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15 Top Romantic Getaways in Wisconsin
Wisconsin offers plenty of secluded cabins and charming small towns perfect for traveling twosomes.
Quaint bed-and-breakfast accommodations, sumptuous spas and nature-filled retreats await couples vacationing in Wisconsin.(Courtesy of SundaraSpa.com)
Whether you and your sweetheart are looking for a cozy cabin in the woods, a quaint small town or a bustling city, you'll find it all in Wisconsin. Though America's Dairyland tends to be overshadowed by better-known Midwestern destinations like Chicago and Mackinac Island, Michigan, Wisconsin offers a diverse array of getaways that are perfect for couples.
Thanks to its perch on the coastlines of two Great Lakes (Michigan and Superior), Wisconsin boasts a variety of scenic hideaways. In fact, the state is home to the "Newport of the West" (Lake Geneva) and the "Cape Cod of the Midwest" (Door County), but without the inflated East Coast prices. Retreat farther inland and you and your beau will find remote chalets, energetic college towns and romantic bed-and-breakfast accommodations perfect for two.
Romantic Getaways in Wisconsin:
- Door County
- Big Bear Hideaway
- Canoe Bay
- Pinehurst Inn Bed & Breakfast
- The Osthoff Resort
- Lake Geneva
- Justin Trails Resort
- Sundara Inn & Spa
- The Charmant Hotel
- Hotel Retlaw, Trademark Collection by Wyndham
- Candlewood Cabins
- Eau Claire
This peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan is a top vacation spot for Midwesterners. In fact, every summer, the population balloons to nearly 10 times the number of year-round residents, from 28,000 to 250,000. And it's easy to see why: With its collection of 19 towns, 11 historical lighthouses, 300 miles of shoreline and five state parks, including an International Dark Sky Park, Door County offers plenty of variety. Since the region comprises more than 2,000 square miles, you and your partner will want to select a home base that's close to all of the attractions you're interested in exploring. Luckily, the region offers an array of accommodation styles to suit any couple's mood.
If you're looking for a classic bed-and-breakfast, consider the Thorp House Inn & Cottages in Fish Creek. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the inn offers six rooms and six cottages. For a secluded retreat, book the charming Finch Cottage, which is equipped with a gas fireplace, a kitchen and a patio. To add to the ambiance, opt for the inn's romance package, which includes extras like a bouquet, dark chocolate dried cherries and a bottle of wine. From here, it's easy to explore the nearly 3,800-acre Peninsula State Park, a haven for outdoor enthusiasts thanks to its bike trails, sand beach, golf course and lighthouse. Top off your day in Fish Creek with an evening at the aptly named Sunset Beach Park, one of the best spots along the bay to watch the sun dip below the horizon. From there, head to the White Gull Inn for a romantic candlelit dinner.
For a traditional hotel that's both adults-only and chock full of amenities, consider the Ashbrooke Hotel in Egg Harbor. Along with an indoor pool, a fitness center and an outdoor fire pit, the hotel offers spacious rooms and suites that feature gas-burning fireplaces and two-person spa tubs. From the Ashbrooke, you and your better half can embark on the Door County Wine Trail – a collection of eight wineries that specialize in fruit wines like cherry and apple. Traveler-approved eateries in Egg Harbor include Parador and The Fireside Restaurant.
Meanwhile, adventure-loving duos will want to head north to Washington Island, the largest of Door County's 30 islands that's home to just 600 residents. The main attraction here is Schoolhouse Beach. This unique shore is composed of limestone rocks and is one of only five sandless beaches in the world. Bed down in rustic cottages or rough it at a campsite when it's time to turn in. Consult the Washington Island Chamber of Commerce website for a full list of accommodation options.
It's no secret that Wisconsin is the country's top cheese producer (Wisconsinites aren't called cheeseheads for nothing), but the state's wine production is less well known. For a delicious getaway that promises wine, cheese and a cozy bed-and-breakfast for you and your better half, consider Cedarburg. Located a little more than 20 miles north of Milwaukee, Cedarburg offers a romantic retreat for couples in search of a charming small town. Start your visit with a tasting at Cedar Creek Winery, which occupies a former 19th-century woolen mill. Sample a variety of the winery's offerings with a flight, or indulge in a wine and cheese tasting. Along with traditional varietals like pinot grigio and cabernet sauvignon, Cedar Creek offers more unique options like its Cedarburg Spice, a sweet mulled red wine enhanced with clove and allspice.
If you haven't enjoyed your fill of cheese at the winery, head to the Cedar Valley Cheese Store, where you'll find more than 300 different Wisconsin cheeses. Purchase some cheese curds (a Wisconsin staple) to enjoy back at your bed-and-breakfast. Among Cedarburg's top accommodations is the Washington House Inn, a popular refuge for twosomes and parents in need of a kid-free getaway. Built in 1886, the inn offers 34 guest rooms spread across two buildings. Amenities vary by room but may include whirlpool tubs, fireplaces and free Wi-Fi access. No matter which accommodation you select, you'll be treated to a complimentary continental breakfast (made from scratch) each morning, as well as a free wine and cheese hour each evening. If you're hoping to dial up the romance, consider adding on truffles or a bottle of Champagne to your stay, or book the inn's Celebrate in Style Package, which includes two tour tickets to Cedar Creek Winery, a bottle of Champagne, two keepsake wine glasses, truffles and a bottle of Cedar Creek wine.
Big Bear Hideaway: Boulder Junction
If you and your significant other are dreaming of a secluded cabin in the woods perfect for nights spent cozying up by the fireplace, then plan a getaway to Big Bear Hideaway. Nestled in northern Wisconsin in the heart of the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, Big Bear Hideaway offers six year-round cabins, as well as two seasonal accommodations available May 1 through Oct. 31. All of the log and stone cabins are outfitted with traditional rustic decor (think: wood-paneled walls and ceilings, quilted bedspreads and plenty of bear, moose and fish motifs), plus full kitchens, fireplaces, satellite TVs, Wi-Fi access and linens, among other amenities. Accommodation options range from the Honey Bear cabin – a studio made just for two – to the Polar Bear Palace, which has the capacity to welcome up to 13 lodgers, an ideal option if you're vacationing with several other couples.
Outside your digs, you and your beau will find a variety of amenities on the grounds to enhance your stay, including a sauna, a pavilion with a fire pit and grills, a fish cleaning station and pontoon boat rentals. What's more, the nearby communities of Boulder Junction, Manitowish Waters and Minocqua provide ample opportunities for hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, snowmobiling and fishing. Keep in mind: There are no dining facilities on-site, so you'll either have to cook your own meals or venture into Boulder Junction to explore its restaurants and bars. For a memorable dinner that previous diners say will not disappoint, head to The Guide's Inn to sample regional specialties like pan-fried walleye.
Canoe Bay: Chetek
(Steve Niedorf/Courtesy of Escape RV)
Self-described as a "refuge for the most romantic souls," Canoe Bay is an adults-only retreat set on 300 forested acres in Chetek, a town located less than 50 miles north of Eau Claire. For many past visitors, Canoe Bay's quiet atmosphere and attentive staff were reasons enough to book a stay. But the secluded accommodations were what really sealed the deal. While you can book rooms in the inn or lodge, you may want to consider one of the stand-alone lake cottages or villas if you're hoping to turn up the romance. Along with gorgeous views of the lake, these accommodations, which range in size from 480 to 2,000 square feet, are equipped with stone fireplaces, private decks and two-person whirlpool tubs. Select accommodations also feature their own private Finnish sauna. For even more seclusion, book one of the tiny houses, which are perched on a hill just west of the inn. Though they only measure 400 square feet, the tiny houses manage to create quite the romantic ambiance thanks to window walls, screened-in porches and fireplaces.
When you and your partner are ready to venture outside your cozy digs, you'll find a variety of ways to engage with the property's stunning surroundings. In the warmer months, you'll have access to the hotel's fleet of canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. Those who prefer to stay on land can also make use of the miles of hiking and snowshoeing trails that surround the hotel. After a day exploring the grounds or admiring the lake, surprise your sweetie with an in-room massage. Afterward, you can enjoy dinner from your private deck via the hotel's mealtime delivery service, which is offered daily except Tuesday and Wednesday.
Pinehurst Inn Bed & Breakfast: Bayfield
Sitting pretty next to Pike's Creek on nearly 4 acres of white pine-covered land, Pinehurst Inn Bed & Breakfast offers an ideal retreat for twosomes on the hunt for a relaxing few days away. Situated in Bayfield, a tiny destination in northern Wisconsin, the inn houses just eight rooms across two buildings. Lodgers can take their pick between accommodations in the 1800s-era Main House or the more modern Garden House, which was built in 2003. Amenities vary by room but may include claw-foot tubs, fireplaces and private decks. No matter which room duos select, they'll be treated to a full breakfast each morning, an afternoon snack and access to the outdoor sauna, among other amenities. (Note that the sauna is currently closed due to the coronavirus.) For many past guests, the friendly innkeepers, three-course breakfasts and afternoon snacks (all prepared on-site) were the highlights of their stays.
You'll have to venture off-site for a full meal, but the innkeepers and past travelers can help steer you and your significant other in the right direction. Well-reviewed spots perfect for a memorable date night include the Landmark Restaurant at Old Rittenhouse Inn and the Pier Restaurant & Lounge, which offers stunning views of Lake Superior. When you're ready to get out on the water, sign up for a cruise of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, which is home to eight historical lighthouses, unique sea caves, beaches and more.
The Osthoff Resort: Elkhart Lake
The Osthoff Resort offers an ideal retreat for twosomes looking for a fully equipped property with a variety of amenities. For many previous lodgers, it provided the perfect backdrop to a memorable anniversary celebration. Overlooking Elkhart Lake in eastern Wisconsin – about 60 miles north of Milwaukee – the resort boasts multiple indoor and outdoor pools, a tennis court and seasonal bike rentals perfect for exploring the village of Elkhart Lake. Along with its own beach, the resort offers water sports equipment rentals like kayaks and canoes, as well as seasonal lake cruises during the day and at night. If you and your partner are looking for a more low-key afternoon, indulge at Aspira Spa, which offers a variety of facials, massages and body treatments.
When it's time to dine, you'll want to make the most of the resort's waterfront location by enjoying drinks on the Lake Deck, which is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day and hosts live music on select days. You can also admire the views from any of the property's three main dining venues – a particular highlight for recent guests. Past lodgers were also impressed with the accommodations. If you and your better half are celebrating something special, consider springing for one of the suites to enjoy a private balcony, a kitchenette and a two-person whirlpool tub.
Courtesy of Visit Milwaukee-Milwaukee Brewing Co
If you and your honey are looking for a big-city getaway at a wallet-friendly price, head to Milwaukee – the largest city in Wisconsin and a great budget-friendly alternative to cosmopolitan Chicago. Sitting on Lake Michigan's western shore, Milwaukee offers the ideal escape for culture-loving duos. Admire the lake from the 341,000-square-foot Milwaukee Art Museum, which displays more than 30,000 works of art, including one of the largest collections of works by Wisconsin native Georgia O'Keeffe. Even if you don't go inside, you'll still want to stop by the museum to check out its unique architecture, specifically the Burke Brise Soleil, a movable, wing-like sunscreen that sits on top of the museum's Windhover Hall. If the weather allows, you can watch the wings open in the morning, "flap" at noon and close in the evening. To see more of the city's top sights, opt for a narrated tour.
Amateur foodies will also find plenty of delicious options in Milwaukee. Stop by the Milwaukee Public Market to pick up provisions for a picnic at nearby Veterans Park, which offers cinematic lake and skyline views. Or, for a little more guidance on the city's best eats, sign up for a food tour. If you and your significant other are beer drinkers, you'll want to explore Milwaukee's brewery scene. (It is nicknamed Brew City, after all.) Traveler-approved favorites include Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee Brewing Co. and, of course, Miller Brewery. For a romantic dinner, visit the Balzac Wine Bar, Crazy Water or Sanford Restaurant. Then, retire to some chic digs. Hotel Metro wows with its art deco-inspired decor and cozy rooms, some of which are equipped with soaking tubs and fireplaces. The historic Pfister Hotel is equally grand, with a spa, a rooftop cocktail lounge and rooms that boast views of the lake and the city. For more options, see the Best Hotels in Milwaukee.
Called the "Newport of the West," southeastern Wisconsin's Lake Geneva is filled with stately mansions, cozy bed-and-breakfast accommodations and plenty of waterfront activities. Plus, Lake Geneva is an easy drive for Milwaukee couples since it's located about 50 miles southwest of the big city. Get a feel for the area's beautiful homes and scenic setting by walking hand in hand along the Geneva Lake Shore Path. The undulating path offers views of the many boats cruising across the lake, as well as the historical estates and landscaped gardens of the properties that line the trail. It's recommended that you start your stroll from the Lake Geneva Public Library, located downtown. To learn more about the history of Lake Geneva, sign up for a guided ghost tour.
When you and your beau are ready for a different perspective, get out on the water with Lake Geneva Cruise Line. If you and your better half are history buffs, you may want to opt for a narrated tour to learn more about the history of the lake's grand estates. Cocktail, jazz and sunset cruises are also available for those who prefer a more atmospheric sail.
Twosomes who love the challenge of a competitive day on the green will find more than 240 holes at 19 courses along the Lake Geneva Area Golf Trail. Meanwhile, lovebirds who prefer relaxing at the spa can head to one of several area resorts, including Grand Geneva Resort & Spa and The Abbey Resort, to indulge in a treatment or two.
When it's time to tuck in for the night, bed down at one of Lake Geneva's charming bed-and-breakfast accommodations. If you and your partner enjoy lavish decor like antique furnishings and ornate chandeliers, consider one of the city's historic properties like the Maxwell Mansion or The Baker House, both of which date back to the late 19th century and offer in-room fireplaces in select accommodations. For a more modern setting, hang your hat at SevenOaks, an adults-only bed-and-breakfast with private cottages outfitted with kitchenettes, two-person spa tubs and fireplaces, among other amenities.
[See: 16 Incredible Midwest Vacations.]
Justin Trails Resort: Sparta
If you and your partner are on the hunt for a romantic getaway but can't bear to leave your furry friend at home, plan a trip to Justin Trails Resort, a dog-friendly retreat in the state's Driftless Area. Across the bed-and-breakfast's 200 acres, you'll find a variety of dog-friendly trails where dogs can roam off their leashes. For many past guests, the pet-friendly policy and amenities were a major draw. There are also two disc golf courses on-site if you want to challenge your sweetie to a friendly game, as well as plenty of bird-watching and stargazing opportunities thanks to the resort's remote location.
As for the accommodations, you'll have your pick between a selection of suites, cabins and campsites. Choose a suite for access to amenities like a fireplace, a two-person whirlpool tub, a refrigerator, a microwave and a coffee maker. For a bit more seclusion, reserve the Little House on the Prairie log cabin. When you're not cozying up in front of the gas fireplace or relaxing in your private porch's rocking chairs, climb the ladder to the cabin's loft to relax in the whirlpool tub. All stays include daily homemade breakfast (a particular highlight for reviewers, who admitted to enjoying second helpings on more than one occasion), but to make your romantic escape even more memorable, book one of the resort's packages. The Romantic Escape Package includes Amish chocolates, a bouquet of flowers and wine from a local vineyard.
Situated in Sparta, about 30 miles east of La Crosse, the resort is a great jumping-off point for exploring the Driftless Area's attractions. Nature-loving duos will want to venture to Wildcat Mountain State Park and the Kickapoo Valley Reserve while foodies taste their way through the Driftless Wisconsin Wine & Cheese Trail.
Sundara Inn & Spa: Wisconsin Dells
(Courtesy of SundaraSpa.com)
Twosomes in need of some pampering will want to book a stay at Sundara Inn & Spa. Situated in Wisconsin Dells amid an 80-acre pine forest on the outskirts of Lake Delton, the adults-only inn fosters a tranquil atmosphere thanks to its electronics-free policy in the property's common spaces – a particular highlight for recent guests who praised the relaxing environment. What's more, since Sundara Inn houses just 36 suites, you and your beau won't be rubbing elbows with hordes of other guests. For an extra dose of seclusion, book one of the property's Woodland Suites or villas. These accommodations are separated from the main resort and come equipped with extra amenities like fireplaces and outdoor spaces perfect for admiring the towering pines.
When you're not lounging in your suite, you'll likely be at the spa. Boasting 26 treatment rooms, the spa offers a vast menu of massages, body scrubs and wraps, facials, bath treatments and salon services. After indulging at the spa with your sweetie, relax in one of the resort's "Tranquil Spaces," where you and your better half can meditate, read or simply drift off for a peaceful snooze. Equally relaxing are the property's pools, one of which features a swim-up bar and a gas fireplace running through the center of the pool. More active duos can take advantage of Sundara Inn's wellness activities, including guided hikes, yoga, Pilates, cooking demonstrations and seasonal pontoon cruises on Lake Delton. When it's time to dine, there's no need to change out of your robe – you and your sweetheart can stay in your suite or villa and enjoy dishes of wine-poached shrimp or lamb ragu.
The Charmant Hotel: La Crosse
(Courtesy of The Charmant Hotel)
Housed in a renovated 19th-century candy factory, The Charmant Hotel offers a sweet escape for you and your honey. Situated in downtown La Crosse, the 67-room boutique hotel celebrates its industrial roots with distinct architectural details, such as exposed brick, wood beams and maple wood flooring throughout. What's more, at check-in guests receive a treat from a local chocolate shop, Indulgence Chocolatiers, and the on-site Sweets Bar offers handmade chocolates 24 hours a day. Past visitors loved the hotel's attention to detail and the careful restoration of the interiors. Others were impressed with the rooms, which they described as comfortable and clean. If you and your sweetheart are looking to splurge, consider booking the Grand Salle room. From the room's wraparound balcony, which measures 300 square feet, you'll enjoy views of the Mississippi River and downtown La Crosse. Other amenities include a claw-foot tub, a rainfall shower, a dining table and a bar stocked with local products.
If you don't spring for a room with a river view, you can still make the most of the hotel's location by visiting the Rooftop Terrace, which offers wood-fired pizza, beer, wine and cocktails alongside sweeping city and water panoramas. For a more intimate date night setting, head to The Restaurant (the hotel's on-site eatery) or walk to The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern for white tablecloths and a farm-to-table menu.
Hotel Retlaw, Trademark Collection by Wyndham: Fond du Lac
Couples who appreciate stylish digs will enjoy a weekend getaway at Hotel Retlaw. Located in downtown Fond du Lac, the hotel has welcomed guests since 1923. Though the property has undergone several renovations since opening – most recently in 2019 – it stays true to its art deco roots with its ornate black-and-white decor and eye-catching chandeliers. Past guests described the hotel as beautiful, especially the rooms. If you and your beau are celebrating an anniversary or just want to treat yourselves, book one of the suites. These accommodations feature fireplaces, downtown views and separate living areas.
When you're not relaxing in your room, enjoy an indulgent treatment at the hotel's spa or toast to your love over handcrafted cocktails at the elegant lobby bar. (Note that the hotel's spa is temporarily closed due to the coronavirus.) You can also tuck in for farm-to-table dishes at the on-site Jazzmine's Brasserie or explore downtown Fond du Lac for more date night options.
Lakeside Park is another enchanting spot ideal for romantic strolls or even proposals. Spread across 400 acres along the southern shore of Lake Winnebago, the park offers plenty of space for twosomes to enjoy a picnic or sunset boat ride.
Candlewood Cabins: Richland Center
For couples in need of seclusion and a digital detox, Candlewood Cabins provides the ideal setting for unplugging. Tucked into the hills of southern Wisconsin's Richland Center, about 65 miles northwest of Madison, Candlewood Cabins offers seven accommodation options across 80 acres. Because of its remote location, the property's cell reception is spotty. And though Wi-Fi access and small TVs are available in most of the cabins, there are no TV networks, meaning the TVs can only play DVDs. Several previous guests recommend downloading a few maps for offline viewing since the cell reception is unreliable. However, without screens to distract you, you and your better half will enjoy plenty of uninterrupted time rekindling your love. There are a variety of walking trails surrounding the cabins, plus a picnic spot in one of the property's three fields that's perfect for watching the sun set or splitting a bottle of wine. In winter, you can rent snowshoes for exploring nearby trails. There are also a handful of state parks within an hour's drive of the cabins, including Devil's Lake State Park, as well as attractions like Taliesin, the former 800-acre estate of Frank Lloyd Wright.
In addition to traditional accommodation options like the Log Cabin, there are more unique settings, such as the Glass House. From the house's panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows, which comprise the four walls of the house, you can admire the surrounding woods while cozying up with your sweetheart. A footbridge connects the glass-enclosed portion to a more traditional enclosure housing a kitchenette and a bathroom. Note that select accommodations are only available seasonally and reservations for these in-demand cabins can book up to two years in advance.
[Read: Top Cabin Rentals in the U.S.]
If you and your partner fear you'd go stir-crazy in a secluded cabin in the woods but don't want to plan a big-city retreat, Madison may be the happy medium you seek. Though it's the state's capital city, Madison embodies a small-town spirit that makes it ideal for a romantic getaway. Nature loving-duos will want to start by exploring the nearly 20 miles of trails that crisscross the University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum. The trail system passes through restored prairies, savannas, woodlands and wetlands – perfect for adventure-loving twosomes. There's also the more manicured Olbrich Botanical Gardens, which sprawl across 16 acres and have a number of themed gardens ideal for a quiet romantic stroll or even getting down on one knee. For a casual date night, stake out a spot on the Memorial Union Terrace to watch the sun set below Lake Mendota while sharing a pitcher of beer. Or, get out on the water for an scenic evening boat ride with an outfitter like Betty Lou Cruises.
After cruising around the lake, head to the Capitol Square to enjoy a meal at one of several superb restaurants, including Italian-inspired Naples 15 and the old-school Tornado Club Steak House. When it's time to bed down, you'll find a number of accommodation options to suit your style. Bed-and-breakfast lovers will want to book a room at The Livingston Inn, which occupies a 160-year-old Gothic Revival-style house that is filled with charming antiques and cozy fireplaces perfect for snuggling up with your sweetie. Duos who prefer a more modern vibe should check in to The Edgewater. Sitting pretty on Lake Mendota, it offers stunning views from select accommodations, as well as an on-site spa perfect for spoiling your partner.
Situated at the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers, this university town in eastern Wisconsin makes for a low-key romantic getaway that also offers plenty of outdoor activities. Get a lay of the land with an enchanting stroll through downtown's Phoenix Park. Spread across about 9 acres along the Chippewa River, the park plays host to a free summer concert series and the Eau Claire Downtown Farmers Market. Plus, it's a popular proposal spot. For a break from the downtown area and plenty of bird-watching opportunities, nature-loving duos should head to Putnam Park, a 230-acre natural area that's managed by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Along with its meandering trails and wildlife, the park is home to Putnam Rock, which is affectionately known as the "kissing rock" since it's a favorite spot for couples keen on catching an incredible view of the Chippewa River at sunset.
If you and your beau prefer to observe art rather than wildlife, prioritize the city's sculpture tour. Eau Claire boasts the second-largest sculpture tour in the nation, with more than 50 sculptures scattered between the downtown area and the Water Street District. After you finish the sculpture tour in the Water Street District, reward yourselves with a delicious Italian meal at Mona Lisa's – a favorite date night spot for locals. Houligans Steak & Seafood Pub is another go-to thanks to its relaxed atmosphere and classic steakhouse menu. When it's time to tuck in for the night, check in to the adults-only Otter Creek Inn. This three-story English Tudor only offers six suites, all of which feature Jacuzzi tubs, fireplaces and a mix of contemporary and antique decor. Plus, every room rate includes a daily made-to-order breakfast.
More ways to explore Wisconsin and beyond:
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