25 mile radius: exploring Port Washington

“The Bachelor” has ended, award season is over, and Wisconsinites are now impeding the inevitable doom that is boredom. I, however, have made it my goal this spring to overcome the post-reality TV depression. Mother Nature has gifted Wisconsin with spring early this year, so it’s time for hikes along Lake Michigan and coffee in the Third Ward.


Southern Wisconsin is known for its quaint Midwestern towns such as Cedarburg and Grafton, and they say good things come in threes. Port Washington, with its postcard-worthy backdrop of Lake Michigan and charismatic downtown, is the third pea in this charming town pod.

According to the many informational boards around the city, Port Washington was formed in 1846 as a town and a port and exported things such as cord wood and fish. In 1896, commercial fishing became popular in the area and still exists today. If you take a stroll in the marina, you can see all the family-owned and operated fishing companies.

A pier at the Port Washington Marina
One can enjoy the lake breeze at the Port Washington Marina. Photo by Margaret Martin


Speaking of strolls, Port Washington is the place to stretch those sea legs. With dozens of shops downtown and a pier out to the Breakwater Lighthouse, it is easy to spend a day exploring Port. You can hike up the stairs off of Jackson street to the 1860 Light Station, or you can make your way down Franklin Street and basically teleport to New England. Walking past the historic post office or the Dockside Deli transports you to the east coast, and these are only a few of the many shops on Franklin. Why fly to Boston when you can bike to Port?

Off of Franklin Street, one can climb the stairs leading to the 1860 Lighthouse
Off of Jackson Street, one can climb the stairs leading to the 1860 Light Station. Photo by Margaret Martin


If you’re looking to silence that sweet tooth, stop in at the Daily Banking Company, where Coke is sold in glass bottles and brownies come in bulk. After you’re done contemplating whether or not to permanently settle in this café, wander down to the Duluth Trading Company so you too can look the part of an east-coaster. This shop is the place to go for the perfect outdoor get-up and real flannels. And by real flannels, I mean actual flannel material — none of that thin synthetic fiber nonsense.

Franklin street has many shops that one can easily spend a day exploring
Franklin street has many shops that one can easily spend a day exploring. Photo by Margaret Martin


Port Washington is a hub of activities, from fishing to biking, going to the Winter Farmer’s Market, experiencing the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Tournament and even bird watching. Not all of it can be enjoyed in the 24 hour limit of a day, so why not start now? This weekend, instead of binging on Netflix, binge on a good fish fry and watch the crystal blue waves of Lake Michigan crash against the break walls.

A panoramic view of the charming Port Washington Harbor
The Port Washington Harbor presents charming panoramic views that one can stare at for hours. Photo by Margaret Martin


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