It’s time to take in the views! Wisconsin is known for its natural beauty, with highways and backroads that wind through forests, farmland, prairie, and more. After you've spent time enjoying the city, it’s time to escape. Pick one of these drives, with recommended stops, for the perfect day trip from Milwaukee.
TAKE IN THE ARCHITECTURE
Milwaukee’s Lincoln Memorial Drive, which runs north along Lake Michigan just east of downtown, is a great bike or car ride to see an architecturally diverse collection of historic mansions, museums, and of course, the glittering waves of the lake just beyond the city’s beaches. You can even purchase a self-guided Driving Tour from Historic Milwaukee highlighting 36 of Milwaukee's most important structures.
If you’re following Travel Wisconsin’s Frank Lloyd Wright Trail, make sure you check out the Milwaukee-area Wright designs, including the singular Burnham Block Houses (2714 W. Burnham St.) on Milwaukee’s south side. After you’ve seen these, head two hours west to visit Taliesin (5481 County Rd C, Spring Green), a newly dubbed UNESCO World Heritage Site and the architect’s former home.
Hop on I-43 to travel north (in your car or Harley) and follow along the curves of Wisconsin’s shoreline. Make a pit-stop in Cedarburg for a charming community filled with art and boutique shopping. Check out Cedar Creek Winery (N70 W6340 Bridge Rd., Cedarburg), a family-run winery located in a historic 1860s mill building overlooking the Cedar Creek Waterfall. Just a little farther north, you’ll find Port Washington, a classic harbor town that brings a little New England flair to the Midwest.
Keep riding or driving, and you’ll reach Kohler. Originally founded as a company town for the corporation of the same name, the Village of Kohler is now home to the Forbes Five-Star and AAA 5-diamond American Club (419 Highland Dr., Kohler) resort, as well as the world-renowned Whistling Straits (N8501 Lakeshore Rd., Sheboygan) golf course. Wanna ride all the way to Titletown? Continue to Green Bay, where you can tour Lambeau Field (1265 Lombardi Ave., Green Bay) and enjoy a classic Wisconsin butter burger at Kroll’s (1990 S. Ridge Rd., Ashwaubenon).
The Driftless Area is famous for its smooth, rolling landscape, untouched by the glacial activity that shaped the rest of the state. In addition to forests, prairies, and wetlands, you’ll find diverse communities of artisans and farmers along the way. Wisconsin Scenic Byway 60 follows the Wisconsin River from Sauk City (located just northwest of Madison) to Wyalusing State Park, where the Wisconsin River and the mighty Mississippi River meet. Follow the Mississippi north or south along the Great River Road (Highway 35) for a stunning ride.
More than 724 miles of Wisconsin roadways have been designated as Rustic Roads. These 120 lightly traveled gravel or paved roads highlight the natural beauty that can be found throughout the state. Although open to any vehicle, the state of Wisconsin knows that these roads are especially appealing to motorcycle riders. Those who ride on 10 or more of Wisconsin’s official Rustic Roads (and capture the experience with a photo) can receive a special Rustic Roads Motorcycle Tour patch.
KETTLE MORAINE SCENIC DRIVE
Stretching across southeastern Wisconsin, this route covers 115 miles, showcasing the natural features left by the glaciers that once covered the area. The ride traverses six counties and passes a number of state forests, natural areas, and historic landmarks. One such landmark is the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary at Holy Hill (1525 Carmel Rd., Hubertus), a favorite of Milwaukee area residents, especially in autumn. Head west from Milwaukee to join the route in progres. The full drive starts at Elkhart Lake in Sheboygan County and stretches south to Whitewater Lake in Walworth County.