A few weeks ago, someone asked me about the world’s most underappreciated, overlooked travel destination.
I wish I could tell you I’d been all “(hair flip) Well, you know, the yak cheese and vistas of the Langtang trek in Nepal don’t get enough press. Those sweet little tea houses! I mean.”
(though seriously, it’s pretty great.)
Nope. Instead I nattered on with an awkward level of enthusiasm about Wisconsin.
In all seriousness, I have no idea why Wisconsin isn’t a national tourism destination. It’s cheap. It’s gorgeous. It’s filled with a surprising number of things to do.
And because I’m not going to rest till you’ve been there, I’ve taken the liberty of outlining an itinerary for you.
Oh, what’s that? You though Pleasantville was just a movie starring a young Reese Witherspoon? Wrong, my dude. Perfect small town America still exists and it just so happens that two of these flawless little towns are 12 minutes apart (!!!)
Mineral Point is filled with sweet, tiny art galleries and pottery studios and most of the houses are lovingly maintained historic homes (we stayed in this adorable, historically registered Airbnb.) Dodgeville is perfect for an afternoon of poking around, coffee drinking, and lunch at Bob’s Bitchin’ BBQ.
Real talk: I’ve yet to visit Wright’s famous Taliesin house, mostly because I’d rather spend my $45 on cheese. But if you’re a nerd for architecture, this is probably your mothership. The 21,000 square foot home includes a “loggia” and a “garden room” which is just another reason I shouldn’t visit. Because it’ll just remind that two potted plants in my office do not a garden room make.
No visit to Wisconsin is complete without a stop at a dairy. If you’re really serious about cheese (which you should be) make time for a cheese factory or dairy tour. Eau Galle Dairies and Hennings Cheese both offer tours.
Pro tip: if you’re buying fresh cheese curds, they should not be refrigerated and they should really, actually squeak when you chew them!
While I’m more of a vodka gimlet type (because on the inside I’m a wealthy, 70-year-old woman), there are many beer lovers in my life. And those people won’t shut up about New Glarus. Like, they’ll talk about That One New Glarus Beer They Drank That One Time, over brunch, two years after the fact. New Glarus has won heaps of awards and they don’t distribute their beer outside of Wisconsin so it’s a special, local treat for you out-of-staters!
About 15,000 Amish people make their homes in Wisconsin and they’re renowned for their amazing food, quilts, and woodwork. You can take a tour of an Amish community and learn about all sorts of interesting things – horse breeding, harness making, barn raising. Of course, you should also buy a home baked pie.
As a sidenote, most Amish people are super friendly to outsiders and happy to talk about their way of life but would prefer not to be photographed.
River tubing is practically a state pastime in Wisconsin. As a veteran tuber I can tell you
a) have a separate, tiny tube for your cooler
b) wear way more sunscreen than you think you need
c) wear lace up shoes or strappy athletic sandals
There are heaps of tubing places; Wisconsin Riverside Resort is a personal favorite.
Honestly, I could probably write a 700-word love letter to each of these destinations and I doubt my editorial capabilities in describing them accurately. I will merely ask you “Have you ever felt like you wanted to live inside David Lynch’s brain?” If you just shouted “Yes!” at your computer screen, then you should plan visits to both of these places.
Did you know that Wisconsin has a desert? Because it does. Like, the kind with cacti and lizards and everything. I’ll spare you the geographic explanation for all those sand dunes, but know that it’s a fun little stop off in between all that cheese and beer.
What do you think is America’s most unsung travel destination? And if you’re from Wisconsin, what did I fail to mention?
P.S. My favorite things to do in South Dakota and Awesome things to do in Florida if you don’t like amusement parks.