21 Best Things to Do in Kenosha, WI

north pier lighthouseKenosha, WI
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Kenosha, Wisconsin, is a peaceful lakeside town located north of the Illinois border, with HarborPark, a lakefront development, at its heart.

It is the county seat county of the same name in Wisconsin, United States.

Kenosha lies on Lake Michigan's southwest coast.

The population was around 99,900 people in the 2020 census.

As early as 7000 years ago, the Ojibwa called the area Masu-kinoja, which means "trout (pike) arrive all at once," but the Potawatomi referred to the area as Kenozia (also spelled ginoozhe, kinoje).

There is an annual spawning of trout in which hundreds of thousands of fish enter the rivers from Lake Michigan, supplying food for the upcoming months.

Although it was formerly a major industrial center, its shift to a service-based economy has turned into a bedroom community for Chicago and Milwaukee.

However, the city has a lot to offer its residents and visitors with its waterside parks, well-kept grounds complementing the old downtown's quaint shops and cafés and diners, as well as an outdoor market and art galleries.

You can also go around the town aboard an antique electric streetcar system.

Read on to discover the best things you can do in Kenosha.

Cruise Lake Michigan With Tall Ship Red Witch

View of Tall Ship Red Witch
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The Tall Ship Red Witch, provides exhilarating and spectacular sailing trips on Lake Michigan aboard a beautifully refurbished wooden tall ship.

Starting at Kenosha Harbor in May and running through September, Red Witch is available for day and night excursions of the lake and romantic sunset cruises.

View of Tall Ship Red Witch
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You may also book it exclusively for special events.

A replica of operating mid-19th century schooners, the Tall Ship Red Witch is 77 feet long and weighs 41 tons.

It has state-of-the-art safety equipment and systems available, as well as the latest technology.

View of Tall Ship Red Witch
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See Different Plants and Animals at Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum

There are several environmental instructions and habitat preservation programs offered at the Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum to help people get a better appreciation for the region's natural and cultural history.

Feel free to take lessons, join groups, or host special events in the historic buildings at Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum.

There's also a greenhouse with a diverse collection of plants and animals.

Schools, organizations, and nature clubs can pay a small charge to join a guided tour of the refuge.

Climb the Lighthouse at Southport Light Station and Museum

View of Southport Light Station and Museum
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Originally a lighthouse keeper's house, the Southport Light Station Museum has been lovingly renovated and is now a museum showcasing local maritime and fishing history.

Seventy-two stairs lead to its top floor, which stands 55 feet above the grounds of the lighthouse and provides spectacular views of the area.

View of Southport Light Station and Museum
Nejdet Duzen / Shutterstock.com

Simmons Island Park's seasonal attraction serves as a nautical museum, complete with relics, maps, and information on Kenosha's historic harbor and lighthouse.

They have a gift shop where visitors may purchase souvenirs and other stuff.

Try R'Noggin Brewing Co.'s Different Brews

This small family-owned brewery produces Hand-crafted beer in a joyful, relaxed setting.

The brewery stands just off Interstate 94 on the East Frontage Road, brewing four barrels of beer a week on average, and aims to provide a tasty, drinking beer for both residents and visitors.

Visitors to the taproom at R'Noggin Brewing Co. can sample the brewery's brews and eat cuisine from food trucks on-site when the brewery hosts events.

Throughout the year, R'Noggin Brewing Co. is accessible from Wednesday through Sunday on a rotating basis.

Tour Downtown Kenosha Onboard Historic Streetcars

View of Downtown Kenosha
Samantha R Swain / Shutterstock.com

There are two historic districts, a thriving downtown business sector, a waterfront development called Harbor Park, and more to see during a 2-mile scenic tour of Kenosha onboard one of its vintage streetcars, a local landmark.

You may jump on and off at any of many points in New York City's downtown area, thanks to a network of beautifully restored electric streetcars, also known as electric trolleys.

View of Downtown Kenosha
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Celebrate All Things Art at Anderson Arts Center

Founded in 1992, the arts center aims to promote all forms of artistic expression, including visual art, music, dance, literature, and theater.

There are six primary local and regional art shows a year at this beautiful French Tudor estate, home to various events and educational seminars.

Music and art lessons, ballroom dancing, summer art camp for youngsters, and seasonal festivities are just activities available to visitors.

As a bonus, the Anderson Arts Center features a gift store with a wide selection, including locally made jewelry and pottery, and home decor goods.

It also organizes free outdoor jazz concerts on the center's lawn from June to August, where visitors may listen to live jazz performances.

Check Out Vintage Cars at Gateway Classic Cars Milwaukee

This national automotive museum sells antique, valuable, and exotic automobiles for individual sellers, collectors, and estates.

More than 34,000 classic and collectible automobiles have been sold by Gateway Classic Cars since 1999, with more than 1,800 vehicles on the lot at any given time, making it the most significant vintage and collector car dealership in the world.

It also offers shipping options to US consumers and overseas purchasers, and knowledgeable salespeople are on hand to answer questions from potential customers, tourists, or car enthusiasts.

Learn War History at Civil War Museum

Front View of Civil War Museum
Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It is the best museum in the Midwest to learn about Civil War history and its influence on the region.

It is the only Civil War museum in the United States that concentrates only on the conflict in the Midwest.

There is a free section of the museum where you may stroll about and then join the activity center, where you can try on Civil War-era costumes and participate in other Civil War-themed activities.

All of this is part of the admission fee.

Aside from Seeing The Elephants, you'll have to fork over cash for the Fiery Trail.

Front View of Civil War Museum
Lord Laitinen, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

It costs $9 for an adult, and kids under 15 are free if an adult accompanies them.

Paying for this is worth it.

The Fiery Trail's storylines feature personal tales of Midwesterners before, during, and after World War I.

There are stories of nurses, soldiers, slaves, and even children in this collection.

Listen to them tell their experience from the comfort of your "train" seat!

These are figures clothed in medieval clothing with speech recordings.

Rent Adventure Equipment at Southport Bike & Boards

Lake Michigan is known for its windy conditions if you've experienced it in person.

Despite its size, it's capable of putting on a significant display of power.

That's fantastic news for people like Ralph Ruffolo, the owner of Southport Bike & Boards, who enjoys participating in water activities.

To better serve his fellow water sports enthusiasts in the summer and skiers in the winter, he resigned from his corporate position in 1981 to focus on teaching windsurfing and opening his own business.

He also catered to the growing popularity of skateboarding and snowboarding a few years later.

If you are an avid cyclist, the city has 130 miles of bike routes, including the country's oldest operational velodrome.

For a shorter trip, Southport Bike & Boards offers a free Saturday morning ride to Zion, Illinois, led by the organization.

Explore the City's Past at Kenosha Public Museum

Front View of Kenosha Public Museum
Tony Savino / Shutterstock.com

You can find all kinds of artifacts from all over the world at this natural sciences-fine and decorative arts museum located directly adjacent to the Civil War Museum in Kenosha.

The Kenosha Mammoth is one of the most popular attractions.

A Native American exhibit depicting the four seasons is also available for visitors to see.

After the exhibit, a costumed worker will show relics and chat about the region's history on select nights.

Front View of Kenosha Public Museum
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Meanwhile, on the second floor, you can find a variety of fine art-inspired displays.

There's also a beautiful view of the shoreline and Lake Michigan from a great spot to relax.

If your children like exploring the hands-on activities, the museum has a section for them, from books and plush animals to light tables and construction components.

Make sure to check out the classes they have to offer, as well.

woman posing in front of the exhibit at Kenosha Public Museum
Samantha Machalik, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learn How to Blow Glass at Flamed Beginnings

If you're looking for a new and exciting way to spend time together as a family, this is it!

Flamed Beginnings is an excellent place to start.

In addition to being a master of his craft, Mike, the owner, is also a fantastic instructor.

You may also set up an individual course with him and learn to blow glass!

There is nothing like spending time with your kids while learning something new.

We recommend booking a lesson in advance or contacting the owner to inquire about their costs.

The shop holds classes every day at noon, but the shop is open for business.

Learn About the Kenosha County at Kenosha History Center

Front View of Kenosha History Center
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At the Kenosha History Center, a museum built on the waterfront, visitors may learn about the county's rich history, from its earliest settlements to its heyday as an industrial center.

It is the responsibility of the Kenosha County Historical Society to oversee both the Kenosha History Center and Southport Light Station Museum, the latter of which includes a restored lightkeeper's residence and lighthouse.

In addition to the regular exhibitions and galleries, the Kenosha History Center has several special exhibits and galleries, including the Yesteryear Gallery and the Rambler Legacy Gallery.

Gaze at the Stars at Kemper Center

The Griffin Observatory, located in the Kemper Center, allows visitors to observe the universe and look at the stars via modern equipment in a historic environment.

As part of the 17.5-acre Kenosha County Park, the Kemper Center includes the Durkee Mansion, a historic chapel, and the Anderson Arts Center for the Visual and Performing Arts.

Additionally, the Kemper Center offers educational initiatives that focus on local history and arts and a variety of educational, cultural, and leisure activities for people of all ages to enjoy at the historic site and its buildings.

Catch a Show at Rhode Center for the Arts

You'll want to check out the Rhode Center For The Arts' upcoming shows if you're interested in theater.

LSP, which owns the Rhode Center for the Arts, delivers the city with incredible theatre plays and other live entertainment.

Adult-only productions in the Stage Noir Series and works for children in its Family Theatre Series are part of LSP's Mainstage Series.

Additionally, this volunteer-driven and community-oriented organization hosts various artistic events produced by other creative groups and organizations.

Your next creative outlet and source for local entertainment is the goal of the Rhode Center for the Arts.

Visit the Jurassic Period at Dinosaur Discovery Museum

Front View of Dinosaur Discovery Museum
Richie Diesterheft from Chicago, IL, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the main focuses of the Dinosaur Discovery Museum is the comparison between birds with meat-eating dinosaurs.

A historic 1908 Beaux-Arts landmark building refurbished in 2006 houses this museum dedicated to the evolution of birds from non-avian dinosaurs and has the most extensive bone cast collection of theropods (meat-eating) in the United States.

Dinosaur's Skull at  Dinosaur Discovery Museum
AStrangerintheAlps, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For example, Little Clint: The Story of a Baby Dinosaur, an interactive exhibit that recounts the adventure of a young T. rex from birth through fossilization, excavation, and the lab and ultimately to the museum, is on display.

Additionally, the Dinosaur Discovery Museum houses the Carthage Institute of Paleontology, a souvenir store, and many educational events for adults and children.

Catch a Baseball Game at Simmons Field

As a member of the Northwoods League, the Kenosha Kingfish compete in the lower leagues of baseball.

There is a wide range of entertainment for all ages at a Kenosha Kingfish game, from a dancing grounds crew to human bowling on the field to toilet seat races to a kid's zone with bobble-head rings and a bouncy house for the little ones.

Several refreshment stalls are available, and a large selection of craft brews and the team shop are open year-round and offer a wide variety of products.

Delight in Shopping and Listening to Local Music at HarborMarket

A group of pioneers who had the initial concept to introduce a market in the form of Europe to the City of Kenosha formed HarborMarket in 2003.

Their goal is to improve quality of life by bringing together local producers, makers of prepared and processed goods, and all sorts of craftspeople at their year-round Saturday marketplace.

HarborMarket is the perfect place to spend your Saturdays in the center city of Kenosha due to the warm, beautiful, and peaceful ambiance filled with fruit and flowers and great local music.

Find local foods such as fruits, veggies, meat, poultry, cheese, eggs, baked goods, honey, body care items, arts and crafts, and dog treats.

At HarborMarket, you may sample the tastiest prepared foods and freshest fruits and vegetables while taking in the picturesque views of a park.

Explore the Facilities of Stella Hotel & Ballroom

Exterior view of Stella Hotel & Ballroom
Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A popular landmark from the early 1900s, the Heritage House Inn and The Kenosha Elks Club, is currently known as The Stella Hotel & Ballroom after a historic refurbishment.

The sole complete-service hotel in the center of Kenosha offers 80 exquisite guest rooms and suites with cutting-edge facilities.

The hotel provides nostalgic one-bedroom Heritage Suites with rural decor, vintage-style architecture, and traditional but modern rooms.

Stop by for food and drinks at the three on-site restaurants: The 1844 Table & Mash, Café at The Stella, and Crow's Nest Rooftop Bar.

Other features include a fitness facility, business center, gift and novelty shop, and a recreation area featuring antique board games.

With more than 8,000 square feet of adaptable event space, it is the perfect location for business meetings, social gatherings, weddings, and more.

Pair Your Food with Exquisite Wines at Wine Knot Bar and Bistro

The earliest and lone wine bar in Kenosha was established in 2004 by Terry McDonald and Jesse Pentecost as Wine Knot Bar and Bistro.

It takes pride in its cuisine and service as a modest fine dining establishment.

The bar and bistro provide internationally-inspired American bistro cuisine.

You are guaranteed to discover the ideal wine to combine with your cuisine from their selection of over 50 wines by the glass, which they provide to pair their dishes like Salmon, Lamb Chops, Filet Mignon, and more.

Wine Knot Bar and Bistro also offers wine tastings that let you compare and contrast various wines and learn about the correlation between food and wine.

Taste German Cuisine at the House of Gerhard

The House of Gerhard provides excellent dining and service in a lovely setting brimming with old-school charm.

Being named Wisconsin's restaurateur of the year in 2009 fills them with pride and honor.

Their menu offers traditional American dishes and true German fares, such as Schweine-Haxe and Filet Mignon.

Every day, they provide the area's greatest prime rib of beef.

The House of Gerhard makes every event memorable, including birthdays, engagements, company luncheons, and get-togethers with loved ones and friends.

If you want a genuinely wonderful dining experience, stop by The House of Gerhard.

Stock on Fresh and Healthy Products at Kenosha Public Market

On the banks of Lake Michigan, near the venerable Kemper Center Simmons Auditorium, there is a bustling public market called Kenosha Public Market.

Each Saturday, browse the items from over 30 merchants.

Various fresh foods are available, including mushrooms, meats, eggs, cheeses, fruits, greens, jams, honey, pasta, pantry items, baked products, dog treats, soaps, and lotions, well as handcrafted arts and crafts.

The café lounge on the second floor offers comfortable seating with a view of the busy market downstairs.

Savor a hot apple cider, fresh coffee, or a beverage from the complete bar.

Shop and stock up at the Kenosha Public Market from January 7 through April 29 from 10 am to 2 pm.

Final Thoughts

With an abundance and variety of places to see and do, you'll indeed have a full itinerary in Kenosha.

Stay for a few days and experience the best Kenosha has to offer.

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