Home Travel 16 Top Romantic Getaways in Wisconsin

16 Top Romantic Getaways in Wisconsin

by Atlanta Business Journal

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 the Badger State tends to be overshadowed by better-known Midwestern destinations like Chicago and Mackinac Island in Michigan, Wisconsin offers a diverse array of romantic weekend getaways that are ideal for couples in the region.

Thanks to its perch on the coastlines of two Great Lakes – Michigan and Superior – Wisconsin boasts a variety of scenic, fun-filled 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.

The Best Romantic Getaways in Wisconsin

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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, and it’s easy to see why: With its collection of 19 towns, 11 historical lighthouses, 300 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and five state parks, including an International Dark Sky Park, Door County offers plenty of variety. Since the region spans 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.

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, and its “Romance Package” comes with extras like a bouquet, chocolates and a bottle of wine. From this inn, it’s easy to explore the nearly 3,800-acre Peninsula State Park, then enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner at the White Gull Inn or watch the sun dip below the horizon at the aptly named Sunset Beach Park. 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 and outdoor fire pit at the hotel, some of the spacious rooms and suites 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 nine wineries that specialize in fruit wines like cherry and apple. Traveler-approved eateries in Egg Harbor include Village Cafe and The Fireside Restaurant.

Meanwhile, adventure-loving duos will want to head north to Washington Island, the largest of Door County’s 30 islands, which is home to just 600 residents. The main attraction here is Schoolhouse Beach. This unique shore is composed of limestone pebbles and is one of only five sandless beaches of its kind 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.

A view of the last remaining covered bridge in the state of Wisconsin at Covered Bridge Park in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

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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 B&B 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 seasonal 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 cheeses. You can 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. Founded in 1846, the inn today offers 34 guest rooms spread across two buildings. No matter which accommodation you select – certain rooms offer whirlpool tubs and fireplaces – you’ll be treated to a complimentary continental breakfast (made from scratch) each morning, as well as a free afternoon wine and cheese hour. Dial up the romance by adding on chocolate truffles or a bottle of wine to your stay – or book the inn’s “Celebrate in Style” package, which includes two tour tickets to Cedar Creek Winery, a bottle of Cedar Creek wine, some sparkling wine, two souvenir wine glasses and chocolate truffles.

If you and your significant other are dreaming of a secluded romantic cabin in the woods and nights spent cozying up by the fireplace, plan a getaway to Big Bear Hideaway. Nestled in northern Wisconsin amid the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, Big Bear Hideaway offers six year-round cabins. These log and stone cabins are outfitted with kitchens and traditional rustic decor (think: wood-paneled walls and ceilings, quilted bedspreads, and plenty of bear and fish motifs). Certain accommodations also have gas fireplaces, among other amenities. 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 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, though, that there are no dining facilities on-site at Big Bear Hideaway, so you’ll either have to cook your own meals or venture into town. Consider dining at a traditional supper club like Smokey’s in Minocqua for favorites like steak and walleye.

Exterior of Canoe Bay.

(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 about 40 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 opt for a suite in the inn, there’s also a variety of stand-alone lake cottages or villas to choose from. Along with gorgeous views of the lake, these accommodations – which range in size from about 500 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 out, you’ll find a variety of ways to engage with the property’s stunning surroundings. In the warmer months, couples can access the hotel’s fleet of canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. Those who prefer to stay on land can make use of the miles of hiking and snowshoeing trails that surround the resort. After a day exploring the grounds or admiring the lake, surprise your sweetie with an in-room massage. You can cap off the day with dinner from your private deck via the hotel’s mealtime delivery service, which is offered almost every day.

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. Situated in Bayfield, a tiny destination in northern Wisconsin, this eco-friendly 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. For many past guests, the friendly innkeepers combined with the full breakfasts and afternoon snacks (which are all included with your stay and prepared on-site) were highlights at Pinehurst Inn.

You’ll have to venture off-site for other meals, but the innkeepers and past travelers can help steer you and your significant other in the right direction. Well-reviewed spots that make for a memorable date night include the Landmark Restaurant at Old Rittenhouse Inn and the Pier Plaza Restaurant, 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 – home to historic lighthouses, unique sea caves, beaches and more.

The Osthoff Resort offers an ideal retreat for twosomes looking for a fully equipped property with a variety of amenities. 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 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 in a custom couples massage at Aspira Spa.

When it’s time to dine, you may 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 the first week of October and hosts live music on select days. Lovebirds can also admire the views from any of the property’s three main dining venues. Along with the beautiful grounds, past lodgers were 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.

Aerial panorama view of Downtown Milwaukee at sunrise.

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If you and your honey are looking for a big-city getaway at wallet-friendly prices, head to Milwaukee – the most populous city in Wisconsin and a great affordable alternative to cosmopolitan Chicago. Sitting on Lake Michigan’s western shore, Milwaukee offers the ideal escape for culture-loving duos. Admire the natural beauty of the lake from the Milwaukee Art Museum, which boasts 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 the Burke Brise Soleil, a movable wing-like sun-screen that sits atop 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 – one of the top things to do in Milwaukee.

If you’re looking for a more adventurous outing, consider driving about 50 miles north to Kohler-Andrae State Park. Sitting pretty along the shores of Lake Michigan, the state park offers a bevy of recreational activities, including biking, boating, canoeing and hiking. There’s also more than 2 miles of beachfront and, for winter visitors, cross-country ski trails.

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 favorites include Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee Brewing Co. and Eagle Park Brewing Co. For a romantic dinner, visit Balzac, Zarletti or Sanford Restaurant. When it’s time to retire, Hotel Metro wows with its art deco-inspired decor and cozy rooms, some of which are equipped with soaking tubs and fireplaces. The Pfister Hotel is equally grand, with its spa, rooftop cocktail lounge, and rooms that boast views of the lake and the city.

A beautiful view of the waters of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin from the park.

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Called the “Newport of the West,” southeastern Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva is filled with stately mansions, cozy B&B 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 strolling hand in hand along the Geneva Lake Shore Path. The undulating, 25-mile-long walkway offers views of the many boats cruising across the lake, as well as of the historical estates and landscaped gardens lining 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 the two of you are history buffs, you may want to opt for a narrated tour to learn more about the history of the lake’s grand estates. Twosomes who love the challenge of a competitive day on the green, meanwhile, will find more than 240 holes at 19 courses along the Lake Geneva Area Golf Trail. Lovebirds who prefer relaxing at the spa can head to one of several area resorts, such as Grand Geneva Resort & Spa or 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 B&Bs. 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 1800s. For a more modern setting, hang your hat at the adults-only SevenOaks, whose private cottages are outfitted with kitchenettes, spa tubs for two, fireplaces and more.

(Courtesy of Justin Trails Resort)

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 pet-friendly retreat in the Driftless Area region of southern Wisconsin. Across the property’s 200 acres, you’ll find a variety of dog-friendly trails where pets can roam off their leashes. For many past guests, the pet-friendly policy and bountiful amenities were a major draw. There are 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 in Sparta. Justin Trails is also a great jumping-off point for exploring the Driftless Area’s attractions. Nature-loving duos may 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.

As for the resort’s accommodations, you’ll have your pick from a selection of suites, cabins and campsites. Amenities in the suites range from a fireplace and two-person whirlpool tub to a private porch. 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), but to make your romantic escape even more memorable, book one of the resort’s packages for extras like Amish chocolates and local wine.

Romantic getaways Wisconsin

(Courtesy of SundaraSpa.com)

Twosomes in need of some pampering can 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, facials, body scrubs and wraps, bath treatments, and salon services. After indulging at the spa, kick back 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 in a hammock. Equally relaxing are the property’s pools, one of which features a swim-up bar and a gas fire running through the center of the pool. More active duos may want to take advantage of Sundara Inn’s wellness activities, including guided hikes, yoga, meditation, 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 like vegetable risotto or parmesan-crusted halibut.

Romantic getaways Wisconsin

(Courtesy of The Charmant Hotel)

Housed in a renovated candy factory built in 1898, 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 and a dining table.

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. Open seasonally, it offers wood-fired pizza, beer, wine and cocktails alongside sweeping city and water panoramas. For a more intimate date night setting, couples can head to the hotel’s on-site restaurant or walk down the street to The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern for white tablecloths and a farm-to-table menu.

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. The Dillinger Suite in particular features fireplaces, downtown views and separate living areas.

When you’re not relaxing in your room, toast to your love over handcrafted cocktails at the elegant Lobby Bar. You can also tuck in for farm-to-table dishes at the on-site Table One restaurant or explore downtown Fond du Lac for more date night options. Lakeside Park is an 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.

(Peter Godshall/Courtesy of Anaway Place)

For couples in need of seclusion and a digital detox, Anaway Place provides the ideal setting for unplugging. Tucked into the hills of southern Wisconsin’s Richland Center, about 65 miles northwest of Madison, Anaway Place offers seven one-of-a-kind 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. Enjoy various walking and biking trails in the area, 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 go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing nearby. A handful of state parks and other attractions sit within about an hour’s drive of the cabins, including Devil’s Lake State Park and the 800-acre former 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 make up 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.

Aerial view of City of Madison. The capital city of Wisconsin from above. Drone flying over Wisconsin State Capitol in downtown. Sunny morning, sunrise (sunset), sunlight, summertime

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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 adventurous twosomes. There’s also the more manicured Olbrich Botanical Gardens, which sprawl across 16 acres and boast 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 a scenic evening boat ride with an outfitter like Betty Lou Cruises.

After cruising around the lake, head to the Capitol Square area 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 in Madison to suit your style. Bed-and-breakfast lovers may want to book a room at The Livingston Inn, which occupies a more than 150-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.

(Courtesy of Visit Eau Claire)

This university town in western 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 at the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers, 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 couples 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 tour, 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 Tudor-style home 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.

Downtown Green Bay Wisconsin city lights at twilight, aerial view.

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Green Bay is best known as the home of Lambeau Field, but there’s more to this eastern Wisconsin city than football. For a laid-back afternoon, venture to one of the seven wineries found within the greater Green Bay area. LedgeStone Vineyards & Winery offers an especially picturesque setting as it’s located at the foot of the Niagara Escarpment. If you and your partner prefer a more active date, consider exploring the many recreational trails that wind through Green Bay and surrounding counties. Paths like the East River Trail and the Devil’s River State Trail are particularly enchanting in fall when the leaves are changing color. After a day of activities, enjoy a memorable meal at one of Green Bay’s top restaurants. Traveler-approved date-night spots include Angelina, a cozy Italian eatery, and the classic Republic Chophouse.

Green Bay is home to a collection of boutique accommodations ideal for a romantic weekend getaway. For a cozy bed-and-breakfast, make reservations at the Astor House. Built in 1888, the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Most of the inn’s five rooms are equipped with gas fireplaces and two-person whirlpool tubs. Breakfast – which past travelers described as outstanding – is included in the rate. For a more modern retreat, consider Lodge Kohler, a four-star hotel located just 100 yards from Lambeau Field. The main draw here is the spa, which features a hot tub, a steam room, a sauna and a cool plunge pool, not to mention a suite of services like facials, massages, body treatments and more. Even if you’re not able to make an appointment at the spa, you can still enjoy a spa-like experience in your guest room. Bathrooms are equipped with Kohler products, including an in-shower digital remote that allows guests to control the temperature and water pressure of the shower heads.

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