Wisconsin is home to more than 1,000 miles of gorgeous Great Lakes coastline, bordering both Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. Milwaukee is located directly on the Lake Michigan shoreline, home to excellent urban beaches such as Bradford Beach.
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Atwater Beach is a lovely family-friendly beach in Milwaukee's Shorewood neighborhood, spanning five acres of beachfront and park lands along East Capitol Drive. The beach, which offers beautiful shoreline expanses along the city's Lake Michigan coastline, is best known as the site of the neighborhood's annual Memorial Day and Fourth of July celebrations and the Shorewood Men's Club Chicken Barbecue event, which officially opens the beachfront to the public each June. Visitors can great swimming conditions along more than 800 feet of shoreline, with surfing training offered by the Milwaukee Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Visitors can observe the beach's Spillover II statue, created by Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa, or make use of the park's children's playground and day-use picnic areas.
N Lake Dr, Shorewood, WI 53211, Phone: 414-847-2650
Bradford Beach was named as one of the United States' top 10 urban beaches in 2016 by USA Today, known as the city of Milwaukee's best spot for swimming and sunbathing throughout the summer months. The Blue Wave-certified beach, which was revitalized in 2008 to divert bacteria-rich storm waters away from its shoreline, is Milwaukee's only lifeguarded beach during the summer months, offering opportunities to swim, sunbathe, or play beach volleyball along its gorgeous Lake Michigan shores. Visitors can rent beach chairs and cabanas for shoreline relaxation or grab beach drinks at the beach's public tiki bar. Nearby, Northpoint Custard Stand offers famous banana split sundaes, while Bradford Beach View serves up a variety of American and Mexican-inspired beach eats. For brave cold-water swimmers, the beach is also the site of the city's annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge.
2400 N Lincoln Memorial Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53211, Phone: 414-257-7275
3.Tietjen Beach at Doctors Park
Tietjen Beach at Doctors Park offers a secluded alternative for urban Milwaukee-area beachgoers, located within the city's Fox Point suburb. The beach is located within the 49-acre Doctors Park, established in 1928 and named in honor of donor and eye doctor Joseph Schneider. Blufftop park lands provide paved and dirt access trails to the beautiful Lake Michigan beachfront, named for area citizen George Tietjen, the founder of Milwaukee County's Lifeguard Corps. Visitors should note that no lifeguards are staffed on duty at the beach and should exercise appropriate caution when entering the water. Nearby, visitors can explore the beautiful preserved natural lands of the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, which borders the park's grounds.
1870 E Fox Ln, Fox Point, WI 53217, Phone: 414-257-7275
4.Grant Park Beach
Grant Park Beach is one of Milwaukee's best-kept secret beaches, located along the Lake Michigan shoreline in South Milwaukee's Grant Park. The beach, which is accessible via the reputedly-haunted creekside Seven Bridges Trail within the park, offers ample space for beachfront relaxation and great family-friendly swimming conditions throughout the summer months. Ferch's Beachside Grill serves up a variety of classic American-style fare, and the Sprecher and Milwaukee County Park's traveling summer beer garden makes stops at the beach throughout the summer. A children's playground is also offered for day use, along with areas for beach volleyball league play and pick-up games.
100 Hawthorne Ave, South Milwaukee, WI 53172
McKinley Beach is a smaller and less crowded alternative to popular Bradford Beach, located directly south of the beach along Milwaukee's Lincoln Memorial Drive. The beach showcases more than 737 beautiful feet of Lake Michigan shoreline, located adjacent to Back Bay Park within the city's 103-acre McKinley Park. Gorgeous waterfront views are offered of boats coming into nearby McKinley Marina, with jet ski and scooter rentals provided for water sports enthusiasts. A children's playground is also offered, along with day-use picnic tables and beach volleyball courts. Delicious coffees and smoothies are served up nearby at Colectivo on the Lake, while open green space in adjacent Veterans Park provides opportunities for running and kite flying.
1750 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202
North Beach is a beautiful Blue Wave-certified beach along Racine's Lake Michigan shoreline, named as one of America's 51 great beaches by USA Today and as one of the nation's top 10 family-friendly beach parks by Parents magazine. As Wisconsin's first Blue Wave-certified Beach, the 50-acre beach park offers more than 2,500 feet of shoreline for families to relax and play, with lifeguards staffed on duty daily between June and September. Beach volleyball courts are also offered for visitor use, along with a nautical-themed children's playground and a snack bar serving up delicious beach eats and drinks. Free parking is offered in designated lots, with additional street parking available nearby.
100 Kewaunee St, Racine, WI 53403, Phone: 262-636-9233
7.Big Bay Town Park
Big Bay Town Park is a relaxing La Pointe Township public park located on Madeline Island, approximately three miles north of nearby Big Bay State Park. The park is a popular camping destination for families looking for a getaway from urban life, offering 61 recently-revitalized campsites, including 22 electric RV sites. A gorgeous swimming beach is located near the mouth of Big Bay Lagoon, with ample sunshine keeping the beach's waters warm for swimming throughout the day. Other popular beach activities include kayaking, canoeing, fishing, beachcombing, and hiking, with a 900-foot boardwalk offered to connect the park to Big Bay State Park over a land spit. Nearby in the town of La Pointe, visitors can stock up on camping and picnic supplies at a general store and several ice cream parlors.
2305 Town Park Circle, La Pointe, WI 54850, Phone: 715-747-2801
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Schoolhouse Beach is a charming lakeshore beach on Wisconsin's remote Washington Island, known throughout the Midwest for its unique limestone rock shoreline. The beach is one of only five sandless limestone rock beaches worldwide, creating a unique texture for beachgoers to stroll barefoot if they so choose. It is name in honor of a former one-room schoolhouse on the island, which has long disappeared and been replaced by a day-use picnic area with barbecue grills. Though the beach once allowed visitors to collect its unique rocks, which were polished by glaciers over the course of several thousand years, it is now a protected site and rock collecting is against the law. Beachgoers can swim, sunbathe, and relax on the shoreline and are free to build structures with the beach's rocks as long as the natural habitat is not disturbed.
Schoolhouse Beach Road, Washington Island, WI 54246, Phone: 920-847-2179
9.Kohler-Andrae State Park
Kohler-Andrae State Park is a dual state park area in the Wisconsin city of Wilson, located near Sheboygan, combining the existing Terry Andrae and John Michael Kohler State Parks into one jointly-managed unit. More than two miles of public beachfront along the shores of Lake Michigan is offered for visitor day use, with opportunities for swimming throughout the summer months. Anglers can catch trout and salmon along the beach's shores, though no boat launches are offered for fishing directly on the water. Two nature trails and three hiking trails are offered throughout the park for visitor use, including the 0.5-mile Creeping Juniper Nature Trail, the one-mile Woodland Dunes Nature Trail, and the 1.5-mile Dunes Cordwalk. During the winter months, park visitors can enjoy sledding, tobogganing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing opportunities. 107 campsites are offered at the park, including group sites and an indigenous teepee available for rental.
1020 Beach Park Ln, Sheboygan, WI 53081, Phone: 920-451-4080
, Michigan beaches
10.Point Beach State Forest
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Point Beach State Forest is a gorgeous Wisconsin state forest spanning nearly 3,000 acres near the city of Two Rivers, originally protected in 1938. The forest is best known for its Point Beach Ridges natural area, preserved as a National Natural Landmark. Six miles of pristine Lake Michigan shoreline is available for visitor use throughout the year, with ample opportunity for swimming, though visitors should note that lifeguards are not staffed on duty for protection. A separate dog beach is also offered for four-legged friends to run and play on leashes. 17 miles of hiking trails are available for visitor use, along with three connecting off-road bicycling loops and a five-mile paved biking trail. Other forest attractions include the Rawley Point Lighthouse, which is operated by the United States Coast Guard and is one of the Great Lakes' tallest operating lighthouses.
9400 County Rd O, Two Rivers, WI 54241, Phone: 920-794-7480
10 Best Beaches Near Milwaukee
- Atwater Beach, Photo: Paul Sparks/stock.adobe.com
- Bradford Beach, Photo: milanmarkovic78/stock.adobe.com
- Tietjen Beach at Doctors Park, Photo: Ammak/stock.adobe.com
- Grant Park Beach, Photo: izuboky/stock.adobe.com
- McKinley Beach, Photo: Oleandra9/stock.adobe.com
- North Beach, Photo: cppzone/stock.adobe.com
- Big Bay Town Park, Photo: nataliakabliuk/stock.adobe.com
- Schoolhouse Beach, Photo: Swetlana Wall/stock.adobe.com
- Kohler-Andrae State Park, Photo: jfunk/stock.adobe.com
- Point Beach State Forest, Photo: Hank Erdmann/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Sandra/stock.adobe.com