One Of The Clearest Water Beaches In The US Is This Little-Known Midwestern Paradise

When it comes to miles of stunning beaches and see-through water, luxurious destinations like the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos may come to mind. Luckily for travelers, there are domestic options that are more accessible for some people. The Schoolhouse Beach on Washington Island right outside of Door County, Wisconsin, was recently named the beach with the clearest water in the United States by the Florida Panhandle. The website studied 50 beaches across 75 countries and determined the clearest ones by researching reviews and found that Schoolhouse Beach ranked number one in the U.S.

"You might be surprised to learn that the beach with the clearest water in the United States is not lapped by either the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans but Lake Michigan — the third-largest of the country's Great Lakes. With a third (33.41%) of publicly available traveler reviews mentioning its clear waters, Schoolhouse Beach on Washington Island (off the coast of Wisconsin) takes the top spot," the website wrote of their findings.

Unlike many other clear beaches down south, Schoolhouse Beach is unique because it's surrounded by white limestone rocks instead of sand. Visitors can go for a swim, or if the water is too cold, they can pack a picnic and take in the rolling waves while sitting at a table nearby. The beach is also a quick ferry ride from popular tourist destination Door County –– aka the Cape Cod of the Midwest –– and can make for a quick day trip or a weekend getaway!

Schoolhouse Beach at Washington Island

With summer inching closer and closer, more people are looking for both realistic and dreamy destinations, and they can now add Schoolhouse Beach to their travel to-dos. Travelers can take advantage of the clear water at Schoolhouse Beach by walking along the shoreline, swimming, and playing with the rocks underneath their feet. Some past visitors have cautioned that the water can get cold if it's not prime summertime, but they've also expressed how the view alone is worth the stop. The beach overlooks miles of blue waters and green bluffs that surround the harbor before it transforms into Lake Michigan. Past visitors have agreed with the Florida Panhandle study and gushed on Tripadvisor that the beach is "magnificent," the "highlight of our Door County vacation," and "not quite like anywhere else." As previously mentioned, the beach is composed of thousands of smooth rocks, but be warned that taking one of those rocks home could cost tourists a whopping $250 fee.

The beach is a highlight on Washington Island. Visitors can travel to Schoolhouse Beach and Washington Island by taking a short ferry ride from the northern tip of Door County. Guests can either choose to bring their car onto the ferry or leave it on the mainland, but the ferry stop is roughly 5 miles away from the beach, so travelers should take that into account before ditching their vehicle.

Alternate activities to do on Washington Island

After spending an afternoon swimming or picnicking at Schoolhouse Beach, guests can travelerblog the rest of Washington Island. There's a plethora of outdoor activities to take in the beautiful island –– including biking, hiking, golfing, and sailing. One of the many places to take in the scenery is the Midwest's largest lavender farm, Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm, where travelers can walk around, sample lavender goodies, pick their own lavender bouquets, and take remarkable pictures. There is also the Mountain Park and Lookout Tower where people can climb 186 steps to the top and embrace panoramic views. For another beach opportunity, guests can visit Sand Dunes Beach Park –– a sandy beach with similar crystal waters to Schoolhouse Beach. If guests would like to stay on the island for more than just the day, there are cottages, inns, and rentals. There are also restaurants ranging from cafés to places prioritizing fresh seafood from the island.

If travelers are feeling more adventurous, they can hop on a second ferry to Rock Island State Park (not to be confused with Tennessee's Rock Island State Park), which features a 5-mile trail covering the shoreline (Thordarson Loop Trail). At the northern tip of Rock Island lies the Pottawatomie Lighthouse –– a historic lighthouse dating back to 1836  –– where guests can tour to see stunning views of the blue water below. Of course, people also have the option to stay in Door County and make Washington Island a day trip, so they can continue eating, drinking, boating, and walking their way through the popular Midwestern summer vacation spot.