Having lived in Wisconsin for almost all of my life, the state isn’t always thought of as a tourist destination. However, there are plenty of tourist attractions in Wisconsin found throughout the many cities and small towns.
It’s quite a cold state that gets a lot of snow during winter, providing many indoor activities. The summers can also get quite warm, reaching average temperatures of almost 80 degrees during the summer months. With no shortage of sightseeing opportunities like Lake Michigan, visitors are in luck with all the many fun things to do.
Here is a list of some of the best attractions in Wisconsin. We include everything from museums to state parks and historic buildings as well as amusement parks. The number of things to do at each of these places is endless and you can have quite a fun time. This list was created based on my own personal experiences and good things I’ve heard from other Wisconsinites.
1. Devils Lake State Park
If you live in Wisconsin, there is a good chance you might have heard of Devils Lake State Park, even if you’ve never been there. It’s one of the most famous parks in the state and for a good reason. It’s a great place to go hiking at the many trails in the bluffs above the lake. There are also plenty of campgrounds for camping with family or friends but just book ahead. We tried to go camping only to find out that most of the spots are booked months in advance.
If you want to spend time on the mile-long lake, there are plenty of fun activities to do. There are beaches on both sides of it with parking on each side. You can go kayaking, canoeing, and swimming. There is a small dock where you can rent paddle boats and kayaking gear. Devils Lake State Park is only two hours away from Milwaukee and one hour away from Madison.
If you’re looking for a place to take some beautiful pictures, there are plenty of aesthetic locations from the bluffs. Devils Lake is our favorite place to visit on July 4th but you just need to get up early and drive over as soon as it opens since the picnic tables get taken up quickly.
2. Wisconsin Dells Waterparks
Wisconsin Dells is one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin. Considered the waterpark capital of the world, it derives its name from the Dells which means flat rocks in French. A picturesque small town in the heart of Wisconsin, there is never a bad time to visit Wisconsin Dells. Even when it’s not warm out, it’s still worth visiting and sometimes it’s even better to come in the off-season when the crowds are gone.
Popular attractions in Wisconsin Dells include the many outdoor and indoor water parks, campgrounds, amusement parks, hiking and biking trails, and wellness spas. You might also opt for exciting boat tours down the Wisconsin River or visit the famous gorge. It’s one of the best kid-friendly towns in the state and also acts as a romantic getaway for couples.
You can book one of the many spa hotels, cabins, and waterfront resorts littered across the town. With the Wisconsin River close by and an abundance of waterparks in the city, you won’t run out of things to do here. The last time we came to the Dells, we stayed at the Wilderness Resort.
3. The Milwaukee Art Museum
Your visit to Wisconsin wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the famous Milwaukee Art Museum. Opened in 1882, this museum houses thousands of artworks and remains one of the most prominent art museums in the United States. It’s a great indoor attraction during the winter to avoid the cold weather.
Museum visitors can see many art pieces in art galleries dating back centuries ago, such as ancient German and Haitian art, American decorative art, and seminal pieces from the post-1960 era. The works of acclaimed Wisconsin artist Georgia O’Keeffe are also on display at the Milwaukee Art Museum.
The Wisconsin Museum itself is an artistic masterpiece. One of the major buildings is the War Memorial Center, a modernist architectural work inspired by Finnish design. After touring the museum, we like to go on walks right in front of the lake trail that leads to Veterans Park.
The Milwaukee Museum with its unique architecture and art is one of the best indoor attractions in Wisconsin.
4. Cave of the Mounds
Cave of the Mounds is a designated National Landmark and one of the most authentic caves you can explore in Wisconsin. The name refers to the Blue Mounds, a group of twin hills near the site.
This historic limestone cave has been one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin since its discovery in 1939. With an impressive collection of rock formations, fossils, oolites, and other mineral formations, it’s easy to understand the appeal it possesses. One of the things we like about it is that there is a small garden outside that you can walk along before or after your tour. There is also a gift shop where you can buy rocks and other souvenirs.
Since its public opening, Cave of the Mounds has grown to give visitors a more enjoyable experience. This fun family attraction also has aesthetic lighting and colors throughout the cave to create a colorful and unforgettable experience. They post tour guides at different parts of the cave that can give you background information or can point things out (including fossils on the wall) if you just ask them.
5. Milwaukee Park Horticultural Conservatory
If you’re in love with all things nature and get excited when you see species of plants and flowers, the Milwaukee Park Horticultural Conservatory is where you need to be. The Milwaukee Park Horticultural Conservatory comprises three dome-shaped structures, which explains its other nickname — The Domes or at least that’s what everyone in Milwaukee calls it.
Each dome revolves around a specific theme. The Tropical Dome houses tropical plants, fruit trees, blooming plants, and hardwood. The Floral Show Dome runs different seasonal shows and exhibits for visitors, including the famous garden railway display.
The Desert Dome is home to cacti, shrubs, and other desert plants from the arid regions of Africa and the Americas. My first experience with The Domes was when I was a child in elementary school and haven’t stopped coming every few years since.
Grab some nature-inspired merchandise from the conservatory store before you leave. If you’re only in Milwaukee for the day, make sure to add it to your itinerary. There are yearly events that happen all the time and they always get packed. I can typically tell since the parking lot gets filled up.
6. Wisconsin State Capitol Building
The Wisconsin Capitol houses the state legislature and state supreme court. It’s located in the heart of Madison, our Wisconsin State Capitol. This place has a unique history dating back to the early years of Wisconsin’s statehood.
You’ll find that some of the hotels have amazing views of the State Capitol House. We stayed at The Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club and got that amazing view from their cocktail lounge.
Visiting the Wisconsin State Capitol Building is an excellent way to learn about the history and development of Wisconsin. Besides, the building is an aesthetic masterpiece all in itself. Close to the building is where the Dane County Farmers’ Market is held on State Street.
People can book free tours that show you around the different aspects of the Capitol building. If you’re planning to stay in Madison, this area is a good place to explore the rest that Madison has to offer.
7. Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary
The Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in Green Bay is a government-protected animal refuge that doubles as a park. With an area spanning over 600 acres, this conservatory comprises several wildlife habitats and more.
Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary has an educational center where kids can learn about nature. Their tours give them first-hand experience of wildlife, as they see bobcats, foxes, birds, and other small mammals native to the area.
The observatory is a great place to visit for adults too. You can study the behaviors of animals up close and personal. If you’re into winter sports, then you want to visit in winter when the hike trails transform into ski tracks. But you will need to bring your own equipment.
The Manger Lagoon is a magnificent spot for fly-fishing and regularly hosts community activities. This is a perfect spot for a get-together with friends or a day out with the family.
8. Frank Lloyd Wright Building
Frank Lloyd Wright grew up in Madison, WI, and later found fame as an architect. He was an immense influence on architectural design, and his buildings are some of the best Prairie-style buildings in existence. For architecture enthusiasts, a visit to Wright’s masterpieces is an excellent way to vacation in Wisconsin.
You can find many of them around the UW-Madison campus. The Taliesin Preservation is one of Wright’s famous creations and allows visitors a first-hand experience of the late architectural designer’s genius. This was Wright’s residence and drafting studio during his lifetime, and you get to learn more about the man and his impact on architecture through guided tours.
Other Frank Lloyd Wright buildings open to public visits include the Monona Terrace in Madison and Walter & Mary Ellen Rudin House. Most offer tours, and with Monona Terrace, coffee shops can provide quick snacks for visitors.
Read this guide for more things to do in Madison, Wisconsin. You’ll find things like Madison Eats food tours and the Olbrich botanical gardens (a Thai garden).
9. The Kohler Golf Resort
The Kohler Golf Resort rests on the shores of the Sheboygan River in Sheboygan County. Already famed among professional golfers who visit during competitions, Kohler Golf Resort welcomes amateurs and has multiple courses for practice sessions.
You won’t be working on your swing alone throughout your time at Kohler. Whether you want to enjoy fine dining at the Horse and Plow or relax at the Kohler Waters Spa, there’s something for everyone to do, even if you’re not golfing.
If you plan to spend more than a day at this location, consider booking a room at the 5-star American Club Resort Hotel or lodge at any of the nearby resorts. Fewer locations offer a better combination of recreation, dining, and relaxation than the Kohler Golf Resort.
10. Harley-Davidson Museum
Harley-Davidson motorcycles are a classic American symbol with a rich history spanning over a century. The Harley-Davidson Museum in Wisconsin is dedicated to preserving the history of the famous motorcycle brand for riding enthusiasts. You will find it near downtown Milwaukee.
The collection in this unique Wisconsin museum includes over 450 different models, including replicas of models built as far back as 1940. It covers different parts of Harley-Davidson’s cultural history and displays everything from modified bikes to classic engines built over the years. Book a museum tour to see it all.
Kids can also get in on the fun at the Harley-Davidson Museum. At the Imagination Station attraction, youngsters don miniature Harley-themed riding gear and classic motorcycles. Plus, they can take part in games and puzzles designed to keep them entertained throughout the visit.
11. National Railroad Museum
The National Railroad Museum first opened in Green Bay, Wisconsin, back in 1956. It features an array of exhibits celebrating America’s railroad history. This museum houses rare locomotives, including an Aerotrain and a WWII-era train.
Other attractions at the National Railroad Museum include an 80-foot observatory with stunning views of the Fox River and Green Bay. In the summer, parents can sign their kids up for their STEM camp.
If you have kids, take them to the Day Out with Thomas exhibition. There, they can ride a Thomas the Tank replica train around the museum. There are also plenty of events for adults organized by the National Railroad Museum. Travelers can also rent their facilities for weddings and other events.
12. Circus World Museum
The Circus World Museum is another of Baraboo’s most popular attractions, apart from the nearby Devils Lake. It contains memorabilia from wagons to equipment used by old circus rings. You can also learn about the history of this circus in Baraboo, Wisconsin, through exhibits and guided tours.
Circus World operates traditional big-top shows, animal shows, and comedy specials. The interactive circus section is where kids can perform in a circus, albeit in a controlled environment.
Notable exhibits at the Circus World Museum include Ringlingville, one of the original buildings used by the famous Ringling Brothers Circus. A tour through the area shows you restored barns that once held circus animals and rooms with preserved costumes and props.
The admission tickets start at only $23 for adults and $15 for children, although prices vary on the season. You can park in any of their two parking lots.
13. Lake Minocqua
Lake Minocqua is a vast scenic lake up in Northern Wisconsin. It’s a popular lake with fishing, boating, swimming, and other water sports opportunities.
Lake Minocqua is popular for its scenic beaches, restaurants, and idyllic resorts. You can recharge by swimming in the lake, lazing around on the beach, or testing your fishing skills by hunting for walleye or Northern Pike.
In the winter, the lake area is excellent for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Minocqua has plenty of other nearby attractions worth exploring like the Wildwood Wildlife Park Zoo & Safari.
14. Interstate State Park
Interstate State Park is the oldest park in Wisconsin, starting operations almost 100+ years ago. The name Interstate Park references the park’s location between two states, Wisconsin and Minnesota. It’s divided by the Dalles of St. Croix, meaning one part is in Wisconsin and the other is in Minnesota.
This vast Wisconsin state park has over 85 campsites and over 9 miles of trail attracting outdoor enthusiasts from all around the United States. Lake O’the Dalles offers opportunities for swimming, although intense rapids might make it difficult. Additionally, the park has many rocks and cliffs that you can climb for recreation.
If you prefer to explore without intense physical activity, visit the gorge to appreciate its natural beauty. Visit the gift shop to buy some Midwest memorabilia to bring back home, or drop into the nearby towns of St. Croix or Taylor Falls and learn about Wisconsin’s geological history.
15. EAA Airventure Oshkosh
The annual EAA Airventure show in Oshkosh is every aviation enthusiast’s dream. This is the largest gathering of aviation enthusiasts and professionals interested in building recreational aircraft in the world. You can take your homebuilt aircraft here and connect with others or just gawk at the stunning aircraft designs exhibited at the event.
Throughout the one-week event, visitors can enjoy amazing airshows, educational sessions, and interactive workshops. You’ll also find exhibits showing classic aircraft dating back to the WW2 era, especially designs from Europe and the US.
If you plan to attend an Airventure event, plan in advance for at least 1 to 2 months. The event draws thousands of attendees worldwide, making securing accommodation and parking space difficult when the event is approaching. Feel free to go see some of the exhibits at the EAA Airventure Museum once the event is over.
16. Green Packers Lambeau Field
The Green Bay Packers are synonymous with the city of Green Bay. If you’re looking to learn about the state’s most famous sports team, you need to visit the Green Bay Packers Lambeau Field.
Sitting on 13,000 square feet of space inside the Packers’ Lambeau Field stadium, the Hall Of Fame museum offers a glimpse into the glittering history of the NFL giants. Exhibits transport visitors to the past, and you can watch iconic Packers players describe some of the greatest moments in the team’s history.
This place also holds some of the team’s famous artifacts, including a life-sized replica of Vince Lombardi, the coach who transformed the Packers into an NFL powerhouse. The team’s 13 Super Bowl trophies are also on display here. Come to Wisconsin during football season and buy a ticket to one of the football games.
17. The Bookworm Gardens
Bookworm Gardens in Sheboygan brings books to life with real-life replicas of gardens found in many popular books. Bookworm Gardens aims to grow a love for literature and nature in children. It achieves this through tastefully designed shrubbery and flower gardens and plenty of reading spaces.
With a zero-wireless-devices policy in place, Bookworm Gardens is where your kids can detach from technology and still have a good productive time. The facility offers everyone a chance to enjoy splendid music and art, and connect with nature.
Families looking for kid-friendly activities in Wisconsin will love the Bookworm Gardens. Interactive activities include adventure searches, music recording, and worm-digging.