America’s Dairyland certainly knows its cheese (and its beer, and its bratwurst), but there’s so much more waiting to be discovered in Wisconsin. This is a state of immense natural beauty, genuinely fun towns, and some of the nicest people you’re likely to meet in America.
Wisconsin isn’t particularly known for its urban attractions, but Milwaukee and Madison are both fantastic cities for dining, drinking, and generally hobnobbing with the locals. They both make excellent bases for excursions into natural wonderlands like the Wisconsin Dells, the Great Lakes, and unique highlights like the Apostle Islands. If you’re a fan of drinking beer, eating well, and playing in the outdoors you’re going to have a blast in Wisconsin.
The real bonus of a lingering trip to Wisconsin is its people. There’s a strong German influence running throughout much of the state, and the residents are earthy, unpretentious, and on the whole, genuinely happy folks. You might not find too many five-star spas or resorts here, but Wisconsin offers incredible value on meals, beers, and lodging. Being America’s main dairy state, there are lovely farms and a Farmers’ Market everywhere you go.
With the capital Madison up north and the big city Milwaukee down south, it’s easy to explore both ends of the state without getting to far from civilization. Lake Superior and Lake Michigan form the eastern border of Wisconsin, offering superb water recreation. If you prefer your water fun more controlled, the Wisconsin Dells is known as the water park capital of the world. Apart from these big stars, there are hundreds of glacial lakes, rivers, and wooded state parks all over Wisconsin for easy access to the beautiful outdoor environment that dominates the state.
The continental humidity of Wisconsin is visceral. The summers are warm and humid and the winters and cold and snowy. Generally, the southern part of the state s much warmer than the northern areas that are closer to the great lakes. There are few areas in Wisconsin that break 80-degrees F over the course of the year, and conversely in the winter time the temperatures can drop well below freezing. Unless you are seeking out some winter activities like cross country skiing, snow-shoeing or snowmobieling then you probably want to stay away from Wisconsin in the Wintertime. For most people the best time to visit is between September to November is a great time to travel to Wisconsin to see the vivid autumn colors of the Great Lakes area, but from July to August are the biggest tourist crowds.
Like most states in America, you really need to have your own wheels if you want to see much of Wisconsin. A big part of this state’s appeal is its landscape, a splendid blend of dairy farms, water-speckled woodlands, and sandstone cliffs. Driving around Wisconsin is both easy and beautiful, with good towns for a base near all of the natural highlights.
- Bar hop the vintage taverns of downtown Milwaukee to experience one of America’s most authentic neighborhood drinking scenes
- Get wet and wild any time of year in one of the 20 modern water parks located within the Wisconsin Dells region
- Explore the foodie in you among the capital Madison’s incredible array of restaurants where farm to table is the guiding principle
- Sea kayak (or take a boat cruise) among the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior, where lighthouses and wildlife set the mood
- Spend a romantic weekend at an inn along the coast of Door County, a charming peninsula of fishing villages and natural beauty
- Get an insider look at the master architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s prized creation, Taliesin, both home and national historic landmark
- Hit the links on one of Wisconsin’s 500 golf courses or 60 specialized golf resorts, all of which are incredibly scenic and often challenging