Go jump in a lake!
August 6, 2018 | Topics: Spotlight
A survey of public swimming beaches in and around Milwaukee
By Barbara J. Miner
Some swimmers like pools, while others prefer the unique pleasures of lake swimming. It’s that time of year when even Lake Michigan warms up enough for a dip — so here’s a look at some of the public beaches in and near Milwaukee — on inland lakes and Lake Michigan.
Many Lake Michigan beaches have been upgraded in recent years (for example, Bradford Beach and Atwater Beach). But E. coli and other microorganisms remain a concern. A good website to check conditions at beaches in Milwaukee County: http://milwcountybeaches.org/index.html.
In addition, the National Weather Service provides a daily “Recreational Beach Forecast” for Lake Michigan beaches from Sheboygan south to Kenosha — both weather and water conditions. Go to: https://www.weather.gov/mkx/beachhazardprogram
For information on swimming at Waukesha County Parks, including advisories and conditions: go to: https://www.waukeshacounty.gov/landandparks/park-system/swimming/
Note: The Waukesha County Parks System and the units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest have some great beaches—but they require an entrance fee. The Lake Michigan beaches in Milwaukee County are free and open to all.
Lake Michigan beaches in Milwaukee County, north to south.
Doctors Park / Tietjen Beach, 1870 E. Fox Lane, in Fox Point.
The beach is well below the bluffs, so be prepared to lug any beach accessories. But it’s worth it.
Klode Park, 5900 N. Lake Dr., Whitefish Bay.
Klode is a Village of Whitefish Bay park. Located down a concrete path just east of Lake Drive, it’s relatively uncrowded.
Atwater Beach, East Capitol and North Lake Drive, in Shorewood.
Atwater is a Village of Shorewood park. It has a 5-acre open space including the sandy Atwater Beach, public art and a playground. There’s an especially great lake view from the hill on top.
Bradford Beach, 2400 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., Milwaukee.
This is the beach to see and be seen — and play volleyball. Do you want to experience an iconic urban beach? Go to Bradford. There are lifeguards — and special events every week, from sand sculpting to Harley-Davidson beach racing. For info: http://bradfordbeachmke.com/main.html
McKinley Beach, 1750 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., Milwaukee.
McKinley is popular but generally quieter than Bradford Beach. There’s also easy access to the McKinley Marina and McKinley pier, for an always-memorable walk out onto the lake.
South Shore / Bay View Park, 2900 S. Superior St., Milwaukee.
South of downtown, in Bay View, South Shore Park has a pavilion, a sandy beach, and a good children’s playground. Water quality is sometimes iffy, so check before you go.
Grant Park, 100 S. Hawthorne Ave., South Milwaukee.
The beach is within Grant Park, one of the jewels of the Milwaukee County Park system. If you don’t feel like swimming, the Seven Bridges Trail is not to be missed.
Bender Park, 4503 E. Ryan Rd., Oak Creek
The beach at Bender Park is somewhat small, but the park a good example of how Milwaukee County is home to a number of neighborhood parks that offer a needed respite from city life.
Farther out and about
Pewaukee – Lakefront Park, 222 W. Wisconsin Ave, Pewaukee.
A City of Pewaukee public beach on Pewaukee Lake. Lifeguards are on duty through mid-August. Parking is sometimes a hassle, but the beach is free.
Waukesha County Parks
This 223-acre park is well known for its sandy beach on a 25-acre quarry lake. A favorite with city people who don’t want to drive too far. A triathlon swimming permit allows you to swim beyond the buoys.
Menomonee Park (known as the Lannon Quarry), W220-N7884 Town Line Road, Menomonee Falls.
There’s 106 feet of sand along the beach, with a 16-acre quarry lake. A triathlon swimming permit allows you to swim beyond the buoys.Make it a day and take your bicycles for a ride along the nearby Bugline Recreational Trail—12 miles of crushed limestone.
Minooka Park, 1927 E. Sunset Drive, Waukesha.
A 4-acre swimming pond within Minooka Park, the largest park in the Waukesha County Park System.
Mukwonago Park, S100W31900 County Hwy LO, Mukwonago
The park features a 1.2-acre spring-fed swim pond with sand beach. The park also has a 16-acre spring fed lake.
A 1-acre pond and swimming beach, located within a 193-acre park. Not the biggest swimming area, but, just off I-43, easier to get to for people who live south of downtown.
Naga-Waukee Park, 651 Highway 83, Hartland.
Located just north of I-94, the beach is on the waters of Lake Nagawicka. The park itself spans 206 acres.
Kettle Moraine State Forest Units
Southern Unit – Ottawa Lake Recreation Area, County Highway ZZ, just west of Highway 67, in Dousman.
A 17-acre lake with a public beach and boat landing. A sweet little lake, without any gas-powered motorboats. Campground nearby.
Southern Unit – Whitewater Lake, W7796 Kettle Moraine Drive, Whitewater.
Whitewater Lake is a 625-acre lake located in Walworth County. If you love mountain biking, the lake is close to the mountain biking trails in La Grange.
Northern Unit – Mauthe Lake, N1490 County Road GGG Campbellsport.
A classic Milwaukee day-trip destination, Mauthe Lake has a swimming beach on a 70-acre lake entirely within the state forest. Because the lake is relatively small, no gas-powered motorboats are allowed.
Northern Unit – Long Lake, N3450 Division Rd, Cascade.
Long Lake is a 423-acre lake with two swimming beaches—and about 200 campsites. The lake is not far from the Greenbush mountain biking and hiking trails.
Pike Lake Unit – Pike Lake, 3544 Kettle Moraine Rd, Hartford.
Pike Lake is a stand-alone unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest along the eastern edge of the 446-acre Pike Lake. Most of the lake is surrounded by private property, and there’s substantial boating activity.
Barbara J. Miner is a Milwaukee-based writer and photographer. Selected photos from her series Massive Unapologetic Resistance are currently on display at Art*Bar in Riverwest. Website: www.BarbaraJMiner.com; Blog: BarbaraJMiner.blogspot.com.
Photos by Eddee Daniel, Preserve Our Parks board member and project director for A Wealth of Nature.