Sparsely populated with acres upon acres of farmland and forests, the midwestern U.S. state doesn’t draw visitors like some of the more tourist-courting states, but I honestly think Wisconsin is blessed with a quiet and understated beauty.
The rich, rolling landscapes and endless pine forests are extraordinary and dotted with tranquil blue lakes, deep valleys, imposing hills, and the odd brewery. Although it doesn’t always shout about them it’s home to some really remarkable beauty spots. Here are my favorite best and beautiful places to visit in Wisconsin…
1. Amnicon Falls State Park – one of the most stunning places to visit in Wisconsin perfect for a trip
Located in South Range, Amnicon Falls State Park boasts a total of four waterfalls. The river itself forks around an island, and there are two waterfalls on each side of that island.
Included in the park is an old covered bridge located in the lower falls area, which is definitely a sight to see, as well as the Snake Pit Falls, which many people use as a place to go skinny-dipping.
I would also recommend exploring the Now and Then Falls, which tends to change up a bit each time you visit it.
My must-do highlights of Amnicon Falls State Park
- Take a hike along the nature trails to enjoy the beautiful views overlooking the river.
- Discover the breathtaking waterfalls and be showered by the spray.
- Walk over the gorgeous bridge surrounded by scenic nature.
2. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – a unique beauty spot to explore in Wisconsin
Located in Bayfield, this area consists of a total of 21 different islands in the northern part of the state. Included in the beauty of the area are sandstone caves and historic, interesting lighthouses.
The caves themselves are much more eye-catching than you might think, thanks to their colorful designs. In fact, everything around this area of the state is phenomenal and unforgettable.
If you love nature, especially the water, you’ll love Apostle Islands because it offers everything you’ll appreciate about nature and even more. Easily one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin!
My must-do highlights of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
- Discover the magic inside the ice and sea caves.
- Hire a kayak to explore out on the waters and around the islands.
- Spend a unique night camping underneath the stars on one of the cliffside campgrounds.
3. Holy Hill – a strikingly beautiful hill and church and a photogenic landmark in Wisconsin
Located in Hubertus, Holy Hill is home to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians, but you don’t have to be a Christian or even a religious person to enjoy its magnificent beauty.
Set among the hills of Wisconsin near Milwaukee, the state building is gorgeous and something you will never forget once you see it.
During the fall months, it is one of the most photographed places in the state. Not only that, but Holy Hill is a great place to visit for people of all faiths because it offers the peace and tranquillity we all desire. A stunning beauty spot and a must-see place to visit in Wisconsin.
My must-do highlights of Holy Hill
- For those who love to golf, play a round at Erin Hills Golf Course.
- Visit the activities center to ensure you know all of the fun things to do.
- Climb 178 steps to witness some of the best picturesque views.
4. Dells Mill – a unique and scenic must-see attraction in Augusta
This is an old five-story grist mill found in Augusta and a charming place to explore in Wisconsin.
It was built a mere 16 years after Wisconsin became a state, in 1864, and it was at one point a place where farmers gathered to get all of their grinding done.
The building is still in good condition and it is a definite eye-catcher, just like the nearby dam that lends some uniqueness to the area. There is also a museum nearby, so when you visit Dells Mill, you’ll have a lot more to look at and enjoy than just the mill itself.
My must-do highlights of Dells Mill
- Uncover history at the treasure that is Dells Mill and Museum.
- Check out the outdoor activities located in Coon Fork Lake County Park.
- If you love to cycle, ride along the 21-miles round trip on Stage Coach Bicycle Route.
5. Door County – combines scenery, outdoor adventures, and beautiful shorelines with an arty vibe
Located in northeast Wisconsin, Door County is breathtaking in more ways than one. It looks like the small towns of yesteryear regardless of which season you visit, and it truly offers something for everyone.
The county covers from Cave Point County Park in Sturgeon Bay all the way to the famous Winding Road in Gills Rock and to Washington Island.
It is a great way to spend the day if natural beauty is what you enjoy seeing when you’re out touring different areas, in part because of the trees and unique buildings strewn about in the area.
My must-do highlights of Door Country
- Hire a boat and go out on the lake for some time in the sunshine.
- Go on a wine tour to taste the delicious flavors of local grapes.
- Discover Cana Island Lighthouse located north of Baileys Harbor.
6. Mirror Lake – a beautiful and tranquil lake to explore and stay
Located in Baraboo, you’ll understand this lake’s name as soon as you see it because the water is so spectacular that you can clearly see the reflections of the trees and everything else that surrounds it.
It isn’t just great for looking at, however, as you can also enjoy this lake and the area surrounding it to go boating, camping, and hiking, among other activities.
For people who love the outdoors and the miracle of nature, this is a lake you won’t want to miss while you’re visiting this great state.
My must-do highlights of Mirror Lake
- Go canoeing across the picturesque lake whilst being surrounded by breathtaking scenery.
- Book a night or two of camping in the nature at one of the campgrounds.
- Check out the array of hiking trails available and find the best one to suit you.
7. Pattison State Park – one of the best things to do for nature lovers and home to the highest waterfalls in Wisconsin
Wisconsin has dozens of state parks, and this one, which is located in the northwestern part of the state, is definitely one of the most beautiful spots to visit in Wisconsin.
The biggest attraction there is Big Manitou Falls, which is the tallest waterfall in the state of Wisconsin. Whether you want to have a picnic, go hiking, or just relax and enjoy some of the beauty of the area, Pattison State Park will never disappoint.
It is near the town of Superior and truly offers something for everyone.
My must-do highlights of Pattison State Park
- Discover the highest waterfall in Wisconsin and capture an Insta-worthy shot.
- Relax along the beach after a stroll around the gorgeous lake.
- Grab some delicious food at Manitou Inn Bar and Grill.
8. Vilas County – an area filled with scenic and beautiful sights perfect for vacations
Vilas County can be found in the north-central part of the state and contains a host of iconic towns such as Phelps, Eagle River, and St. Germain, among others.
When you visit these towns, it will bring you back to days gone by, but it isn’t just the houses and buildings that bring back nostalgic feelings.
Part of its charm also comes from the inland chain of freshwater lakes, which is one of the largest on the planet. If you love stepping back in time and enjoying unusual beauty and ambiance, Vilas County is definitely for you.
My must-do highlights of Vilas County
- Discover all the exciting activities at Elmer’s Fun Park.
- Hire an ATV and ride through the thrilling trails.
- Watch the sunset over the tranquil lake.
9. Wisconsin Dells – a region of glacier-carved sandstone formations a must-see unique attraction
When people think of Wisconsin Dells, they usually think of the water park first, but there is much more to it than this.
Although the water park is spectacular, the deep, narrow gorges and totally unique rock formations along the Wisconsin River provide a way to calm yourself, rent a canoe, and enjoy its peaceful, quiet waters.
The area is gorgeous, of course, but its ambiance is partly due to the tranquillity and peacefulness of the area. If you truly want to get away from it all for a bit, this is the area of Wisconsin you want to be in.
My must-do highlights of Wisconsin Dells
- Have some fun at the theme park on their adrenaline pumping rides.
- Cool down at Noah’s Ark Water Park filled with slides and activities.
- Wander around the area to discover the spectacular natural rock formations.
10. Pewits Nest State Natural Area – a stunning nature reserve to explore in Wisconsin
This deep gorge, located in Baraboo, is nothing short of spectacular in its design, colors, and overall beauty. It is surrounded by tall, stately pine trees and majestic bluffs.
There is also a gorgeous stream that runs right through it, so whether you want to go canoeing or on a picnic somewhere on the grounds, you can easily find something fun to do at Pewits Nest.
The area is also very old because it was formed during the retreat of the very last glacier. They don’t call this a natural area for nothing, because only nature can create something this extraordinary. This is a must-see on your list of things to do in Wisconsin.
My must-do highlights of Pewits Nest State Natural Area
- Go for a hike along the East Bluff Trail leading to Devil’s Doorway.
- Have a try at bouldering for a unique experience.
- Discover the hidden swimming hole and take a dip on a hot day.
11. Driftless Area – a gorgeous place to visit which is home to a unique geography
Located in the southwestern part of the state, the stunning Driftless Area will challenge anyone who has the notion that Wisconsin is a flat state. In fact, this area is very hilly and when you’re there, you won’t be able to take your eyes off of the scenery around you.
But be careful – the roads are beautiful but a bit winding, so you’ll need to use caution as you drive.
Still, the topography in this part of the state is very diverse, and the longer you drive, the more fascinating things you’ll be able to see and experience.
My must-do highlights of Driftless Area
- Take an adrenaline pumping ride through the mountain biking trails.
- Check out the farmers market filled with unique and locally produced items.
- Hike to the 500-foot high viewpoint of Pikes Peak.
12. Dave’s Falls – home to scenic Falls and rock formations
Located in Amberg, if you love waterfalls, you’ll love Dave’s Falls. But unlike many other waterfalls, this one isn’t for canoeing or kayaking in because it has far too many large and bumpy rocks. Instead, just hike along the side of the Pike River and maybe stop after a while to have a picnic.
You can thoroughly enjoy the falls regardless of where you are on the hiking trail, so just because you can’t get on the water itself while you’re there doesn’t mean this area of Wisconsin shouldn’t be on your bucket list.
It is an absolutely beautiful area that you will very likely visit more than once.
My must-do highlights of Dave’s Falls
- Go on a white water rafting adventure down the river for a fun experience.
- Grab some Insta-worthy shots of the beautiful falls and unusual rock formations.
- Book on to a Cave Point kayak tour to explore around the area.
13. Allen Centennial Gardens – one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin
Located smack dab in the middle of the campus of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, this is actually a teaching garden but is worth a special trip to visit.
Built in the 1980s around a Queen Anne-style home, the gardens are stunning and boast some of the most beautiful plant life you’ve ever seen. It is very neat and well-maintained, and if you enjoy old homes and lots of lush, healthy greenery, this is the place for you.
Still a great teaching facility, this garden is definitely a tourist attraction you will never forget.
My must-do highlights of Allen Centennial Gardens
- Stroll through the beautiful groomed and vibrant flowers, plants and greenery.
- Learn about all of the gardens history and future plans.
14. Marinette County – one of the most attractive destinations to explore in Wisconsin
When it comes to beautiful locations in Wisconsin, Marinette County will never disappoint. Located in the northeastern part of the state, this county isn’t called the waterfall capital of Wisconsin for nothing.
In fact, there is a total of 14 exquisite waterfalls there, along with some of the most gorgeous scenery you’ve ever seen.
You can also go camping or hiking there, but it’s the clear rushing waters that attract people the most. This is the perfect place to visit for anyone who loves to hike, go camping, or simply enjoy nature at its finest.
My must-do highlights of Marinette County
- Visit the Forgotten Fire Winery for a lovely afternoon of wine tasting.
- Indulge in the delicious and unique flavors at Seguin’s House of Cheese.
- Take a trip to the tranquil Green Island filled with lush trees.
15. National Ice Age Scenic Trail – a trail that travels through some of the state’s most beautiful natural areas
This trail is amazing and runs throughout many areas in the state. It is 1,000 miles long and the perfect footpath, and it is never that far from you regardless of where you live.
If viewing Wisconsin’s glacial landscapes is what you want to do, this is the trail you want to be on. Best of all, most of it is comfortable to hike on even if you’re just wearing tennis shoes, but if you’re a serious hiker, you might want to bring along a comfortable pair of hiking boots instead just to be on the safe side.
One of the best and beautiful places to explore in Wisconsin – enjoy!
My must-do highlights of National Ice Age Scenic Trail
- Explore through the trails, well known for being some of the most beautiful ones in Wisconsin.
- Be amazed by the breathtaking nature surrounding the trails.
16. Big Bay State Park – easily one of the coolest places to visit in Wisconsin
Founded in the 1960s, this majestic Wisconsin attraction is the largest of the Apostle Islands archipelago where visitors can witness scenic sandstone bluffs.
Big Bay State Park has a 4 miles shoreline of Lake Superior and a 1-mile esplanade featuring golden sandy beaches, over 9 miles of hiking trails and a spacious campground great for families.
Furthermore, visitors can benefit from picnic areas that provide tables, drinking water, toilets and much more!
My must-do highlights of Big Bay State Park
- Pack a picnic and stop for lunch in a breathtaking spot.
- Go swimming in the fresh waters of the lake.
- Take your bike to cycle around, exploring through the area.
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Gary Nunn – Videographer, photographer and writer
Gary is an award winning full time professional photographer and videographer with too much wanderlust for his own good. Fueled by strong coffee, you’ll often find him wandering well off hiking trails in search of interesting photographic subjects or scenery to video. Self taught and with the use of pioneering digital techniques, he quickly built up a strong client base and has worked with many prestigious organizations, including GQ, BBC, London Fashion Week, Grazia, Sky, Metro, Vogue Italia. He specializing in evocative images of people, places and cinematic videography and his goal is to make the viewer look twice and engage. As well as a penchant for good design, travel, starting up new businesses, the ketogenic diet and Hungarian Vizslas, he also has a huge affection for Chicago, Bucharest, Scandinavia, Croatia and absolutely everywhere in Italy. Find Gary on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or his Website.