Lakeshore State Park

Lakeshore State Park

Lakeshore State Park

With a name like Lakeshore State Park, you probably can guess that this park is on the shore of a lake. The problem is that nearly half of Wisconsin’s border is defined by lakes Michigan and Superior.

Well, Lakeshore State Park is on Lake Michigan and is very near the heart of downtown Milwaukee to boot.

Manmade Features of Lakeshore State Park

The park didn’t officially exist until 2007. It was built from the limestone refuse of the Deep Tunnel Project (a sewerage thing) back in the 1980s.

Limestone bed of Lakeshore State Park

Today there is roughly a mile of concrete pavement on the nearly-an-island park. You can always see the downtown Milwaukee skyline on the trail, which is the eastern end of the Hank Aaron State Trail.

Gathering area and Milwaukee skyline
They call this a “gathering area”.

At the north end of the park (which is near the Milwaukee Art Museum) there is a marina where you can dock your boat.

Lakeshore marina

A small walking bridge connects to the mainland and contributes to the feel that you’re on an island, even though you’re technically not.

Walking bridge to Lakeshore State Park

To the south of the bridge is what is essentially a lagoon. I’ve seen it called the Quiet Water Basin and the Lakeshore State Park Inlet on maps.

Lagoon / Basin / Inlet and Hoan Bridge
That’s the Hoan Bridge in the background.

Just to the west of the lagoon is the Milwaukee Summerfest grounds. At the southern end of the grounds is the American Family Insurance Amphitheater. (None of this is in the park itself, but you can see it from there.) As of 2022, the official map of the park (see below) is rather outdated. It still calls that venue the Marcus Amphitheater.

In a couple of places, you can clamber down some big steps and dip your toes in the water if you’re so inclined. There is no swimming allowed at the park.

Steps down to the lagoon

Also outside the park but still very visible from it, is the Milwaukee Pierhead Light(house).

Milwaukee Pierhead Light

It helps guide ships into the harbor through the breakwater.

Sailboat in Milwaukee harbor

Along the trail itself are several informational plaques including such topics as shipping and the Water Trail. Apparently the trail in Lakeshore doubles as the Hank Aaron and the Water trail.

Lake Michigan shipping plaque
Lake Michigan Water Trail plaque

I especially appreciated the Tanner shipwreck sign because it shows an antique map in the corner.

Tanner Shipwreck sign

There are many types of fish in these waters. That doesn’t necessarily make the catching of them an easy task.

Fish of Lakeshore State Park

Wildlife at Lakeshore State Park

Sometimes when you walk a trail at a state park, all you see is trees and grass and dirt. Not so at Lakeshore. You don’t have to even try hard to find birds and flowers.

Flowers on the prairie

At the “pebble beach” in the lagoon, the geese (and others) like to congregate.

Birds at the lagoon pebble beach

Usually, you see geese flying overhead trying to form that V-shaped wedge that’s good for drafting, right? How often do you see them swimming with their goslings?

Parent geese swimming
Goslings swimming

Red wing blackbirds are common in this part of the country, yes, but the ones in the park have become accustomed to humans. I could get within a few feet of them, and they wouldn’t fly away. That’s virtually unheard of elsewhere.

Red wing on table

This seagull on the fishing pier in the lagoon wasn’t too shy either.

Seagull on rail of fishing pier in lagoon

These tree swallows were making use of the birdhouse they had been provided with.

Tree swallows on birdhouse

There’s no shade in Lakeshore State Park, so if it’s a hot, sunny day, you probably won’t want to spend a lot of time there. That said, unless you’re fishing, you probably won’t spend much time there anyway. It’s a small park with not much to do, other than watch the birds.

And that said, I could sit and watch birds for quite a long time. So….


Nearest City

Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1 mile)

Nearest Emergency Facility

Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1 mile)


6:00 AM to 10:00 PM, year-round


None, no sticker required

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