Wisconsin vehicle plates proudly proclaim it as 'America’s Dairyland' but there’s far more to this land of milk and honey than its famous cheeses, says Peter Ellegard
“Wisconsin offers great outdoor experiences and natural beauty. Explore the great lakes of Michigan and Superior to enjoy charming lakeside villages and taste fabulous cuisine”
Ruby Briggs, Managing Director, North America Travel Service
Edged to its east by Lake Michigan and to its far north by Lake Superior, while the Mississippi River borders Minnesota and Iowa along its western flank, this Great Lakes state is great for exploring by road.
There is everything from the urban delights of lively Milwaukee and elegant capital Madison, to rolling farmland dotted with distinctive red barns, 820 miles of lake shores, thousands of lakes and rivers and vast swathes of forest, besides many quaint towns and villages.
Last year saw the creation of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail, marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of America’s greatest architect. The 200-mile self-drive links nine of his buildings, from Kenosha on Lake Michigan near the Illinois border, to Richland Centre, his birthplace.
What made Milwaukee famous, as in the Rod Stewart song, was its beer. The one-time beer capital of the world was home to the country’s four largest brewers. Just one, Miller, remains and is open for tours. But the city now has a vibrant craft beer and microbrewery industry, with the Lakefront Brewery on Lake Michigan offering tours and a huge beer hall. Downtown has 17 museums, while the three-mile Milwaukee RiverWalk has restaurants, a public market, statues and kayaking along the Milwaukee River.
The city is also the home of century-old American icon Harley-Davidson and visitors can soak up motorcycling history at the HarleyDavidson Museum (harley-davidson.com).
The world’s largest music festival, Milwaukee’s Summerfest (summerfest.com), runs for 11 days from late June and sees around 800 bands play.
The Wisconsin State Capitol’s granite dome towers over everything else in the city, thanks to legislation prohibiting buildings taller than the dome’s supporting columns. Madison has been named America’s greenest city for its profusion of parks, lakes and hiking and cycling paths. It also has several Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, with Monona Terrace and First Unitarian Society Meeting House both on the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail (wrightinwisconsin.org).
Some 46% of Wisconsin's land area is forested. There are four national parks: the 21 Lake Superior islands, comprising the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore; the St Croix National Scenic Riverway, offering 200 miles of paddling, boating, fishing and camping; and two national scenic trails – the 1,200-mile glacier-grazing Ice Age trail near Madison and the North Country Trail, which traverses seven states. The 70-mile-long Door Peninsula juts into Lake Michigan from Green Bay. Door County’s 300 miles of coastline, including many islands, is the most of any county.
STATE CAPITOL, MADISON
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT'S MONONA TERRACE
GIBRALTAR ROCK, DEVIL'S LAKE STATE PARK
MILWAUKEE'S GLITTERING SKYLINE