Wisconsin — Attractions
While the cheese and beer of Wisconsin are certainly highlights, this charming state has the perfect balance of nature, outdoor recreation, and cultural attractions to ensure a memorable visit. Towns like Madison and Milwaukee carry the torch for urban fun and sophistication, while natural wonders such as the Apostle Islands and Wisconsin Dells offer a full plate of outdoor activities and remarkable scenery.
This small but lively college town is a peach of a place. It happens to be the state capital, but the real attraction here is the mix of outdoor recreation and affordable amenities. There is a great scene for dining, shopping, and bar hopping around Capitol Square and along State Street, Monroe Street, and Willy Street. Two lakes on either end of Madison offer easy water recreation, while the summer Dane County Farmers’ Market is one of the country’s nicest. The university ensures everything stays fresh and engaging.
Address: northern Wisconsin
This geological wonder sits an hour north of Madison, with 15 miles of weather-sculpted sandstone cliffs punctuated by wooded ravines and meadows. You can hike, bike, ride horses, or go boating on the water that runs through the Dells. But the real attraction for most visitors is the 20 outdoor and indoor water parks. They don’t call it the ‘Waterpark Capital of the World’ for nothing, and two of America’s largest water parks are here in Noah’s Ark Waterpark and Wilderness Lodge. These parks are open all year, providing loads of family fun to go with the natural outdoor options.
Address: northern Wisconsin
Phone: +1-800-223-3557 (visitor center)
Most Americans think of beer when someone mentions Milwaukee. But this up-and-coming city on the shore of Lake Michigan has a lot more on the menu than its abundance of breweries. The Milwaukee Art Museum and Harley Davidson Museum are two very impressive attractions, as is Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin with its cool interactive science exhibits. A free tour of the massive Miller Brewing Company is always a treat, and the lake itself is a major source of summertime festivals and water sports.
Address: southeast Wisconsin
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Adding to the impressive selection of inland state parks is this stunning protected area on Lake Superior. Made up of 21 islets and 12 miles of lake shoreline, Apostle Islands is one of the finest places in America for kayaking and canoeing. The wind has carved the sandstone cliffs into whimsical formations, peppered with caves, coves, and 240 species of birds. Eight historic lighthouses on the islands add to the ambiance. If paddling isn’t your thing, simple hike the Mainland Lakeshore Trail or grab a boat to any of the 12 islands that have developed hiking trail systems. Camping is allowed or you can grab a room in neighboring Bayfield.
Address: 415 Washington Ave, Bayfield, WI 54814
Often compared to Cape Cod, this stretch of Lake Michigan is a wonderful peninsula dotted with old fishing villages that have discovered tourism provides a better income. There is 250 miles of coast to play with, featuring sand dunes, quiet beaches, and neat sandstone cliffs. Stay in a lakeside village like Ephraim, Sister Bay, or Fish Creek for daily jaunts into Peninsula State Park or Whitefish Dunes State Park. Door County is laid-back and undeniably charming, with loads of romantic inns, great restaurants, and interesting crafty boutiques in most of the villages.
Address: 1015 Green Bay Rd, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Phone: +1-920-743-4456 (visitor center)
The famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright had a thing for Wisconsin. He lived here for 40 years, working on his masterpiece living environment named Taliesin for that entire period. Today, his former home is 600-acre National Historic Landmark with a farm, studio, and architecture school. Visitors can choose from six tours of the property, each with a varying degree of depth or a particular focus. The property is in a stunning location and the home itself is a genuine work of art.
Address: 5607 City Road C, Spring Green, WI 53588
Circus World Museum
Any fan of the circus will want to make the journey to the town of Baraboo, home to Circus World Museum. This 50-acre property was once the winter home of the Ringling Brothers and their hugely popular circus show. Today, it serves as a living museum of sorts to the art of the American circus. Summer is the best time to visit because various live performances are held on a daily basis. But this attraction is open all year, displaying a fascinating collection of circus memorabilia dating back decades.
Address: 550 Water St, Baraboo, WI 53913