Sheboygan , the largest city in Sheboygan county at just over 50,000 residents, lies on the shores of Lake Michigan about 60 miles north of Milwaukee, in east-central Wisconsin. Formerly a busy trading and fishing port, Sheboygan grew through shipping and industry, and was a major center of German immigration to the area. While shipping on the Great Lakes has seen a major decline and the commercial fisheries has declined to 4 commercial fishing companies operating out of Sheboygan. Sheboygan remains a prospering industrial town, and continues its immigrant heritage to this day, with vibrant Hispanic and Hmong communities adding their influences to the cultural landscape. The "spirit on the lake" is the municipal jingle. The translation of the Native American name -she wa bo going means "water rushing underground" and is thought to refer to a rushing noise present at the North Point rock outcroppings. is also becoming a tourist destination thanks to several farsighted development initiatives, particularly along the scenic riverfront and lakefront.
Most visitors to Sheboygan will probably be arriving by auto. Sheboygan is about one hour's drive north of Milwaukee on Interstate 43, about an hour south of Green Bay on the same, and about three hours north of Chicago (I-94 to Milwaukee and onto I-43). There is also a Greyhound bus terminal on Pennsylvania Avenue, and the nearest Amtrak station is in Milwaukee.
Sheboygan Transit runs buses throughout the city itself. Fares are $1.75 per ride. Most of the downtown area is within comfortable walking distance, and parking is rarely a problem.
John Michael Kohler Art Center
The Kohler Company has a long history in the Sheboygan area, particularly in its eponymous company town, Kohler. One of their greatest contributions to the cultural scene of Sheboygan is the John Michael Kohler Art Center, or JMKAC. Built into the historic Kohler house on 6th Street and New York Avenue, the Art Center hosts local theatrical and musical events, provides summer art programs for local schoolchildren, and houses an ever-changing collection of contemporary art by local and national artists in their extensive galleries. A recent addition has greatly expanded their exhibition space. As Kohler is primarily a bathroom fixtures company, the restrooms in the Art Center are -- quite naturally -- extravagant displays of porcelain artistry. The men's restroom near the main entrance is particularly breathtaking (curious female visitors need not despair, the front desk greeters will happily escort anyone inside). Entrance to the Art Center is free, but donations are encouraged.
The city of Sheboygan is centered at her harbor, where the Sheboygan river meets Lake Michigan. Immediately north of the harbor sits Deland Park, with pleasant beaches, boat launches, and an upscale yacht club. Alongside the yacht club, a breakwater (one of two enclosing the harbor) juts out past the marina and about half a mile into Lake Michigan, punctuated by a lighthouse. The walk along the beach and breakwater to the lighthouse is quite pleasant, and is particularly popular in midsummer when the cool lake water blesses the lighthouse with air temperatures often twenty degrees cooler than in the city. Midwestern surfers are known to paddle out near the promenade along the beach when the wind is blowing right (usually in the fall and winter). Great biking opportunities abound, as the trail takes you north along the lake shore.
One of the city's most successful development plans has been the expansion of a boardwalk extending along the Sheboygan river as it flows through downtown and out into Lake Michigan. This boardwalk area now features many unique shops, coffee houses, mini-golf, charter fishing, an ice cream parlor and fine dining restaurants in an attractive setting. This area is on Riverfront Drive and South Pier Drive and is accessible from 8th Street, Indiana Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown. A Visitor Center is located at The Map & Globe Exchange, 841 Riverfront Drive.
Like many Wisconsin cities, Sheboygan has many summer festivals. The largest is Brat Days, typically the first weekend in August. Other festivals include the Coho Derby (second weekend in August) and Lakefest (third weekend in August).
If you are a golfer, Golf Digest recently ranked Sheboygan No. 7 among the 50 greatest golf destinations in the world. Whistling Straits (home of the 2004 PGA Championship), Blackwolf Run (1999 US Women's Open) lead the pack, but the Irish Course, The Bull, and many regional courses are also gems. You could spend a week playing top notch golf and never have to drive more than 15 minutes from Sheboygan.
George Micheal's bar is the best place in town. Go for the meatballs, stay for the colorful crowd.