15 Best Things to Do in Manitowoc, WI

Manitowoc, WI
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Wisconsin is one of the United States’ best producers of dairy, beer, and lumber.

It’s also where you’ll find the most vibrant Native American culture.

Furthermore, it’s also one of the best destinations for vacation and leisure because of its parks, nature reserves, and vast lakes.

Often, people are drawn to Milwaukee and Madison.

However, there are a lot of cities and towns that are as equally beautiful as these two.

One of these is the maritime capital of Wisconsin, the city of Manitowoc.

This coastal city is home to 32,700 people and is the seat of Manitowoc County.

Manitowoc takes great pride in being the maritime capital of the entire state.

It is also where you’ll find a charming community that takes care of its history through its museums, historical landmarks, and parks.

You can also find dozens of inns, pubs, restaurants, and recreational sites that perfectly complement the city’s natural beauty.

There are many family-oriented activities there suitable for outdoor enthusiasts, art lovers, and history buffs.

To put it simply, Manitowoc is a unique and exciting place to visit.

So, here are the 15 travel-worthy things to do in Manitowoc, MI:

Discover the City’s Rich Maritime History at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum at Manitowoc

View of Wisconsin Maritime Museum at Manitowoc
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The city of Manitowoc is also the home to one of the most extensive maritime museums in the Midwest, the Wisconsin Maritime Museum.

This museum is an interesting and wonderful place to explore if you’re very keen to discover Manitowoc’s rich maritime history.

View of Wisconsin Maritime Museum at Manitowoc
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The museum is seated beside the famous Lake Michigan, while the entire facility offers you 60,000 square feet of space for exploration.

The museum also offers you interactive and very captivating exhibits and galleries, featuring old artifacts, photographs, documents, etc.

View of Wisconsin Maritime Museum at Manitowoc
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It’s also where you will find several well-preserved World War II submarines from the United States Navy docked at the museum’s marina.

To reach the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, it is at 75 Maritime Dr, Manitowoc, MI.

The museum opens its doors daily from 10 am to 4 pm but closes every Wednesday.

View of Wisconsin Maritime Museum at Manitowoc
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Take Beautiful Photos of the West of the Lake Gardens

This place in Manitowoc is a 6-acre beautifully-manicured garden teeming with beds of roses, succulents, cacti in different colors.

It has an Eastern-inspired design garden that blooms every May to October, making it a perfect backdrop for beautiful photos you can post on social media.

This garden was owned initially by philanthropist couple John and Ruth West in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in 1934.

Before it got converted into a beautiful garden, it was formerly a right of way for streetcars.

Also, it was once home to 30,000 tulips before it grew different flowers and ornamental plants.

West of the Lake Garden’s house, the focal point of the entire property, is a masterpiece of John West nicknamed “Shoebox Estate.”

To visit this beautiful garden property, it is at 15 Memorial Dr, Manitowoc, WI.

It allows visitors to roam there from 10 am to 5 pm.

Celebrate Manitowoc’s Rich History at the Pinecrest Historical Village

People at Pinecrest Historical Village
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This 40-acre former farmland in Manitowoc got converted into a historical site by the Manitowoc Historical Society in 1977.

The Pinecrest Historical Village is where you will learn most about Manitowoc’s vibrant history and culture.

It has more than 30 historic structures from around the United States and was relocated there to preserve its state.

The village is technically an open-air museum, and when you visit there, you can start on either of its three sections; the Growing Community, Civic Center, and the New Comer Era.

People at Pinecrest Historical Village
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However, it would be better to start your tour at the Newcomer area where you’ll learn about the history during the 1800s.

You can proceed to tour the Growing Community for 1900s history and the Civic Centre, which tells you about the story of the transformation of Manitowoc City.

To visit this interesting museum, it is at 924 Pine Crest Ln, Manitowoc, WI.

The museum opens from 10 am to 4 pm except on Mondays and Tuesdays.

People at Pinecrest Historical Village
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Go Ice Skating at Manitowoc County Ice Centre

If you want to learn ice skating or perhaps flex your ice-skating skills to everyone, head to Manitowoc County Ice Center at 4931 Expo Dr.

This indoor ice center, which opened in 1995, is where you can enjoy numerous ice-skating-related activities such as figure skating, ice hockey, and many more.

The place also offers different ice-skating-related workshops or classes.

So, this also might be your perfect chance to learn figure skating or enjoy gliding on ice along with locals.

To visit this ice rink facility, it opens every weekend from 1 pm to 3 pm.

Learn About Manitowoc’s History and Culture at the Rahr West Art Museum

View of Rahr West Art Museum
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This museum in Manitowoc is a heritage home built during the 1800s by the city’s former mayor, Joseph Vila.

After his passing, the house underwent restoration through Reinhard Rahr’s efforts.

Today, the house is one of the city’s most beloved museums.

It houses dozens of sculptures and artifacts from different parts of the world.

Some of the sculptures you find there are Ivories, Simon Schwartz, and antique dolls.

View of Rahr West Art Museum
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In addition, the museum also has a collection of artworks from Picasso, Georgia O’Keefe, Isadore Bonheur, and Andy Warhol.

There are many regular events like exhibits and art conventions happening at the museum year-round.

The Rahr West Art Museum is at 610 N 8th St, Manitowoc, WI.

This museum Manitowoc is open from 10 am to 4 pm but is closed every Monday.

Interact With Farm Animals at the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center

If you’re bringing your kids with you when visiting Manitowoc, the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center is one of the best places to bring them.

They can interact and get up close with farm animals such as cows, calves, chickens, goats, sheep, etc.

The place also lets you experience how calves are born or take care of these farm animals.

It has exhibits that you and your kids can interact with, such as the proper way of raising farm animals and food crop production.

The place also has an extensive dairy farm and a birthing barn.

After getting up close with farm animals, you can wrap up your visit at the center’s café, which serves farm-to-table food items.

The Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center is at 7001 Gass Lake Rd, Manitowoc.

They welcome visitors every Thursday to Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm.

Enjoy the Outdoors at the Henry Schuette Park

This beautiful park is adjacent to the scenic Manitowoc River.

It is ideal for relaxation and outdoor activities like picnics, hiking, fishing, or biking.

This outdoor space in Manitowoc is vast, so you’ll probably need to spend your entire afternoon roaming this great place completely.

You’re guaranteed to enjoy every minute there because of its beautiful natural features and of course dozens of outdoor activities to do.

This park features walking trails, playground areas, picnic tables, fishing spots, and a fitness obstacle course.

You won’t have a shortage of exciting stuff you can enjoy at the Henry Schuette Park at 3800 Broadway St, Manitowoc, WI.

Plus, the park’s trails are turned into skiing trails during winter, so it would be great to visit there during the winter months.

This park is open from 6 am to 11 pm daily.

Enjoy Delicious Food and Drinks at the Courthouse Pub

Front View Courthouse Pub
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The Courthouse Pub is one of the most beloved restaurants in Manitowoc.

The restaurant is a wonderful place to dine at not just because of its excellent menu, but also because of its location.

The Courthouse Pub is housed in a well-preserved 18th-century building in Manitowoc.

The building’s features and designs still look beautiful and perfectly complement its cozy atmosphere, good food, and wonderful wine selection.

If you’re seeking fine dining in Manitowoc’s downtown, the Courthouse Pub is your go-to restaurant.

To visit this restaurant, it is at 1001 S 8th St, Manitowoc, WI.

The Courthouse Pub is open from 11 am to 9 pm, except for Mondays.

Check Out the Historic Sputnik Crash Site

Manitowoc is already known across Wisconsin as a beautiful place to visit, but the city became more popular when some Russian spacecraft Sputnik IV debris ended up there.

Many of the seven-ton debris of the spacecraft vaporized while entering the atmosphere except for a 20-pound piece of metal that crashed right into Manitowoc’s 8th Street.

However, the debris was eventually given back to Russia.

The exact crash site, however, is still existing today in the middle of 8th Street.

It’s pretty easy to find the crash site since the exact place where the debris landed has a brass ring around it.

Meanwhile, some of the smaller debris of Sputnik IV are housed at the Rahr West Art Museum.

Get a Glimpse of Wild Animals at Manitowoc Lincoln Park Zoo

Entrance to Manitowoc Lincoln Park Zoo
Asher Heimermann, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Your visit to Manitowoc won’t be complete without visiting its only zoo, the Manitowoc Lincoln Park Zoo at 1215 N 8th St.

This place is perfect for a family-oriented activity in the city.

Get a closer look at wild animals like lions, bears, leopards, tigers, and a lot more.

This place is virtually open year-round, so most probably, you can go there anytime you want.

Aside from common zoo animals, this place also houses different exotic animals that usually live on rivers.

Plus, there are interactive activities you and your loved ones can enjoy.

The zoo opens from 7 am to 3 pm daily.

Munch on Comfort Food at The Fat Seagull

You will come across dozens of shops, restaurants, and bars in downtown Manitowoc, and one of its most popular places to visit is The Fat Seagull.

The Fat Seagull Bar and Grill offers you some of your favorite comfort food, such as burgers, sandwiches, soups, wraps, meat, and daily specials.

They take pride in their Friday Fish Fry, which is everyone’s favorite.

Also, customers can pair their comfort food with 17 taps of different draft beers or their extensive collection of wines, spirits, and other alcoholic beverages.

Furthermore, The Fat Seagull has musical performances regularly while it has private function rooms for affairs.

The Fat Seagull Bar and Grill is at 807 Quay St, Manitowoc, WI.

The restaurant and bar are open from 11 am to midnight.

Enjoy the Breeze at the Manitowoc Marina

View of Manitowoc Marina
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The Manitowoc Marina is seated beside the picturesque Lake Michigan.

This place is a popular and one-of-a-kind tourist spot in Manitowoc.

The marina is well-maintained and features numerous boats docked on it.

Many people visit this place regularly to breathe fresh air and relax while watching the scenic Lake Michigan.

Also, it has several restaurants, shops, and a park adjacent to the marina that you can visit after.

The focal point of the entire marina is its lighthouse, where you can take beautiful photos for your social media.

A pleasant afternoon walk along this famous Marina is the perfect activity to cap off your day in the city.

The Manitowoc Marina is at 425 Maritime Dr, Manitowoc, WI.

The marina opens to the public from 8 am to 5 pm.

Step Inside the Historic USS Cobia Submarine

The USS Cobia is proudly perched in the Wisconsin Maritime Museum’s docks.

The submarine served during World War II after its launch in 1943 and had a key role in helping the United States win the Pacific Theater of War against the Japanese.

View of Historic USS Cobia Submarine
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The USS Cobia was officially decommissioned on March 19, 1954, and since then, it’s perched on Wisconsin Maritime Museum for the public to visit.

Due to age, the historic submarine has been restored numerously both its exteriors and interior to preserve its original state.

Taste Top-Notch Dairy Products at the Pine River Dairy

The Pine River Dairy has been operating for more than 70 years in Manitowoc.

The Olm family, the owner of the Pine River Dairy, takes pride in their great cheesemaking heritage, which started way back in 1877.

The previous generation of the Olm family continued their magnificent cheesemaking tradition by purchasing the Pine River Dairy back in 1932.

Nowadays, the Pine River Dairy is being taken care of by the Olm Family’s sixth generation and continues to produce Wisconsin’s finest dairy products.

The dairy company boasts more than 250 varieties of cheeses that you can buy at its retail store adjacent to the manufacturing plant.

To visit the Pine River Dairy, it is at 10115 English Lake Rd, Manitowoc.

Swim at the Manitowoc Family Aquatic Center

If you’re longing to go swimming with your family, head to the Manitowoc Aquatic Center, which offers many exciting features.

The place has several extensive pools, an open waterslide, floor fountains, mushroom waterfalls, an enclosed waterslide, diving boards, and a heated pool for ultimate enjoyment.

If you want to relax, the Manitowoc Family Aquatic Center has restaurants, lounge chairs, a spacious deck, a bathhouse, and a playground area.

Lastly, it has convenient changing rooms.

To visit the Manitowoc Family Aquatic Center at 940 N 18th St, Manitowoc, WI.

They open their pools from 12 noon to 7 pm.

Final Thoughts

As Wisconsin’s Maritime Capital, the City of Manitowoc has so much to offer for travelers like you.

The 15 listed above are just a few of the hundreds of things to do there, which will surely be filled with fun, interest, and excitement.

You will surely never have dull moments in this city.

So, don’t forget to revisit this post to guide you through your Manitowoc travel adventure soon.