15 Best Things to Do in Waukesha, WI

Waukesha, WI
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In its early days, Waukesha, Wisconsin, went by the nickname “Spring City” because of the abundance of clean and cool spring water in its territory.

This water supplied the various spas and resorts that came and went in town for a long time.

People also claimed this water had terrific health benefits, including Richard W. Sears, the founder of Sears and Roebuck.

Today, Waukesha remains a terrific place to visit because of its wide selection of natural attractions, historic sites, and vibrant downtown activities.

Modern times may have changed the city greatly, but it’s still a wonderful city to get lost in and escape the stress of daily life.

Do you want to know more about Waukesha, WI?

Check out this list below.

Spend the Day at Fox River Park

View of Fox River Park
Vince Mulhollon, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to immerse yourself in Wisconsin’s lush nature, Waukesha is the place for you.

For example, you can visit Fox River Park and enjoy all of its 257 acres comprising wetlands, open meadows, and marshlands.

Since the park is by the Fox River, you might also see the animals inhabiting the riverbanks.

Hikers could also follow along the paved Fox River Trail, which links up with the rest of the Waukesha trail system.

You can choose to hike the 2.25 miles of paved trails.

Otherwise, if you’re feeling rugged, you can try Fox River Park’s 4.3 miles of wooded trails.

Visit the Fox River Park at W264 S4500, River Rd, Waukesha, WI 53189.

Sip Fine Wine at the Pieper Porch Winery & Vineyard

This family-owned winery provides guests with an excellent variety of wines to help you beat the harshness of the Wisconsin summer or deal with winter.

Inside the winery, you’ll find a vineyard and a tasting room.

Named “Wine Flights,” the wine tasting offers guests Dry Wine, Semi-Sweet Wine, and Sweet Wine.

You could also mix wines you want from the 15 available bottles, and you can choose how many flights you can take.

The winery also features a 13,000-square-foot porch that gives you a great view of the surrounding Vernon wildlife.

You can also see a nearby marsh, the Fox River, and several tributaries.

Once you’ve settled on the porch, just open your packed lunch, swirl your wine, and relax.

Visit the Pieper Porch Winery & Vineyard at S67W28435 River Rd, Waukesha, WI 53189.

Try Craft Beer at the Raised Grain Brewing Company

In 2018, the Raised Grain Brewing Company completed its new brewery, stating its intent to invest in modern beer crafting technology.

They continue to offer sophisticated and innovative beers for tourists and enthusiasts, giving a new experience with every brew.

You can try a diverse menu of craft beer, from pilsners to IPAs, stouts, and pale ales.

The brewery also serves food so you can leave with a full experience.

Visit the Raised Grain Brewing Company at 1725 Dolphin Drive, Waukesha, WI 53186.

Explore the Outdoors at Minooka Park

You can also visit Minooka Park on the subject of parks, especially if you come to Waukesha from late May to early September.

During these months, you can swim in the four-acre park’s swimming pond.

However, if you don’t swim, you can simply fish. You’ll need to hike for a while before arriving at the park’s fishing area.

Covering 594 acres, the Minooka Park also hosts a nature hike involving different levels, which means you can get your workout in before fishing.

What fish can you find, though?

Here, you'll find trout, bass, and bluegill, among others.

If you have a mountain bike, you can pedal up the five-mile bike trail.

You can also bring your pup to play in the dog exercise area.

Visit the Minooka Park at 1927 East Sunset Drive, Waukesha, WI 53189.

Grab Fresh Produce at the Waukesha Farmers’ Market

If you visit Waukesha between May and October, you might want to head to the Waukesha Farmers’ Market.

You’ll receive fresh fruits, vegetables, and other products, and you’ll also support local businesses and farmers.

Locals and tourists flock to the market every Saturday morning to get the freshest food products available.

For over 20 years, the Waukesha Farmers’ Market has become a city institution.

It’s also become one of Wisconsin’s largest farmers’ markets.

Visit the Waukesha Farmers’ Market at 125 W St. Paul Avenue, Waukesha, WI 53188.

Study Nature at the Retzer Nature Center

View of Retzer Nature Center
Vince Mulhollon, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can get closer to the ground beneath your feet outside the planetarium by touring the Retzer Nature Center.

You can join the guided hikes that traverse the endless gorgeous prairies.

If you wish to experience it alone, you can also do the hike on your own.

Take all the photos you want.

Inside the center, you’ll also find native plants and wildlife displays.

Learn about the biodiversity in Waukesha through a memorable trip to the Retzer Nature Center.

Visit the Retzer Nature Center at S14 W28167 Madison St., Waukesha, WI 53188.

Revisit “Spring City” at Frame Park

In the late 1900s, people called Waukesha “Spring City” because of the spring water that flowed freely in the area.

Today, you can find these springs at Frame Park before having a picnic inside one of the park’s gardens.

After eating, you can run or walk along the paved trail running alongside the Fox River.

Otherwise, you can hop on your bicycles or rollerblades if you have them.

Grab some me-time by dropping your kids off at the playground.

The Fox River is also available for fun activities.

Just rent out a canoe, a paddleboat, or a kayak at the nearby High Roller Fun Rentals before going on the water.

Visit the Frame Park at 1150 Frame Park Dr., Waukesha, WI 53186.

Study the Cosmos at the Horwitz-DeRemer Planetarium

Your kids would appreciate a visit to the Horwitz-DeRemer Planetarium.

After all, who’s not curious about space?

You might even learn new things about what lies beyond our home planet.

The planetarium has hosted field trips and interactive activities as part of the Waukesha school district’s Earth and Space curriculum for many years.

Inside the planetarium, you’ll find an immersive 3-D environment that teaches difficult space topics in a fun and approachable way.

You can find the Horwitz-DeRemer Planetarium inside the Retzer Nature Center.

The center is at S14 W28167, Madison St., Waukesha, WI 53188.

Learn Local History at the Waukesha County Historical Society & Museum

If you’re a guitar player, or an amateur rock and roll historian, you’d want to visit the Waukesha County Historical Society & Museum.

Why?

The museum contains a permanent collection titled “Les Paul: The Wizard of Waukesha,” dedicated to the life of the creator of the signature electric guitar.

Otherwise, you can simply tour the other exhibits dedicated to the history of Wisconsin.

The museum building itself is a historical landmark, too.

It is the restored courthouse that dates back to the 1890s.

Visit the Waukesha County Historical Society & Museum at 101 West Main Street, Waukesha, WI 53186.

Visit a Trade Show at the Waukesha County Exposition Center

Sometimes, you just can’t think of anything you want to do for the day.

You could drop by the Waukesha County Exposition Center and attend a trade show or musical performance if that happens.

Anything can happen inside the Expo Center.

You literally won’t run out of entertainment options there.

Outside, you can also find a horse complex and an outdoor stage meant for shows and concerts.

Visit the Waukesha County Expo Center at 1000 Northview Road, Waukesha, WI 53188.

Browse Souvenirs at Antiques & Uniques on Main

Are you having trouble buying souvenirs for your family and friends?

If you don’t know what to bring back from Waukesha, try going to the Antiques & Uniques on Main.

The spacious mall hosts more than 85 antique dealers, selling various items like antiques and vintage collectibles.

The mall also contains architectural artifacts gathered from Waukesha County and Milwaukee.

On the mall’s 1,500-square-foot lower level, you can find objects like stained glass, fireplace mantels, period lights, furniture, and religious articles, among others.

Visit the Antiques & Uniques on Main at 250 W Main St., Waukesha, WI 53186.

See Live Shows at the Waukesha Civic Theatre

For 65 years and counting, the Waukesha Civic Theatre has delighted theatergoers with its lavish productions and live shows.

The longstanding theatre is also one of the 100 community theaters in the entire country that have operated for 60 years.

There are about 7,000 community theaters in the U.S if you want context.

The theatre hosts various shows, from cabaret performances to musicals and concerts.

They also screen selected films.

Visit the Waukesha Civic Theatre 264 W Main St., Waukesha, WI 53186.

Try Wine at Your Own Pace at the Spring City Wine House

If you don’t like wine because you think only pretentious snobs enjoy it, you might want to visit the Spring City Wine House.

Maybe they can change your mind.

How?

The owners have designed the wine bar to allow people to try whatever wine they want and enjoy them at their own pace.

One of the owners, Tom Hockel, is a “Certified Specialist of Wine.”

He’s also worked in the wine industry for more than 20 years.

Just pick from the 48 available wines inside the wine bar, ranging from Cabernet Sauvignon to Moscato.

Don’t even worry about what you pick.

A staff member will always be on hand to assist you.

Visit the Spring City Wine House at 336 W Main St., Waukesha, WI 53186.

Never Stand Still at Sky Zone Milwaukee

Working out doesn’t just mean running on a treadmill or lifting weights.

Sometimes, exercising can be fun, too.

Just ask satisfied customers coming out of the Sky Zone trampoline park at Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Besides basic trampolines, you can also engage in other physical activities there.

Put your friendships to the test with Ultimate Dodgeball or play gladiator with Sky Joust.

If you’re a frustrated hooper, you can dunk as many balls as you want with Sky Slam.

Visit the Sky Zone Trampoline Park at W229 N, 1420 Westwood Dr, Waukesha, WI 53186.

Trace the History of Rock & Roll Through the Waukesha Guitartown Murals

It’s only right for the birthplace of guitarist and inventor Les Paul to honor his contributions to rock and roll.

After all, legendary musicians like Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton have performed their iconic songs with a Gibson Les Paul.

Today, you can relive the history of rock and roll by walking along downtown Waukesha.

You’ll find many 10-foot fiberglass sculptures of guitars standing in various city locations.

Scores of local artists have painted these guitars, so each sculpture is different.

Besides guitar sculptures, you’ll also find several murals that depict the history of Waukesha and the life of Les Paul.

The nationally renowned Walldogs painted these murals.

These artistic tributes to Les Paul, who also died in Waukesha, cement the city’s reputation as a Gibson GuitarTown.

Final Thoughts

Waukesha is not only a “Spring City,” but it’s also a “Guitar Town.”

Besides those monikers, the city is also an excellent nature getaway, owing to its many parks and scenic adventure trails.

No matter your tastes, you’ll always find something to enjoy in Waukesha.

Only a few places can say that and mean it.