Milwaukee’s southern neighbor is a hidden gem for outdoor recreation. Despite its close proximity to Wisconsin’s largest city, Racine feels “off-the-beaten-path.” The town boasts its own places to sightsee, walk, and hike that everyone will love! Just like Milwaukee, Racine has beautiful lake frontage and preserves filled with tall trees. What you’ll find more of in the “Belle City,” however, is open space. Racine’s population is a fraction of Milwaukee’s and flows right into the more rural parts of Racine County. While there are lots of great spots to choose from, here are some of the best places to get outside in Racine County.
Best Trails in Racine County
River Bend Nature Center is one of the best places to get outside in Racine County! This nature education center boasts a variety of hiking trails that weave through the woods near the Root River. All trails are under a mile but connect so you can enjoy a longer hike. Kayak and canoe rentals are available at the facility, as well as cross-country skis and snowshoes in the winter. Kids and adults alike can also sign up for outdoor recreation classes like canoeing and sea kayaking!
The White River State Trail sprawls nineteen miles from western Racine County into neighboring Walworth County. It lines an abandoned railroad corridor surrounded by woodlands, wetlands, and prairie. The trail is a great place to take a long hike or bike ride near Racine! It is wide and paved, making it a great option for hikers of all ability levels. Note that bikers must have a Wisconsin state trail pass. In winter, snowmobiles sometimes have access to the trail when conditions permit.
Best Parks in Racine County
Island Park (300 Horlick Drive)
Also known as Horlick Park, Island Park is uniquely situated on an island between two branches of the Root River. This surprisingly large island has paved walking trails, a playground, tennis courts, and baseball diamonds! The large trees surrounding the park make it a great place to see the fall colors in Racine.
Lincoln Park (2000 Dominic Drive)
Lincoln Park has wide trails and bridges that make it a great place to get outside in Racine! Located along the the Root River, Lincoln Park offers a convenient escape from the bustle of the city. It makes for a relaxing spot to take a lunch break, walk the dog, or bring the kids over to play. The bridges and river views also make this one of my favorite places to take pictures in Racine.
Best Sightseeing in Racine County
Racine’s iconic Reefpoint Marina is the city’s gateway to Lake Michigan. In the summer, you will find the boat slips filled by locals and visitors alike. Take a walk along the sidewalks lining the harbor and enjoy the sounds of waves breaking, boats swaying, and the breeze blowing. This peaceful spot is next to the heart of downtown and is easily accessible. Grab lunch at one of the nearby eateries and enjoy your meal with a view!
Wind Point Lighthouse is one of the most famous landmarks in all of Racine. This lakeside lighthouse was fist lit in 1880 and remains active to this day. Walk the property to take in the breathtaking architecture of the structure and pose for one of Racine’s best photo-ops. On select “Open Tower Days,” guests can book guided tours of the lighthouse interior. Though the lighthouse is the park’s centerpiece, visitors can also walk the gardens and enjoy its small beach. Benches and tables make this a great spot for a picnic in Racine!
Best Lakes in Racine County
Browns Lake lies in Racine County’s northwestern corner and is one of the more popular spots to get on the water in the summer. Einer Fischer Park has a beautiful public beach and boat launch, as well as water ski shows from the Browns Lake Aquaducks on Thursdays at 6:30 PM. You can even find some lakeside dining options in town just a short drive away!
For those looking for less boat traffic, Wind Lake is a great alternative. This is my favorite place to water ski in Racine County! The large but secluded lake is also a great place to fish, boat, or jet ski. Because houses line the shore, you’ll less “activity” and community events happening here, but that makes it even better for those looking to embrace the solitude.