Downtown Kenosha Blog

Simmons Island: A Downtown Destination

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Simmons Island: A Downtown Destination

A few weeks ago, my friend Mike and I went out around lunchtime to shoot some photos. My role at the Visitors Bureau and Mike’s role at the Chamber of Commerce have a few similar goals, and getting to indulge our hobby of photography is one of the perks of the job. We wore our comfy shoes and packed up a crew of lenses and set out for a few hours of enjoying the summer sunshine in Downtown Kenosha.

We’ve done photo outings together a few times. Sometimes we travel the same footprint, others we take different routes. We always find fun new angles to admire the downtown area through a lens, though. On this particular trip, I fell in love with Simmons Island for a number of reasons. Ready to hear them?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Screen-Shot-2016-07-12-at-11.00.47-AM.png1. Walkability
My office is located at 56th Street and Sheridan Road. I always think of Simmons Island as being a bit of a long walk despite really only being a few square blocks away – but those blocks are air miles, not walkable blocks. On this outing, I ate my words. The walk over was delightful – especially crossing the Simmons Island bridge (something I usually only do in my vehicle). The walk back was just as enjoyable and I loved spotting the “You Hook ‘Em, We Cook ‘Em” sign at the Boat House Pub & Eatery. Yup, just like the sign says, you can catch fish and clean them then bring them to the restaurant to be prepared three ways for lunch or dinner.

2. History

“The Island” was originally settled by John Bullen in 1835 and was later purchased by the City of Kenosha and renamed “Simmons Island Park” as a nod to the Simmons Mattress Factory that once called Kenosha’s lakefront “Home”. In the 50s and 60s this park, complete with a beach and bathhouse, was a primary draw for Kenosha area residents and visitors to the community. Guess what – the park and beach are still a major attraction for travelers to our area today! There are historic homes on the island, the Kenosha Coast Guard Station, the Kenosha Sailing Center (soon to have a new restaurant), and more. It’s fun to think about how the view from the Island has changed over the years – and the Southport Light Station Museum offers maps and images of just that. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_Screen-Shot-2016-07-12-at-10.08.37-AM.png3. Boardwalk
About two years ago, a boardwalk was installed on the island to connect the beach to the pier that lines the Kenosha Harbor. Wild grasses, beautifully groomed sand, and views of both the Southport Lighthouse and the Pierhead Lighthouse are just the start of the attraction to the boardwalk. The new addition offers an easy route around the east side of the island for beach goers, fishermen, and those just looking to enjoy a stroll along Lake Michigan.

You can learn more about Simmons Island Park, the beach, the boardwalk, and the master plan for further restoration and development in this area on the City of Kenosha’s website. However, rather than spending time reading about it online, I highly recommend a trip out to enjoy it yourself! 


Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce
600 52nd Street, Kenosha, WI
262 - 654-1234

Boat House Pub & Eatery
4917 7th Avenue, Kenosha, WI
262 - 654 - 9922

Kenosha Community Sailing Center
5130 4th Avenue, Kenosha, WI
262 - 652 - 2320

Southport Light Station Museum
220 51st Place, Kenosha, WI
262 - 654 - 5770