10 Best Places to Visit in Racine, Wisconsin (2023)
If you love discovering small cities, having a trip to Racine is mandatory for you. Racine is a historic factory town sitting on the shores of Lake Michigan. The city lies right between Milwaukee and Chicago, thus a favourite spot for residents of both. Anyone living or visiting Racine can certainly enjoy live music on the waterfront, indulge in lip-smacking evening snacks and spend time with family and friends. In 2017, Racine was also listed as the most affordable city to live in the world; and thus, even a visit for outsiders here stays under budget.
Tourism in Racine can be found in a number of ways. There are museums, historical buildings, beaches, animal facilities, education centres and outdoor recreational spots to explore. You might behave surprised but Racine has some of the leading attractions in the world.
10 Best Places to Visit in Racine, Wisconsin
Following all of them, here is a complete guide on Places to visit when in Racine. Have a look:
1. Racine Zoo
Racine Zoo or the Racine Zoological Garden is home to remarkable and endangered wildlife. This 28-acre Zoo is situated on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan and is ideal for both kids and adults. The collection of animals here focuses more on Wisconsin Natives though a few internationally endangered species also are found here. The Zoo is home to over 100 species of animals, including mammals, amphibians, invertebrates, reptiles and birds. Apart from the animals, there is a discovery centre, a kid’s Zoo, a kid’s playground, and small ponds. Guests visiting here can feed the animals, or for added fun, go for behind the scene tours and safaris. During Summer Sundays, the Zoo also organizes band concerts and animal-oriented series.
2. Racine North Beach
North Beach isn’t just Racine’s best but also one of the finest beaches in the entire Midwest. The 50 acres of pristine North Beach is located in downtown Racine and thus is a centre of attraction. Here visitors can find facilities for kayaking, boating, swimming and other watercraft. Or the sandy stretch also allows for sunbathing, picnicking, beach walking, and Volleyball. Throughout the summer season, there are lifeguards on duty, ensuring the safety of every visitor. Admission and parking here are absolutely free, so no matter how off you are on a budget, this is a place you can always visit. Considering it is one of the family-friendly and best freshwater beaches in the U.S., a visit here is truly a must when in Racine.
3. River Bend Nature Center
For enjoying nature-oriented activities, visit the River Bend Nature Center in Racine. It is basically a 78 acres serene park operating for half a century, welcoming thousands of visitors every year. The area is rich with several ponds, river frontage, hiking trails, green beds, and woodlands to explore. During warmer months, guests can indulge in kayaking, canoeing, woodworking, archery etc. And once the snow season touches the graph, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing takes the front seat here. The Nature centre also operates educational events on biodiversity and ecology throughout the year. However, if you want to go the simple yet beautiful way, a hiking trip here will never disappoint you. Those boardwalks passing through swampy areas and other natural paths will definitely keep you excited and entertained.
4. Racine Heritage Museum
Once the Carnegie library, the Racine Heritage Museum is a top-rated attraction in Racine. This historical museum is within a two-story Beaux-Arts style / Renaissance Revival building, a complete Bedford limestone make. Inside the museum lies an extensive collection of exhibits and stories telling how Racine turned into a factory town. There are struggle and achievement stories of people who once were the native. Here, some of the exhibit highlights include ‘This Train is Bound for Glory’, ‘Racine County: Factory for the World’, and ‘Frank Lloyd Wright in Racine’. Other unique must-see additions here include an Egyptian Mummy and a 1927 touring car. Though entry to the museum is free, they do appreciate donations.
A retreat and a conference center, Wingspread is a pristine stop on the shores. This notable architectural space has three buildings and about 40 guest rooms housed in 30 acres spread of land. The architectural highlight here is the four-winged pinwheel and the bronze sculptures. Not a surprise; Wingspread is a Frank Llyod Wright work and thus has all of the bests from his work. The entire structure then was built with limestone, brick, tinted stucco and cypress. Since 1990, it is also a part of the National Historic Landmark. Though Wingspread commonly is available for public events, they also operate visiting tours on demand. Hence if you are interested in a splendid Frank Llyod building, definitely add this to your Racine itinerary.
6. Hot Shop Glass
The history of glass blowing in Racine is well spread, and the Hot Shop Glass has still kept it alive. It was initially a part of the Prairie School art department but later turned into a glass-making studio and gallery. Hot Shop Glass today sits on downtown Racine and offers both tours and lessons. Guests can learn to make their own glass ornament even in less than two hours. Or by visiting seasonal classes during Valentine, Halloween etc., one can learn even more varieties of this art. Private classes here operate for $65, whereas group classes provide a discount. The studio operates Monday through Saturday during day hours. Even though if you aren’t interested in learning the art, you can still visit here to observe their collection.
7. Wind Point Lighthouse
Just north of Racine, the Wind Point lighthouse is sitting in the small village known as Wind Point. It is one of the tallest (108 feet) and oldest continuously operating lighthouses on Lake Michigan. This 1880th lighthouse has a foghorn that aimed signals 10 miles into the lake. During the times of operation, they used Fresnel lens in the lighthouse, which has a separate but worth story knowing about. Today, the Wind Point Lighthouse operates on certain days of the year. While days are uncertain, the website still keeps updating every now and then. The cost of a tower climb is $5 for kids, whereas $10 for adults. However, if you happen to reach here when tours are off, the surrounded area has still much to offer. There’s a golf course nearby, with a memorial path and extensive green spread for picnicking around. And the Lake Michigan beach area is the ultimate attraction of the space.
8. Racine Art Museum
If admiring art is your casual hobby, then do visit the Racine Art Museum. Housing over 9500 objects, the museum is known for its largest and most significant contemporary craft collection in North America. In 1938 the first exhibit here operated with just 96 paintings by Wisconsin artists; however, the collection grew into such grandness with years. The growth of collection here was so extensive that Racine Art Museum shifted to a larger place, donating the original building for an educational centre. On exploring inside the museum galleries, guests can find artwork in the form of Ceramics, wood, handmade books, fibre, glass, metal, pictures, paintings and artefacts.
Along with the collection, its award-winning architecture adds to the museum’s National reputation. Also, the museum keeps changing its exhibitions seasonally to keep the engagement at its best. So, the next season you visit here, a new collection you will notice.
9. Racine Eateries
Finding good food in Racine was never a struggle, but with severe development today, the options may confuse you. However, a few of our choicest recommendations might help you. For example,
- Wells Brothers – Italian Restaurant (It has been running for three generations now).
- O&H Danish Bakery (It has been running for four generations now)
- The Ivanhoe Pub and Eatery (Another historic food joint in Racine).
- Georgie Porgie (Popular for their Burgers and Frozen custard).
10. Abandoned Haunted House Complex
If you love doing things over usual, visiting the Abandoned Haunted House Complex in Racine should be on your itinerary. Located in Mt. Pleasant village, it is home to 3 haunted houses, including Hysteria, Stalker, and Ambush. Hysteria focuses on interacting with your senses and mind, whereas Stalker is a spooky walking experience. On the other hand, Ambush is more intense with funny but scary settings inside. Visiting all three houses requires an entry fee of $35. Or, if you want to add axe throwing activity, the ticket rises to $40. The best time to visit here is during the spooky Halloween events.