherings.

It’s one of the best Wisconsin beaches for group gatherings, playing music, drinking a few beers and letting loose.

What’s great about this beach is there’s also a Tiki Bar, so after a game of volleyball you can head right to the bar and grab a refreshing Piña Colada!

If you are visiting the beach in summer we recommend you look out for the Bradford Beach Jam Music series or keep an eye out for the parties that Bradford Beach hosts annually.

Other than the beach, if you want to explore more of Milwaukee consider visiting the Milwaukee Public Museum to get a glimpse of the rich history this city has, or make your way to North Point Lighthouse for some gorgeous city views.

Aerial view Lake Michigan coastline featuring Lake Park, Bradford Beach and downtown Milwaukee skyline. Meyer Photography

 3. Bernie’s Beach, Madison

Sitting on the shore of Monona Bay is Bernie’s Beach. It is a well sought-after beach by families with kids because there are roped areas that show safe swimming place, plus there’s a lifeguard on watch. That makes it one of the best Wisconsin beaches for families with young children.

Planning on visiting Bernie’s Beach? We suggest you time your visit so you can watch the breathtaking sunsets here after a swim.

Or come for lunch and grab a delicious grilled cheese sandwich from Lakeside Street Coffee House, which is right beside the beach.

While you’re in the area, you could also check out any concerts at Capitol Square or head to the trendy Eno Vino Downtown to grab a drink!

4. Devil’s Lake State Park Beach, Baraboo

With over three million visitors per year, Devil’s Lake State Park has one of the most popular beaches in Wisconsin.

It’s easy to see why. The beach here is perfect for kayaking, boating, canoeing, and paddleboarding as you can easily rent equipment from the boat launch at the north and south ends of the beach.

What’s also great about this beach is its location, which is situated right inside Devil’s Lake State Park, so you can enjoy a variety of other activities.

Those include biking or hiking on the park’s trails, taking one of the 1600 rock climbing routes, joining one of the archery programs or astronomy nights at the park, or even simply spending a night under the stars by camping at one of the campgrounds!

Simply put, visiting this beach can easily become a fun (and cheap) weekend vacation thanks to all the different activities available in the park.

Paddling the kayak

5. Simmons Island Beach, Kenosha

Sitting near a paved bike trail, an open-air picnic pavilion, and two historic lighthouses is Simmons Island Beach!

This is the only beach in Kenosha, but there’s still plenty to do. Along with topping up your tan on the huge stretch of sand, it’s also possible to go sport fishing, kayaking, or even play beach volleyball.

Apart from enjoying time at the beach, we also recommend indulging with some sweet or savory treats at Kenosha’s Mars Cheese Castle or attending a show at Kenosha Comedy Club so you can experience Kenosha like a local.

6. Meyers Beach, Cornucopia

If we could describe this beach in one word, it would be… sea caves! Meyers Beach has some beautiful caves that are particularly pretty during winter when icicles form and frost creates a drape over the rock.

You can kayak your way to these caves from the beach, or there’s a moderate difficulty hiking trail you can use (trail map here).

We also recommend you visit the Lost Creek Falls, which is a picturesque picnic spot, or even go pick your own berries at Blue Vista Farm in nearby Bayfield.

If you want to skip the hard work and go to the final product why not indulge in some wine tasting at the Bayfield Winery while you’re at it. If you’ve hiked or kayaked to the caves then you deserve it (that’s our excuse anyway….).

Wide angle view of the Apostle Islands Meyers Beach sea caves in the fall season Kopka

7. North Beach, Racine

With a playground for kids, hammocks and beach chairs to relax in, and often music wafting through the air, North Beach may be able to lay claim to being Wisconsin’s most laid-back beach!

That doesn’t mean the only thing to do here is sunbathe and relax though. Although having a dip in the often warm water is wonderful!

It’s also possible to fish at this beach with Fishing Charters of Racine or enjoy the annual concerts that are held at North Beach.

As you know by now, we love to provide recommendations! So while passing by Racine, make sure you experience an authentic taste of Danish Kringles at Bendtsen’s Bakery, or explore the Hot Shop Glass Studio and Gallery to see some wonderful glasswork.

8. Newport Beach, Wisconsin Dell

Situated inside the quiet New State Park is Newport Beach, a serene place surrounded by nature and engulfed by the gentle and relaxing splish-splash of water hitting the shore.

This is, in our opinion, one of the best Wisconsin beaches for camping. However while this beach is great for year-round camping, we recommend you try and visit when there’s going to be a full moon and clear skies.

By doing so you will get a glimpse of the water sparkling like champagne, the sky illuminated up by stars, and on rare occasions, possibly even the aurora borealis.

During the day Newport Beach is good fun too. You can rent a boat from the public boat launch or get your grilling game on and enjoy good food and company with family and friends.

Oceanfront Dry Camping in Modern RV Camper Van

9. Kohler-Andrae State Park, Sheboygan

The sun-kissed shoreline, pristine waters, and surrounding lush greenery collectively makes Kohler-Andrae State Park Beach one of the most serene and pretty beaches in Wisconsin.

The gentle water here makes this beach a great place for boating, canoeing, and kayaking. But what we really love is this Wisconsin beach is pet-friendly, so you’re allowed to bring your furry family member with you!

After your time at the beach make your way to the Bookworm Gardens to revisit some childhood literature memories, wind down and relax at the soothing Kohler Water Spa, or enjoy tasty Victorian style chocolate at the Victorian Chocolate Shoppe in Sheboygan!

10. Whitefish Dunes State Park Beach, Sturgeon Bay

When visiting this beach the first thing that will catch your attention are the tall, grassy sand dunes that flank the beach. It’s a lovely photo spot, but don’t just take our word for it – we’ve seen painters setting up their canvas at this beach so they can paint the dunes!

Along with the scenery, there’s sea caves close by that you can reach on a kayak tour with Kayak Door County. Or for a free activity, there’s plenty of hiking trails surrounding the beach and Sturgeon Bay.

If you want to explore more then head to Old Bailey Harbor Lighthouse to get a panoramic view of Sturgeon Bay!

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