The Best Things to Do in Wisconsin

© Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Alice Johnston
Food Editor4 August 2020

With stunning lakes and mountains, abundant art and culture, and a robust sense of identity, Wisconsin is the perfect place for a vacation, whether you love the city or the country. We’ve assembled some of the most interesting and impressive things to do in the state.

Cave of the Mounds

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Gfp wisconsin cave of the mounds more stalactites
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A hidden cave that was accidentally discovered in 1939, this is one of the most beautiful caves in North America. Known for its attractive formations of limestones that decorate the interior like jewels, it is a popular Wisconsin attraction. Located close to Blue Mounds, the Cave of the Mounds is the place to appreciate natural beauty. With carefully planned walkways to guide your path and artistically minded lighting, it’s not somewhere you’ll forget in a hurry.

Historic Cedarburg

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
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On the banks of Cedar Creek, in the southeastern part of the state, lies this charming historical town. Its old-style streets are like something out of a movie, and you can visit a preserved grist mill, a covered bridge and a winery, among other attractions. A great town to simply wander around for a day, Cedarburg is always throwing a festival for one holiday or another; recent events include the Strawberry Festival and the Winter Festival. They don’t make towns like this any more.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Botanical Garden
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Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison Wisconsin
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These beautiful, peaceful gardens were founded in 1952 by Micheal Olbrich, and they’ve been enchanting visitors ever since. Divided into seven sections, this is a place you’ll want to spend a while in to make sure you don’t miss a thing. With an English garden with a reflective pool, a Thai garden with a pavilion donated by the government of Thailand and the Thai Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association, and a rose garden, this botanical oasis is filled with flowers, plants and natural wonders. Found in Madison, Wisconsin, these gardens are worth going out of your way to see.

The Apostle Islands

Natural Feature
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Located off the Wisconsin coast in Lake Superior, the 21 Apostle Islands are made of red sandstone and were created by melted glaciers eroding the land, leaving many strange and wondrous natural rock formations behind. With plenty of historic lighthouses, sea caves, forests and of course the lake itself to explore, visitors to the Apostle Islands will never be bored. You can fish, rent a boat, kayak between islands and even scuba-dive to see shipwrecks here.

The Wisconsin Great River Road

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A national scenic driving route, the Wisconsin Great River Road is 250mi (402km) long and takes in 33 cities along the way. Whether you’re a nature lover, fishing enthusiast or art and culture junkie, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained as you drive. The gorgeous scenery along this route is constantly entreating you to stop and look around – and there are plenty of hikes and camping spots along the way. Lakes and rivers accompany you the entire way – and don’t forget to check out the wineries too.

House on the Rock

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Octopus Garden at the House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin
© Independent Picture Service / Alamy Stock Photo
The wildcard of the bunch, House on the Rock is perched upon Deer Shelter Rock. This unique architecture complex is home to some of the most whimsical and charming collections of items anywhere in the world. Both enchanting and slightly creepy, it is ideal if you love a taste of the macabre. Among other items, you’ll find the world’s largest carousel, rare automated music machines, a giant sea creature, many doll houses, model airplanes and a Japanese garden.
These recommendations were updated on August 4, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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