In 2019, Wisconsin’s tourism industry brought the state over $21 billion in revenue. That’s a staggering amount for a state not generally considered one of the glamorous U.S. destinations. It means a lot of people are choosing to visit Wisconsin…
We love Wisconsin at WONDERLUST and made the whole state one of our places to go in this year’s WONDERLUST 100.
If you’ve never visited Wisconsin, you may not know much about it. Sure, many of us know that it’s a dairy haven and that Wisconsin produces fantastic cheese. By the way, you can travel for less good reasons than the love of cheese.
Stop by the Warrens Cranberry Festival
One thing you may not know about Wisconsin is that it is home to thousands of acres of cranberry bogs spread out across 20 different counties. It’s no wonder, then, that the largest cranberry festival in the world takes place in Wisconsin every summer, in downtown Warrens. You can try dozens of tasty cranberry treats and peruse hundreds of local arts and crafts booths for unique gifts and home decor. The Cranberry Festival even offers tons of antiques for the avid collector. This year’s is Sept. 24-26, 2021 so get a move on. Or pencil in next September, when, frankly, travel will hopefully be a lot easier.
If you’re heading to Wisconsin, you won’t want to miss Bayfield, a historic town nestled on the edge of Lake Superior. Explore the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and delve into Wisconsin history and nature. See a Chautauqua tent show before catching a ferry to Madeline Island for more immersion into nature, great dining, and local art galleries.
If you’re not big on winter weather, Bayfield is best enjoyed in the late spring, summer, or early fall. If you don’t mind the cold, however, Bayfield makes our list of things to do in Wisconsin in the winter. It’s still beautiful and it’s significantly less crowded during the cold season.
The Wisconsin State Fair
Wisconsin heavily carries both German and Scandinavian heritage in its roots. And there’s no better place to explore and experience both than the Wisconsin State Fair — held in the suburbs of Milwaukee, in August, so next year, then. Like any great state fair, you can get up close with farm animals and learn about the state’s agricultural systems. You can also enjoy an authentic bratwurst, catch some live music, play family-friendly games, and enjoy an afternoon of shopping.
Hit the waterparks in Wisconsin Dells
Did you know that there’s an entire town in Wisconsin devoted to waterparks? That’s right, if you plan a trip to the Wisconsin Dells, you’ll have a lot of different waterparks to choose from. Whether you’re bringing the kids or taking an adults-only trip, everyone will enjoy a day of lazy rivers and water slides.
Looking for something truly unique? Noah’s Ark Waterpark is the largest waterpark in all of America. Of course, the Wisconsin Dells are best enjoyed in the summer, although each waterpark does offer indoor attractions to keep you busy in the event of rain.
Seriously, eat some Wisconsin cheese
You can’t visit the state known best for its incredible cheese and not give that cheese a try. The good news for cheese lovers? No matter where you go, you’re going to find some of the best cheese you’ve ever tasted.
Even if you’re not a big cheese person, there’s still one thing you really have to try before leaving the state: Wisconsin’s distinctive and famous cheese curds. You can find great, authentic cheese curds everywhere from grocery store deli counters to restaurants and bars to fairs and festivals. We recommend trying a few different varieties, including hot cheese curds served with breadcrumbs, fried cheese curd balls, and the classic cold cheese curd.
Grab a drink at a Wisconsin brewery
You probably know already that Miller beer comes straight from Milwaukee. We certainly recommend giving the Miller grounds a tour, but beer connoisseurs won’t want to miss the smaller breweries Wisconsin has to offer. Heading to Green Bay? Give Titletown Brewing a try. Other fan favorites are the Grumpy Troll Brew Pub in Mt. Horeb and 3 Sheeps Brewing in Sheboygan.
Scan the beer menu at any restaurant you visit in Wisconsin for New Glarus Brewing beers. These beers are only available in the state of Wisconsin and you won’t want to miss your opportunity to try one! We know what we’re talking about. Just saying.
Stay somewhere unique
One of the best things to do in Wisconsin is to get off the beaten path. That includes finding interesting accommodations other than your run-of-the-mill hotel. Take a look at some of these unique places to stay in Wisconsin and get inspired. We know exactly where we want to stay for our next group trip to Wisconsin — Adeline’s in Green Lake County.
Hike the Ice Age Trail
Over the course of 2.5 million years, glaciers sculpted and carved about 1/3rd of the earth’s land. On this continent, there were times when these glaciers stretched all the way from New York to Montana and beyond. If you want to see firsthand how glaciers impacted the land, there’s no better place to go than Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail. The Trail takes you around the outline of the most recent Wisconsin glacier. You’ll get to see geologic features like lakes, outwash planes, drumlins, tunnel channels, and more.
Walk or bike the trail to find and see countless breathtaking landscapes you’ll never forget.