I’ve written about Kenosha, Wisconsin several times already but what better way than to stick it all together in a helpful guide, just in time for the summer! Kenosha is located on the shores of Lake Michigan, 40 miles South of Milwaukee and 66 miles North of Chicago! There are lots of fun things to do in Kenosha and so many great places to eat!
Disclosure: Thanks to Visit Kenosha for hosting both of my trips. As always, opinions are 100% my own!
Things To Do In Kenosha
Kenosha are proud of their museums and for good reason! I’ve now visited 4 out of the 5 and my favourites are the Southport Light Station Museum and the Kenosha History Center…they kinda go together hand in hand! I found them absolutely fascinating and learnt lots about the area! One of my highlights was going up the Southport Lighthouse, it was hotter than the sun at the top but the views of the harbour made it worth it! On a clear day you can even see the Chicago skyline in the distance!
The majority of the museums are free to visit, although there is a $10 fee to climb the lighthouse and a $9 admission to the main exhibit at the Civil War Museum. The 360 degree movie at the Civil War Museum is well worth seeing.
Kenosha History Center
Civil War Museum
Kenosha Public Museum
Dinosaur Discovery Museum
A unique way to travel around Kenosha, is to ride on the Electric Streetcars! The 2 mile loop has been serving the Downtown area since 2000 and takes around 20 minutes to do a full circuit. There are currently 7 Streetcars in operation with the oldest one dating back to 1948! They have all been restored and run all year round. In the winter the Streetcars are heated but during the summer months, they just have to rely on open windows for cooler air, as they aren’t fitted with air con systems!
One of the main reasons for one of my trips to Kenosha, was to complete the 10,000 step walking tour that I saw in their visitor’s guide. I thought it was a really clever way to see the best of what Downtown Kenosha has to offer! 10,000 is the recommended amount of steps that a person should walk in a day, so it’s a very achievable goal which doesn’t make it feel like your legs are going to drop off after a day of exploring!
I document the full route in my post: A 10,000 Step Self Guided Walking Tour of Kenosha, Wisconsin, but the walk takes you past 2 of Kenosha’s beaches, including Simmons Island Park Beach, which is the largest. I actually spent an afternoon hanging out at the beach, it is a very popular option with families and an ice cream truck was parked up nearby for a while! I found the lake COLD (colder than the Mississippi River!) but it didn’t stop a few hardy souls from splashing around…I lasted about 10 minutes haha.
The iconic red North Pier Lighthouse is well worth a closer look. It also doubles up as the “Kenosha Lighthouse Studio” and has murals around its base! It is sometimes open to the public where artists can showcase their work.
Continuing with public art, Harbor Park has a sculpture walk that changes every 2 years. Various events are also held within Harbor Park. It is serviced by the Streetcar, is home to the Civil War Museum and Kenosha Public Museum and on the far side is a children’s playground and splash pad (during the summer months).
In the summer there are plenty of events happening around Kenosha, including car shows and lots of live music programs! Last summer I attended one of the Twilight Jazz FREE concerts and the turnout was huge! Lots of people took deck chairs and picnics, otherwise you just sit on the grass, there’s a small concessions stand and a couple of porta potties!
Outside of Downtown – Petrifying Springs Park
If you feel like jumping in your car and experiencing more of what Kenosha has to offer, Petrifying Springs Park is a nice little stop. A park with a woodland area, a stream and children’s playgrounds. I visited to take part in an outdoor yoga session…I think I prefer doing yoga outside! The Petrifying Springs Biergarten is open during the summer months, serving drinks (beer of course!) and snacks. They hold special events such as ‘Movies on the Mound’ and ‘Poses and Pints’ (yoga and beer).
Another park in Kenosha county is Prairie Springs Park and Lake Andrea. It’s another area where you can get your 10,000 steps in by walking twice around the lake on their paved jogging path! In the summer months you can enjoy the beach area and an inflatable water obstacle course.
Pleasant Praire is also home to the Jelly Belly Warehouse Tour, where you can learn about the history of the Jelly Belly company and the production of their jelly beans, all from the comfort of the Jelly Belly Express train as it makes its way around the warehouse! And even better, it’s FREE! While there, you can taste free samples of a huge range of their jelly bean flavours, as well as fudge! The candy store sell all sorts of Jelly Belly merchandise, including 2kg bags of ‘belly flops’…all the ‘imperfectly shaped’ jelly beans that taste exactly the same as the regular shaped beans!
I have barely scratched the surface with things to do in Kenosha! Did you know that there’s even a CHEESE castle?! As someone that doesn’t eat cheese, I can’t say it’s ever made it onto my list of priorities, but Wisconsin cheese curds are usually on most people’s Wisconsin bucket list! (*Disclosure* they do sell more than just cheese…)
Where To Eat In Kenosha
I wrote a whole guide on where to eat in Downtown Kenosha which you can check out (by clicking the link) but here are a few of my favourites…warning, I have a ridiculous sweet tooth so there may be a common theme!
Mike’s Chicken & Donuts…what more could you want?! Chicken and donuts in the same place! I had a ‘Before and After’ sandwich which was, as you can probably guess, is a chicken fillet with an egg on the top, ironically it’s a strange combination but it works! The spiked milkshakes are yummy and of course there’s a large range of donuts…of course I picked the one with gummy worms and crushed Oreos that made it look like they were coming out of mud! …There’s also FREE bingo where you can win donuts. Could this place get any better?!
Because who doesn’t like PIE!? Elsie Mae’s Bakery & Cannery (along with Myrtle Mae’s Sugar Emporium) serve up amazing homemade pies in a variety of flavours and sizes. I’ve had a mini cookie dough pie…cookie dough…in a pie…it’s the best of both worlds!!! As well as a pie shake which is totally customisable, from the choice of the pie (mainly fruit pies this time) to which flavour ice cream you want it blended with!
As it’s summer of course you’ll want to sit outside and enjoy the sunny days! I recommend you do this at the Harborside Common Grounds coffee shop. They have a lovely outside deck area that overlooks the harbour, a great place to people and boat watch! The smoothies and iced coffees are delicious, along with the fruit herbal teas. If you get there in time for breakfast, the ‘build your own’ breakfast sandwiches are tasty too!
Where to Stay In Kenosha
I stayed at the Wyndham Garden Kenosha Harborside (full review), which as it says on the tin, is right next to the harbour and is the only large hotel in the Downtown district. The parking is free for hotel guests and is within walking distance of the majority of places listed above. The hotel has a range of amenities for a comfortable stay, including free Wifi, free COOKIES at reception, free fruit infused water and coffee making facilities in the lobby as well as the room, a pool and a gym. The room rate also includes a free breakfast!
(Check out the view from the ‘harborside’ rooms!)
If you need anymore information for a trip to Kenosha, check out the Visit Kenosha website, with all the up to date events and information of everything you can do in the area! The Fun 101 guide is particularly handy if you’re travelling on a budget, as it gives you 101 ideas of things to do in Kenosha that are under $10!