Are you considering a road trip to Wisconsin but are unsure what to do when you get there? Maybe you are planning a weekend getaway but have no clue where to start? Or perhaps you have already booked your trip and are looking for some inspiration? Whatever your reason might be, we have the answer for you!
We know how much pressure rests on you to plan the perfect road trip. Everything from the music to the activities planned must be just right; otherwise, the whole trip is ruined! It’s a lot of pressure and leaves many of us stressed and overwhelmed with the task.
Well, no more! Today we are here with the best places and things to do in Wisconsin when you take your road trip! Keep reading for the 15 best road trips; whether it’s a weekend or day trip, we have the best things you can do in the Midwest’s most beautiful state.
Day Trips in Wisconsin
To help you navigate this list easily, we have divided it into day trips and weekend getaways. That isn’t to say any of these day trips couldn’t be turned into a weekend-long event, but rather we think they are perfect if you only have 24 hours! Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do with a day to spend in Wisconsin.
Aztalan State park
Aztalan State Park is a national historic landmark, preserving one of Wisconsin’s most important archaeological sites. The park in Jefferson preserves an ancient indigenous village that was populated between 1000 and 1300 AD. It’s believed that the village might have been connected to the ancient Aztec residence of Aztalan.
You can see the pyramid-shaped mounts believed to have been of defensive and ceremonial use to the culture. It’s worth a visit! There are also 172 acres of oak woods you can explore and enjoy. You can also enjoy canoeing, boating, and catfish, and walleye fishing on the Crawfish River.
Pack a picnic and spend a day in this wonderful state park!
This wonderful city in Chippewa County is named to honor the Ojibwa tribe that once populated the area. The town is located on the banks of the Chippewa River and is home to the Leinenkugel Brewing Company, where you can sample their microbrews and take guided tours throughout the year! It’s a must-see for those that love new and unique brews.
You can also visit the Heyde Center for the Arts and enjoy live performances and gallery exhibitions if you wish to soak up the culture this area has to offer. There are also some museums for you to enjoy too if history appeals to you.
For those traveling with children, make the most of the Irvine Park Zoo. The 318-acre zoo has fun for all the family and will keep children entertained after a long car journey! If possible, time your visit with events like the Northern Wisconsin State Fair or annual Country Fest music festival. These events are fun for the whole family and will be the highlight of your visit!
If culture is what you crave, then you need to visit Eau Claire! It’s known as the Indie Capital of the Midwest and will not disappoint! It’s known for its clean waters and has plenty of attractions the whole family will enjoy!
The Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, the water park, and Paul Bunyan Logging Camp museum are must-visit spots for those with children! You can expect hours of fun and great places to grab a quick bite to eat.
If you want culture beyond belief, visit the Pablo Center, Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild, or the National Register of Historic Places to enjoy some live performances. There are also lots of bars hosting local independent music acts for you to catch.
You can also enjoy some of their bike trails or hit either Carson Park or Riverview Park for swimming and boating. You aren’t short of opportunities here, so be sure to make the most of your time in Eau Claire.
If you want a picturesque town to visit, hit up Galena in Illinois. The 19th-century architecture is outstanding to witness, along with the Ulysses S. Grant Home you can tour! Many of the buildings in the town have been preserved so you can soak in the historical architecture and know that it’s here to stay!
You can enjoy plenty of shops and dining opportunities, too, so be sure to stick around for dinner! We recommend taking a visit to the Horseshoe Mound nearby too! It preserves a historic indigenous ceremonial mound site that is something not to miss! Galena offers a slower pace and beautiful architecture that makes for a wonderful day trip!
We couldn’t write this article without mentioning Wisconsin’s capital city! Madison is a beautiful city and was listed as one of the best places to live in the United States! It has some of the best restaurants in the nation, so be sure to make reservations before you venture down! You won’t want to miss out on some fantastic Wisconsin cheese curds or blue moon ice cream.
If you can, head down when the Great Taste of the Midwest craft beer festival is underway! It’s one of the nation’s most exclusive beer festivals and worth a visit to sample some tasty brews!
For a touch of culture, head over to the Wisconsin Historical Museum, where you can learn about the region’s pioneer and industrial history. There are lots of exhibitions there you can lose yourself in.
Alternatively, there’s plenty of biking paths to enjoy too! The Capital City State Trail is one of our favorites! No matter what you enjoy, there is something in Madison for everyone!
If you love beaches, head on over to Manitowoc! Located on Lake Michigan, it’s the Manitowoc River, where you can enjoy beautiful views. There’s also a Maritime Museum to explore, where you can see the USS Cobia living history ship.
The marina is also worth visiting if boats interest you, you can even take your lunch on some boats! There’s also a 13 mile Mariners Trail that stretches to nearby Two Rivers. There’s plenty of history to soak up too, check out the National Register of Historic Places Art Museum, where you can check out plenty of art exhibitions.
You can also choose from 13 beaches to visit! Our favorite is Red Arrow Beach or Neshotah Beach. Be sure to pack your swimsuit for a little dip in the sea!
If you like quantity cities, head over to Marshfield for the day. The city has plenty of historical attractions you are sure to enjoy. The 1880 Upham Mansion is a fantastic living history museum that the whole family will enjoy.
There is also a 60-acre Wildwood Park and Zoo where you can meet over 200 different animal species! You can enjoy some landscaping, too, if you visit Foxfire Gardens! Their displays of Eastern and Western natural landscaping are beautiful and not one to miss! You can relax here or at the Grotto Gardens and Wonder Cave!
Before you leave, be sure to visit the World’s Largest Round Barn too! It’s the focal point of the Marshfield Fairgrounds campus and the perfect photo opportunity.
We’ve got another fantastic small town for you to visit, Mineral Point. The town is an hour west of Madison and worth the drive! You can enjoy the vibrant art scene and wander through dozens of art galleries in the downtown area.
Be sure to stay for lunch and sample their local cuisine and traditional dishes, like their Cornish pasties! With so many small and local places you won’t go without food! You can also visit Pendarvis, a recreated mining village that is both fun and educational!
If possible, head over during the summer concert series, Fall Art Tour, or candlelight holiday shopping event. These are fantastic events that will quickly become the highlight of your trip!
Weekend Getaways in Wisconsin
And for those that want to stay in Wisconsin for longer, we have some fantastic weekend getaway suggestions for you. Be sure to visit comparison sites beforehand to find the cheapest hotel deals and maybe snag a dinner recommendation or two!
Lake Geneva is one of the top tourist destinations in Wisconsin, and it’s no wonder why! Situated on the banks of Seneca Lake, you can enjoy beautiful views. There is Gilded Age architecture and wonderful gardens to soak up, offering plenty of photo opportunities. You can view stunning preserved mansions and summer estates that line the lakefront.
Be sure to visit the Geneva Lake Museum to learn more about the local culture and history. There’s plenty of chances for hiking, camping, canoeing, and swimming at Big Foot Beach State Park. You won’t be short of places to have romantic walks either!
For those visiting in the winter, there’s plenty of skiing and snowboarding opportunities at the Wilmot Mountain Ski Resort.
Door County is a fantastic peninsula between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. You can explore the famous shipwreck that gave this region its name and the Maritime Museum. Here you will find plenty of preserved historical warcraft to enjoy.
There’s also plenty of historical lighthouses dotted across the county for you to enjoy; the Pilot Island Lighthouse is our favorite! You’ve got plenty of opportunities to swim, fish, and go boating on this charming beach too! And you haven’t got to venture far for food! Sturgeon Bay has some of the best restaurants in the area that will satisfy your rumbling belly.
After a city break? You can’t beat Chicago! There’s plenty of cultural and recreational activities to enjoy in the windy city that you might never want to leave! Hit up the Palace Theatre before you leave to enjoy some Broadway productions, but we recommend looking for tickets in advance to save some money.
There’s plenty of shopping opportunities, along with Gilded Age landmarks. If you enjoy museums, you’ll be spoilt for choice too! We love the Art Institute of Chicago if you can only choose one! There’s also the vibrant Navy Pier you should visit and take a ride on the observation wheel to soak in the views.
Fond du Lac
If you want a charming weekend away, Fond du Lac will not disappoint! Situated on the southern end of Lake Winnebago, you can enjoy over 20 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Be sure to make the most of Lakeside Park, home to the 1933 Lakeside Park Lighthouse. If you visit in the summer, you can join a guided tour of the lighthouse!
There’s also a miniature train, antique carousel, petting zoo, and holiday dancing lights displays to take advantage of! If you time it right, you could be there during the annual Foot of the Lake Synchronized Skating Classic Event. It’s well worth attending!
This wonderful Mississippi River city is known as a major technology, commercial, and medical hub. But there’s so much more to it! Enjoy its Riverside Park, where you can explore the International Friendship Gardens. These gardens showcase landscaping styles from across the globe; it’s not to be missed!
We recommend a riverboat excursion on the Julia Belle Swain or the American Queen to enjoy the river and its glorious views! There’s also a restored classic cars exhibition at the Dahl Auto Museum that’s worth a visit.
If you have time, there’s plenty of theatres to soak up too! Despite seeming quiet and tranquil, La Crosse has lots of activities that will keep you busy.
If you want a weekend in a lovely village, head over to New Glarus. Located in Green County, it was initially established as a Swiss colony, and much of that Alpine character remains today. There’s plenty of beautiful architecture and Swiss-style chateaus to enjoy.
You can enjoy a range of traditional Swiss dishes that you don’t typically find outside of Switzerland! There’s also plenty of markets and bakeries that will keep you full of delicious treats. Be sure to visit the folk art galleries and museums to learn more about Switzerland’s culture and those immigrants.
Why not experience a taste of Switzerland without leaving the country?
Completing our list today is Platteville, the largest city in Grant County. It’s home to a large university campus that also serves as a cultural hub for the city! There’s plenty of live theatrical and comedy performances you can enjoy at the Harry and Laura Nohr Gallery!
There are also many family-friendly attractions like the Mining and Rollo Jamison Museums that are home to the 19th-century lead mine and 1931 zinc mine train. If you want to learn more about mines and have fun, these are the places to go!
The city has much to offer and some fantastic places to eat, providing you with lots of fun and good food for your entire trip!
And just like that, we have come to the end of our road trip journey today! As you can see, there are plenty of wonderful places to visit in Wisconsin whether you want to enjoy some relaxation or have an action-packed weekend! Remember to make the most of comparison sites for hotels and B&Bs to ensure you get the best deal for your road trip.