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Celebrating Coastal Awareness Month in Wisconsin

Photo Credit: Bob Fritsch via Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

During the month of September, we are so excited to celebrate our Great Lakes’ coasts home to Wisconsin, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. Learn more about Coastal Awareness Month and why it is so important to Discover Wisconsin and Wisconsin itself, ways you can celebrate these two amazing bodies of water, and how to honor the coasts’ rich history. Let’s dive into these two exclusive coasts of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior!

What is Coastal Awareness Month?

Photo Credit: Paulette Marzahl via Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Wisconsin is home to two Great Lakes, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, and they both play a significant role in Wisconsinites’ lives such as in our state’s recreation, tourism, and history. Because of these coasts' presence in our quality of life, Coastal Awareness Month is designated to remind locals and their communities alike to protect, promote, and enjoy these Great Lakes that Wisconsin calls home.

Lake Michigan is the second largest Great Lake, spanning over 22,300 square miles, and is the largest freshwater lake in the entire country! And in the world? It’s the fifth largest! But Lake Michigan plays a bigger role than just its vast size. It is such an important part to Wisconsin, especially the economy. Lake Michigan provides an unlimited access to water, routes to transport goods, and conjoins the local shoreline communities. Each city booms with beauty, spectacular views, and thrilling activities to experience along the coast of Lake Michigan.  

Another gem of Wisconsin is Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes covering 31,700 square miles! Held within these waters are several national treasures including the Apostle Islands, state parks, and recreational areas to take it all in. 

To further recognize these two incredible Great Lakes, The Department of Administration’s (DOA) Wisconsin Coastal Management Program (WCMP) works hand-in-hand with Great Lakes stakeholders to support coastal communities, and are dedicated to protect and promote the lakes’ natural, cultural, and historical resources that these bodies of water provide to our state. Since 1978, their mission has been and continues to be to balance resource protection and sustainability as the coasts develop throughout the 15 surrounding counties of both Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.

Celebrate Our Great Lakes

Photo Credit: Laura Studee via Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

During Coastal Awareness Month, there are many ways to celebrate and enjoy both Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. Start your adventure and celebrate this September through a variety of activities offered at the connected coastal towns. 

Celebrate and experience Lake Michigan in Port Washington, one of the connected coastal towns built right on the shores of Lake Michigan. This town takes pride in being the first man-made harbor on our entire continent! Now is your chance to get out and explore these surrounding parks, nature preserves and sandy beaches. Harrington Beach State Park is home to 715 acres right along shores of Lake Michigan including a mile long beach, hiking trails, and picnic areas. Another must see is Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve, one of the few remaining untouched bluffs on the Lake Michigan shoreline. Lake Michigan’s shore around Port Washington has North Beach, for a sandy experience perfect for swimming, picnicking or walking the beautiful shore.

And you can’t forget to celebrate and visit Lake Superior, another one of our treasured Great Lakes. Ashland, Wisconsin is known as the heart and soul of Chequamegon Bay, a world-class fishery and scenic destination showcasing the beauty of Lake Superior. Ashland County is also home to The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore on Lake Superior, with 18 of the islands located there. At this prized lakeshore, sandy beaches, rocky shores holding sea caves, and many lighthouses scatter the scenic landscapes. 

Amongst these coastal cities and array of activities and attractions, there are many more to explore. Dedicate this September to seeing and celebrating these amazing Great Lakes that we are proud to call home.

Honor History

Photo Credit: Andrew Reinders via Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Not only do these majestic Great Lakes of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior host a variety of activities and are awaiting your upcoming adventures, they are rooted deep in history. During this month, honor its rich history by visiting the many museums and sanctuaries to learn more about what makes them true gems to Wisconsin.

To learn about Lake Michigan’s history, visit the Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary, home of 36 shipwrecks that were crucial in building our nation between the 1830’s and 1930’s. You will also want to check out the Wisconsin Maritime Museum of Manitowoc to see historic artifacts and exhibits, including the submarine USS Cobia.

To learn more about Lake Superior’s history and heritage, stop by Superior, Wisconsin, home to the SS Meteor that you can tour. This ship and museum is the last above-water Whaleback ship in the entire world! Not only can you explore the interior of the ship and learn of its historic role, the museum also offers exhibits of famous Great Lakes shipwrecks and shipbuilding.

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This September, celebrate both Lake Michigan and Lake Superior during Coastal Awareness Month. Through these various destinations and activities, you can begin to understand and appreciate its importance, celebrate its waters, and honor its rich history. Dive into Lake Michigan and Lake Superior this upcoming September.

Before heading out on your adventure to celebrate Coastal Awareness Month in Wisconsin, watch a Discover Wisconsin original short, ‘Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast: Diving Into Our Maritime History’  featuring the newest National Marine Sanctuary now:

Hailey Rose: Writer for Discover Mediaworks. A born & bred Wisconsinite with a love for fishing, hunting, and enjoying the great outdoors.

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