For a land known primarily for milk and cheese, Wisconsin is a much more impressive place than initial perceptions would suggest. While Chicago looms to the south, Milwaukee is still an impressive city in its own right, while those that are young or have alternative points of view will take to Madison like a moth does to a street lamp.
Much of Wisconsin’s charm come from its great outdoors, as its frontages on Lake Michigan and Superior are well beloved by visitors and state residents alike, and a place by name of the Wisconsin Dells has long been a mecca for families all over the American Midwest.
So do enjoy more than a few sharp wedges of American cheese during your time here, but do so en route to Wisconsin’s many worthwhile attractions, instead of blazing through an amazing state in a rush to somewhere else.
What To Do – Culture & History
Located not far from Chicago just across in the border in Wisconsin is its largest city Milwaukee. While there are numerous smaller cultural institutions that you could take in if you have an abundance of time during your visit here, be sure to tour the Pabst Mansion after a day spent touring breweries. This Gilded Age mansion belonged to Milwaukee’s biggest brewing kingpin Frederick Pabst, founder of that classic American beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon. His house reflected how well the alcohol business was doing during that period, to which the countless rooms and priceless antique furniture bear witness.
Without question, one of the biggest cultural aspects of Wisconsin is its love of football. This desire is so strong, it sustains an NFL calibre team in the tiny city of Green Bay, home to only 300,000 people in its metro area. As such, it makes sense to investigate the mystique of the Green Bay Packers by touring Lambeau Field, or even better, by attending a game. Even if tickets aren’t the budget, attending a tailgate party in the parking lot will put you in touch with the cheesehead wearing fanatics that stick with this club through thick or thin.
Those looking to get in touch with Wisconsin’s rural roots will succeed in doing so at Heritage Hill State Historical Park. Here, 25 structures from around the state has been moved here to allow visitors to see what life in the 19th century was like for Wisconsinians. From the log cabins of fur traders, to the comfier confines of merchants within the towns of the day, the past will come alive during your time wandering around this park.
One of the quirkier museums in the State of Wisconsin is the Circus World Museum, which aims to tell the story of the shows that started under the big top many years ago. Located in Baraboo in the south central part of the state, this institution used to be the winter home of the Ringling Brother’s Circus, and this place honors this company to a degree, but it also contains restored circus wagons, and well as numerous photos and books from one of the greatest moving shows on Earth.
What To Do – Modern & Natural Attractions
By far, the most popular tourist attractions in the entire state are the Wisconsin Dells. With incredibly scenic rocky outcroppings and high bluffs sitting above the banks of the Wisconsin River in the central part of the state, it fast became a popular place for local vacations among the locals in the 19th century.
In the 20th century with the development of automobiles and interstate highways, The Dells exploded developing numerous family centered attractions that included some of America biggest water parks. Some of these are built indoors, making the Dells a year-round getaway.
Boat tours and kayaking/canoeing are also available, making this place a must-stop, even if to just gawk at the monstrosity of the development here.
One of the trippier modern attractions in this state is the House on the Rock, which is a property that was designed with a number of oddities, optical illusions, and downright bizarre elements built into them. From the Infinity Room that stretches out 218 feet above the abyss that lies beneath the outcropping that the building sits on, to a room where musical instruments auto-play when you insert coins, it is well worth spending a few hours in this curious tourist trap.
If getting out onto the wild shores of Lake Michigan is important to you, then a visit to Door County will accomplish this travel goal for you. Paddlers will love navigating into hidden coves with stunning rock outcroppings, while more laid-back types will enjoy its many beaches, some of which offer parasailing for those looking for a once-in-a-lifetime activity to try.
Finally, those looking to descend into one of the Midwest’s most stunning caves will love taking a spelunk into the Cave of the Mounds. Considered by the Chicago Academy of Sciences to be a “jewel box” among caves in America, this cavern’s many soda straws and helictites will astound you with their beauty.