Spring is in the air, the sun is shining, and we are all itching to break away from our winter cabins for a while. With spring break near, don’t feel like you have to break the bank heading to a top destination for a week. This spring break, switch it up by running down these Wisconsin counties and towns that border Lake Michigan for gorgeous views and an unforgettable road trip.
The Door County peninsula is a unique geographic feature that separates the bay of Green Bay and Lake Michigan, and accounts for 300 miles of shoreline. To start this road trip off on the right foot, I would encourage you to start at the top of the Peninsula near Northport and the Washington Island Ferry dock to drive the curves of Jen Jensen road. It’s one of the most iconic roads in Wisconsin and was specifically designed to encourage drivers to slow down and soak up the serene beauty.
Coming down the peninsula, you can take Highway 42 (the lakeside) or Highway 57 (the bay side) to slowly ride through the small town charm. Once you cross the Steel Bridge in Sturgeon Bay, make sure to stay on Highway 42 for the scenic route that hugs Lake Michigan on the next 60 miles to Manitowoc.
Manitowoc is known as the ‘Maritime Capital of Wisconsin’ and for good reason! Aside from being nestled alongside Lake Michigan, it has a rich water and submarine history that dates back to WWII. This is a great county to explore if you’re a history buff...or are craving some ice cream on your way. Afterall, a small detour into Two Rivers will land you in the birthplace of the ice cream sundae.
Once you’re ready to get back on the road, hop on Lake Shore Road and let it guide you along the shoreline of Michigan throughout the rolling (and quiet) country roads for the next ~30 miles until you arrive in Sheboygan County.
Once you’ve arrived in Sheboygan, make sure to take some time to grab lunch in the Bratwurst Capital of the World while you take in the scenic views! This lakeside city has also been nicknamed the ‘Malibu of the Midwest’, so you know there are activities great for the whole family to enjoy right on the water. Whether you’re stopping for lounging, sailing, or just taking a great family pic, there’s something for everyone on the water in Sheboygan.
After soaking up everything this beautiful spot has to offer, get ready for another ~30 miles on the road until you arrive in Port Washington in Ozaukee County.
Port Washington is really a hidden gem of Wisconsin, located right on Lake Michigan. This town describes itself as, “Midwestern friendly” fishing village with a historic downtown on one side of town and the lake on the other. Plus, Port Washington has one of the most photographed lighthouses in the state (pictured above).
Keep heading south on Highway 32 and you’ll find yourself on an urban excursion...
Ah, Milwaukee. Welcome to Wisconsin’s largest city, where boredom is nonexistent! There’s so much here to see, do, eat, drink, and explore. Whether you make this a quick stop, or extend your road-trip in Milwaukee County, you won’t be disappointed. To read more about how to plan a spring weekend in Milwaukee, check out this recent blog.
Traveling south, take Highway 32 to finish your trip off to the southeastern corner of the state. Once you cruise into Kenosha, you’ve officially completed the run of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin! An easy road trip to do quickly in a day, or spread out as long as you’d like! Take in the views, visit the small towns, see the historic charm, and smell the roses (and fresh, spring air) along the way.
And there you have it, folks! A spring road-trip guide to experience all that Lake Michigan shoreline has to offer in Wisconsin. Let us know in the comments which *must-stop* destination you love to see along the way.
*This article is brought to you by financial support from the Wisconsin Counties Association.
Susan Fochs: Marketing Coordinator for Discover Mediaworks. A self-proclaimed non-profit aficionado, coffee connoisseur, marketing nerd, and lover of all things Wisconsin.