From urban and rural bike trails, beer gardens, ponds, and rivers, nearby Milwaukee state parks are an enjoyable blend of its surroundings and the local culture.
If you’re craving time in nature and want to give the state parks in Brew City a go, we’ve shortlisted some scenic and activity-filled state parks that are perfect for a solo trip or a trip with the family.
Map of State Parks Near Milwaukee WI
Below is a map of the state parks in Wisconsin covered in this post:
List of State Parks Near Milwaukee
Here are five state parks near Milwaukee complete with descriptions and locations:
1. Aztalan State Park
Location: N6200 County Rd Q, Jefferson, WI 53549
Located 50 miles west of Milwaukee in the town of Aztalan, Aztalan State Park spans 172 acres along the Crawfish area and offers unforgettable views of nature and a rich history. Fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and other activities are available on the Crawfish River.
Established in 1952 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, the park features amazing pyramid-shaped, flat-topped platform mounds and stockades which are believed to have ceremonial and religious purposes. While viewing the recreated stockade and mounds, you can walk over two miles of wide prairies and immerse yourself in ancient history.
It’s believed that a Mississippian tribe lived there and was responsible for creating those mounds from 900 to 1300 AD. Many artifacts have been discovered in the area as well. To learn more about the history of the place, pay the Aztalan Museum just north of the park a visit. Within the area, you will find two early church buildings and other 19th-century structures that are reminiscent of pioneer life.
The museum is open from noon to 4 pm, Thursdays through Sundays with entrance fees of $3 for adults, $1 for children, and free for anyone under the age of 7.
2. Big Foot Beach State Park
Location: 1550 S Lake Shore Dr, Lake Geneva, WI 53147
Big Foot Beach State Park is located on the shore of Lake Geneva and has 5 miles of hiking trails, a family campground, a beach for swimming, picnic, and playground areas. In the winter, visitors can enjoy snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, two of the park’s most popular activities.
If you want to spend the night, the park offers approximately 100 campsites with showers and pit toilets as well as a beach and picnic area. All sites include a gravel pad, a fire ring, picnic tables, and firewood for sale.
Alcoholic beverages aren’t allowed anywhere in the park. Campgrounds come with provisions for electrical hookups and sewage dump stations.
3. Harrington Beach State Park
Location: 531 Co Rd D, Belgium, WI 53004
Located in the town of Belgium on the shores of Lake Michigan, Harrington Beach State Park is 715 acres with a mile-long beach that attracts visitors from all over the United States.
In addition to a historic limestone quarry lake, the park has a white cedar and hardwood swamp as well as restored wetland ponds.
At Harrington Beach State Park, you’ll find a family campground, a kayak site, accessible cabins for people with disabilities, and a group campsite.
The kayak site is a non-electric area that can accommodate up to six visitors. Kayakers can stay at the campsite which has a campfire ring and a picnic table.
There are many activities here including picnics, hiking, fishing, and enjoying a view of the cosmos from the observatory within the park.
4. Lakeshore State Park
Location: 500 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Lakeshore State Park is next to the Henry W. Maier Festival Grounds and Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin in downtown Milwaukee. The place features recreational activities such as boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and hiking. For those who want to enjoy nature without completely leaving creature comforts behind, the park also has a few modern amenities.
Spread over 22-acres, the park has jogging paths that wind through the park. There’s also a marina where reservations for slips can be made up to 11 months in advance.
If you enjoy hiking, don’t forget to explore the lakeside multi-use trail that connects the park to the Hank Aaron State Trail, the Oak Leaf Trail, and Milwaukee’s lakefront. The path is ideal not just for hikers but can also accommodate cyclists, skaters, and pets.
Fishing is permitted along Lakeshore and behind the Summerfest Marcus Amphitheater. Those who want to go through the prairies are encouraged to use the trails that weave through the shore.
5. Blue Mound State Park
Location: 4350 Mounds Park Rd, Blue Mounds, WI 53517
A visit to Blue Mound State Park lets you discover the spectacular Sioux quartzite cliff that rises a hundred feet above the plains, offering a sea of flowers and prairie grass as well as dozens of bird species, including the rare blue grosbeak with its striking plumage.
Those hankering after recreational activities will find a nice selection in this park. There are about 20 miles of scenic trails, areas for off-road biking, and cross country ski trails. Adrenaline junkies will enjoy the 15.5 miles of off-road, singletrack trails. Trails are open in spring, summer, and fall unless wet trail conditions arise.
If you have a reunion, wedding, birthday, or another occasion to celebrate, there are nice picnic areas and beautiful shelters that are available for rent. While enjoying good food and good company, you can treat yourself and your guests to panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
You can also get closer and more expansive views from the observation towers located at the far east and far west ends of the picnic area.
After visiting these parks, you’ll understand that there’s more to Milwaukee than breweries, historic buildings, sports teams, and nightlife. Don’t miss out on its lake and riverside scenery, beaches, and trails. The views, recreational activities, and time outdoors can easily be accessed from the city and are well worth the visit.