Want things to do in Cedarburg, WI? Just 2 hours from Chicago and 20 minutes from Milwaukee, Cedarburg offers real-life Hallmark moments.
Picturesque hamlets that scream “Hallmark Christmas movie!” may bring Vermont or New Hampshire to mind, but there’s a small town just outside Milwaukee that exudes the same quaint charm. Whether it’s a day trip from Milwaukee or Chicago or a weekend getaway, here are 9 things to do in Cedarburg, WI.
Departing Milwaukee after breakfast and planning to spend the entire day exploring Cedarburg’s main street, Washington Avenue, will make for a full day of exploration. If you plan to venture beyond Washington Avenue (to include Cedarburg’s parks) or get lost in the many stores and boutiques that dot Washington Avenue, you might want to plan an overnight stay or a return visit.
Cedarburg’s small-town charm comes from historic buildings that have remained virtually unchanged by time, picturesque views of Cedar Creek, and the warmth of the locals.
1. Cedarburg History Museum
The Cedarburg History Museum is an eclectic collection of artifacts, memorabilia, and photographs that tell Cedarburg’s story. There’s a general store exhibit that immerses visitors in what it was like to go shopping 100 years ago.
The Cedarburg History Museum is co-located with the Cedarburg Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center. If you have a question about the area or want suggestions on things to do in Cedarburg, this is a great place to ask. When firming up your list of things to do in Cedarburg, WI, make a note to visit the Cedarburg History Museum early on during your visit.
Admission is free, but donations are welcome.
2. Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts
The Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts is a must-do for anyone who loves quilting, sewing, or textile arts and is worth a stop even if you’re not interested in any of those things. I was wowed by the detail in these works of art, and I’m not really a quilty person.
The museum is housed in a restored 1850s barn, and the grounds and outbuildings are fun to explore and photograph. Check out the current exhibit in the rustic gallery, and enjoy browsing through the gift shop to see items on consignment from local makers. There are also classes and workshops available. Docent-led tours are available for groups of five or more.
Admission is $8 per person, but various discounts apply.
3. Cedarburg Cultural Center
The Cedarburg Cultural Center is the place to go to experience local art and performing art. From taking in a juried art show to catching a local band on a Friday night, there’s always something happening. I highly recommend checking out their calendar and events page in advance of your visit to see what’s on the schedule, because there’s always something to discover. Events are free or low-cost and offer a fun way to mingle with the locals.
4. Cedarburg Art Museum
Are you starting to get the idea that Cedarburg is a community with a deep appreciation for the humanities? Although nearby Milwaukee is definitely an artsy city, Cedarburg does a great job at showcasing its own art and artists. Explore the creations of Cedarburg and Wisconsin artists at Cedarburg Art Museum.
The museum, located in a Victorian house, is small and doesn’t take much time to go through. There’s an onsite gift shop with unique gifts and items made by local artisans. Admission is free but visitors are welcome to make a donation.
Summer visitors can check out the Beer Garden in the back of the art museum and enjoy local fare, live music, and of course, beer.
5. Wine Tasting and Lunch
Or, lunch and wine tasting. Cedar Creek Winery and the Anvil Pub and Grille are right next door to each other.
Although the words wine tasting are generally enough to spark my interest, the charming, rustic exterior of this family-owned winery shot it to the top of my list of must-dos. Everything about the aesthetic of this winery is inviting and makes you want to venture inside to experience it.
Wine tasting at Cedar Creek Winery is available by appointment and wine flights are available for purchase. There’s outside seating that is perfectly placed for people watching. Most of the wines are sweet and fruity, although there are a few hearty reds.
Whether you do your wine tasting before or after lunch, don’t skip a meal at the Anvil Pub and Grille. The Anvil has a creative and varied menu that includes steaks, chicken, salads, appetizers, and an extensive list of sandwiches. The bread is baked onsite in a stone hearth oven.
6. Coffee and Confections
Whether it’s a quick coffee to go or a delectable chocolate confection, Cedarburg offers nearly endless options. I was given the very good advice to have a caramel apple, and I’m going to pay that one forward, so don’t leave town without one.
Put Amy’s Candy Kitchen on your list of things to do in Cedarburg, WI. The smell of the chocolate from the street will lure you inside.
7. Rivoli Theater
The historic Rivoli Theater is stunning to look at from the outside, but the people who work there are what really make this venue special. Alice and Jerry Voight are the managers of this movie theater that truly makes one feel like they’ve been transported back in time.
Owned by the Cedarburg Landmark Preservation Society, the theater’s only paid employees are the Voights and the projectionist. The Rivoli has a roster of 600 people who perform the other functions of running a theater on an as-needed basis throughout the year.
The theater shows a combination of second run and independent films; no R-rated movies. Admission is $4 per person ($2.50 on Tuesdays). The theater accepts cash or checks—no credit or debit cards. If you show up without cash, you’ll be admitted anyway and cheerfully told to pay on your next visit. Yes, really.
A stroll up and down Cedarburg’s main street will tempt you with many opportunities to shop local. You won’t find any franchises or chain stores here. Paper gifts, clothing, and accessories, housewares, unique toys—you’ll find a little bit of everything here, including one store that has two full walls of metal cookie cutters.
Anyone who likes to browse can easily fill a full day and not see all the shops.
9. Parks and Outdoor Activities
Visitors looking for outdoor fun and adventure will enjoy several options in and around Cedarburg. If you’re traveling with kids and need more open spaces and less time in the stores, then you’ll want to know your outdoor options when planning your visit.
- The Cedarburg Covered Bridge—Wisconsin’s oldest standing covered bridge. Located three miles north of Cedarburg in Covered Bridge Park.
- Ozaukee Interurban Trail—A portion of this 30-mile paved trail runs through Cedarburg. The Cedarburg section extends from Pioneer Rd to Bobolink Ave.
- Cedar Creek Park—Great spot to decompress or let kids burn off some energy. The park has many open spaces plus a playground.
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No Lack of Things to Do in Cedarburg, WI
Although the television networks that make romantic movies about small-town Christmases might not have caught on to the charm of Cedarburg just yet, that cozy and friendly vibe is evident all year long. From the lack of big-box retail stores to the friendly way people call out to each other as they pass on the sidewalk, Cedarburg wraps you in a small town hug that will make you happy you put Cedarburg on your radar.
If you love discovering the charm of Wisconsin and small towns in general, be sure to check out Wander for more ideas to plan your family travel adventures.