There’s no denying that Wisconsin is one of the most beautiful states in the entire country, and Milwaukee is lucky to be in a spot where access to our stunning state parks and forests is quick and easy! With a lovely lake to our east, rolling glacial plains to the west, and fantastics forests all around us, we can explore the incredible natural landscapes that make our state so special without wasting days getting there. In fact, these nine amazing state parks and forests are all within 100 miles of Milwaukee and offer terrific activities and adventures for when you just need a day away from the city. We’ve listed them out by distance, so it’s easy to pick how far you want to go!
1. Lakeshore State Park
You don't even need to leave the city to explore one of the most beautiful coastlines in the land. Sometimes we take for granted how amazing our views of Lake Michigan are. When you need a quick pick-me-up but don't have time for an all-out adventure, stop to soak in the sights and appreciate how lucky we are to see them every single day!
Lakeshore State Park is located at 500 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI.
2. Havenwoods State Forest
Havenwoods State Forest is another awesome spot right here in the city! Between the grasslands, woodlands, wetlands, and gardens, there's a little bit of everything to enjoy here. This 237-acre protected area has tons of trails to explore and a fantastic arboretum that provides a little natural oasis in the middle of the urban environment.
Havenwoods State Forest is located at 6141 N Hopkins St, Milwaukee, WI.
3. Kettle Moraine State Forest - Lapham Peak Unit
Kettle Moraine State Forest is absolutely unbelievable. It's also enormous, which can make it hard to pick where to visit when you are choosing from so many amazingly beautiful areas. If you head just 27 miles west of Milwaukee, you'll find the Lapham Peak Unit, which is filled with 25 miles of paved and unpaved trails for hikers and bikers, campsites, picnic areas and, of course, beautiful views from Lapham Peak.
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Lapham Peak Unit is located along Kettle Moraine Scenic Dr., Delafield, WI. Check out this
to see all of the amazing places to explore in the area.
4. Kettle Moraine State Forest - Pike Lake Unit
Just east of Hartford and 25 miles north of Milwaukee, the Kettle Moraine State Forest - Pike Lake Unit offers an equally stunning spot to explore. There are nine different trails in this portion of the Kettle Moraine State Forest with 2.5 miles of ski trails that are groomed during the winter months. In the warmer seasons, Pike Lake is an awesome place to spend a day on the water. Toss out a line and try to pull in a few pike or walleye for dinner or spend the day splashing at the swimming beaches. You can even bring your furry friends (as long as they stay on leash)!
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Pike Lake Unit is located at 3544 Kettle Moraine Rd, Hartford, WI.
5. Harrington Beach State Park
If you are looking for stunning lake views, but want to get outside of the city, head to Harrington Beach State Park. It's only 35 miles north of Milwaukee and has 702 acres of beautiful natural areas to explore. It's a super popular spot to go camping during the summer and has some great areas for kayaking and canoeing along the shore. The park is open year round for hikers, skiers, snowshoers, and snowmobilers and has seven miles of trails to tackle. Pack a picnic to enjoy on the beach or bring your camping gear along for an overnight stay. There are tons of ways to have fun at Harrington Beach!
Harrington Beach State Park is located at 531 County Road D, Belgium, WI. Here's a
to check out for more info.
6. Aztalan State Park
Aztalan State Park is a truly unique spot located just 50 miles west of Milwaukee. The park is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a U.S. National Landmark due to its most stunning feature: the remnants of an ancient settlement that includes unique man-made mounds thought to have been used for religious and cultural purposes by a Mississippian tribe between 900 - 1300 A.D.
There are three incredible mounds on site, as well as a reconstructed stockade wall made from vertically-positioned logs that once surrounded the settlement. Amazing artifacts have been discovered here, including items made from copper mined in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and shells from the Gulf of Mexico that suggest that the people who once populated the area had an active, expansive trade network.
Aztalan State Park is located off of County Rd Q, just south of I-94 near Lake Mills, WI.
7. Kohler-Andrae State Park
Kohler-Andrae State Park is about 52 miles north of Milwaukee and two miles south of Sheboygan. There are several miles of Lake Michigan beaches and natural sand dunes with five different hiking trails to explore. The wooden Cordwalk that winds through coastline woods, wetlands, and the rolling dunes is especially cool and offers the opportunity to see many different species of plants and animals that live in this beautiful wildlife refuge.
Kohler-Andrae State Park is located at 1020 Beach Park Ln, Sheboygan, WI.
8. Big Foot Beach State Park
This beautiful beach on Lake Geneva has some of the clearest water in the state and 6.5 miles of trails winding along the shoreline and through wetlands, forests, and meadows. There are 100 campsites here, which makes it an excellent spot for a weekend getaway! There are picnic areas, swimming areas, and fishing spots all around the lovely little Ceylon Lagoon, which is particularly stunning at sunset. The lagoon is also a wonderfully calm spot to canoe and kayak, and there are several spots to rent equipment in the area!
Big Foot Beach State Park is located at 1452 S Wells St, Lake Geneva, WI.
9. Point Beach State Forest
Point Beach State Forest is the furthest point from home; it's located two miles north of Two Rivers and right on the edge of our 100-mile limit for this list. Although it takes about an hour and a half to get here, we couldn't bear to leave it off the list... it's just too darn pretty. The 2,903-acre state forest actually includes three different state natural areas; Wilderness Ridge, Two Creeks Buried Forest, and the Point Beach Ridges. Point Beach State Forest is home to several different protected species of plants and animals and there are tons of opportunities to catch a glimpse of them along the 17 miles of hiking and nature trails. Don't miss the picturesque Rawley Point Lighthouse at the north end of the beach!
Point Beach State Forest is located at 9400 County Rd O, Two Rivers, WI.
Whether you’re looking for a quick day trip or a weekend adventure, there are countless natural areas to peruse in the Milwaukee area. There is always something new to see or do at these beautiful state parks and forests, and with so many options so close to home, there’s no excuse NOT to get out and explore!