Groups can embark on water excursions, nature hikes, and garden tours.
Boasting diverse topography, and natural wonders, Wisconsin offers plentiful outdoor activities for a fresh-air adventure. The state’s varied environments include the expansive Lake Michigan shoreline, rolling kettle moraine landscapes along the Mississippi River, and lush woodlands intersected by streams and waterfalls. If your group wants to stay near major cities, Wisconsin’s metro areas are home to preserves, zoos, and water excursions that can allow you to explore the outdoors with minimal travel time.
Dells Boat Tours’
In Wisconsin Dells, the classic activity is a relaxing trip past the sculpted sandstone cliffs and narrow gorges along the Wisconsin River. Dells Boat Tours’ double-decker vessels offer several options. From mid-April to early November, the one-hour Lower Dells tour showcases unusual rock formations like Hawk’s Bill and Baby Grand Piano, while the two-hour Upper Dells tour includes stops to walk through the cool passageways of Witches Gulch and witness the famous dog leap at Stand Rock. Another Dells must is a rollicking ride on the World War II amphibious vehicles that are the Original Wisconsin Ducks. This forest-and-water adventure is highlighted by barreling down Roller Coaster Hill and splashdowns into the Wisconsin River and Lake Delton.
South of Milwaukee in Sturtevant is Apple Holler, a 78-acre attraction that oversees farmland, orchards, and a family restaurant dedicated to the delicious magic of apples. Groups can select a u-pick adventure to admire the property’s 30,000 trees and dozens of apple varieties, relax in the Apple Cider Cafe or learn about American folklore on the Johnny Appleseed History Walk.
Step thousands of years into Wisconsin’s past with a group visit to Horicon Marsh, a 33,000-acre landscape of protected wetlands. Pontoon excursions can accommodate up to 50 people and will navigate the interconnected marshes to explain the environment’s importance as a nesting area for redhead ducks and great blue herons. Birdwatchers in your party will be delighted to spot the hundreds of species that congregate in this freshwater oasis, including egrets, pelicans, and majestic bald eagles. Groups can also stop by the Horicon Marsh Education & Center for a variety of interpretive programs and panoramic hilltop views.
Manitowoc is a quaint coastal community with a rich shipbuilding heritage and a charming downtown district. The town’s recreational crown jewel is Neshotah Beach, a six-mile strip of dazzling water views and unspoiled coast. If your group is interested in a short hike, nearby Point Beach State Forest offers 3,000 acres of shady woodland to explore and access to the Rawley Point Lighthouse. Constructed in 1894, this “skeletal style” maritime landmark rises 113 feet and can draw sailors for miles with one of the Great Lakes’ brightest lanterns.
Outdoor enthusiasts will want to walk the trails and see the waterfalls of Amnicon Falls State Park in Douglas County. The home of Wisconsin’s tallest waterfall can pair your group with a tour guide to explain how the falls were created from ancient earthquakes and lava flows that resulted in deep ridges and dramatic fractures on the Earth’s surface.
Lake Geneva Cruise Line
Nicknamed “The Newport of the West” for its opulent Victorian estates and waterfront views, the town of Lake Geneva and surrounding Walworth County draws visitors from across the nation who want to admire the sophisticated Victorian architecture, walk the charming downtown streets and embark on a waterfront cruise.
Lake Geneva Cruise Line offers narrated excursions aboard the Grand Belle Geneva, which will sail past the properties once owned by the Wrigleys of chewing gum fame, Samuel Allerton (the founder of the Chicago stockyards) and meatpacking mogul Edward Swift. Other cruises include a tour of the 1888 Black Point Estate, which was once home to a wealthy brewer, and the U.S. Mailboat Cruise (where you can witness a mail carrier quickly hop off the vessel and deliver mail to the waterfront homes before jumping back aboard). Lake Geneva Cruise Line can accommodate parties of varying sizes and offers discounted group rates in addition to specialty meal excursions such as the Sunday Brunch Buffet and Jazz Dinner Cruise.
Interested in other outdoor Walworth County activities? Walworth County: Lake Geneva and Beyond offer several sample itineraries that spotlight local state parks, farms, and nature preserves for groups to tour. The “Nature Calls” tour includes several local botanical gardens such as Northwind Perennial Farm and Congdon Gardens in addition to the 21-mile Geneva Lake Shore Path, which wraps around the lake and offers beautiful views of various waterside mansions. Visitors can also embark on an agritourism adventure with the “Down on the Farm” itinerary, which can include culinary demonstrations at Pearce’s Farm Stand and wagon rides at Royal Oak Farm Orchard.
Featuring 11 historic lighthouses, scenic byways that hug 300 miles of coastline, and acres of lush orchards, Door County is a destination brimming with outdoor activities. Orient your group to the peninsula with a motorcoach ride on the Door County Coastal Byway, which stretches 66 miles past Sturgeon Bay, the Niagara Escarpment Bluffs, and beautiful Lake Michigan vistas. Afterward, tour one of the area’s signature cherry orchards or wineries. Many offer guided tours and packaged meals, and you can purchase jams, jellies, and pies made on-site to bring back home. Groups can also charter a cruise to pass by coastal caves, 19th-century lighthouses, and historic marinas. Destination Door County can assist your group in chartering a boat or step-on tour to access these areas.