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Areal view from rocky ice age hiking trail during sunset hours. Devil's Lake State Park, Baraboo area, Wisconsin, Midwest USA.

Located in the Great Lakes region of the country bordering Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois, Wisconsin is the 23 largest state by area and the 20 most populated. During the late 18th and early 20th century, like neighboring Minnesota, Wisconsin welcomed thousands of immigrants from Germany and Scandinavia. 

It was these newcomers from Germany that brought with them the art of making beer with the state boasting no fewer than 160 breweries before the Civil War (1861 to 1865); Milwaukee brewers’ commonplace names include Pabst, Schlitz, and Miller.

While Wisconsin can be proud of its beer-making tradition, dairy products earn the title of “America’s Dairyland.” Wisconsin residents proudly refer to themselves as “cheeseheads” and wear plastic wedges of cheese as hats during Green Bay Packer football games.

For lovers of the great outdoors, Lake Michigan offers various water sports while the state’s interior is an excellent place for hiking and cross country skiing.


Avoid tourist traps with the “Perfect Wisconsin Road Trip” itinerary:

wisconsin itineraryMake the most of your time with the fully customizable Wisconsin Road Trip itinerary. – Get it here


Good to know before traveling to Wisconsin

Capital: Madison

Largest City: Milwaukee

Currency: American Dollar (USD)

Power voltage and socket type(s): 120V, 60Hz – Type A plug

Official religion(s): Christian 81%, Protestant 50%, Roman Catholic 29%

Official languages and general knowledge of English: English. Spanish widely spoken.

Main Tourist Areas: Milwaukee hotels, Wisconsin Dells, Madison, Door County

Most famous places in Wisconsin

Cave of the mounds

Discovered accidentally in 1939 by quarry workers close to the town of Blue Mounds, the Cave of the mounds is known for its beautiful limestone formations. Designated a National Landmark, the cave is a natural beauty created by Mother Nature.

Apostle Islands

Located just offshore in Lake Superior, the Apostle Islands are 21 red sandstone islands created by melting glaciers. While there, visit historic lighthouses, hike in the forest, or go sea kayaking from one island to another. – Check cabins in Apostle Islands

Oshkosh Air Show

The Oshkosh Air Show is the biggest air show of its kind globally and a summer mecca for plane lovers. Started by a group of aviation enthusiasts in 1953 today, the show features vintage planes from around the world.

Door County

Considered as the Cape Cod of the Midwest, Door County boasts five state parks and a narrow strait of water littered with shipwrecks.

Visit during the cherry season to pick fruit or visit one of the eight wineries in the region. – Check things to do in Door County

Historic Cedarburg

Located in the southeast of the state bordering Cedar Creek, Historic Cedarburg is a charming old town that has been attracting artsy types for decades. With numerous festivals held throughout the year, historic Cedarburg is about as idyllic as it gets.

Accommodation in Wisconsin

With Wisconsin not being on the international travel trail, accommodation can be slightly cheaper than other places in America. That being said, prices in Madison and Milwaukee are comparable to other midwestern cities. 

Budget 

While you will not find chic hostels as they have in Europe, camping is an excellent option for solo travelers visiting the state during the summer. Roadside motels are also reasonable, with prices starting from around $45 per night.

Mid-Range 

Most mid-range hotels in Wisconsin are owned by large chains like Marriot, Hilton, and Wyndham and charge from $100 per night. If you plan on visiting Madison or Milwaukee, try and do it on the weekend when rates are reduced.

Luxury

Wisconsin boasts several upmarket resorts with The American Club in Kohler being a favorite. Set in a Tudor-style building built for immigrant workers in 1918, The American Club features an excellent spa and several dining options. Prices start from around $460 per night.

Related: Best Luxury Resorts in Wisconsin

Other Accommodation Options

In recent years home-share websites like Airbnb have become hugely popular and a great alternative to traditional hotels. By renting an apartment, you can select how many bedrooms you need plus be able to cook rather than eating out every night.

Another great way to enjoy Wisconsin is by renting a lakefront cabin. – Check lakefront cabins here


Avoid tourist traps with the “Perfect Wisconsin Road Trip” itinerary:

wisconsin itineraryMake the most of your time with the fully customizable Wisconsin Road Trip itinerary. – Get it here


Do I need a visa to visit Wisconsin?

You may need a visa to visit the United States depending on your nationality, but you can travel around and visit states like Wisconsin once you are in the country.

Best time to visit Wisconsin

Given its geographic location on the Great Lakes, it will come as no surprise to learn that Wisconsin gets a lot of snow. Unless you like snowmobiling and ice fishing, avoid visiting Wisconsin in December, January, and February.

Late spring and early fall are excellent times to visit Wisconsin, but June, July, and August are outstanding if you like outdoor activities.

Transportation in Wisconsin

Wisconsin, just like the rest of America, relies on the car and driving to get from one place or another. Cities like Milwaukee have a public bus service, and of course, there is always UBER.

How to get to Wisconsin

Flight: Milwaukee, Madison, La Crosse, and Green Bay all have airports that you fly to from other parts of the United States, plus Chicago is close by also. – Check flights here

Train: Wisconsin is served by two Amtrak train routes, the Hiawatha corridor that operates seven round trips per day between Chicago and Milwaukee, and the Empires Builder, a cross country train that connects Milwaukee with Portland and Seattle. – Check tickets here

Ferry: The Lake Express Ferry ferry links Milwaukee with Muskegon, with a two-hour crossing eliminating the need to drive around Lake Michigan. 

Car: Like most places in the United States, Wisconsin has an excellent highway network which connects all towns and cities. – Check car rentals here

How to get around in Wisconsin

Car: Having a car while in Wisconsin is almost a must unless you stay in one town or city and plan on using a rideshare app like UBER or Lyft.

Public Transport: All Wisconsin cities have a public bus service.

Best Food in Wisconsin

With Wisconsin being the “Dairy State,” cheese and ice creams are front and center with various German-inspired foods like bratwurst, a Wisconsin tradition. Fried perch or walleye is a popular dish, as is “Booyah,” a hearty stew made with meat and vegetables.

Typical food in Wisconsin:

Frozen custard

 Containing more butter, fat, and egg yolk than what is used to make ice cream, frozen custard is a creamy Wisconsin treat. 

Fried fish

A Friday night tradition brought to the state by Catholic immigrants, a Friday night fish fry consists of battered walleye or perch served with french fries and coleslaw. 

Bratwurst

Soaked in beer and onions, every family is Wisconsin has their recipe for summer bratwurst sausages.

Booyah

Prevalent in northern parts of the state, Booyah is a hearty, slow-cooked stew of meat and vegetables. The name Booyah is thought to have been taken from the French word bouillon.

Beer 

Citizens of Wisconsin drink more beer per head than any other state making it a staple of all Wisconsin parties and festivals. From household names like Miller and Pabst to micro-breweries you have never heard of, you will never miss out on a beer while visiting Wisconsin.

Best Things to do in Wisconsin for Outdoor travelers

Pattison State Park

Home to the fourth-largest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains, Manitou Falls at 165 feet, is an impressive spectacle in late spring and early summer. Plus, the Park offers plenty of exciting hikes for nature lovers.

The sea caves of the Apostle Islands

Located not far from Lake Superior’s shore is the Apostle Islands, a group of jagged red-sandstone-cliffed islands full of narrow passageways and caverns. The only way to explore them is to rent a Kayak and paddle around them. – Read more: Things to do in Apostle Islands

Canoe the Kickapoo River

Twisting and turning for 60 miles, the Kickapoo River is named after the Indian Tribe that lived in Wisconsin before Europeans settled the land. Rent a canoe from an outfitter in the village of Ontario and paddle downstream to La Farge.

Go fishing

With more than 15,000 lakes and over a thousand miles of Great Lakes shoreline, fishing in Wisconsin is extremely popular. Fox Lake, located near a town of the same name, is a stocked lake with numerous fish species and is considered the best place for ice fishing.

Cycling in Madison

Home to Wisconsin University, the state capital Madison happens to be one of the country’s most bike-friendly cities. With 120 miles of on-street bikeways and more than 75 miles of trails, you can get everywhere you need to go in Madison on two wheels. – Check tours in Madison here

The sunflowers at Pope Farm

Located in Middleton in Dane County, the Pope Farm Conservancy is home to hundreds of thousands of sunflowers. Free and open to the public, the farm boasts seven hiking trails and offers guided tours. To see the Sunflowers at their best visit in early August.

Rock climbing at Devils Lake

While Wisconsin might not have mountains, it does have some excellent place to go rock climbing. Devils Lake State Park is to 500-foot cliffs that have routes for every level of climber. Numerous outfitters are nearby and provide instructors and equipment. – Read more: Best Hikes in Wisconsin


Avoid tourist traps with the “Perfect Wisconsin Road Trip” itinerary:

wisconsin itineraryMake the most of your time with the fully customizable Wisconsin Road Trip itinerary. – Get it here


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