Nestled in the hills of the Kettle Moraine just 40 minutes north of Milwaukee, West Bend is the perfect spot for a weekend day trip.
Here’s a taste of some of the local activities and attractions to explore, plus worthwhile spots to grab breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Pro tip: Love a great scenic drive? Take your time and explore a portion of the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive , including the picturesque areas around Holy Hill and Big Cedar Lake. on your way to West Bend.
Downtown West Bend
If you’ve never explored Main Street in West Bend (or if it’s been a while), it’s an area worth exploring. You’ll find revitalized streets, an eyecatching Riverwalk and plenty of historic charm.
Historic Downtown is a treasure trove filled with quaint clothing boutiques and shops selling crafts, crafting supplies, housewares, records, candles, gifts and snacks. Check out the current list of shops here.
Be sure to take a stroll along the beautiful Downtown Riverwalk, part of the three-mile-long West Bend Milwaukee Riverfront Parkway. The trail offers views of the Milwaukee River plus access points to Downtown shops and restaurants. During the summer months, the Riverwalk provides a scenic thoroughfare for walking, jogging, biking and rollerblading. In the winter, it’s a great path for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Just north of Downtown proper, you’ll find a pocket park featuring interactive sculptures from internationally known artist Brad Goldberg. The Riverwalk also connects to Regner Park, one of the largest recreational green spaces in the area.
West Bend Farmers Market
If you’re visiting West Bend on a Saturday morning during the summer months, a stop at the Downtown Farmers Market is a true treat. Listed among the top farmers market in the World by “Vogue” magazine, the market takes place May through October and features over 100 vendors selling plants, produce, herbs, organically grown products, artisan crafts, and prepared foods.
The Bend Theater
125 N. Main St., (262) 346-7156
Head Downtown and look for the “West Bend” blade sign. That’s The Bend, an historic venue that opened as a Vaudeville Theater in 1929. Modern guests will still find much historic charm in the building, which was painstakingly restored by a local nonprofit group in 2020 and reopened as a destination for music, theater, comedy, movies and more. Check out the list of upcoming shows online.
Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA)
205 Veterans Ave., (262) 334-9638
Located just across the Riverwalk from Downtown, MOWA is a must-explore venue featuring both contemporary and historical exhibitions focused on the rich and varied arts and culture of Wisconsin. Check out their website for current exhibits and programming.
Enjoy the outdoors
West Bend Sculpture Walk
Take a stroll and discover more than 40 outdoor sculptures created by local, regional, national and international artists on the West Bend Sculpture Walk. Located along the Downtown Riverwalk and throughout the city, the sculptures are created from a variety of media including metal, stone and recycled objects. Check out the map of featured sculpture locations here.
Eisenbahn State Trail
The 25-mile Eisenbahn State Trail winds right through the heart of West Bend and past the glacial landscape of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. Friendly for walking, biking and jogging, the five-mile section in West Bend has been paved with asphalt, making it suitable for in-line skating. Open year-round, the trail is a beautiful way to take in the best of each season, from barren winter scenes to eye-catching autumnal colors.
Ridge Run Park
300 S. University Dr.
This gorgeous 140 acre park is a beautiful spot to enjoy the beauty of nature during all four seasons. In clement weather, take advantage of hiking trails (including portions of the Ice Age Trail), fishing docks and kids' playgrounds. And when the weather turns, get out your snowshoes or enjoy the park's impressive sledding hill.
Shalom Wildlife Zoo
1901 Shalom Dr., West Bend, (262) 338-1310
Known as “Wisconsin’s Wildest Zoo,” the zoo is a sanctuary for 81 species and more than 800 animals including elk, sheep, camels, ostriches, bears, zebra and more. Guests can explore the zoo via a four-mile trail by foot or motorized vehicle (golf cart rentals available). during most of the year. Guests can also purchase buckets of zoo-approved kibble to feed animals along the way.
West Bend Labyrinth Gardens
Regner Park, 800 N. Main St.
There are a variety of reasons to visit Regner Park on the northern edge of West Bend, including the opportunity to explore nature trails, swim or ice skate at Regner Beach or take advantage of play areas or fishing. But if you're looking for a moment of solace during the clement months, head to the Labyrinth Garden Earth Sculpture, a 90-foot diameter garden designed in the tradition of the seven-circuit Cretan labyrinth and maintained by a group of faithful volunteers. Its grassy pathways are lined with gardens filled with annuals, perennials, herbs, bulbs and ornamental grasses. It's a great spot to relax, meditate, connect with nature or capture a few gorgeous photos.
Inevitably, you’ll find yourself looking for a place to relax and grab a bite to eat. Fortunately, the dining scene in West Bend has grown swiftly over the past few years, welcoming a new crop of new innovative spots. Here’s a sampling of venues to try when you visit!
The Hub: Social Good Brews (Downtown)
303 Water St., (262) 338-9768
Serving: Coffee, tea, breakfast, light lunch
Operated by the Volunteer Center of Washington County
The Grün Hexe (near Regner Park)
705 Village Green Way, (262) 353-3735
Serving: Fresh modern dishes for lunch, dinner, brunch
215 N. Main St., (262) 353-9282
Serving: Casual sandwiches, salads and entrees
The Antidote (Downtown)
302 N. Main St., (262) 353-3718
Serving: Craft cocktails, beer, wine shareable dishes, ramen
1726 Barton Ave., (262) 334-7797
Serving: Pizza, pasta
The Orville Restaurant (near Downtown)
518 Poplar St., (262) 335-6302
Serving: Steaks, globally inspired plates
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.