The 5 Best Reasons to Visit the City of Sheboygan Wisconsin

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The 5 Best Reasons to Visit the City of Sheboygan Wisconsin

I have always had an affinity for my side of Lake Michigan.  I mean – watching the sunset over the lake is a freshwater experience like no other.  And with our gorgeous summer weather and sandy beaches, I guess I’ve lived in a bit of a bubble.  Come along with me on my first trip to the other side of Lake Michigan, where I found a community as gorgeous and full of character as my own hometown!  Although the list of things to do in Sheboygan is much longer than this one, here are three of my favorite reasons you must visit Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Where is Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Anyway?

You may be asking where Sheboygan is precisely, other than “across the lake.”  The city of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, is a charming lakeside city of around 50,000 residents and lies on the east side of Wisconsin along the shores of Lake Michigan.  Sheboygan is a perfect two-and-a-half-hour drive North up the coast of Lake Michigan from Chicago and only an hour north of Milwaukee.  If you’re coming from up North, Sheboygan is only an hour south of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

If you’re traveling from Michigan like me, consider traveling across the lake instead of around it.  The best way to do that is on the SS Badger, which travels from Ludington, Michigan, to Manitowoc, Wisconsin.  Once you reach Manitowoc, Sheboygan is under 30 minutes South by car.  That’s exactly how I got there!  Learn more about my trip on the car ferry in The Best Way to Cross Lake Michigan?  On the SS Badger Car Ferry! 

No matter how you get to Sheboygan, there are plenty of things to do once you’ve made it to this unique city, dubbed “the Malibu of the Midwest” for its plentiful beaches and gorgeous sunrises.  But if you’re staying for more than a day, you’ll need a place to sleep.  And what better place than the first item on my list, a stay at the Blue Harbor Resort?

1 – Because Blue Harbor Resort is Amazing!

The Blue Harbor Resort sits on the shore of Lake Michigan at 725 Blue Harbor Drive and right at the mouth of the Sheboygan River.  If you request a room with a lakeside view, you’ll be able to look out over Lake Michigan, watch the daily sunrise, and see the surfers in the crashing waves.

I sure enjoyed the friendly faces at the front desk, who were pleasant and helpful from the moment when I checked in until the cheerful goodbye called out to me when I left a few days later.  Blue Harbor has every kind of room available to suit any of your resort needs.  Suites of every type and Villas with bedrooms are all clean, luxuriously appointed, and ready for your stay.  I recommend the whirlpool suite.  Check out my video tour of the whirlpool room I stayed in here:

Dining at Blue Harbor

The Blue Harbor’s Beacon Restaurant serves a delicious breakfast, but if you’re in a rush, you can grab a quick cup of coffee for the road at the Shoreline Café.  Need to end the day with a nightcap?  Blue Harbor has you covered for that, too, at the On the Rocks Bar & Grill.  They make an excellent Old-Fashioned, by the way.

Two beautiful women clink glasses with cocktails at a bar
My friend, Theresa, who is an amazing writer and excellent teacher, and I shared a drink at the On the Rocks Bar. You can sign up for her online Travel Mastery Writing Course HERE.

A Blue Harbor Wedding

Are you heading to Sheboygan for a wedding?  Blue Harbor will take care of you in style!  Because they are situated right on the beach overlooking Lake Michigan, they have the perfect setup for a beach wedding.  Who needs to head for the tropics when the view is every bit as gorgeous in this Midwest destination?

In addition, Blue Harbor has banquet rooms that will accommodate 50 to 500 guests, in-house catering, full china service, and everything else you can want to celebrate your special day. 

An open room with a shiny floor and lovely chandeliers.
You can see how clean and well-appointed the Blue Harbor is.

Family Fun at Blue Harbor Resort

Bring the family or grandkids to enjoy a day of water fun indoors at the 54,000-square-foot Breaker Bay waterpark and entertainment zone!  Sit back and relax as your youngest family members make a splash in this climate-controlled indoor oasis.  Check the website for all-inclusive package deals that include the waterpark. 

Blue Harbor Reflections Spa

Whether your stay at Blue Harbor involves a wedding, a conference, or a restful retreat, you’ll want to visit the in-house spa.  Reflections Spa & Salon offers a full menu of services, from waxing to massages to facials and even pedicures!  Schedule your visit in advance and plan to be pampered.

The Blue Harbor resort is fantastic and offers all the amenities you could wish for, even an organized s’mores party around an evening campfire on the beach!  What more could you want?

S'more Campfire Party
S’more party on the beach!
A room at Blue Harbor Resort - blue carpet with a large bed and a whirlpool tub
The room is just gorgeous!

The rooms are clean, the service impeccable, and the grounds are immaculately kept.  This traveling writer gives the Blue Harbor Resort 5 stars for sure!

a stairwell outside that leads up to the lovely white exterior of the Blue Harbor Resort
The entire exterior is beautiful and well-maintained!
An egg Frittata, hash browns, bacon and sausage patty on a white plate with a fork.
The breakfast served at our Writer’s Conference was delicious!

Now that you’ve found a place to stay, you’ll need some ideas for what to do when you get to Sheboygan.  Don’t worry!  I’ve got you covered.  Beaches, restaurants, shopping, museums:  You won’t lack things to do in Sheboygan.  But if you need help narrowing down your options, make your first stop at the Sheboygan Visitor Center.

2 – Because The Sheboygan Visitor Center Will Educate and Entertain You!

I have visited plenty of Visitor Centers in my travels, and I know a good one when I see one, and this one is a good one.  More than just a place to pick up a brochure, you’ll find a friendly face, homemade keepsakes for sale from local artists, and plenty of opportunities to learn about the town and the residents!  I spent some time with Rachel of Rachel’s Route, when I visited Sheboygan; she is a lot of fun!  If you’re lucky, you may get to say hello to her while you’re there.  Tell her Hi from the Hip Grandma!

You’ll find the Sheboygan Visitor Center at 826 S. 8th Street, not far from the lakeshore but not quite in the downtown area.  One could say that it is ideally situated right between.  The Visitor’s Center is the perfect place to begin your visit.  But this quaint little building isn’t just a great place to pick up a brochure.

Before you head out for the day, look in the room up front in the Visitor Center, where you’ll find Science on a Sphere (SOS).  This suspended spherical screen changes through the magic of technology into any number of spherical educational animations.  Projectors around the room shoot images onto the sphere based on information collected online.  You may see Earth as a beautiful globe, track weather patterns, or monitor global earthquake activity.  Whatever you see while you’re there – you will be impressed!

Fun fact!  The city of Sheboygan holds the esteemed title of the county seat of Sheboygan County.

3 – Because There’s No Better Place to Watch the Sun Rise Over Lake Michigan

Over here in my hometown of Holland, Michigan, I enjoy watching the sunset over gorgeous Lake Michigan.  What fun it was to see the sun rise over the same lake!  I had the best time waking up in Sheboygan to photograph the beautiful sunrise from my balcony.  Although this threw my normally unflappable inner compass a little off, I wouldn’t trade that experience for all the shells on the beach!  I felt like I was in an alternate world for a minute! 

But maybe you’ve never seen a sunrise or a sunset over Lake Michigan.  I’m sorry about that.  Take this as your hint to add a Lake Michigan sunrise or set (or both) to your bucket list.  I love that Lake Michigan is big and grand enough to feel you’re watching the sunset over the ocean.  And it’s a treat every single day!

a sunrise over Lake Michigan

Of course, the sunrise is beautiful from any of the Sheboygan beaches, but I can suggest Kohler-Andrae State Park, a balcony room, or the beach at Blue Harbor Resort.  Another option, North of the Sheboygan River, is DeLand Park or North Beach.  Take a drive up and down the lakeshore on either side of the river, and you’ll find several options.  Choose your favorite – or try a different spot each day of your visit!  And by the way, don’t forget to look for those surfers riding the waves as the sun rises.  There’s good reason Sheboygan earned the nickname the Malibu of the Midwest!

A surfer walks out in the waves while holding a surfboard

4 – Because the Arts & Culture Scene is Spectacular

You may not expect a town such as Sheboygan to be steeped in culture and the arts, but you would be wrong.  I was delighted to get an extraordinary peek at the fantastic culture around town.  Here are a few fun tidbits of information designed to inspire you to plan your own trip and explore, too!

Sheboygan is the Bratwurst Capital of the World.  Sheboygan County holds an annual fund-raising festival called Bratwurst Days on the first weekend of August.  Where else can you get an opportunity to enjoy the Johnsonville World Bratwurst Eating Championship?

A sign explaining the history behind Sheboygan's designation as Bratwurst Capital of the World

Outdoor lovers will find a million reasons to enjoy Sheboygan, not only at the beaches but also along the many trails and bike lanes available for the outdoor enthusiast.  The Ellwood H. May Environmental Park is open all year for skiing and hiking around the 135 acres.  You may be lucky enough to spot a deer, or if you visit in the spring and summer, a butterfly or hummingbird in one of the gardens designed to attract our winged friends.

A sunbean bursts through the pillars in front of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan Wisconsin
The John Michael Koehler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, is stunning

Museums abound in Sheboygan.  The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is a must-visit, along with the Above & Beyond Children’s Museum and my favorite mashup of art and outdoor activities, the James Tellen Woodland Sculpture Garden.  The Mead Public Library is a local favorite.  Stop in and rest and recharge any time of the year.

Finally, the town of Sheboygan boasts one of the most magical public garden spaces I’ve seen in my travels.  Bookworm Gardens opened in 2010 and has delighted children, their parents, and grandparents ever since.  A favorite children’s story inspires everything you see along the pathways at Bookworm Gardens.  I especially loved climbing in the Magic School Bus and pretending to be Miss Frizzle on an adventure!

Pink background with "Hip Grandma Merch" available on front

5 – Because Who Doesn’t Love an Old-Fashioned Trolley Ride?

Finally, if you need to transport a group around town while in Sheboygan, why not pass on multiple cars and consider a chauffeur?  Discovery Coach has you covered with their unique Trolley bus.  When I visited with a group of fellow travel writers for a writing conference (LINK Teresa’s conference), that’s exactly what we did!  This 28-Passenger Trolley Bus was spacious and comfortable and came with a personable driver who knew the area and happily answered all of our questions.

I loved the wooden bench seats and brass trim.  What a fun way to get around.  And if you’re taking a longer trip, perhaps up to Green Bay for a Packers game, you’ll surely want to look into renting one of their bigger coaches

a view inside of an old-fashioned trolley bus with wooden seats, arched windows, and women sitting in seats smiling.
The trolley was beautiful and clean and allowed easy conversation between riders.

Wrapping it All Up

No matter how you get to Sheboygan or where you stay once you arrive, you are guaranteed a fun, enjoyable, and educational experience!  Who knew the other side of the lake was so amazing!?  One thing is sure – I will definitely be returning!

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