Surrounded by the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, the city of Two Rivers is home to a richly celebrated history, a thriving fishing industry, and an abundance of sunken treasures. Before it was known as Two Rivers, the city was called Neshotah or “twin rivers,” a moniker derived from the harbor where Mishicot and the Neshota rivers join. The area is home to 37 known shipwrecks, many scenic outlooks and trails, and an inviting downtown with shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Its abundance of sprawling nature make it the perfect destination to disconnect from the noise of daily life and to sink into solitude.
Two Rivers offers a generous opportunity for all to relax, enjoy breathtaking trails, experience delicious eats, and to dive in and celebrate the area’s history.
“Two Rivers is a uniquely perfect place to visit because it combines all the elements needed to recreate and relax,” said Brian Dean, Director of Tourism for Explore Two Rivers.
Two Rivers is also known worldwide as the birthplace of the ice cream sundae, providing the perfect reason to grab some scoops this summer! Even more, dive in to learn about the city’s history, and discover why Two Rivers is an inviting escape not far from home.
“The city remains authentic to its heritage, providing visitors with museums showcasing our fishing industry and maritime tradition,” said Dean.
“Due to our unique setting on Lake Michigan, during scorching hot summer days, even only a few miles away, Two Rivers enjoys temperatures sometimes 10 degrees lower,” explained Dean, “known as the “Coolest Spot in Wisconsin,” as temperatures rise, we remain the “Cool City.”
Dining + Treats
Start your trip off with a hearty breakfast, or step out for a decadent dessert; there is something tasty for everyone in Two Rivers.
There is no shortage of delicious eats to kickstart your visit or mini vacation. Those looking for a light bite can start their morning at The High Lift, a creatively converted cafe. Sip on a house-brewed cup of drip coffee or a fruity, lightly-caffeinated Refresher. Those looking for something sweet can enjoy an assortment of bakery selections from Christina’s Cakery and Baked Goods, which serves up the best donuts, pastries and fresh baked breads in the area. Sit down for a hearty meal at Two Rivers Family Restaurant and enjoy dishes like Homestyle French Toast, Pan-Fried Eggs, and Biscuits and Gravy.
As noon rolls around, gear up for lunch! Connie’s Diner is a town favorite stocked with a menu full of satisfying options like Chili Cheese Burgers, Chicken Tender Melts, and fresh soups and salads. Whisky D’s offers a pub-style fare with their specialties including juicy Pulled Pork Tacos with zesty BBQ sauce and coleslaw, Pot Stickers and Teriyaki and Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich pepper jack cheese, smokey bacon, and signature whiskey sauce.
Kurtz’s Pub & Deli‘s mission is to provide a pleasant atmosphere in which to enjoy excellent food and drinks, including what they’re passionate about: serving quality sandwiches, salads, soups and desserts. They’re especially proud of their German and other European beers served on draft.
First the “Waverly Hotel” in 1892, Waverly Inn Pub & Pizzeria‘s historical building is an icon of Two Rivers. The restaurant is known for their sandwiches and thin crust pizza, as well as gluten-free options for both.
Dinner + Drinks
Hit the town and experience mouthwatering dinner and drink options throughout. Casa Mexico Restaurant brings bold flavors to the table including dishes like Enchiladas Rojas, Flaming Fajitas, and Molcajete de Casa, made with steak, chicken, shrimp, chorizo, pork chop, cactus, veggies, hot sauce, amongst other toppings.
Given the area’s abundance of fresh caught fish, Fish Fry’s are popular as are finding local fish on menus around town. Port Sandy Bay offers a fry Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 4-9. Feast on Stuffed Shrimp with crab meat and blended cheeses, New England Pike, Bluegill, Haddock. Walleye and Perch. All plates include a choice of french fries, potato salad, German potato salad or Baby Reds, with coleslaw, Rye bread and a pickle.
Cool City Brewing, is a beautifully designed venue that’s home to 20 craft beers, including 16 of its own. From Old Fashions, a true Wisconsin classic, to wine flights, there’s a glass waiting for visitors. Located in the heart of downtown, its relaxing spot is like no other.
“Cool City Brewing provides a unique gathering place honoring Two Rivers with outstanding shareable food and craft beers,” said Curt Andrews, one of the restaurant’s four founders. Savory comforts on the menu make excellent pairings for their craft beers. “The Drunken Philly and Chicken Sammy, coming with a choice of sides, are popular handhelds,” said Andrews, “our innovative food flights, sliders and Mac and cheese allow guests to select three, from the six versions we offer of each.”
One cannot simply visit Two Rivers without spooning in dessert. Linda Loves Cheesecake makes a summer-time inspired treat; Cheesecake Cones!
“Rum Chata, White Chocolate Raspberry and Brand Old Fashion cheesecake flavors are very popular,” said owner, Linda Paider.
In addition to decadent cheesecakes, the shop now offers Hawaiian shaved ice, a great pairing to beat the heat. “We’re the only one in the area who offers it.
For a sweet scoop of history, grab a dish at Berners Parlor at the Washing House, it’s the birthplace of the Ice Cream Sundae afterall! Visitors will love their house specialty; a Ruby Sundae. The chilly confection was introduced by Two Rivers resident Ed Berners, who once owned a local old-fashioned soda fountain. His shop offered flavored syrups to make sodas. Ice cream was added to make ice cream sodas, too. While customers enjoyed them, they could not be sold on sundays. Thankfully now, ice cream sundaes can be enjoyed anytime!
To keep the rounds of ice cream coming, Scream ‘N Conuts takes it to a whole new level. The parlor gives a unique twist to their cones…they’re made of donuts! In true Two Rivers fashion, the Conut Sundae features 3 scoops of ice cream, 2 toppings of choice and one lining; which choices include chocolate, peanut butter, caramel, butterscotch or vanilla.
If You’re a Traveling Chef
For cooking enthusiasts, Two Rivers provides the opportunity to prepare delicious meals while away from home. Try out fish caught from the lake at Susie Q Fish Market where fishermen head out in the early morning for the fresh catch of the day.
The market, which spans back six generations, has graced Two Rivers with their smoked fish. “Our market has been open for 40 years and we have been fishing since the 1880’s,” said Jamie LeClair, a member of the founding family who works at Susie Q.
See the boats, along with the market which includes a glass case of the catch of the day. Filled with fresh Whitefish, Perch, smoked boneless Salmon, Trout, Blue Herring, Smelt and smoked Chubs.
“We also have smoked salmon and whitefish spread that goes wonderful on Ritz crackers,” said LeClair.
The market also sells smoked, ready-to-eat Salmon packs, which make a great snack. Feast on flavors like mild Cajun, Teriyaki, Jamaican Jerk and more. All their catches are smoked in one of their 6 smokehouses for 4.5 hours on sweet hard maple wood.
Action + Adventures
Soak in the sun and revel in nature as you embrace the gorgeous weather with a leisurely walk on the Mariners Trail. The paved trail runs along the shore of Lake Michigan and offers sweeping views of boats, including the Badger, the last coal-burning ferry in the United States. Walkers can continue on from the trail onto the Rawley Point Trail, a seven-mile trip through parts of Two Rivers and forest. Together, both trails are 12.5 miles long.
Continue to explore nature with a visit to the Point Beach State Forest. The 3,000-acre forest welcomes visitors with its 17 miles of trails, 5 miles of bike trails, and 6 miles of sandy beachfront that lead to the lighthouse. There are so many activities that can be enjoyed here, including fishing, camping, and outdoor games in the summer, and snowmobiling and skiing in the winter. Located within the forest, the Rawley Point Lighthouse offers visitors a unique spot to explore and take a selfie. The lighthouse, built in 1853, is 111 feet tall and overlooks the lake. As the temps rise, take a di[ in the lake at Neshotah Beach. The beautiful sandy beach provides areas for swimming, launching jet skis and kayaks, and to play beach volleyball. The spot also has a playground, bike trail, horseshoe pits, picnic areas with tables and grills and on-site restroom facilities. During the summer months, a concession stand is open for ice cold drinks, snacks and treats.
Woodland Dunes Nature Center is also a must-see when visiting the area. Over 1,500 acres of preserved habitat draws in visitors each year to relax and experience nature. Hike, kayak, stargaze or meditate in the Butterfly Garden; there are also many hands-on activities for families, a nature room, as well as a mural and gift shop. Stroll along the 14 rides and swales, home to neotropical songbirds, Monarch Butterflies, various mammals and amphibians as well as over 400 plant species.
Go for the green and take in the lush scenery at the Van der Brohe Arboretum & Bird Sanctuary. Across 65-acres, visitors can walk through the arboretum, pollinator meadows, bird sanctuary and art park. All which merge to paint the most stunning photo of Two Rivers and nature. “Van der Brohe Arboretum is a tree zoo,” said founder John Durbow. Durbow, a retired architect crafted the arboretum and sanctuary hoping to provide the community with a beautiful, nature-embracing space.
“The arboretum is created to foster quietude and sanctuary; it is a place for contemplation,” said Durbow. With over 200 different species and cultivars, trees are planted in groves. “It will be a groundbreaking experience,” promises Durbow. The site is now an eBird Hotspot, encouraging avian residents and visitors. Through 4.7 miles of groomed gravel trails, which are also dog-friendly, visitors will find themselves upon nature’s tranquility.
Those who crave a unique excursion can go beneath the waves with Shipwreck Adventures, LLC. The company offers scuba dive training as well as shipwreck dives; a hat tip to the city’s maritime history. Owned by Greg Such, an accomplished trainer for multiple world-wide agencies, visitors can book a charter to explore the lake and surrounding area with a licensed guide. Kayak tours are also available for those who are looking to stay above the water.
Rainy days won’t damper your fun in Two Rivers! Those 21+ can visit Tapped on the Lakeshore, and nail down their skills with two axe throwing ranges. Sip on one of their 20+ craft beers and play games like online darts, Hammershlagen, corn hole, shuffleboard and other tabletop games.
Game gurus and families can spend the afternoon at Heroes Venture Retro Arcade, which boasts 200+ vintage and classic games. The galactic-style rooms don air hockey tables, a gamers area complete with a couch and giant players screen. The front half of the arcade features luck-style games with prizes, candy and trinkets. Also on-site is a skatepark, prize redemption spot and snacks.
Visit one of the many places in Two Rivers that makes it so memorable, including the iconic Rogers Street Fishing Village & Museum, which pays homage to the area’s 185 years of commercial fishing. Visitors can tour five authentically historic buildings from around the area, fishing sheds, climb the 1886 Two Rivers’ North Pier lighthouse, and check out an antique Kahlenberg Marine Oil Engine.
“The amount of historic artifacts and displays tell the story of commercial fishing to an in-depth degree,” said Greg Goodchild, Executive Director of the Rogers Street Museum, “the sharing of this history of the French arrival led to the development of the commercial fishing enterprise on the Great Lakes.” The displays accentuate the city’s history and house endless memories. “The knowledge shared by the docines is vast and told in an interesting manner; the displays and artifacts shown are on par with the best of the museums.
On the wooden rail in the Kahlenberg engine room sits a frame that showcases Two Rivers’ link to another fated ship in history: The RMS Titanic. In 1999, after nearly a century on the ocean floor, the Titanic’s whistles were examined and tested by the Kahlenberg Brothers, a marine whistle and signal company in Two Rivers. The whistles were disassembled and reassembled and 150 PSI of air was blown through. The test marked the first time Titanic’s ironic whistles had been heard by human ears since it sank in the Atlantic in 1912. History-lovers will also find local architecture in the area fascinating. The Historic Washington House, also home of Berner’s Parlor, has a fascinating story. Constructed in 1850, it was once a German immigrants hotel, and now, is a museum offering visitors self-guided tours of 10 beautiful rooms, including a ballroom.
“Visitors can explore this two-floor 1800 former hotel with a ballroom dubbed “The Sistine Chapel of Two Rivers,” said Two Rivers Historical Society Director, Tootsie Marie Sommers. “The museum showcases Ed Berners’ Ice Cream Parlor and serves as the Two Rivers Visitors Center; come learn about the unique history of Two Rivers, enjoy an ice cream sundae, and inquire about local attractions and activities.
Fans of Frank Lloyd Wright can drive past or tour the Bernard Schwartz House, known as Still Bend. Constructed in 1938, Two Rivers businessman Bernard Schartz gave Wright the opportunity to build his “dream house.” Schwartz had entered a LIFE Magazine contest to design a home for a typical American family. Wrights’ brilliance is showcased through the house, including the pushed up ceilings that made room for a stunning second floor balcony. The balcony overlooks a 65-foot-long recreation room. The home is available for vacation rentals and reservations are required for tours.
Learn about the dairy state at the Historic Farm Museum, which celebrates Wisconsin’s agricultural endeavors. View the rooms of an 1800s farmhouse, view wood carvings by Dick Hazaert, a retired dairy farmer, and pass by various pieces of farm equipment and tractors. Dedicated to the hard working farmers of our state, the museum features many displays that showcase the state’s dairy-centric past.
As times have changed in Two Rivers, one space that continues to thrive on history is the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum. Founded in 1999, the establishment is the world’s only museum dedicated to the preservation, study, production and printing of wood type. Run by the Two Rivers Historical Society, the museum is home to an impressive 1.5 million pieces of wood type and more than 1,000 intricate styles, shapes, and patterns. Hamilton’s collection includes an array of advertising cuts from the 1930s through the 1970s. Head to the outskirts of Two Rivers to see pastures of alpacas for a one-of-a-kind outing. LondonDairy Alpacas, located on a historic homestead, provides an educational and hands-on experience. Advance booking is required, but visitors will get to learn more about the family-owned ranch, alpacas, and their soft fiber. Get up close to feed and pet the alpacas during the tour, which lasts approximately one hour. Finally, stop by the Alpaca Threads Gift Shop on-site to pick up homemade goods like blankets, soaps, soft toys and more.
If you’re looking for small town charm but with an opportunity to shop, Two Rivers can provide some retail therapy. Shroeder’s Department Store has been family owned since 1891. In addition to offering alterations and footwear, the store sells a variety of high-quality apparel for men and women, including outfits and pieces not found in chain stores.
The Paper Crane Bookstore carries a variety of book genres, including fiction, romantic fiction, mystery and thriller, non-fiction, children’s books and more. It stocks new books, but also secondhand classics and vintage finds. Browse the shelves to find the perfect gift, or select a best seller to hunker down with on the beach. There is something for everyone at Paper Crane!
Dalebroux Jewelry, located on Washington street, offers an exquisite collection of jewelry, watches and other gift ideas. Stop in for help finding the perfect piece; the customer service is unmatched with small-town hospitality. As the area’s leading jeweler, open since 1961, the business was voted Best of the Lakeshore Fine Jewelry Retailer in 2020. The store also sells clocks, baby gifts, anniversary gifts, and of course, stunningly-cut diamond pieces.
Feeling crafty? Pick up supplies to make your own jewelry at Lakeshore Rock & Gem. The store has an ever-expanding assortment of products, including those for rock picking and jewelry creation supplies. Find your favorite precious stones or stop in to learn more.
“We have a wide variety of local artists work and a huge assortment of crystals and rocks, as well as a big display in a UV light room which displays our fluorescent minerals,” said owner Laura Lyrik Klein. We sell a plethora of things you may need for your rock-bounding journey.”
One of the best kept secrets in Two Rivers is a little shop known as Renee’s Chocolates & Popcorn. Filled with delicious finds, like Smore and More gourmet popcorn and fruity gelatos; it is heaven for every sweet tooth. Stock up on summer staples, like Chocolate Coated Jumbo Marshmallows and Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers or find the sweetest gifts for those you love.
After a long day’s adventure, sink into a cozy bed for the night; thankfully, Two Rivers has outstanding lodging options.
Experience unsurpassed hospitality at the Red Forest Bed and Breakfast. The quaint, city-centric, four-bedroom inn sits across from the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan and is closeby to the area’s best attractions. Walking in, guests are greeted by gorgeous stained glass, family heirlooms and a fireplace. Guests can enjoy a book from the in-house library and relax in the bountiful flower garden, on the sun porch or out on the backyard patio. Begin the morning with a delicious, homemade breakfast to fuel up for an exciting day out exploring. “People comment that the home is beautiful,” said owner Dawn Boppre, “they feel welcome when they arrive and encouraged and refreshed when they leave.
“In this place, I have engrafted the history of this home and the families that have lived here into my own story and share the rich heritage that both provide.”
Alternatively, wake up to the sound of waves splashing against the rocky shore at Lighthouse Inn on Lake Michigan. The property offers king and queen-sized bedrooms, with a view of the rippling lake or Lakeshore Park. Rooms come equipped with a desk, refrigerator, microwave, coffee/tea maker, air conditioning and free WiFi. Enjoy swimming in the large, indoor pool, take a dip in the hot tub or work out in the on-site exercise room. The hotel also offers an onsite dining at Water’s Edge Restaurant.
Located downtown, Cobblestone Hotel & Suites-Two Rivers encompasses convenience and an opportunity for rest. Guests are treated to a fresh, complimentary breakfast and can unwind in the spacious swimming pool or fitness room. Designed with their guests in mind, beds are made with crisp, luxury linens and room amenities include a flat-paneled television, in-room coffee service, microwave and refrigerator. Guests can also make a quick stop to the 24-hour on-site convenience store, refresh their wardrobe with the guest laundry or read in the Cobblestone lounge.