Picnic Point Beach House - Atlas Obscura

Picnic Point Beach House

This forgotten beach house built to look like a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece overlooks a hidden beach.  


Hidden along a side trail of Picnic Point sits a serene beach next to a beach house built to look like it was designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Many people hold the incorrect belief the house is indeed a Wright design, but that thought just adds to the experience. Part of the magic of the beach house is that it looks so odd compared to much of modern architecture.

Strangely enough, the intriguing building never actually opened due to an algae bloom in the years immediately following its construction in 1968. It was meant to be a bathroom and changing facility, but it’s now used for storage instead.

The building isn’t very well known, as it sits on a trail that veers off the path to the tip of picnic point. Most people take the more traveled road that bypasses this overlooked gem, causing them to miss out on the more secluded beach and the building.

The beach house is located next to some small bluffs that are fun to climb and looks out onto a small cove in Lake Mendota where the waves are often less strong than the rest of the lake. The relatively unknown beach offers lovely views of the water, but without the crowds that congregate at other points along the lake.

Know Before You Go

It takes a small hike to arrive at the hidden oasis: Enter through the gate to Picnic Point at 2000 University Bay Drive, but take the first left after the grassy area. Keep walking on the path and you will find it in its abandoned, slightly graffiti covered glory. For more info on how to get there, there is a map on the official website for the Lakeshore preserve. The beach is part of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve that makes up much of the best lakeshore in Madison. The entire lakeshore is maintained by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, so there are well-marked, easy trails to reach every point. It's a great location for a swim or to set up a picnic and relax.

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