One of the best things about a road trip is finding little reasons to stop and explore. Whether it’s the World’s Largest Something, the oldest ice cream shop or some other claim to fame, small towns love to find a reason to make people stop in explore. In Wisconsin, we’ve got a ton of towns that tout themselves as having incredible claims to fame. You might not know it, but your next road trip destination is just waiting to be discovered here on this list.
1. Bear Creek - Home of the World's Largest Sauerkraut Plant
More than 100 years ago, in the town of Bear Creek, two Irish brothers began a pickling company called Flanagan Brothers. Since then, Dave and Henry Flanagan’s enterprise has become the world’s largest producer of kraut, processing nearly 150,000 tons of raw cabbage into kraut each year. The great-grandson now runs the business, called GLK foods, and they still make tons and tons of sauerkraut.
2. Waunakee - The Only Waunakee in the World
There might be a Springfield in every state, but you will not find another Waunakee anywhere else in the world. This town outside of Madison is darn proud of that fact.
3. Eagle River - Snowmobile Capital of the World
Home to more than 500 miles of snowmobile trails as well as the Amsoil World Championship Snowmobile Derby and the World Snowmobile Headquarters, Eagle River takes their winter outdoor activities seriously.
4. Sheboygan - Bratwurst Capital of the World
According to Sheboygan Tourism, "When German immigrants settled in Sheboygan, they brought along two of their favorite things: brats and beer. When it comes to the manufacture, preparation and ingestion of brats, we are in first place."
5. Lone Rock - Coldest Spot in the Nation (With the Warmest Heart)
Drive into the small town of Lone Rock along Highway 14 and you'll see this classic sign. It reminds residents and passersby of the January 30, 1951, when Lone Rock's Tri-County Airport was officially the coldest spot in the country. The reading that day was a frigid 53 degrees below zero.
6. Boulder Junction - Musky Capital of the World
There are 195 lakes in and around Boulder Junction and they are chock full of Musky, so the town embraced it. They began using
the slogan in 1942 and was registered with the State of Wisconsin in 1950 and renewed in 1970, receiving U.S. Department of
Commerce Trade Mark in 1970. The Chamber of Commerce holds an annual Musky Jamboree in early August.
7. Lake Tomahawk - Snowshoe Baseball Capital of the World
This one dates back to 1961 when a local man thought playing baseball on snowshoes sounded like a great idea. The community has embraced this silly tradition and it's as much a part of life here as anything.
8. Mercer - Loon Capital of the World
A wildlife study found Mercer had the highest concentration of common loons in the world, so the town embraced the moniker. They're now home to the world's largest loon, a 16 foot, 2000 pound sculpture. They host Loon Days in August with a loon calling contest, and in the winter have a cross-country ski race called the Blue Loon Stampede.
9. Watertown - Home of the First Kindergarten in America
The first kindergarten in America was started in 1856 in Watertown by the Schurg Family. The family had been involved in early childhood education back in Europe, where kindergarten's were quite popular.
10. Colby - Home of Colby Cheese
In 1885, Joseph F. Steinwand developed a new type of cheese at his father's cheese factory near Colby, Wisconsin. The cheese was named after the village, which had been founded three years earlier. The town throws a three-day festival called Colby Cheese Days in July.
11. Ellsworth - Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin
The community of Ellsworth has had several cheese companies which have produced curds for decades. Governor Dreyfus proclaimed Ellsworth "Cheese Curd Capital" around 1980. Now, it's Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery that carries the cheese curd mantle, hosting a Cheese Curd Festival in June.
12. Green Bay - Toilet paper Capital of the World
According to the Green Bay CVB, "Green Bay has long been known as the "toilet paper capital of the world" because the first splinter-free toilet paper was produced here. The paper industry is still one of the area's largest employers." Toilet paper has a long, painful-sounding history, but the paper industry of Green Bay saw an opportunity with the advent of widely-accessible indoor plumbing. In 1901, Northern Paper Mills of Green Bay statrted selling Northern Tissue. The product was such a success that by 1920 Northern Paper Mills was the world’s largest producer of bath tissue.
13. Pardeeville - Home of the World Watermelon Eating and Seed Spitting Championships[
Pardeeville has hosted a watermelon eating and seed spitting competition since 1968. They hold an annual Watermelon Festival in September that includes the United States Watermelon Eating and Seed Spitting Championships.
14. Poniatowski - The Center of the Northwestern World
Photo property of author
Tucked away on a farm in Poniatowski is the intersection of 45 North parallel and the 90 West parallel. The 45×90 points, as they're called, are the four points on Earth which are halfway between the geographical poles, the equator, the Prime Meridian, and the 180th meridian. Only two of these points are on land - the other two fall in the middle of the ocean. And the one not in Wisconsin is in a desolate, mountainous region of China near Mongolia that's very difficult to visit, which makes the short hike out to the middle of a farm field in Wisconsin seem pretty darn manageable
15. Fremont - White Bass Capital of the World
According to the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce, "Fremont is a small, charming village of just over 700 residents, although thousands flock here every year in May to experience what the locals call "May Madness." This phenomenon makes Fremont well known as "The White Bass Capital of the World" during the spring spawn. It is not uncommon for fishermen to take home over 2000 fish during a single week of fishing."
What is your favorite small town nickname or moniker? Let us know in the comments.