We spend a lot of time telling you about all the wonderful hikes to be found here in Wisconsin, but hiking isn’t for everyone. That doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the breathtaking natural beauty Wisconsin has to offer. These spots are easy to access, with just a short distance from the parking lot giving you spectacular views. These spots don’t require special shoes, hiking, snacks or anything more than getting yourself there to enjoy them.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Cornucopia Beach/Lake Superior
Tons of people will head up to this area to take off and explore the Apostle Islands. While we suggest doing that, too, make sure you take the time to slow down and appreciate our access to the largest of the Great Lakes. Cornucopia is a small, charming little town where you can make it to the beach in just steps from the main street. It's a slowed down little spot with all kinds of great views and some of the best sunsets anywhere. One of the best views is right behind Ehler's General Store, located at 88545 Superior Ave., Cornucopia, WI 54827.
2. Interstate State Park Glacial Potholes
Maybe the most unique and stunning area you'll ever walk, this is the western terminus of the 1,200-mile National Scenic Ice Age Trail and the most geologically unique trail in the park. It includes scenic views of the Dalles of the St. Croix River gorge. Walk atop Old Man of the Dalles rock formation past world famous potholes formed by glacial meltwaters. These aren't the street potholes you're imagining; they are the biggest and deepest potholes in the world and they reach up to 60 feet into billion-year-old rock. Located at I-35, St Croix Falls, WI 54024.
3. Niagara Escarpment/Cave Point County Park
The coolest, most underrated bit of Wisconsin natural beauty is the Niagara Escarpment, a 440-million-year-old ledge that extends from here more than 1,000 miles to New York and creates Niagara Falls. It shows up a few places prominently in Wisconsin and one of the easiest to see parts is right here along the Lake Michigan coast in Door County. These are limestone cliffs that were once an ancient sea bed. There's a parking lot that gives you access to this little cove where you can see not only the beauty of Lake Michigan, but this ancient wonder, as well. Located at 5360 Schauer Rd., Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235.
4. Niagara Escarpment/Lake Winnebago/High Cliff State Park
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High Cliff is a great park because roads through the park take you right down to the beach as well as up to the top of the 30-foot cliffs. This is another exposure of the Niagara Escarpment in Wisconsin, though it looks a bit different than the sea cliffs in Door County. Short walks will take you through old limestone quarries and there's also an observation tower right at the edge of the parking lot, up top. You can access so much of this park within a short distance of parking and see effigy mounds and billion-year-old rock. Lake Winnebago is the largest lake located entirely in the state of Wisconsin, covering an area about 10 miles wide by 30 miles long. Located at N7630 State Park Rd., Sherwood, WI 54169.
5. Cascade Falls
This gorgeous little spot is located right in the middle of downtown Osceola. Just steps off of Cascade Street, you can take your time enjoying the beautiful waterfall before walking through the charming streets of this small town on the Wisconsin/Minnesota border. The falls are right there for you to see. The 25-foot waterfall is precisely how and why Osceola was founded here back in 1886. When you head into town, you'll find some of the original buildings from that time still standing. The waterfall once supported a mill and a brewery. The approximate address for Cascade Falls and the Wilkie Glen access point is 101 N Cascade St., Osceola, WI 54020.
6. Buena Vista Park/Mississippi River Valley
This is the state's largest natural balcony overlooking the Mississippi River. Buena Vista Park offers sweeping panoramic views up and down the Mississippi River and across to Minnesota. The bluff sits 500 feet above the town of Alma below and can be a great spot to see herons and eagles. It's a wonderful picnic spot and there are even grills if you want to get fancy.
Buena Vista Park is located at the end of Buena Vista Road, off County Road E, Alma, WI 54610.
7. Mariner's Trail/LakeMichigan
This awesome paved trail that connects Manitowoc and Two Rivers is one of the best places to see the beauty of Lake Michigan. The path makes it very accessible and you'll find wonderful sunrises, calming waves and what feels like water stretching on forever. The trail is six miles long with parking all along, but the two trailheads are located at S. 8th St./US 10 and Maritime Dr. in Manitowoc and Memorial Dr./SR 42 and 12th St. in Two Rivers.
8. Horicon Marsh
Horicon Marsh is the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States. This area was created by a giant glacier. It was inhabited by Native Americans since at least 12,000 years ago. It was turned into a wildlife refuge in the 1920s. They have an incredible, 1400-foot-long boardwalk that makes you feel like you are walking on water. There are numerous hiking trails and you can even get out on the water in a boat. If you are interested in birds, this is the place to go. More than 300 species have been identified here. It is a great place to check out the bird migration. The visitor's center is located at N7725 Hwy 28, Horicon, WI 53032.
9. Montello Falls
A great spot for a picnic, you can sit across the quarry pond and view four different falls that were once rapids of the Montello River and now fall over granite into the quarry. This place is famously known for producing the materials of Grant’s Tomb in New York City. Located in Daggett Memorial Park 11-31 E Montello St., Montello, WI 53949
Enjoy some of the only sand dunes in Wisconsin; it's a short walk along boardwalks to get access to the wild dunes and then Lake Michigan. Not only is this a great no-hiking-required spot, but it's also an amazing adaptive location, offering adaptive equipment for people with mobility impairment including beach wheelchairs and a special beach trail. Located at 1020 Beach Park Ln, Sheboygan, WI 53081.