Disconnect from the daily grind, relax in tranquil surroundings, and experience the area’s casual vibe with a family trip to Port Washington! Whether it’s walking alongside the lake or grabbing a sweet treat, the town is calling your name!
Port Washington, located in Ozaukee County, offers visitors a scenic view of Lake Michigan’s picturesque western shore and promises endless opportunities to shop, eat and explore. Just driving along the bluffs, you’ll see people setting up hammocks in the trees to enjoy nature’s view. Bring along your packable hammock to join them!
The area also celebrates a rich maritime and fishing heritage since 1835, and the waterway has a lovely blue-hued oasis. Check out this delightful town for fresh eats, fun, and lots of history!
READ MORE: Family Day Out: Make Memories in Manitowoc!
Things to Do with Kids: Explore The Town!
Walk The Breakwater
One of the most iconic structures in the area is the Port Washington Breakwater Light. The light, which sits upon the lighthouse, was built in 1889. Then an art deco style tower standing 78 feet above the harbor line was constructed in 1935. Families can walk the 2,500-foot concrete pathway out to the edge and scan the harbor for sailboats on the horizon. If you bring along your gear, you can also fish along the breakwaters. It is a popular spot to catch lake trout and Chinook salmon.
Growing up, I have very fond memories of walking the breakwater with my parents. At the very end of the long walk, I remember peering over the edge and curiously gazing at the pretty colored water below. My dad would jokingly say an alligator lived there, and of course, my five-year-old self was intrigued by the tale. While there are no alligators, the breakwater does make for a great walk in the fresh air!
- Breakwater Light, 407 E. Jackson Street, Port Washington*
- *Note: Address goes to the Newport Shores Restaurant, adjacent to where the pathway begins.
Judge Eghart House Museum
Those looking to delve into Port Washington’s history can visit a historic Victorian-era home, owned by the late Judge Leopold Eghart and his wife, Anna. Eghart purchased the home in 1881 and raised his family of six children there. The beautifully restored house has self-guided tours through the parlor, dining room, bedroom, hall, and kitchen. All rooms are uniquely furnished with antiques from local families for an authentic feel.
- Judge Eghart House Museum, 302 W. Grand Avenue, Port Washington
- Current Admission Rates and Hours
Let the kids burn off energy at the Possibility Playground, a free, universally accessible playground for children of all ages and abilities! The playground, located in Upper Lake Park, is the size of a football field and has a soft, rubber surface that allows for safer play. A new addition was added this year and included an outdoor theater and upgraded play area. There are also restrooms nearby, drinking fountains, and plenty of space to sprawl out for snacks and games.
- Monkey Bars
- Traditional Swings
- Dual Swings
- Balance Beams
- In-Ground Merry-Go-Round
- Climbing Wall
The playground is also home to a giant pirate ship structure, creatively adorned with elements representing Lake Michigan. Of course, it also has its very own lighthouse lookout with slides!
- Possibility Playground at Upper Lake Park, 498 N. Lake Street, Port Washington
- Hours: Open daily, 6 am – 10 pm
- Admission: FREE
1860 Light Station
No summer bucket list is complete without exploring a lighthouse! This light tower was rebuilt in 1860 and faces the bluff with a lantern room resting atop the modified schoolhouse design and the lighthouse keepers living area. Tour this giant beauty and visit the vintage lantern room where you’ll find a replica 4th order Fresnel lens.
- 1860 Light Station, 311 Johnson Street, Port Washington
- Current Admission Rate and Hours
Where to Eat: Grab Some Grub!
Downtown features a fantastic variety of eateries. Many have patio seating and views of the lake. Check out these two delicious stops while visiting!
The Chocolate Chisel
With all the goodies here, this is the closest to Candyland you’ll get! Located mid-downtown, this adorable bricked shop is hard to miss with its outdoor cow-shaped benches! The shop has a heaping selection of hand-crafted artisan truffles, bars, barks, chocolate-dipped pretzels, sea salt caramels, ice cream, malts, and more!
Stepping in, you’ll be quickly offered a sample of their unique ice cream flavors. Featured scoops routinely change, but have included delectable offerings like lime sorbet, cotton candy, pear ginger, rootbeer, and pistachio. There are many chocolate-inspired goodies like Port Washington shaped fish as well as a bookcase filled with chocolate-themed children’s books!
- The Chocolate Chisel, 125 W. Grand Avenue, Port Washington
- Hours: Open daily 11 am – 10 pm
Tello’s Grill & Cafe
Even the pickiest eaters will love Tello’s! The family-owned Mexican-Greek cafe offers a variety of dishes for all meals, breakfast to dinner. Along with a spacious dining experience, hungry guests can dine on excellent dishes like tiramisu pancakes, caramel apple crepes, seafood-stuffed tilapia, enchiladas, gyros, and beyond! Meals are available for carryout or dine-in. If you decide to stay, you’ll eat amongst history as the restaurant is a restored Victorian hotel!
- Tello’s Grill & Cafe, 200 W. Grand Avenue, Port Washington
Where to Stay: Splash & Slumber!
Nestled in the cozy corner along the beautiful marina is the Harborside. The hotel offers comfortable and affordable family-friendly accommodations with a luxe view. Its 93 rooms include a mini-refrigerator, microwave, Keurig coffee maker, USB alarm clocks, and cordless charging stations. Most importantly, their beds facilitate a magically restful night’s sleep after a busy day!
This newly-renovated property is within walking distance of the many downtown storefronts and offers free parking for guests. The hotel features an on-site restaurant, The Beacon, and a convenient market in the lobby with refreshments, ice cream, and late-night nibbles. Beyond its clean and decorative layout, the real gem is the unforgettable crisp waters of its indoor pool and hot tub. Paneled throughout with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, you can catch a breathtaking sunset as the sun reflects on the adjacent marina waters.
- The Harborview, 135 East Grand Avenue Port Washington
From exploring the bustling downtown to racing siblings on the slides at the park, Port Washington is a great vacation destination for families. It encourages active exploration and gives families the chance to spend time together, treasuring history while slowing down to enjoy the little moments.
READ MORE: Family Road Trip! Our Favorite Things to do in Door County with Kids