Traveling to Wisconsin and want to enjoy some time by the water? Cool off at some of the best beaches in Milwaukee, WI!
Poised on the banks of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is one of the Midwest’s most surprising destinations for a beach vacation. With lakeside resorts offering water sports, activities, and trails to enjoy, there’s plenty for beach-goers to enjoy in & around Wisconsin’s largest city.
Ready for a summer adventure in the sun? Grab your swimsuit and sandals, and dart over to these top-rated Milwaukee beaches!
Looking for more vacation ideas? Check out all our other beach guides along with our Wisconsin Travel Guide for more ideas on where to go, when to visit & what to do!
Top-rated Milwaukee beaches
Looking for a popular beach in the heart of the city? Bradford Beach is a mile-long stretch of beautiful sand along Lake Michigan in Milwaukee’s North Point neighborhood.
Relax, swim, or even surf at this lifeguarded urban beach. Bradford Beach is the only guarded beach in Milwaukee County; if you’re traveling to Wisconsin with kiddos in tow, it might be the ideal spot.
With a large parking lot and a generous beachside restroom, you’ll find all the amenities you’ve come to expect from the city’s urban beaches.
As one of the more popular beaches in Milwaukee, Bradford Beach can get busy at peak times, like the summer months. Grab your family and friends and head down early to get a prime spot for the entire day!
South Shore Park
Want a beach with more going on than just sand and water? Grab the whole gang and visit South Shore Park, just 10 minutes south of the city center.
With outstanding views of Downtown Milwaukee, South Shore Park offers a ton of green space and a playground for kiddos to roam and explore. Hit the trails or wander down to South Shore Beach for some fun on the water.
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Once you’ve had your fill of the sunshine and fun, refuel at the South Shore Terrace Kitchen & Beer Garden. Perfect for hanging out with friends or grabbing a bite to eat with the family before returning to the beach or city, the beer garden is always a hub of activity.
Just down the coast from Bradford Beach, around the corner from McKinley Marina off North Lincoln Memorial Drive, you’ll find McKinley Beach.
Named after President McKinley, the beach spans over 700 square feet of sand; you’ll find plenty of space here for all your lakeside activities. Separate from the waterfront, you can enjoy plenty of green spaces and picnic areas surrounding McKinley Beach and wander around the neighboring marina.
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Due to dangerous rip currents, McKinley Beach tends to be quieter than neighboring Bradford Beach. (NOTE: The beach is currently undergoing a safety investigation; check online to see if it’s open before you travel.)
Looking for some of the most beautiful sunrise views in Milwaukee? Look no further than Atwater Park, home to Atwater Beach. Spanning five acres, Atwater Park is a great place to spend the day with family and friends or simply explore this beautiful Milwaukee beach on your own.
Located just off Lake Drive, where you’ll find plenty of parking, Atwater Park offers more than just a sandy shoreline; the beach park is also home to a series of beautiful and thought-provoking art installations. Leisurely peruse the artwork, set against the stunning backdrop of Lake Michigan.
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It’s worth noting that you’ll need to descend 50 steps from Lake Drive to the sandy beach; if you have accessibility needs, you may want to consider visiting other beaches around Milwaukee.
Ready to kick back and relax in South Milwaukee? Set your sights on Grant Park, home to a host of outdoor activities and the beautiful sands of Grant Park Beach.
Want to stretch your legs and enjoy a hike? Meander along the variety of exciting hiking trails through the woodlands, around ravines, and across wooden bridges. Grant Park is perfect for explorers of any age!
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Looking to hit the links? Play a quick round 18-hole golf course before you take a dip in the lake, or lay back and relax on the warm, soft sand.
Racine North Beach
Want a family-friendly beach environment with plenty of great excursions nearby? Head south from Milwaukee to Racine and lay on the sands of Racine North Beach.
With 50 acres of glorious soft sand and tranquil lake water, Racine North Beach is a favorite among families. It’s got a ton of space and a quieter vibe compared to the Milwaukee city center beaches.
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Work up a sweat on one of the sand volleyball courts, relax and read in the sunshine, or marvel at exotic animals at Racine Zoo, located just off the North end of the beach. It’s truly a perfect day out if you’re traveling to Wisconsin with kiddos in tow!
Lake Geneva Public Beach
Got time for a day trip? Pack your swimmers and dive in at Lake Geneva Public Beach, an hour southwest of Milwaukee.
A paid beach, Lake Geneva is beautifully maintained. It’s an ideal spot for the entire family, with clearly designated areas for swimming, sunbathing, and other beachfront activities. Just steps from the gorgeous town, you’ll be able to access all the amenities and food & drink that you’ll need for a perfect beach day.
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Take a stroll down the nearby Riviera Pier and soak up expansive views of Lake Geneva; it’s particularly spectacular at sunset!
Harrington Beach State Park
Looking for a full day of outdoor recreation? Check out Harrington Beach State Park, filled to the brim with fun activities to suit all ages and traveler styles.
Located in the town of Belgium between Milwaukee and Sheboygan, this Wisconsin state park is home to a stunning sand beach, a biodiverse cedar swamp, and even a stone quarry lake that’s perfect for hiking around and exploring.
Want to find a spot to sit quietly and cast a line while the rest of the family splash around in the lake? Fishing is permitted at Harrington Beach State Park, as are small watercraft.
One day not enough for you? You’ll find RV parking and shoreline campsites reserved for kayakers.
Need a secluded and windswept spot to wander and enjoy nature? Located at Fox Point in northeastern Milwaukee County, you’ll find Doctors Park, home to the wild Tietjen Beach.
Enjoy hiking along the paved trails and even sample the traveling beer garden that sets up camp here during the summer months. Once you arrive at Tietjen Beach, you’ll marvel at its wild nature. Often quiet and free of families, it’s the ideal spot to wander barefoot with your other half.
As you have to hike through Doctor’s Park to get to Tietjen Beach, many opt for more easily accessible roadside beaches. But for those willing to put in the effort, the beauty and serenity of Tietjen Beach is a worthy reward!
Big Foot Beach State Park
Wanting to indulge in a full weekend of outdoor fun in the heart of Wisconsin? Visit Big Foot Beach State Park, pitch a tent with your friends or family, and head to the beach.
With five miles of hiking trails, a beautiful beach on the banks of Lake Geneva, and plenty of picnic areas, Big Foot Beach State Park is a nature lover’s paradise. Surrounded by trees and wildlife, you’ll love escaping the hustle and bustle of Milwaukee at this Wisconsin state park.
The best part? Big Foot Beach State Park’s sandy shores are swimmer safe, so you can paddle and dunk until your heart’s content here.
Want to feel like you’re in some far-off bay without leaving Wisconsin? Grab your other half or your friends and journey down to Klode Park.
Located in the crystal clear waters of Whitefish Bay, Klode Park Beach is a small but beautifully maintained lakeside haven. With a fairly steep ramp down from the largely free parking on Lake Drive, the park lets you enjoy gorgeous, panoramic vistas across Whitefish Bay.
Want to work up a sweat? Hit the ball around on one of the multiple tennis courts around the park. Once you’ve had a game (or three), wander down to the lakefront for a cool, refreshing dip before packing up your gear and heading back to the city.
Big Bay Park
Just around the corner, along Whitefish Bay from Klode Park, lies Big Bay Park. With some of the finest sunrise views in the lakes awaiting, it’s well worth getting up early to sip a coffee and watch the horizon get illuminated by the rising sun.
Bringing kiddos or a furry friend with you? Big Bay Park prides itself on being both family- and pet-friendly. Bring Fido along and let them have a refreshing plunge in Lake Michigan as you kick back and relax on the shores.
While the beach at Big Bay Park isn’t the biggest on this list, it’s often not too crowded, unlike others in the area. If you arrive early enough, you should be able to snag yourself a prime spot.
Looking to get your thrills while enjoying a day at the beach? Inject some fun into your beach day experience at Bender Park.
Home to plenty of exciting and varied hiking trails, Bender Park welcomes hikers, mountain bikers, and anyone looking to get lost in nature. Follow the namesake Bender Park Hiking Trail all the way from the parking lot through the woodland to the beautiful and, often crowd-less, Bender Beach.
Ideal for families, Bender Park offers the chance to rent jet skis, paddleboards, and other watersport equipment right on the beachfront. In its secluded bay, you can keep an eye on everything and everyone while still being able to relax and enjoy some much-needed downtime.
Bay View Park
Wanting to visit a Milwaukee beach in one of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods? Located in the Bay View area, the eponymous Bay View Park is a favorite among tourists and locals alike.
Popular with local joggers or cyclists heading along the lakefront, Bay View Park has tons of beautiful green space and even more sumptuous sand to lie back and relax on. From the park, you’ll also marvel at incredible panoramic views of the downtown Milwaukee skyline.
In the Bay View neighborhood, you’re within walking distance of many independent cafes, bars, and restaurants; it’s perfect for when you need a break from the sun or want supplies for a picnic.
Spending a day out at Lac La Belle? Base yourself in the town of Oconomowoc and spend the day at City Beach.
If you want to try out any watersports, City Beach has ample launch spots for boats, waterskiing, and much, much more. With lifeguards patrolling this family-friendly beach, you can let your little rugrats run and play with peace of mind.
Looking for sporting endeavors on dry land? Take advantage of the beach volleyball courts with your friends, or let your kiddos loose on the jungle gym.
With so many amenities and located in the heart of Oconomowoc, City Beach is a great day out for the whole family. You’ll also be close to plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars in town to refuel, as well as stores for your picnicking needs.
Searching for a park with beautiful foliage, outstanding natural features, and ample fishing opportunities? Lace up your hiking shoes, grab your fishing rod, and beeline for Menomonee Park.
Home to the iconic and awe-inspiring Menomonee Falls, Menomonee Park is the perfect getaway for nature lovers. Wander along the many hiking trails, soaking up views of Trout Lake and the surrounding woodland along an old railroad track. Looking for the beach? You’ll find a secluded strip of sand along Lannon Lake, a quarry lake that’s suitable for swimming.
Planning on bringing Fido with you? Please note that while dogs are allowed in Menomonee Park, they’re not permitted on the beach or in the designated swimming area.
Kohler-Andrae State Park
Heading up the Wisconsin coast towards Sheboygan? Stop off at the Kohler-Andrae State Park just before you hit Sheboygan.
On the well-maintained wooden trails snaking throughout the sand dunes towards the lakeside beach, keep an eye out for local wildlife. Stop by the park’s nature center to get informed before relaxing by the calm and clear waters of the beautiful Lake Michigan.
With so much to see & do at Kohler-Andrae State Park, you might want to stay the night—and you can at their on-site campsite!