We love Chicago in the summer – but we also love traveling to more laid back, beachy, naturally beautiful places. That’s why we also love Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Located along the shores of Lake Michigan, Sheboygan lies a little over two hours north of Chicago, 55 miles north of Milwaukee. That’s a perfect distance for a quick weekend jaunt or a pleasant day trip. The town’s family-friendly amenities and charming attractions make it a welcome respite from the high-rise lifestyle you’ll find in downtown Chicago. Called “spirit on the lake,” the “Bratwurst capital of the world,” and “Malibu of the Midwest,” this is a safe and refreshing location full of sailing, surfing, golf, spa activities, food and beer, and world-class resorts.

Sheboygan may seem small to visitors who are used to the scope of Chicago, but there’s still plenty to do. You can enjoy performing arts at the Stephanie H. Weill Center, where events include musical events like Seraph Bass on 5/4, The Trifecta of Rock on 5/5, Passion Part Two: Music from the Heart – World’s Greatest Opera Choruses and more on 5/13, the Dollhouse Dance Factory on 6/10, The Beatles! Classical Musical Mystery Tour on 6/17, and more coming up. The center also hosts monthly movies – “Singin’ in the Rain” on 5/19, and “Sands of Iwo Jima” on 6/16.

If visual arts are more your thing, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center lets you explore, shop, and even make art yourself! On display now are “American Sites: Art Environment Photography,” through 9/3 and “Greetings and Salutations and Boo: Mary Nohl,” through August 20. “Peter Jodocy” begins 5/7 and runs through 2017. The center also hosts the Midsummer Festival of the Arts on 7/15-7/16. Also, visit the James Tellen Woodland Sculpture Garden, or view the public art that’s part of Sheboygan’s identity.

If you prefer to experience the outdoors on your own time, you can hike, bike, drive, take a Segway tour, picnic, or just take in the sun here. The area boasts several parks and much natural beauty, including Indian dunes and disc golf courses. It’s also a top golf destination, and will be hosting the 2020 Ryder Cup. And if you like the water, you can hang out at the free beaches, go fishing, engage in watersports (the surfing and paddle boarding is great!), and sail. Visit the lighthouse, the piers, the boardwalk, the Riverfront Art Walk, the Historical Markers Tour, and more!

Sporting events and family activities take place throughout the season, such as the free fishing weekend on the river 6/3-6/4. Check out the SUP N’ Surf Challenge on 6/24 for stand-up paddleboard race action. The Independence Day Celebration is 7/3-7/4, complete with fireworks and family-friendly festivities. On 7/7-7/8, enjoy the 10th Annual Town of Sheboygan Lion’s Fest and 3rd Annual Disc Golf Tournament. Labor Day Surf Weekend in Sheboygan, known as “COTU” (Center of the Universe) by surfers, is an annual gathering of international surfers that takes place from 9/1-9/3.

What else can you do? Well, for the kids, there’s Bookworm Garden and the Above & Beyond Children’s Museum. Go play at the Cosmic Bounce, Harbor Pointe Miniature Golf, or hang out at the neighborhood game store, The Gameboard. There’s even a Sheboygan Railroad Museum. The Farmer’s Market opens downtown every Wednesday and Friday.

Sheboygan is known for its brats and beer. In Kiwanis Park on 8/3-8/5, at the 64th Annual Johnsonville Brat Days, you can get both! Also, check out craft brews at places like 3 Sheeps Brewing Co., Craft 30, and Hops Haven. If you prefer wine, the Lakeview Wine Bar might be more your speed. America’s tastiest wings can be found at Legend Larry’s, and the town’s best pizza is located at Il Ritrovo.

Sheboygan is easily accessible from I-43, and promises lots of summer excitement for families seeking a convenient respite from the city. To plan your trip, go to visitsheboygan.com or call (800) 457-9497.

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