Wisconsin has more than enough exploration and experiences on offer to those who give it a chance - be it for a quick weekend getaway or an extended vacation. In fact, the Badger State is one of the most attractive American regions in terms of outdoor activities, in addition to its offerings of plentiful indoor adventures and unique attractions.
From history-rich museums, fun city attractions, and wicked water parks to picturesque state parks, charming towns, lovely lakes, and mesmeric mountain landscapes, Wisconsin has a lengthy menu of family-friendly spaces and places that all add up to a spectacular visit. Out of all the cities and towns worthy of one's attention, the following definitely come top.
9 Wisconsin Dells
"The Water Park Capital of the World" is none other than Wisconsin Dells - a vibrant place that's a popular vacation hotspot and one of the Midwest's very best in terms of family fun. The area used to be a summer holiday hub, but in recent years it's become a year-round destination thanks to the emergence of a great number of epic water parks and family-geared holiday resorts. Among the most iconic water parks is Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park, which recently unveiled a brand-new, innovative water-slide-meets-Ferris-wheel ride.
What's more, it's not just watery wonders that draw in the summer lovin' crowds to the Dells either; the area is also gloriously famous for the steep bluffs along its rivers, which allow for many a superb day out cruising.
8 Eau Claire
This west-central city is a pumping university-town overflowing with warmth. Eau Claire is particularly famous for its distinctive art scene and welcoming culture, which can be savored through an array of unique tours and establishments when in the area. Visitors can go on sculpture tours, visit the UWEC Foster Art Gallery, or enjoy painting at Cheers Pablo Paint and Sip Classes if the arts is an area of interest. Similarly, visitors who love art might enjoy the State Theater - just check to see if there's a show going on before visiting. If none of that piques visitors' attention, then they'll have to make do with beer and wine drinking at Infinity Beverages Winery and Distillery or on a Bus Bros tour!
In addition, Eau Claire also offers its guests a variety of exceptional museums - the most known and loved of all possibly being the Chippewa Valley Museum and the Ager House Museum. Finally, when in this town, outdoor adventure is certainly on the cards. From the celebrated Chippewa Valley Railroad to the Beaver Creek Reserve, Eu Claire is a nature fanatic's heaven.
Madison is the state's capital and one of its most popular cities. As one of Wisconsin's fastest-growing cities, tourism is a booming industry - and it's so easy to see why. Renowned for its colorful culture, eccentric festivals and events, and its impressive roster of indoor and outdoor ventures, Madison offers visitors a vacation full of fun. In particular, visitors should start on State Street - the heart of downtown Madison where a pedestrian area bustles with bars, shops, and restaurants, attracting locals and tourists to discover just what it is that makes this city tick.
Should all that urbanization, eating, and retail therapy be a bit too much, Madison offers no lack of beauty and entertainment to lovers of the great outdoors, too. There are several botanical gardens, state parks, and a list of interesting historical sites to appreciate. Also, the Lakeshore path is a great option - it follows Lake Mendota, where city-dwellers can relax and enjoy a pretty picnic spot in between exploring the city's streets.
Madison is also home to plenty of notable urban jewels, with the most iconic being its State Capitol building - a majestic, towering feature on the horizon that tickles the fancies of folks who can't get enough of architecture, history, and art. In fact, people who appreciate those three have virtually limitless options to discover, including the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the State Historical Museum, the Veteran Museum, and the Arboretum and Geology Museum. Lastly, to add to Madison's well-rounded repertoire is a prolific beer-brewing industry, where an impressive number of fantastic pubs and breweries thrive and offer thirsty drinkers some of the best bevies in the Badger State.
6 Egg Harbor
Nicknamed the "Cape Cod of the Midwest" and highly thought of as one of the most stunning parts of Wisconsin, Door County boasts three hundred miles of sublime shoreline in between the breathtaking Lake Michigan and gorgeous Green Bay - and Egg Harbor is among the favorite retreats in this part of the Badger State.
Exuding a charming small-town vibe, lots of friendly locals, cozy restaurants, shops, spas, an old-world stone church, and several golf courses, Egg Harbor is a year-round, wholesome vacation spot of diversity that's well suited to the entire family. And, when the town's awesome water sports, kayaking, paddle-boarding, and pretty parks are thrown into the mix, that picture of perfection is complete.
Racine is just a stone's throw from Milwaukee and is one of the cheapest cities to live in the world - and that translates to its firm place on Wisconsin's budgeting tourist trail; a vacation in this town won't make a dent in the wallet. Low cost it may be, but low in entertainment it is not; Racine offers tourists tons to do - from Racine Zoo with its hundreds of species of birds, amphibians, and reptiles to the River Bend Nature Center and Reef Point Marina, natural science and animal lovers will be in their element thanks to this city's enriching attractions.
On the other hand, suppose the indoors are more appealing. In that case, Racine's list of superb museums, such as the Racine Art Museum, the Masonic Center, and the Heritage Museum, will provide more than enough fascination to fill one's time.
4 New Glarus
Lovingly named “America’s Little Switzerland,” New Glarus, as its pet title suggests, is adored by locals and visitors alike for its notable Swiss architecture and cuisine. The town is also home to tons of old-time treasures, like Swiss chalets, Swiss bakeries with flower boxes, and Swiss flags dotted outside establishments alongside the US flag. There's also an amazing craft brewery, and visitors can even take a complimentary self-guided tour of the New Glarus Brewing Co.
Beer bellies and cheese chewers rejoice, for the flavor doesn't quite end there; New Glarus also hosts a number of tasty festivals during June that'll have tummies growling, including the Brews and Food Truck Festival, the Beer, Bacon and Cheese Festival, and the Heidi Festival and Blues followed by the Swiss Volksfest in August. Come fall, the party carries on, with epic events like Harvest Fest and Oktoberfest taking place at the town's Swiss Historical Village.
The port town of Superior situated on its namesake lake's west side, is an ideal jumping point for exploring the nearby Pattison State Park. The state park boasts the legendary Big Manitou Falls - an enormous 165-feet-tall cascading waterfall that's said to be the tallest in all of Wisconsin. Legend tells of Native American people in the area once believing that the voice of the Great Spirit could be heard from these falls, branding them an important element of Native history and spirituality in Wisconsin.
In Superior itself, there's also ample opportunity for amusement in the town's center; fascinating museums abound, such as the Richard I. Bong Museum, which outlines the incredible story of the “Ace of Aces” during WWII. In addition, history buffs will love the town's Fairlawn Mansion, which was the first building in the town's early days and is the home of the Douglas County Historical Society. However, those that love music and a good party will enjoy the live music shows that take place at Superior's downtown bars and taverns.
As Wisconsin’s largest city, it's no wonder Milwaukee is one of the state's favorite weekend escapes. Why? Perhaps its beautiful riverfront in the downtown domain might have something to do with its popularity. Not only that, but this pretty city also offers seemingly endless tourist-pleasing things to do and see, such as a pier, lots of museums, parks, war memorials, and many more points of interest. Additionally, Milwaukee provides its visitors with bountiful retail and dining experiences - so much so that it's possible to spend an entire stay shopping and eating one's way through the city.
Set near the glistening Lake Michigan, Kenosha is a top choice for tourists in Wisconsin - and it's thanks to the city's lovely lakefront, its intense history, and its excellent museums, with some of the most noteworthy to check out, including the Public Museum, the Dinosaur Discovery Museum, the Civil War Museum, the Southport Light Station Museum, and several more. However, on a different note, nature and animal aficionados will be kept entertained by the guided tours at Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum - a must-visit for anyone in Kenosha.
Alternatively, shopaholics will have a sublime time taking their purses for a tour at the European-inspired Kenosha Harbor Market, where seemingly everything imaginable is available for sale - from food and arts and crafts to clothing antiques, and furniture. Inarguably, though, one of the most authentic, eye-opening ways to get to know Kenosha is by taking a tour on its historic streetcars, wherein riders explore a picturesque two-mile loop that passes through the downtown area, along the Lake Michigan shoreline, and through two historic districts.