This is the ultimate Wisconsin bucket list to help you discover the Badger State. This overlooked Midwest destination will amaze you with its Old World European heritage, Scandinavian tradition, plethora breweries and beautiful lakes.
This list includes the top things to do in Wisconsin, from Milwaukee, to Madison, Green Bay and beyond. This bucket list will show you the best places in Wisconsin and the things you need to do to make sure you have the most memorable Wisconsin experience.
Table of Contents
Wisconsin Bucket List
Let’s start with the obvious: sampling Wisconsin cheese. Wisconsin is synonymous with cheese. But, if you don’t know this, Wisconsin can claim to be the most prolific cheese-producing state in the country.
Now that you have this information, let’s get to the important part: sampling the goods.
Nearly every bar and restaurant in the state has fried cheese curds. Many restaurants use local produce to make their delicious, gooey goodness. Each restaurant will have their own unique way of serving the dish so be sure to order a basket.
Take A Brew Tour In Milwaukee
Milwaukee was once the “Beer Capital of the World” at one time in its history. This city was home to some of the most prominent beer barons in America, including Miller and Pabst.
Milwaukee was an established beer city before it became a city. There was one tavern for every forty residents. Because of the large number of German immigrants, who brought their beer halls to Milwaukee and beer brewing knowledge.
The Miller Brewing Company is Milwaukee’s only remaining major brewery. MillerCoors runs it. However, you can still see Wisconsin’s beer history at places such as the Best Place At Pabst Brewery, which offers tours that tell interesting stories about the history and achievements of these beer barons.
Craft beer is big business these days and Milwaukee has one of the highest concentrations of craft breweries anywhere in the United States. Milwaukee has craft beer, which is more than pretzels or sausages. Make sure you stop by a local brewery to try their Wisconsin beer.
Milwaukee is home to many Polish and German-born residents. This is evident when you walk around the city. Why not make the most of this city’s rich heritage?
What’s more German or Polish than a sausage! Milwaukee is the best place to try bratwursts outside of Europe.
Milwaukee has many sausage-makers that continue to preserve and pass on Old World traditions. Many of Milwaukee’s most beloved German restaurants have been around for more than 100 years. Klement’s and Usinger’s are two of the most famous sausage-makers in this industry, but there are plenty of other small shops that offer some great brats.
Explore Door County
Door County, a 70-mile peninsula located in the northeast corner state that protrudes into Lake Michigan, is a small county. It is a popular tourist destination in Wisconsin and has a lot in common with Washington’s Orca Island.
Summer and fall are great times to visit for water activities, hiking and road trips. There is a vibrant arts scene in the area. You can also enjoy a variety of cuisines with Scandinavian heritage at Island Orchard Citder or Belgian-inspired farmhouse ale at Door County Brewing.
The region is well-known for its fruit-based wines, particularly cherry and apple. However, the vintners also cultivate cold-hardy varieties.
Participate in a Fish Fry
It is a common Midwest tradition to make fish fries, but it is especially popular in Wisconsin. Friday night fish fries are served at many restaurants and taverns throughout the state. It typically includes beer battered cod or bluegill, and walleye.
This tradition started because Wisconsin was home to many Catholics from Germany, Poland, and other European countries. Their religion forbade meat consumption on Fridays. Fish became a popular choice because of the abundance of lakes in Wisconsin. The fish fry Friday is now a common tradition!
The majority of the state prefers to fry their fish. However, Door County’s Scandinavian community favors the fish boil. This involves boiling potatoes and white fish in large pots.
Door County’s fish boils are a popular state attraction. There are also many notable restaurants that offer a culinary show.
There are many restaurants that offer fish boils, and they can be found from the northern tip to Sturgeon Bay. This makes it easy for tourists to find a place to enjoy it no matter where they are staying on the peninsula.
Take the Ferry to Washington Island
Washington Island is located seven miles from the northeast tip on the Door Peninsula. Washington Island, which has less than 1,000 residents, is a popular summer tourist spot.
Washington Island actually refers to a collection of small islands which include Plum Island and Detroit Island as well as Rock Island, Pilot Island and Fish Island. The largest and most visited is Washington.
The majority of those who settled on Washington Island were Scandinavian migrants. These islands now house one of the oldest Icelandic communities outside of Iceland.
You will travel to Door County’s Washington Island by ferry. Once ashore, you can explore art galleries and boutique shops. Outdoor lovers can visit local state parks and national wildlife refuges. It is also home of the Midwest’s largest lavender farming operation.
Midsommar in Ephraim
You may be wondering what Midsommar is. It is a traditional Scandinavian celebration to welcome summer.
Sweden has long, cold winters that are exhausting and very dark. The Swedes look forward to summer and consider this day one of their most important days. Midsommer in Sweden includes outdoor parties, drinking, songs and dancing. But the most important thing is to re-connect with nature and get outside.
Midsommer is a celebration in Door County because of its Scandinavian heritage. The Fyr Bal Festival, held in Ephraim, is a great place to experience the tradition.
The town hosts a party each year that includes the burning of the winter witch. This ceremony is performed by large bonfires placed along Eagle Harbor’s shoreline. The village is alive during the day with live music, dancing and crafts. At sunset, the fires will be lit. The celebration ends with a spectacular fireworks display above the water.
Visit the State Capitol in Madison
The State Capitol Building stands majestically in downtown Madison. The building was completed in 1917 and features a dome measuring 284 feet high, which is just three feet shorter than Washington’s Capitol Building.
The Wisconsin State Capitol stands tallest in Madison. This distinction has been protected by legislation which prohibits taller buildings than the columns around the dome (187 feet).
A tour of the Capitol building’s exterior and interior is the best way to see the splendor and beauty of Wisconsin. The interior tours are free and available every day.
Green Bay Packers Game
Wisconsin is home to one of the most talented football teams in the country. If you’re visiting the state during football season, you must catch a game. Green Bay’s Lambeau Field is the home stadium of the Green Bay Packers.
Although tickets for home games are often sold out, it’s worth going to the Packers Hall of Fame Museum even if you don’t have them.
Visit The Apostle Islands National Seashore
The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore consists of 21 islands, and 12 miles of coast at the northern tip Wisconsin’s Lake Superior.
There are many beautiful beaches on the island and the mainland, as well as sandstone cliffs and sea caves. You can also find hiking trails and other interesting features. This beautiful part of the state is open to visitors who wish to hike, sail, kayak, or cruise.
You’ll find amazing rock formations underwater and shipwrecks, which offer outstanding scuba diving possibilities.
This national recreation area boasts more lighthouses than any other national park site, with nine historical towers located on six islands.
You can camp on 19 of the 21 islands along the lakeshore and one campsite on the mainland.
Wisconsin Dells Waterparks
The Wisconsin Dells has the highest concentration of indoor and outdoor waterparks anywhere on the planet. This is the perfect place to go if you are looking for fun summer destinations in the Midwest. !
Noah’s Ark is the largest and most well-known waterpark in the Dells. It boasts over three miles of waterslides within a 70-acre lot. The Kalahari Resort and Chula Vista Resort are also located here.
Take a boat trip on the Wisconsin River
You don’t have to go to waterparks. There are many other things you can do in Wisconsin Dells. A boat tour on the Wisconsin River is one of the most popular activities in this Wisconsin destination.
A Dells Boat Tour allows you to explore the natural beauty of this area on a boat. You have the option of a 2-hour Upper Dells tour or a 1-hour Lower Dells tour.
These tours take visitors to the best attractions of the area, including the rock formations known as the “dells”, which tower over the river. The Upper and Lower Dells landings are exclusive to this tour company.
Take a hike at Devil’s Lake State Park
The largest Wisconsin state park is Devil’s Lake State Park. The state park is famous for its 500-foot high quartzite bluffs, which surround the lake.
It is located on the western edge the Wisconsin glaciation’s last ice-sheet. This makes the geologic history of this area very fascinating. Devil’s Lake State Park features are the result of a glacier putting down terminal moraines during the last ice-age approximately 12,000 years ago.
This is only 35 miles away from Madison and the ideal place to go if you’re in the capital of the state but still need a break in the natural world.
Enjoy a Cranberry Marsh Tour
Are you looking for an exciting way to celebrate fall in Wisconsin You might consider a cranberry marsh trip! Marsh tours are a great way to see Wisconsin’s Cranberry County, and they are also one of the most iconic fall activities.
You can take a tour at several marshes in central and northern Wisconsin. You can take part in public harvest days at the cranberry farm, visit cranberry festivals or tour the facility to learn more about the process.
Rooted In Red offers a farm tour that will take you through their 100-year-old family farm. You’ll also get to enjoy live music and delicious food from local food trucks during harvest season. Learn more about cranberry mart tours .
Enjoy an Old Fashioned at The Ishnala Supper Club
Photo by Ishnala Supper club
Order an Old Fashioned at Ishnala Supper Club for one of the best Wisconsin experiences.
The legendary supper club can be found nestled in tall Norway Pines at Mirror Lake State Park. Every table offers stunning views of Mirror Lake and the surrounding bluffs.
What better way to take in the beautiful Wisconsin landscape than with the official cocktail of the state, the Old Fashioned?
Take a Tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Spring Green Home
Taliesin, located in southwest Wisconsin’s Driftless Region near Spring Green is Frank Lloyd Wright’s 37,000-square-foot home. It also includes an estate that contains buildings from almost every decade of Wright’s career, from the 1890s through the 1950s.
The public can tour Taliesin, which has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. It is also part of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Architecture lovers will love exploring the interiors two iconic structures, including the Taliesin Home and Wright’s Hillside Studios.
Take the Great River Road
Photo by Travel Wisconsin
The Great River Road, Wisconsin’s only national scenic road, travels 250 miles along Mississippi River through 33 historic river towns and villages that link people and history.
It’s beautiful regardless of the season, whether you visit in autumn, when there are orange, yellow and red fall leaves, or winter, when there is white snow and sparkling crystal frost.
You will find everything on the drive, from historical places to charming towns to outdoor recreation and natural wonders. Many overlooks offer breathtaking views that extend to the far horizon.
Take your time to explore the many communities along this famous road.