A historic mill in Cedarburg, Wisconsin showcasing beautiful architecture.

These 8 Towns in Wisconsin Have Beautiful Architecture

Wisconsin is home to numerous destinations teeming with strong architectural appeal. While major cities like Milwaukee and Madison attract much attention with modern and imposing buildings, smaller communities across the state also showcase beautiful designs from the eras gone by. They offer picturesque blends of historic structures alongside modern infrastructure that will intrigue any newcomer.

From scenic enclaves along Lake Michigan to charming settlements on the banks of the Mississippi River, each of these locations boasts well-preserved commercial districts and historic homes showcasing the Badger State's evolution through the years. For those seeking a charming place with character, these little-known towns in Wisconsin deserve exploration for their attractive architectural qualities.

New Glarus

The Swiss United Church of Christ in New Glarus, Wisconsin.
The historic Swiss United Church of Christ in New Glarus, Wisconsin. Editorial credit: Aaron of L.A. Photography / Shutterstock.com

Popularly referred to as "America's Little Switzerland," New Glarus is steeped in European heritage, originating from the Swiss immigrants who settled in the town in the mid-1800s. A stroll through downtown reveals several aspects of this rich Swiss roots in the form of unique architecture, delicious cuisine, and captivating traditions. The Chalet of the Golden Fleece Museum presents an interesting look into local history, tradition, and art through diverse artifacts housed inside a beautiful Swiss-style structure. Tourists can immerse in an authentic cultural experience by sampling traditional pastries at the New Glarus Bakery or savoring sumptuous full-course meals at the Glarner Stube Swiss restaurant.

Multiple recreational opportunities await at the New Glarus Woods State Park. Boasting more than 400 acres of raw wilderness, the sprawling nature area invites campers, hikers, picnickers, and other adventurers for a remarkable time in the great outdoors.


The Cedarburg Covered Bridge in Wisconsin.
The 1876 Cedarburg Covered Bridge across Cedar Creek in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

This postcard-worthy town in Ozaukee County makes for a lovely weekend getaway from Milwaukee, thanks to its small-town atmosphere and beautiful architecture. With a legacy dating back to 1885, the town harbors a quaint historic district with one of the most impressive clusters of 19th-century structures in the United States. Visitors can get an insightful perspective of the town's past at the Cedarburg History Museum or explore local culture with a tour of the Cedarburg Cultural Center. The downtown neighborhood also harbors a bustling craft brewery and winery scene, with several establishments allowing travelers to sample the best local creations, including Rebellion Brewing USA and Cedar Creek Winery.

Outside the town center, guests can visit the Cedarburg Covered Bridge to get a rare look at Wisconsin's covered bridge architecture. The historical landmark was built in 1876 across Cedar Creek and is one of the most photographed sites in the town.

Mineral Point

Historic buildings along Mineral Point's main street in Wisconsin.
Historic buildings lining the main street in Mineral Point, Wisconsin.

Mineral Point owes much of its existence to the rich lead and zinc deposits discovered in the town during the 19th century. It quickly became a vital mining center and was one of the country's most important lead-producing areas. Today, walking through town reveals a pleasant historic district dominated by limestone buildings from the mid-1800s, currently housing a mix of restaurants, museums, and boutiques. Notable historical sites in the town include the Mineral Point Railroad Museum, an 1850s stone depot with a cluster of artifacts depicting Mineral Point's mining and railroad heritage.

Meanwhile, the Mineral Point Opera House provides a taste of the bustling local art scene in an elegantly restored building from the early 1900s, where the public meets to enjoy entertaining theatrical performances. Finally, the gorgeous Orchard Lawn is a must-visit, representing classic Italianate architecture, set on an expansive 9-acre property.

Prairie du Chien

The Villa Louis National Historic Landmark in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
The Villa Louis National Historic Landmark in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Editorial credit: Carrie A Hanrahan / Shutterstock.com

One of the oldest towns in Wisconsin, Prairie du Chien sits along the beautiful banks of the Mississippi River, offering a delightful mix of small-town charm and historic significance. French fur traders established the town in the late 17th century, cementing a rich legacy evidenced by a collection of historical landmarks within its limits. Among these is St. Feriole Island Park, which was the site of the historic Battle of Prairie du Chien. Today, it provides exciting outdoor opportunities like baseball fields and swings across its 240-acre expanse. Prairie du Chien also has a couple of kid-friendly attractions that make it an excellent destination for those traveling with family, including Prairie Fun Land.

Meanwhile, the Mississippi River Sculpture Park allows people to mix their love for the arts with that of the outdoors. It features an evocative display of intricate bronze sculptures scattered across its green lawns. The atmosphere is chill and perfect for lazy strolls while admiring beautiful art pieces.

Port Washington

Coastal view of Port Washington, Wisconsin.
View of buildings along Lake Michigan in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

Steeped in maritime heritage, this laidback community in Ozaukee County houses a bustling downtown district with several historic buildings showcasing unique Art Deco and Victorian architecture. It hosts Judge Eghart House, a 19th-century Victorian mansion that hints at middle-class life in old-day Port Washington. Another important landmark in the town is the Port Washington 1860 Light Station, a picturesque Greek Revival lighthouse perched on a bluff overlooking downtown, with exquisite views of Lake Michigan.

History aside, Port Washington grants visitors generous opportunities to get on the water and revel in the beautiful lake atmosphere. Beachgoers often converge at Port Washington South Beach Park to take advantage of sunbathing and swimming opportunities. Furthermore, the Port Washington Avian Sanctuary invites enthusiasts to admire different shorebird species in a secluded and tranquil outdoor space.


View of downtown Rhinelander, Wisconsin.
View of the Oneida County Courthouse in downtown Rhinelander, Wisconsin. By Royalbroil - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons.

Nicknamed the "Ice Fishing Capital of the World," Rhinelander presents year-round angling adventures in the multiple lakes in its territory. However, many overlook the town’s various museum attractions, including the Pioneer Park Historical Complex. This open-air living history museum has several historical structures representing old life in the town. Rhinelander is also home to the Chicago and North Western Passenger Depot, which offers a look at local railway heritage and charms visitors with its Romanesque Revival architectural style from the 19th century.

Those traveling with kids can find remarkable family-friendly pursuits at Rouman Cinema, which screens the latest movies while offering different concession options. For the outdoorsy traveler, a slow-paced walk alongside your furry friend at the Shepard Dog Park presents one of the best ways to spend time in the open spaces.


Aerial view of Hudson, Wisconsin during the winter.
Aerial view of Hudson, Wisconsin during the winter season.

Hudson's storied beginnings go way back to 1840 when Louis Massey and his brother-in-law settled in the area. Its strategic riverside location made it a hub of activities, a legacy that can be seen in historical markers like the Octagon House Museum. Inside this stucco-made 19th-century mansion, guests can take guided tours with glimpses of period furnishings, art, and other memorabilia showcasing life at the time. Even those passing often stop to adore the distinct Greek Revival and Octagon Mode architectural style. Meanwhile, a vibrant local art scene allows tourists to enjoy various stage performances at the Phipps Center for the Arts, which not only captivates with its live shows but also has a beautiful facade.

A rich mix of nature spaces and parklands makes Hudson a destination for outdoor enthusiasts. This is best represented by the over 2,800-acre Willow River State Park. With miles of scenic hiking trails, adventurers can immerse in the great outdoors and discover natural gems like the Willow Falls, tumbling in a 200-foot-deep gorge.


Rustic buildings in Pepin, Wisconsin.
Rustic buildings in the business district of Pepin, Wisconsin. By Iulus Ascanius at English Wikipedia - Own work, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons.

This small waterfront community in Pepin County offers visitors a slice of Midwestern heaven, with wide open spaces inviting you to revel in a secluded and serene atmosphere. The town boasts a slew of historical places offering a look into its colorful past, such as the Pepin Depot Museum. Housed inside this modest 19th-century structure is a collection of artifacts chronicling Pepin's history and steamboat culture. Pepin also allows oenophiles a chance to sample freshly crafted wines at establishments like the Villa Belleza Winery & Vineyards, known for its Italian variations. When not discovering local history or tasting the town's wines, you can embrace the various aquatic opportunities in the town with a visit to Pepin Marina. Besides soaking in spectacular vistas from the shores of the Mississippi River, this an excellent opportunity to get on the water courtesy of local outfitters like Sail Pepin.

Whether visiting a small river town or a peaceful lakefront village, each of these destinations in Wisconsin showcases the state's rich architectural heritage. Their historic districts transport visitors back in time to see styles representing various economic boom periods, from early timber and manufacturing to shipbuilding and commerce. Despite remarkable development over time, preserving these glimpses of the past ensures residents and tourists alike can appreciate the Badger State's architectural evolution. Exploring their well-preserved neighborhoods offers a fascinating window into Wisconsin's history.

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