Together with the city of Two Rivers some ten kilometers (six miles) to the north, Manitowoc Harbor is proud to be Wisconsin's Maritime Capitol. Visitors come to Manitowoc Harbor to enjoy the beautiful coastline of Lake Michigan from Manitowoc Harbor's beaches, marinas, and historic downtown. Recognized around the world as the source of magnificent yachts, Manitowoc Harbor is the only port in Wisconsin for the SS Badger, the only surviving passenger vessel still sailing the Great Lakes.
Manitowoc Harbor has a humid continental climate with warm to hot humid summers and sometime severely cold winters. Temperatures in Manitowoc Harbor range from an average high of 21°C (70°F) in July and August to an average low of about -8°C (18°F) in January. Precipitation is lower in the winter months at 3.2 centimeters (1.25 inches) in February and ranges from 7.6 centimeters (three inches) in April to as much as centimeters (3.75 inches) in August. Humidity levels range from a low of about 78% in January to a high of 90% in August and September. Snow comes to Manitowoc Harbor from mid-October through mid-May, peaking in January at 31.7 centimeters (12.5 inches).
Founded in Manitowoc Harbor in 1970, the Wisconsin Maritime Museum is one of the United States' largest nautical museums. Recently made an affiliate of the Nation's Smithsonian Museum, the Wisconsin Maritime Museum is a 5600 meter (60 thousand square foot) facility with exhibits focusing on the maritime history of the Great Lakes. On exhibit is the USS Cobia, a World War II combat submarine. Tours of the vessel are conducted every day where visitors learn about the role of Manitowoc Harbor in the war when it built 28 submarines for the US Navy.
Visitors on the tour of the USS Cobia can see where men slept, showered, and ate. Interactive exhibits in the Cobia Interpretive Center describe the sub's six war patrols and Manitowoc Harbor's role in the war effort. An overnight program allows guests to sleep overnight on the Cobia. The Rasher Concourse at this Manitowoc Harbor maritime museum features the USS Rasher, a submarine that sank the second greatest tonnage of all subs in World War II. The Rasher is stationed just before the Cobia on the tour.
The Children's Waterways Room in the Wisconsin Maritime Museum was provided by the Burger Boat Company. Kids of all ages can launch boats in a miniature Lake Superior and sail the locks at Sault Ste. Marie and the waters of Lake Michigan and Green Bay. The Little Lakefarer's Room in this Manitowoc Harbor museum is a hands-on place for young children to explore, play maritime games, and learn about life on and near the water. The Riverside Gallery at the Manitowoc Harbor's Wisconsin Maritime Museum explores the methods mariners used to communicate, including earlier communication tools like flags, bells, flares, ships horns, whistles, drums, and speaking trumpets and more modern tools like radios, lights, and telegraphy.
The Wisconsin Maritime Museum's Maritime History Gallery takes visitors back to the 1840s when shipbuilding and shipping were Manitowoc Harbor's first industries. Visitors can explore Manitowoc Harbor's old streets, see a replica cross-section of the schooner Clipper City, and learn about the contribution of Wisconsin shipyards to the Nation's growth. The Model Ship Gallery & Carferry Exhibit in this Manitowoc Harbor museum treats visitors to scale models, half-hull models, and quarterboards of Great Lakes freighters and sailing ships as well as a shipwreck diorama of the ill-fated Edmund Fitzgerald. The Chief Wawatam Steam Engine in Manitowoc Harbor's Wisconsin Maritime Museum features a 65-ton triple-expansion steam engine from the early 20th Century that was used by the Chief Wawatam, an ice-breaking carferry.
The Wisconsin-Built Boat Gallery in this Manitowoc Harbor museum contains boats that were part of Manitowoc Harbor's shipbuilding tradition. They include Burger Boat's Lady Isabel, a 13.4-meter (44-foot) luxury yacht, and the 10.1-meter (33-foot) Palmer-Johnson Skybird sailboat. The collection includes many Wisconsin-built sport and pleasure craft.
The Harvesting the Inland Seas exhibit describes Great Lakes fishing from the 1830s through today. The Aquatic Species Investigation Lab at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc Harbor shows visitors how Great Lakes fisheries biologists study potential invading aquatic species and their impact on the waterway ecosystems.
In July and August, the Manitowoc Harbor's Wisconsin Maritime Museum is open seven days a week from 9am until 6pm (closing at 5pm in Spring and Fall). From November until mid-March, the museum is open from Monday through Friday from 10am until 4pm, and it opens at 9am on Saturday and Sunday. The museum is closed for major holidays and for the annual Commodore's Ball. Submarine tours are available as weather permits seven days a week all year from late morning until mid-afternoon (visitors should check with the museum on exact hours). Admissions include the museum and the USS Cobia and are $12 for adults and $10 for children aged six to 15. Family discounts are available.
Housed in a 19th Century mansion near downtown, the Manitowoc Harbor's Rahr West Art Museum contains contemporary and decorative art from the 15th through 21st Century and features the preserved Victorian home and artifacts. Collections include fine and decorative American arts related to the history of the mansion; work by international, regional, and Wisconsin artists with established reputations; and art and decorative objects that enhance the educational value of museum holdings. During Christmas in the Mansion, visitors will enjoy the mansion as it was in past Christmases.
The Lincoln Park Zoo in Manitowoc Harbor is a perfect place for families. Located on the banks of the Little Manitowoc River, the zoo contains traditional zoo animals as well as wild birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. Its natural exhibits help visitors learn about the habits of the animals and how to help conserve their habitats in the wild. Manitowoc Harbor's Lincoln Park Zoo is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day on every day from 7am until 7pm. In the Fall and Spring, it is open from Monday through Saturday from 7am until 5pm and on Sunday from 1pm. From November through March, the Zoo is open from Monday through Saturday from 7am until 3pm (closed on Sunday).