Earth : North America : United States of America : Midwest (United States of America) : Wisconsin : Northeast Wisconsin : Sheboygan
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 disappeared entirely, 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" (a translation of the Native American name) is also becoming a tourist destination thanks to several farsighted development initiatives, particularly along the scenic riverfront and lakefront.
Get in my belly
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.
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. This boardwalk area now features many unique shops, coffehouses, and fine dining restaurants in an attractive setting across the river from the massive new Blue Harbor Resort, which (local rumor has it) has begun sinking into the lake. This area is accessible from Riverfront Drive and Water Street in downtown.
Sheboygan’s historic and picturesque riverfront features a self-guided walking tour called the Riverfront Art Walk. Discover artistic treasures from talented local artists among the many shanties that now offer everything from boutiques to bait stores. Many of the restaurants have outdoor seating. Sailboats and fishing boats cruise up and down the river and out into Lake Michigan. Find a map and artist brochure at SheboyganWalkingTours.com. .
It would be awfully hard to miss the tallest flagpole in the United States, recently erected by Acuity Insurance Company on the grounds of their Sheboygan office, between I-43 and Taylor Drive, just north of Highway 28. The pole, replacing a previous large flagpole that blew down in a storm, stands some 338 feet high, sports a 120 by 60 foot flag, and is visible from pretty much any high point in the county. Apparently this new flag pole succumbed to the same fate as its predecessor in late 2008.
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.