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8 Best Lake Towns in Wisconsin

Guide to unmissable Wisconsin coastal towns and the top best beach towns in Wisconsin

If you want to travel Wisconsin, you probably already know that the state is known as the land of ten thousand lakes.

So if you plan to visit the state for your next trip, you should include some of the best lake towns in Wisconsin as a part of your itinerary.

With over 15,000 lakes around the Badger state, there are numerous lake towns in Wisconsin that are worth visiting.

Whether you prefer a quaint town perfect for relaxing or enjoy blending with the crowds in a more popular destination, these towns are perfect for a variety of vacation needs.

From the popular resort Lake Geneva, known for its charm and clear water in the warmer season, to Milwaukee with the famous Lake Michigan, here are the best towns on the Wisconsin coastline!

Pin with three image sections depicting a long lake lined with green trees, a close up of purple flowers arranged next to the shores of a lake and a long sandy beach with green trees on one side and the shores of a lake on the other, caption reads: Best Lake Towns to Visit in Wisconsin by

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Overview: Top 3 Lake Towns in Wisconsin

  • Lake Geneva
  • Milwaukee
  • Minocqua

1. Lake Geneva

View of coastal harbour with several speedboats moored in front of people sunbathing on the beach with green trees behind on a bright sunny day

Situated in Walworth County close to the border with Illinois, Lake Geneva is one of the most popular lake towns in Wisconsin.

With its strategic location between the two states, many visitors local to Wisconsin and Illinois visit this charming resort lake town during the warmer months.

It’s also a popular destination for romantic getaways in Wisconsin.

With its popularity, Lake Geneva also offers excellent infrastructure and activities for visitors that make it one of the best lake towns in Wisconsin to visit.

There are many accommodations and resorts in various price ranges for you to stay around the region, and you can also visit some of the best Wisconsin beach towns in the area.

There are also many fun things to do in Lake Geneva no matter when you visit – and especially if you’re looking for romantic getaways in Lake Geneva.

Relaxing at Big Foot Beach State Park is one of the recommended outdoor things to do in Wisconsin.

The state park is not only a great spot to swim, but you can also find some family-friendly campgrounds around the area which can be a great activity to do in the summer!

If you’re into history, don’t miss Maxwell Mansion or Black Point Manor to enjoy the architecture from the 1800s while immersing in the history that Lake Geneva has to offer.

To complement the experience, you can also visit the Geneva Lake Museum to see the artifacts and learn more about the history of this region.

2. Sturgeon Bay

best coastal towns in Wisconsin, Aerial view of green forest area with small open area containing a few buildings sitting on the coast next to the turquoise waters of the sea and a long river stretching off into the distance

If you have to choose one of the Door County towns in Wisconsin, head over to Sturgeon Bay.

Not only is it one of the best lake towns in Wisconsin, but it’s also the largest town in the area that offers the best dining experience compared to other towns in Door County.

Sturgeon Bay is home to some of the best lighthouses of Wisconsin, starting with the historic North Pierhead lighthouse.

Significant for its fully bright red-painted building in the area, from there you can also visit the Sturgeon Bay Canal Station and the Sherwood Point light to complete your lighthouse tour.

This is one of the best coastal towns in Wisconsin if you love lighthouses and outdoor activities, and want to explore some of the best beaches in Door County.

By the Sturgeon Bay Canal, the town is also connected to Lake Michigan, making it one of the best Lake Michigan beach towns in Wisconsin, as it’s relatively less touristy than other Wisconsin coastal towns.

When in Sturgeon Bay, don’t miss exploring Cave Point County Park, where you can enjoy its blue water and limestone cliffs in the background.

Cave Point County Party is one of the top things to do in Door County and shouldn’t be missed!

If you’re into hiking, there are some great hikes in Door County you can explore that connect it to Whitefish Dunes State Park, which will spoil your craving for nature.

Although lake town might make you think of summer, this is also one of my favorite winter destinations in Wisconsin.

There are a lot of fun things to do in Sturgeon Bay in winter, including the famous Winter and Ice Festival.

Book here the best Door County vacation rentals

3. Port Washington

old lighthouses in Wisconsin, rocky pier out to Port Washington Station at sunset
Port Washington Station

Visiting Lake Michigan beach towns is a must when you visit Wisconsin, and Port Washington is one of the best.

Being one of the best Wisconsin cities on Lake Michigan, Port Washington is known for its charm as the small town offers everything.

From the historic lighthouses and museums to some relaxing activities around the shore of Lake Michigan, Port Washington is the perfect vacation spot.

And, of course, it also has some of the best beaches in Wisconsin to enjoy swimming and other water sports.

Known for its beautiful nature, you can visit Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Reserve which offers plenty of outdoor activities.

It’s a great spot for hiking or biking in Wisconsin, and you can sightsee the scenic view of its surroundings.

Port Washington is dubbed as one of the best Lake Michigan beach towns for a reason.

It’s home to the 62-acre park where you can enjoy the view of the magnificent lake with no obstruction: Upper Lake Park.

It’s a favorite spot for the locals to have picnics, and the strategic location also makes it one of the best places to vacation in Wisconsin.

While visiting one of the best lake towns in Wisconsin, chances are you will get to see some of the historic lighthouses around the state.

Check out Port Washington Breakwater Lighthouse before sunset to enjoy the romantic setting surrounding Lake Michigan!

Book here the best Northern Wisconsin rental cabins

4. Minocqua

Rustic wooden trestle across the Bearskin State Trail in Minocqua Wisconsin.

When talking about the best lake towns, Wisconsin has plenty of options you can choose for your next destination.

Although it’s a small town compared to the other best lake towns in Wisconsin, Minocqua is surrounded by over 3,000 lakes.

This makes it a great place to visit if you want to explore the best lakes in Wisconsin.

Minocqua is one of the Lake Superior towns, as the small town is located close to the border with Michigan near the lake in Oneida County.

It’s one of the best places to visit that offers natural beauty, and you’ll never run out of activities all year round!

Home to the second largest zoo in Wisconsin, Minocqua is a popular destination during the summer as you can visit the Wildwood Wildlife Park Zoo and Nature Center.

It’s a kid-friendly zoo, making it a great vacation spot for your family and not to mention you can find here the finest cabins on Lake Superior.

To top it all, you can also join the Pontoon Cruise to enjoy the view of forests and lakes around Minocqua to get the best out of this town!

If you plan to visit Minocqua in winter, you can stop by to see the largest snowman in town, Snowmy Kromer.

Built by the locals in the 1960s, the 30-foot snowman is one of the most popular Instagram spots in one of the best lake towns in Wisconsin!

There are many fun things to do in Minocqua, so this Wisconsin lake town shouldn’t be missed.

5. Wisconsin Dells

Enjoy some of the things for adults to do in Wisconsin Dells, person standing on outdoor wooden walkway surrounded by trees with green and yellow leaves

It’s not an exaggeration when people say that Wisconsin Dells is the waterpark capital of the world.

But it’s also one of the best beach towns in Wisconsin, and there are plenty of activities you can do with your family and you’ll never run out of waterparks to visit in the city!

Starting from Lake Delton, one of the most popular artificial lakes in Wisconsin Dells.

Initially built for tourism purposes in 1927, the Lake Delton village has a great infrastructure that makes it a great destination as one of the best lake towns in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Dells is now also home to many world-class water-based attractions that welcome visitors from the Midwest and all over the United States.

It is one of the most popular Wisconsin towns offering many touristic activities that are perfect for fun weekend trips in Wisconsin.

There are many fun things to do in Wisconsin Dells for families, couples and even solo travelers.

For the best experience, you can visit the main waterpark in town at the Great Wolf Lodge Water Park, where you can get on the Howlin’ Tornado, the famous waterslide in Wisconsin Dells.

Alternatively, you can also go to Noah’s Ark Waterpark or Kalahari Resorts as you’ll never run out of waterpark options in Wisconsin Dells!

Book here the best Wisconsin Dells tours

6. Green Lake

top lake towns in Wisconsin, View of still waters of a lake with a thick bank of green and brown trees lining the shore under a clear blue sky

Located in the central part of the state, Green Lake is a small quaint town with a population of a little over 1,000.

However, it is also home to the deepest lake in Wisconsin. With a depth of 237 feet, Green Lake offers various recreational activities all year round!

Visiting Green Lake is a must, as the lake offers an amazing fishing experience with clear water and various fish species that can be heaven for those who love fishing.

There are some guided tour options that you can book around Green Lake, which include the rental of a pontoon boat, fishing equipment, and a gas grill to make the best out of your stay in Green Lake!

Head over to Terrace Beach if you’re looking for more relaxing vibes in one of the beautiful Wisconsin coastal towns.

In this area, you can find accommodation that caters to some other recreational activities like swimming or kayaking.

For history buffs, you can also include Thrasher Opera House in your itinerary.

Currently listed as one of the National Register of Historic Places, you can visit the building to enjoy some live performances from local artists.

7. Superior

Best Lake Superior towns, View looking out to sea with sandy beach and tree branches in the foreground and the deep blue sea beyond under a wide open blue sky

If you’re looking for the best things to do in Northern Wisconsin and want to visit the beautiful towns on Lake Superior, Superior is the best place to go.

Not only is the lake named after the town, but Superior also offers a diverse range of recreational activities, making it on the list of the best lake towns in Wisconsin.

Situated on the west side of Lake Superior, head over to Wisconsin Point for the best view of the lake.

It’s home to the Superior Entry Lighthouse, which is one of the most renowned photographic sites in the city.

The area is also located on the Wisconsin coastline where you can enjoy various activities, including picnics or checking out the local wildlife in the surrounding.

You can also hike on the Superior Hiking Trail while enjoying the beautiful nature around the area.

The marking around the trail makes it easier to follow, and the slope overlooking Lake Superior makes it a great view to enhance your hiking experience.

For history buffs, join the SS Meteor tour in Superior to learn about the last Whaleback cargo ship used to ship goods throughout the Great Lakes region.

8. Milwaukee

Where to go hiking in Milwaukee, Shot of large bridge over a river with the bright sun shining behind it on a mostly clear day

It’s almost impossible not to include Milwaukee when we talk about Wisconsin towns on Lake Michigan.

If you consider visiting one of the best Lake Michigan beach towns, Wisconsin has a few options and Milwaukee is the best one.

Home to 1,400 acres of Wisconsin coastline, Milwaukee is easily one of the best lake towns in Wisconsin!

Milwaukee is known for its famous brews, so you can make the best of your visit to sip a glass of Milwaukee beer to enjoy your day in one of the largest Wisconsin cities on Lake Michigan.

The lakefront city also hosts two notable annual events, including the Summerfest music festival and the Wisconsin State Fair.

Milwaukee is one of the Wisconsin beach towns on Lake Michigan that also offers some urban activities, whether you want to grab a ticket to watch the Milwaukee Brewers’ game or visit the legendary Harley-Davidson Museum.

Book here the best tours around Milwaukee

As a state known for its thousands of lakes, the options for the best lake towns in Wisconsin are endless, as each town has its characteristics and offers activities that may be suitable for your liking more than the other.

Whether you’re looking for a quiet small town like Green Lake or prefer a more urban city like Milwaukee, you can always find some lake towns in Wisconsin that suit your traveling style.

So, which one of these towns that you consider the best lake town in Wisconsin for you?

Short FAQs About Lake Towns in Wisconsin

What is the best lake to live in Wisconsin?

Lake Michigan is the most popular lake to live on in Wisconsin, followed closely by Lake Superior.

What’s the cleanest lake in Wisconsin?

Black Oak Lake is considered the clearest and cleanest lake in Wisconsin.

Are there any lake towns in Wisconsin where you can live?

Yes, in fact, you can live in most of the lake towns within Wisconsin – assuming, of course, there is a house available to buy or rent.

Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip 

Chuck Jeffers

Friday 30th of June 2023

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