Highway 36 Trunk Tour

  • Southern terminus: Walworth County, at Highway 120 east of Lake Geneva
  • Northern terminus: Milwaukee County, at Highway 241/27th Street (Historic U.S. 41) in Milwaukee
Distance: 36 miles

Counties along route 36

  • Walworth
  • Racine
  • Milwaukee

STH-036“36 Miles on Highway 36”

WisMap36_200wQuickie Summary: Highway 36 once began in Walworth, later in Lake Geneva. Today, the road that was Highway 36 northeast out of Lake Geneva as Highway 120, which runs north to East Troy. Highway 36 begins at Highway 120 about four miles north of Lake Geneva. It winds through the beautiful rolling countryside of Walworth and Waukesha Counties, hitting the “Chocolate City” of Burlington along with Waterford and Muskego on its way into Milwaukee County, where it serves as a major thoroughfare through the suburbs of Franklin and Greendale on its way to connect into the heart of Milwaukee’s south side and the city’s downtown via the freeway system. Lots of little history pieces line the way, and beyond the road at either end there’s plenty of adventure ahead.

Wisconsin Highway 36 Road Trip

The Drive (Southwest to Northeast):

Hwy 36 sb end at Hwy 120

Highway 36 as it ends southbound at Highway 120. Lake Geneva is a left turn and just a few minutes away. Meanwhile, Highway 36 northbound is about to head for 36 miles to Milwaukee.

Through the rural fields of Walworth County, Highway 36 works its way east and north. This area skirts the southern end of Kettle Moraine, which is a hilly section of SE Wisconsin formed when the advancing glaciers stopped – and left hills behind filled with all the stuff they pushed southward.

Burlington (pop. 10,464) started out as a settlement called “Foxville” – for its location along the Fox River – in 1835. A few years later, locals changed the name to Burlington, after the Vermont city many of the recent transplants from New England felt a need to salute (heck, it’s easier to spell than Montpelier.) Railroads came in 1855, and by 1900 Burlington officially became a city, nestled in the southwest corner of Racine County.

Burlington welcome sign

Entering Burlington, they make sure you know it’s “Chocolate City.”

Burlington once featured three breweries, including the former Finke-Uhen Brewery along the Fox River; its building is now occupied by the Malt House Theater, whose community theater company (called the “Haylofters“) have been operating since 1932.  Three years prior to that – or so they claim – the Burlington Liars’ Club was formed. They celebrate “Fibbing for Fame and Folly” (also alliteration, apparently) and annually hand out an award for “World Champion Liar.” We can’t lie when it comes to chocolate, and the addition of a 1966 Nestle plant gave Burlington the name “Chocolate City, USA.” Every Memorial Day weekend, Chocolate Fest tantalizes taste buds and offers plenty of music and activities. Several notable people hail from Burlington, including three-time World’s Strongest Man winner Bill Kazmaier, actor Gregory Itzin from “24”, former Miss Wisconsin winner and Miss USA finalist and current Milwaukee TV personality Caitlin Morrall, and perhaps most famously Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo; Romo got the nod on the “Welcome to Burlington” signs with the “home of” honors. Romo went to Burlington High School and worked at a State Trunk Tour favorite, Fred’s, as a busboy. Fred’s proclaims itself home to the “World’s Best Burgers,” a tall order indeed. Are they?  You’ll have to judge for yourself, but they’re definitely a State Trunk Tour pick!

Fred's in Burlington

Fred’s, one of the many places in the world laying claim to its best burger.

The “city version” of Highway 36 runs through town southwest-northeast. Southwest of downtown, it’s primarily State Street and Milwaukee Avenue; northeast, it’s Milwaukee Street. Downtown along Milwaukee Avenue, the Logic Puzzle Museum offers a wild array of hands-on puzzles, brain teasers, and more. Next door, the Spinning Top & Yo-Yo Museum offers yo-yos, gyroscopes, spin toys, and plenty of hands-on science exhibits…. over 2,000 in all! Call first and get tickets, though; they are by appointment only. And, since it’s “Chocolate City USA”, check out the Chocolate Experience Museum (113 E. Chestnut Street, 262-763-6044), which houses exhibits that survive the annual Chocolate Fest, and other chocolate sculptures… even one that replicates the brick road from the Wizard of Oz – only this one is chocolate instead of yellow. Hurry, before somebody eats it!

Burlington’s Spinning Top & Yo-Yo Museum is right downtown.



Tour Gallery

  • Hwy 36 sb end at Hwy 120

Events on this Tour

  • Milwaukee Air & Water Show

    Jul 28, 2019

    The Milwaukee Air & Water Show, sponsored by Waterstone Bank, offers one of the top air shows in the Midwest along the city's gorgeous lakefront. Yhey're proud to announce once again the Grand Return of the U.S. Air Force Jet Demonstration Squadron - the "Thunderbirds," aka "America's Ambassadors in Blue." The USAF F-15E "Strike Eagles" will also perform with 2-ship formations, straight from the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB. [caption id="attachment_2146" align="alignright" width="300"]20130803_122308 An "M" for Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Air & Water Show we snapped from Back Bay Park on Milwaukee's East Side.[/caption] Other exciting acts to perform in Milwaukee’s skies this July include the U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon Patrol Aircraft, U.S. Navy Leapfrogs Parachute Team, the USAF T-38 "Talons"in 2-3 ship formation, the return of the U.S. Air Force A-10 Warthogs, the U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super-Hornet Tactical Demonstration Squadron, the Wisconsin Air National Guard KC-135 Stratotanker straight from Milwaukee's own 128th Air Refueling Wing base, and the Firebirds X-treme Team. Solo aerobatics and stunts will be performed by Bill Stein, Mike Wiscus, Jack Knutson, Matt Chapman, and Lt. Colonel Josh "Tater" Boudreaux of the "Wild Blue Rodeo." On the waters of Lake Michigan, check out the USCGC Bristol Bay (WLB), a 225-foot multi-mission buoy tender out of Detroit; a NEW Water Show act from Milwaukee's own Dennis Pinter, who will demonstrate the "Air Chair" on the water! Daredevil and Pro Flyboard competitor Casey "Swizzle" McElwee will also perform with his Hydroflyte and Flyboard act. You can also check out the Milwaukee Fire Department's "Trident Fireboat," which will demonstrate its capabilities on the water, and witness an HH-60 Jayhawk Rescue Helicopter Air-Sea Rescue Demostration courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station out of Traverse City, Michigan. Milwaukee Air & Water Show, two planes You can watch from Bradford Beach and many other areas along Milwaukee's lakefront for free. Ticketed areas offer the closest proximity, the best views, hosted narration, the best access to concessions, and great seating. This is definitely a benchmark summer event in Milwaukee! U.S. 18, Highways 32, 36, 38, 57, 59, 145, 190 and more all bring to within eye (and definitely ear!) shot of the show.

    Milwaukee Air & Water Show Address:

    2272 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive Milwaukee, WI 53211 (414) 482-2069 Website

    Milwaukee Air & Water Show Schedule of Events:

    Saturday, July 27 Air Show Box Office, 8am - 8pm Water Show begins at 10am Daily Air Show, 12pm - 4pm USAF Thunderbirds, 3pm Sunday, July 28 Air Show Box Office, 8am - 8pm Water Show begins at 10am Daily Air Show, 12pm - 4pm USAF Thunderbirds, 3pm
  • German Fest

    Jul 28, 2019 11:00 pm
    German Fest

    German Fest logoGet Your Deutsch On! Celebrating its 39th year, German Fest returns to Milwaukee's lakefront the weekend of July 26-28. Plenty of great German food and live music, bier (of course) and a lot of fun events. The 14th annual Dachshund Derby runs - literally - at 1pm Sunday. The STIHL Timbersports Series 2019 U.S. Pro & Collegiate Championships happens all three days at German Fest, with plenty of thrilling, chopping, and sawing action! [caption id="attachment_7354" align="alignnone" width="340"]Dachshunds at German Fest in Milwaukee Dachshunds get competitive in their races.[/caption] Check out United for Kids, where you can visit with The MACC Fund, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Make-A-Wish® Wisconsin and Ronald McDonald House of Eastern Wisconsin, Inc. on Saturday, July 29th and Sunday, July 30th inside of the Sports Area. They'll have games, prizes, information and fun for the whole family!  A portion of Sunday’s ticket sales will benefit these four charities. German Fest Pretzel, Milwaukee You can also check out Carousel Organ Association of America's providing some of the "happy" instrumentation as you dance to music. Children can participate in the Fairy Tale Parade Sunday at 3:30pm and Dance Showcase at 4pm on the Sprecher Oktoberfest Stage. Fireworks will fill the sky Friday and Saturday night starting around 10:30pm. TICKETS for German Fest are only $3 Friday! General Admission Saturday & Sunday run tickets run $12 in advance and $15 at the gate; children under 12 are free when accompanied by an adult. Find out more admission specials here. German Fest takes place on the Summerfest Grounds in Milwaukee - also known as Henry Maier Festival Park. The grounds are in close proximity to U.S. 18, I-43/94, and Highways 32, 38, 57, 59, 145, and 190. Prosit! Get the German Fest Entertainment Brochure HERE, and get the

    German Fest Address:

    Henry Maier Festival Grounds 200 N. Harbor Drive Milwaukee, WI 53202 (414) 464-9444 Website milwaukee_germanfest02milwaukee_germanfest03

Route 36 Facts

  • • Highway 36 is 36 miles... probably the only state highway whose number matches the mileage!
  • • Highway 36 once continued southwest through Lake Geneva and ended at U.S. 14 down in Walworth, a route covered by Highway 67 today.
  • • Highway 36 was originally designated in 1918; other than truncations at each end and the Burlington bypass opening, the current route of Highway 36 has changed little.
Real Racine Events

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