You don’t have to make the long drive up north to spend time on the water this summer! All you’ll need is this list of the best lake towns in Southeastern Wisconsin to help you decide where to put the boat in. You’ll notice that a lot of these towns lie in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. If that’s your desired destination, you’ll also want to read this blog post where I share my favorite lakes there! This post was inspired by my friend Lindsey Ranzau, the creator of Look About Lindsey. She wrote an awesome post about the best lake towns in Minnesota!
Lake Mills in Jefferson County is a beautiful lake town halfway between Madison and Milwaukee right off I-94. With five parks lining its shore, Rock Lake is a secluded spot to enjoy some time on the water. Take the canoe or kayaks on the south end of the lake to explore the marshes near Bean Lake State Natural Area or cruise the open lake on a motorized boat! Lake Mills is also known for its free “Cars & Coffee” events throughout the year that bring the whole town (and some very unique cars) together.
Impressively enough, there are as many lakes in Oconomowoc as there are “Os” in its name! It won’t take long to find one once you drive into town. Oconomowoc Lake, Okauchee Lake, Fowler Lake, Silver Lake, and Lac La Belle are all great options for your next day on the water. My personal recommendation is Fowler Lake, which is a bit smaller and less-trafficked. The Badgerland Water Ski Show Team even performs free water ski shows there from Fowler Park on select evenings throughout the summer!
Pewaukee is an awesome lake town disguised as your classic Milwaukee suburb. Upon first glance, it might not seem like an iconic place to get on the water in Southeastern Wisconsin, but don’t judge this book by its cover. When you turn onto Wisconsin Avenue and catch your first glimpse of the lake and beach, you’ll feel like you just stepped into another world! Be sure to stop in the Lake Effect Co. shop across the street using code “WISCONSINISTA” to get 15% off and stay to watch an epic sunset over the lake.
Port Washington lies along Lake Michigan but feels like an oceanside New England town. The harbor is its centerpiece and makes it one of the best lake towns in Wisconsin for coastal living. Visitors can stroll or fish along the boardwalk and shop or dine just across the street in Port Washington’s historic downtown. Stop by on July 3rd to enjoy Fish Day, the world’s largest one day outdoor fish fry!
The lakes north of Milwaukee get less hype than those that lie between it and Madison or Chicago, but are equally beautiful and often more secluded. Random Lake is a great spot to cruise around on a pontoon and enjoy a sunny summer day! There is a close-knit lake community here that is friendly and welcoming. You can say hi and see for yourself when you spend the afternoon at Random Lake Beach and adjacent Lakeview Park!
Williams Bay is Lake Geneva’s western neighbor and best-kept secret. This little town along Geneva Lake has cute restaurants, a beach, and a nature preserve all within walking distance! Be sure to eat at Daddy Maxwell’s Antarctic Circle Diner (shaped like an igloo) and stop by in August for their annual Corn & Brat Fest.