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Sandy beaches, blue water and sunshine? No, we’re not talking about the Atlantic or Pacific coastlines, but the countless picturesque beaches located right here in Wisconsin.

The Midwest offers a variety of scenic terrain including unbeatable beaches to escape to on hot summer days. With no need to spend a fortune and haul the family across the country for a pristine destination, there are plenty of impressive beaches to visit for a quick day trip or weekend getaway.

While the hot days of summer may feel fleeting, consider adding a quick Midwest beach vacation to your bucket list and check it off yet this season.

Do your research and map it out.

There are plenty of freshwater favorites to visit and beat the summer heat. Located along the Great Lakes and beyond, here’s a list to get you started for your upcoming adventure to the best beaches in Wisconsin.

Big Bay Beach at Town Park, Madeline Island (Apostle Islands)

Madeline Island, the largest of the 22 Apostle Islands, is located at the most northern tip of the state on Lake Superior. With two miles of sandy beach and towering trees, this beach offers abundant swimming and fishing. The beach is secluded and free with impressive views, too. Looking to get more adventurous? Consider renting paddleboards, kayaks or canoes through various rental companies to explore the coastline.

Schoolhouse Beach, Washington Island (Door County)

Schoolhouse Beach provides pristine waters and limestone pebbles to create a unique landscape on the shores of Lake Michigan. The beach is an excellent option for swimming as well as diving and snorkeling.

A nearby park provides a wooded area great for an afternoon picnic.

Point Beach State Forest, Two Rivers

This family-friendly beach on the coast of Lake Michigan provides six miles of beautiful sandy beach with walking and biking trails plus picnic areas. During the summer months, check out the concessions for an extra treat. And finally, don’t miss the Rawley Point Lighthouse during your adventure.

Kohler-Andrae State Park, Sheboygan

Considered one of the best Midwest beaches by the Travel Channel, Kohler-Andrae State Park exudes majestic sand dunes, two miles of golden beaches and beautiful blue waters on the Lake Michigan coastline. An ideal location just 50 miles north of Milwaukee, this nearly 1,000-acre state park offers unique wetlands where visitors enjoy discovering rare plants and bird watching. Consider making a weekend out of it and camping at the park, but be sure to book early. Campsites at Kohler-Andrae can fill up several months in advance.

Bradford Beach, Milwaukee

Sitting amidst the city skyline of Milwaukee is Bradford Beach—the largest public beach in the city. Featured as the most accessible beach in America for people with disabilities by CBS 58, renovations at Bradford Beach—including new pathways, beach wheelchairs and mats—have helped make it an accessible place. In addition, Bradford Beach is home to many beach sports leagues and features sand volleyball courts as well as concessions buildings. Don’t forget to enjoy various special events throughout the summer, too. 

North Beach, Racine

Located on the coast of Lake Michigan and just north of downtown Racine, North Beach showcases a 2,500-foot beach that has been selected by USA Today as one of the 51 Great American Beaches as well as a best beaches location for families by Parents magazine (among other accolades). This Midwest beach vacation destination offers a variety of activities including volleyball courts, a snack bar and a playground for kids. Lifeguards are on duty from mid-June through Labor Day.

Beyond Wisconsin

Adventure a bit beyond the Wisconsin state line to discover additional beautiful beaches.

Oak Street Beach, Chicago

Opened in 1890, this popular white sandy beach on Lake Michigan offers visitors a taste of paradise beneath Chicago’s magnificent skyline. Beachgoers can enjoy a local café, volleyball and bike rentals, among other outdoor activities.

Presque Island Beach, Marquette, Michigan

With 323 acres of forest, Presque Island Park in Marquette, Michigan, features impeccable views of Lake Superior from many vantage points, especially from Sunset Point. Located about 3.5 hours north of Appleton, Wisconsin, the sandy beaches and bordering lush pines make way to countless outdoor activities, including cliff diving (not for the faint of heart!).

Pack the essentials

Make it a successful beach outing by being prepared for your trip with all the essentials. Items to consider for your beach day include: sunscreen, beach towels, swimsuits, first aid kit, bug spray, water bottles, snacks, beach bag, an umbrella for shade, sunglasses or hats, flip flops or water shoes, life jackets, beach chairs and a cooler. Don’t forget extra cash for concessions or a delicious ice cream treat to cool down. A helpful tip: consider bringing a collapsible wagon to haul your items over the sandy terrain to your beach destination. Lastly, be sure to pack a few beach toys to keep the kids (or those young at heart) busy—you can’t forget about building that perfect sandcastle!

Complete your summer travel list with a Wisconsin Beach destination

Consider adding one (or more) of these beautiful Wisconsin beaches to your summer travel list for a quick, easy and affordable getaway. Beat the heat, take in the sites, dip your toes in the sand and relax. And, don’t forget the sunscreen!

Thinking about a longer getaway? Check out our recent blog post for tips on planning your next family vacation.