Marine News from the Great Lakes

Port Washington, Wisconsin

Main Street, USA

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 7:00 am
By: Brad Kovach, written for Marinalife

Main Street USA

Historic charm and Midwestern hospitality give boaters good reason to linger in Port Washington, just 30 miles north of Milwaukee on the western shore of Lake Michigan. Its downtown boasts the largest collection of pre-Civil War ear buildings in the state, and the restoration of this area and nearby coast have helped earn a “Top 100 Best Midwest Small Town Getaways” designation from Midwest Living magazine.

What to Do

Walk On Main Street is the focal point, and the best way to see this historic district is on a self-guided walking tour with sites including the Port Washington Light Station (built in 1860 and now a museum) and the Smith Brothers Fish Net House (built between 1922 and 1938 as a facility for commercial fishing operations). Get maps here.

Schedule a Play Date

Hire a charter captain and head out from one of the top sport fishing ports in Wisconsin. The Fish Doctors (262-618-5060, will put you on salmon and trout, or any other fish in the bite. You can also enjoy Port Washington’s two sandy beaches, or head inland to hike, bike or bird along the 37-mile Interurban Trail.

Where to Eat

The Port Hotel Restaurant is the “grande dame” of Port Washington eateries. Set within a magnificently restored 1902 building, services include lunch, dinner and traditional Sunday brunch. Dishes range from lamb shank to chicken wellington to barbecue ribs. The wine list runs 30 deep, with bottles from around the world (101 E Main Street, 262-284-9473,

Hungry Lion has only been open since 2009, but has already garnered the “best kept secret” title among residents. Located in a walk-down basement in the heart of downtown, the ambiance is cozy and warm, as is the menu featuring pork chops, schnitzel, roulade and other German-inspired dishes. (218 N Franklin Street, 262-268-3830)

Where to Dock

Port Washington Marina, one block from downtown, features 220 deep-water slips for vessels up to 50 feet in length. Bigger boats (up to about 75 feet) can tie up along the walls. The town’s friendly attitude extends right down past the water’s edge; the marina offers courtesy dockage for boaters stopping for lunch, plus free wireless internet, a picnic area with grills and tables, and a “doggie island” for pets. Other amenities include a pump-out station, laundry room, showers and mini store (106 North Lake Street, 262-284-6606,

tags: Destination, Lake Michigan

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