Sunday, June 16, 2024

7 Small Towns in Wisconsin That Are Worth Exploring Year-Round

Wisconsin is home to charming small towns that offer a glimpse into the state’s history, culture, and natural beauty. From quaint main streets to scenic parks, these small towns have something for everyone. Here are 8 of the best small towns in Wisconsin to visit that provide unique experiences you can’t find in the big cities.

Best Time to Visit Wisconsin

Spring, summer, and fall are excellent times to visit Wisconsin’s small towns when the weather is mild and you can enjoy outdoor activities. Some of the best seasonal events include:

Summer – Fish boils, county fairs, cheese festivals
Fall – Apple picking, autumn colors, Oktoberfest celebrations
Winter – Snow sports, cozy indoor shopping and dining, Christmas markets
Spring – Maple syrup festivals, art walks, cheese rolling

7 Small Towns in Wisconsin To Visit

1. Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva

Just over an hour from Milwaukee, Lake Geneva is a popular lake town with medieval-inspired architecture along Main Street. Visit the Geneva Lake Museum to see the Native American artifacts and Victorian-era exhibits. Outdoor enthusiasts will love hiking through the scenic Geneva Lake shore path, kayaking, boating, fishing, and visiting the nearby Grand Geneva Resort and Spa.

Recommended – Stay at Maxwell Mansion, an elegant Victorian home turned B&B. Savor the renowned walleye at Sutphen’s Tavern by Lake Geneva.

2. Elkhart Lake

Elkhart Lake

Nestled in the heart of Wisconsin’s glacier-carved landscape, Elkhart Lake transports you to a quaint European village. Stroll along the Victorian-style shops and restaurants downtown or visit the Osthoff Resort for lake activities. Race enthusiasts can tour the Road America track. In July, enjoy the Elkhart Lake Festival of Pipes and Drums.

Recommended – Stay at the Victorian Village Resort on the shores of Elkhart Lake. Try the famous hot ham & rolls at Paddock Club.

3. Stockholm


This tiny town along the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin packs a lot for its size. Browse the art galleries, wineries, shops, and eateries that fill the historic buildings in downtown Stockholm. View the river scenery at the Maiden Rock Bluff State Natural Area or walk the trails at the Sand Lake Wetland Walk. Don’t miss the annual Stockholm Art Fair in June.

Recommended – Stay at the cozy Stockholm Pie and General Store Inn. Enjoy freshly baked goods at the Stockholm Pie & General Store.

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4. Fish Creek

Fish Creek

Located in Door County, Fish Creek offers quaint Victorian charm against a backdrop of stunning waterside beauty. Visit the cafes and boutique shops downtown or Peninsula Players Theatre. Explore Peninsula State Park on the bluffs overlooking Green Bay or hit Fish Creek Beach. Enjoy concerts in the park during the summer and the Harvest Festival in October.

Recommended – Stay at the lush grounds of the Founder’s Square Inn. Indulge in Door County fish boils at the now century-old Pelletier’s of Fish Creek.

5. Spring Green

In the rolling hills along the Wisconsin River, Spring Green is a Small Towns in Wisconsin oozing with creativity and arts. Tour the studio where architect Frank Lloyd Wright spent over 70 years designing his creations at Taliesin. Visit the eclectic House on the Rock filled with art collections, music machines, and more. Outdoor lovers can hike the trails along the river or visit the 1000-mound hiking area.

Recommended – Stay at the historic Spring Green Motel in the heart of downtown. Grab sandwiches and soups at Arcadia Books & Café.

6. Sister Bay

Sister Bay

Situated on the scenic shores of Sister Bay in Door County, this charming Small Towns in Wisconsin beckons visitors with its coastal location, galleries, shops, and restaurants. Walk the Sister Bay shore path or visit the local wineries. Join a tour and hike at Peninsula State Park or take a cruise on the bay to see Eagle Bluff Lighthouse.

Recommended – Stay at the family-owned Albion House Hotel in downtown Sister Bay. Enjoy whitefish at Pelletier’s of Fish Creek’s sister restaurant, Village Cafe.

7. Sheboygan


On the shores of Lake Michigan, Sheboygan is renowned for its plethora of cheeses, sausages, and beers. Learn about Sheboygan’s history at the Wade House Living History Museum or visit the Bookworm Gardens which showcases stories in flowers, herbs, and sculptures. Sheboygan is famous as the Bratwurst Capital of the World so don’t miss the Brat Days festival in August.

Recommended – Stay at Blue Harbor Resort overlooking Lake Michigan with amenities galore. Indulge in authentic cheeses and sausages at Formanek’s Meat Market downtown.

Outdoor Activities to Enjoy Small Towns in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s small towns allow you to immerse yourself in nature through endless outdoor recreation. Some activities you can enjoy across the state include:

Hiking – Try Lakeshore Path in Lake Geneva or Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek.
Biking – Try the Old Plank Road Trail near Sheboygan.
Boating – Canoeing, kayaking, sailing across the lakes and rivers. Try kayaking tours in Stockholm.
Fishing – You can try fishing at Elkhart Lake or Lake Superior near Bayfield.
Winter Sports – Skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling at nearby resorts or parks. It is recommended to try Granite Peak near Wausau.

Food and Drink

Wisconsin has plenty of farm-to-table restaurants, quirky diners, corner pubs, and shops selling cheese, chocolate, and other local treats. Ask locals for beloved eateries and food producers off the beaten path.

Shopping and Souvenirs

Browse small shops and art galleries for pottery, artwork, quilts, and other handcrafted gifts made locally. Don’t forget to take home some famous Wisconsin cheese and sausages too!

Travel Tips

Some tips to help plan your trip to Wisconsin
Rent a car to access the small towns and navigate between them easily.
Budget extra time when traveling between towns – they are spread out throughout the state.
Some activities like boat cruises or museum tours require advance booking.
Fall and spring are less crowded. Summer and winter holidays are busy tourist seasons.
Stop at local visitor centers to get maps and activity recommendations.

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