There are a million different things that make our state so great. I could make a list hundreds of items long and still not cover all the amazing things, big and small, that make living in Wisconsin such a privilege.
So while this list is by no means comprehensive, here’s a good start for a bucket list of things that everyone in the state needs to have done or eaten at least once to help them fully appreciate all the things Wisconsin has to offer.
In no particular order, here are 25 things you need to do in Wisconsin before you die:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Attend the Lumberjack World Championships
Since 1960, people have been coming to Harward from around the world to compete in 21 different events. Usually held in late July, it's a unique and entertaining way to honor our state's - and the country's - logging history.
2. Visit Holy Hill
Folks love to flock to Hubertus in the fall to see the amazing foliage change color. The minor cathedral is home to the Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians and attracts more than 300,000 visitors a year.
3. Take a Brewery Tour
We were brewing beer in Wisconsin before it was accepted into the Union as a state. The rich history of brewing, culture and immigrants is one of Wisconsin's most defining industries. Whether you visit the big guys or take a smaller, craft brewery tour, learn how beer is made and honor the brewing history that is so intertwined with our state.
4. Visit Devil's Lake State Park
The area around Devil's Lake is thought to be at least 1.6 million years old and the Baraboo HIlls were once taller than the Rocky Mountains. This park celebrates all of our glacial and geological history in one place and is a must-experience for all Wisconsinites. Or really, any of our state parks. We have an amazing state park system.
5. Go to Green County Cheese Days
This festival takes place every two years in Monroe and celebrates the rich cheese culture of not only Green County, but the whole state. The first Cheese Days took place more than a century ago. If it's an off year for the festival, head to Monroe and sample and tour your way through a long list of cheesemakers and sellers. Either way, celebrate Wisconsin's favorite food!
6. Visit all 12 Wisconsin Historical Sites
The Wisconsin Historical Society does a great job of preserving our history while also making it accessible. These sites are interactive as well as informative and help tell the story of what our state was like decades and centuries ago.
7. Go to Summerfest
Milwaukee is home to the World's Largest Music Festival. It's easy to complain about parking, prices and people, but we're so lucky to have access to such a wide array of music artists and styles. I think sometimes we take having this kind of world-class festival nearby for granted, but it's truly amazing experience.
8. Check out the EAA Airventure Fly-In
For a week every summer, the small air traffic control tower at the Experimental Aircraft Association in Oshkosh becomes the busiest one in the world. Whether you're a pilot or not, the Fly-In is an experience. From displays of every type of aircraft imaginable to stunning air shows, there's so much to do and see and take in.
The rest of the year, check out the museum and hangar housing some of the most unique aircrafts in the world.
9. Drive down Wisconsin's Great River Road
Stretching 250 miles from Prescott down to Kiehler and passing through 33 different towns, Wisconsin's portion of the Great River Road is our only designated National Scenic Byway and a gorgeous way to experience the upper Mississippi River. These are some of the oldest communities in Wisconsin, dating back to the 1600s. The scenery is breathtaking, the history is fascinating and the drive is so worth your time.
10. Eat your weight in Brats at Madison Bratfest
The "World's Largest Brat Festival" takes place every Memorial Day weekend in Madison. Recognized as one of the best festivals in the country, there's music, state celebrities, fundraising and all the cased meats you can stomach.
11. Take in a race at Road America
Located midway between Milwaukee and Green Bay in Elkhart Lake, this open-road car track has been called one of the best test tracks in the world. Open since 1955, they host more than 425 events a year, bringing in more than 800,000 visitors. The open-seating concept gives spectators some of the best race views in the country.
12. Spend a weekend in the Wisconsin Dells
Everyone "does" the Dells differently, but no matter whether you're there for the waterparks, the outlet mall or the rock formations, spending time in the Dells is Wisconsinite right of passage. Once you're worn out from all the attractions, make sure you get out into nature and check out some of the rock formations, gulches, lakes and rivers that created such a unique location.
13. Learn about Wisconsin's Cranberry Crop
Did you know that Wisconsin produces more than half the cranberries in the entire world? Head up and check out a harvest or go to the Warrens Cranberry Festival the last full week of September. You won't be disappointed and you'll be supporting an important Wisconsin industry.
14. Climb to the top of Timms HIll
Located in the town of Hill in Price County in North Central Wisconsin, Timms Hill is the highest natural point in the state. From the observation tower you can make out Rib Mountain in the distance and enjoy a 360 degree view of our amazing state.
15. Spend a Saturday morning at the Dane County Farmer's Market
From mid-April to mid-November, Wisconsin producers line up in tents around Capitol Square in Madison to hike their wares and give Wisconsinites access to the freshest food available. Whether you go home with plants to add to your garden, fresh fruits and vegetables, spicy cheese bread or farm-direct meat, you'll be happy you spent a few hours wandering in a circle en masse. In the winter months, the market moves to Monona Terrace.
16. Tailgate at Miller Park
We love a tailgate, but there's something extra special and unique about the long stretch of parking lot at Miller Park filled to the brim with grills, cornhole and tailgaters. The smell of smoke permeates the air and it's a celebration of Spring and Summer unlike any other. Folks from around the country travel to experience Miller Park's tailgate culture.
17. Discover your favorite frozen custard stand
Everyone has a favorite and will usually debate with you about its greatness, but with so many amazing places all around the state, why not make a thorough investigation of your own by tasting as much custard as possible to determine which one is the best for you!
18. Visit the State Capitol
Not only is this the seat of our state government, but it's a beautiful building celebrating it's 100th birthday this year. Take a tour, learn about how our state government functions and learn about our history.
19. Attend an ethnic festival
Everyone talks about Summerfest, but there's a different festival at Milwaukee's lakefront nearly every weekend of the summer. Celebrate the diversity and history of the people who settled here and join some of the largest festivals of their kind.
20. Spend an afternoon at UW-Madison's Memorial Union Terrace
Order some food, have a few beverages and soak in a relaxing afternoon on the newly renovated but still amazing Union Terrace. Listen to live music, enjoy the people-watching and just take in this amazing venue right on the shores of Lake Mendota.
21. Bike the Elroy-Sparta Trail
North America's first rails-to-trails project, this 32-mile multi-use trail have been around for 50 years and has helped lead to a wide network of rail trails across the country. Featuring three tunnels, it's a unique, beautiful and historical trail that everyone should try at least once.
22. Go Up North
Whether you spend your time in Minoqua or Bayfield, Hudson or St. Germain - or anywhere in between - heading up north and into Wisconsin's Northwoods is about appreciating nature, escaping the bustle of your daily life and slowing things down for a while.
23. Take in a game at Lambeau Field
Lambeau is as iconic as any stadium in the country. It's an experience, from start to finish and a place people send their whole lives hoping to go. If you can't make it to a game, take the stadium tour where you get to head down the player's tunnel, see the field from every level and experience the awe that standing at field level inspires. Don't forget to visit the newly remodeled Hall of Fame. Lambeau is a shrine to football and it's a must-visit.
24. Munch on a Kringle
Danish Kringle has been a tradition in Racine for more than 60 years. No matter which bakery makes your favorite, these light, flaky pastries are some of the best food to come out of the state and something we're so lucky to have access to.
25. Spend a day at the State Fair.
Eat our weight in fried foods - but make sure to leave room for a cream puff. The fair is 160 years old and is one of the few held in a major metropolitan area. Check out the new life in the birthing barn, best on racing pigs, stock the shelves with Wisconsin products and enjoy a wonderful day at the fair!
How many of these things have you done? What else would be on your Wisconsin bucket list? Let us know in the comments!