Lighthouse at Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Pierhead in Door County, Wisconsin.

10 Coolest Towns in Wisconsin for a Summer Vacation in 2024

The majestic state of Wisconsin, tucked between Minnesota and the Great Lakes, is home to some of the most exhilarating locales in the United States, including the Wisconsin Dells and Lambeau Field. Yet this state of just under six million people is also home to a plethora of small towns that are just as spectacular as those big city attractions. Not counting all of the activities that can be enjoyed on the banks of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, here are ten of the coolest towns in Wisconsin, from Cedarburg to Eagle River, for that ideal summer vacation in 2024.


Aerial view of downtown Cedarburg Wisconsin.
Aerial view of downtown Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

Located twenty miles north of Milwaukee, the town of Cedarburg is home to many attractions that make it perfect for that summer vacation with the family. The Cedarburg Covered Bridge, first constructed in 1876, the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, running from Cedar Creek to Mequon, and the Cedarburg History Museum, detailing Cedarburg’s illustrious past, offers a true blend of the natural and historical. There are several places in Cedarburg to pick up some local fare, like the Farmstead and Anvil Pub & Grill, and several lodging choices, like the Washington House Inn and the Stagecoach Inn. Both the Washington House Inn and the Stagecoach Inn offer easy walking access to most of Cedarburg’s summer festivals, including Maxwell Street Days and Cedarburg’s own Fourth of July parade.

Stevens Point

Iverson Park in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
Iverson Park in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

The town of Stevens Point, located a hundred miles west of Green Bay, is perhaps best known for its close proximity to nature at its finest. This quaint yet exciting town, situated in Portage County, is home to several parks, including Lake Emily County Park and Iverson Park, a variety of nature trails, including Green Circle Trail and Tomorrow River State Trail, and various other outdoor recreational themes, like fishing, horseback riding, and bird watching. Stevens Point also has a variety of great places to spend a night, the weekend, or even the entire week. Dreams of Yesteryear Bed & Breakfast, located on Brawley Street, is only a short distance from downtown Stevens Point and the Wisconsin River.


The City Hall building in Columbus, Wisconsin.
The City Hall building in Columbus, Wisconsin.

Located in Columbia County, the town of Columbus supports approximately five thousand permanent residents. Yet, this does not stop this small town, situated a few miles west of Cedarburg and Milwaukee, from possessing several attributes that cater to a great summer vacation. The Columbus Antique Mall and the downtown Historic District of Columbus bring a keen sense of the town’s heritage. At the same time, Rotary Park, Fireman’s Park, and Meister Park provide an avid taste of nature. There is even a variety of tastes and flavors in the town of Columbus, especially in the summertime, when eating outside is a must. Jardin at Robinia Courtyard offers outdoor dining during the summer and a menu offering various cuisines.

New Glarus

Downtown New Glarus, Wisconsin. Image Credit Erwin Widmer via Shutterstock
Downtown New Glarus, Wisconsin. Image Credit Erwin Widmer via Shutterstock

The town of New Glarus, located in Green County and with a population of a little over two thousand people, is also home to several natural, historical, and cultural attractions that keep visitors coming back every summer. Along with Badger State Trail and the New Glarus State Park, New Glarus is well known for its old-world architecture, its heritage all the way from Switzerland, and the plethora of events and festivals held there every summer. The New Glarus Polkafest in June and the New Glarus Oktoberfest in September are perhaps the two most popular. Plus, the sixth annual New Glarus Blues, Brews, and Food Trucks is held at the end of June.


The old, historic downtown section of Mazomanie, Wisconsin
The old, historic downtown section of Mazomanie, Wisconsin

Located in Dane County, just outside of Madison, the town of Mazomanie is a haven for summer activities and festivals. A 4th of July festival, a parade, and a Cornhole tournament are held every year, the Gandy Dancer Bluegrass Festival takes place every August, and there are several free outside concerts in and near town all summer long. Plus, Mazomanie offers dining and lodging options, including the Old Feed Mill, Gordon’s, and Walking Iron Bed & Breakfast. Also, Cedar Hills Campground is located in Mazomanie and Witwen Park & Campground is in nearby Witwen. There are even a couple of options for the kids, including Hoofbeat Ridge Camp, a horseback riding day camp for girls ages eight to thirteen and boys ages eight and nine.


The world's largest muskie, at the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame
The world's largest muskie, at the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward.

Situated in Sawyer County, just off the northwestern bank of Lake Hayward, the pastoral town of Hayward, with less than three thousand permanent residents, is a hidden gem to those who visit during the summer. The American Birkebeiner Trail, the Hayward Town Forest, and Squirrel Island all offer a touch of nature. At the same time, those who are more indoorsy can enjoy Park Theatre and Sawyer County Historical Society, which showcases the history of Hayward and Sawyer County as a whole. There are also several places to stay overnight, through the weekend, or even for an entire week. Grand Pines Resort, Treeland Resort, and Angler’s Haven Resort all offer a nice blend of the historical and modern to friends and family alike.

Sturgeon Bay

Overlooking Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.
Overlooking Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

The quaint, idyllic town of Sturgeon Bay in Door County is situated in the middle of a peninsula that continues to Sister Bay and then extends out into the deep waters of Lake Michigan. As there are many outdoor activities and amenities available in Sturgeon Bay, there is no end to the fun and excitement that can be enjoyed in this part of Wisconsin. Several parks, like Cove Point County Park and Whitefish Dunes State Park, in and near Sturgeon Bay, keep visitors coming back every summer. Plus, as could be expected, Lake Michigan supplies local restaurants, like Waterfront Mary’s, Bluefront Cafe, and Greystone Castle, with the freshest fish possible.


Ringling Theater, the home of Ringling Brothers Circus in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Editorial credit: lynn friedman /
Ringling Theater, the home of Ringling Brothers Circus in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Editorial credit: lynn friedman /

Just below the Wisconsin Dells, the town of Baraboo is perhaps known best for being the hometown of the Ringling Brothers, as well as the home of the Circus World Museum, which showcases the largest collection of circus artifacts in the world. Baraboo is also home to a variety of outdoor attractions that are not circus-related. Devil’s Lake State Park, five miles south of town, Mirror Lake State Park, ten miles north, and Ochsner Park Zoo are all well worth a visit. Mirror Lake State Park and Devil’s Lake State Park offer overnight camping. Ochsner Park Zoo, which hosts Zoo Crew Days every June, allows for an even closer interaction with residents of the Zoo, including the Bald Eagle, the Canada Lynx, and the North American River Otter.

Mineral Point

High Street, Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Image credit JeremyA, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
High Street, Mineral Point, Wisconsin.

To the southwest of Baraboo, the quaint town of Mineral Point, home to less than three thousand people, is another spot perfect for a summertime family vacation. Home to their own Railroad Museum, showcasing a railroad depot built in 1856, and their own Opera House, dedicated in 1915, Mineral Point is most definitely steeped in a rich history. Yet this town within Iowa County, Wisconsin, is also home to a variety of artistic attractions, like Wantoot, showcasing handmade Native American Art and Brewery Pottery, possessing a working pottery studio and gallery. There are also several choices for lodging, including the Jones Mansion and Serenity Cottage, both located in close proximity to downtown Mineral Point.

Eagle River

Street view in Eagle River, Wisconsin
Street view in Eagle River, Wisconsin

Surrounded by a wide variety of lakes, including Eagle, Sunset, Boot, and Carpenter, the town of Eagle River in Vilas County is a summertime watersport extravaganza. Yet, this is not the only family fun in and around this picturesque town. Every summer, thousands of people flock to this town of just over fifteen hundred permanent residents for some of the most exhilarating events and festivals, including BeerFest in the beginning of June, the 4th of July, the Burger Bash towards the end of July, and the Antique Motorcycle show in August. Eagle River also has great food and lodging choices, like Leif’s Cafe, the Friendship House, Wild Eagle Lodge, and A1 Gypsy Villa Resort.

So, whether you are looking for a cooling summer vacation for the entire family or searching for the coolest summer vacation to spend with a group of close friends, the ten small towns listed above have everything you need. From easy access to nearby lakes and rivers to festivals and events planned for this summer, from camping and hiking in state and county parks to entertaining the kids with fun and exciting activities, the state of Wisconsin is a haven for outdoor summer activities.

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