Wisconsin: Family Friendly Parks

There is no way I am going to be able to convince you that the beaches in Wisconsin are as breathtaking as the ones in Hawaii, so I won’t even try. However, since I now call Wisconsin home (instead of Hawaii) I try to make the most of my given situation. Which is to say, on a hot summer day my toddler daughter and I don’t count out Wisconsin beaches. She loves to dig around in the sand, which works out perfectly because many of Wisconsin’s parks include miles of sand dunes. Two of our favorite “sand spots” are Whitefish Dunes State Park in Door County (about two hours north of Green Bay) and Kohler-Andrae State Park in Sheboygan County (about an hour north of Milwaukee).

For hundreds of centuries Whitefish Dunes State Park has been a site of self transformation. At one time Clark’s Lake was connected to Lake Michigan—that is until the winds of change decided to sweep in. That constant wind flow is responsible for carrying the sand particles that created the present dunes. Smaller sand dunes close to Lake Michigan protected the larger inland sand dunes causing plants to take root. Marram grass was one of the first plants to grow and prosper at Whitefish Dunes. As this grass became established other plants were able to grow. Now Clark’s Lake is its own entity separated from Lake Michigan by forests and sand dunes. The largest sand dune at Whitefish Dunes State Park is “Old Baldy” towering ninety-three feet above lake level. You can get up close and personal with “Old Baldy;” take a dip in Clark’s Lake; learn about local vegetation; and (if you are like my daughter) chase the animals that inhabit the sand dunes during a hike on one of the eight interpretive trails and boardwalks that wind through the park.

The Kohler-Andrae State Park also offers interpretive trails and boardwalks for you to explore alone or with your family. A stroll around the park allows you to learn how glaciers helped to create the park. Or stop in at the park’s Nature Center, which provides educational programs and special events. Swimming is allowed at both parks, but camping is only permitted at Kohler-Andrae State Park. The park also feature the recovered wreckage of the eighty-seven foot “Challenge” schooner built in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

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State Natural Areas–An Adventure in Nature

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.