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When you think road trip, you probably don’t think Wisconsin. Or anywhere in the Midwest, really. I mean, I don’t. I’m not saying it’s the ultimate road trip destination, either, but it’s actually a lot cooler than most people think.
From breweries to cheese, and hiking to art, it’s all there and Wisconsin could actually be a great place for a road trip, at least for part of one through the region. Want to know why? Keep reading!
It’s close to two really awesome looking national parks
I haven’t been to them yet, and honestly, I didn’t even know about them until last year. Isle Royale in Michigan and Voyageurs in Minnesota have both crawled to the top of my list of parks to visit. And when I’m home, it’s actually convenient!
They are both pretty remote and neither are vehicle friendly. On Isle Royale you can go SCUBA diving, hiking, canoeing, and kayaking, which are all awesome ways to explore a park. You can do the same (except the diving) in Voyageurs, but you can also visit in the winter. That is the only time the park is open to vehicles with access by two ice roads. How cool is that?
You can easily visit Chicago and Minneapolis
Or maybe that’s where you’re coming from. Chicago is just a few hours drive from Madison and Milwaukee, making it an easy day trip from either. Minneapolis is under two hours from Eau Claire, and home to the Mall of America, so if you’re visiting that area or just passing through on a midwest road trip, it’s easy to visit.
There are tons of state parks
No matter where you are in the state, there are state parks nearby and they are well-developed parks, at that, thanks to the Civilian Conservation Corps back in the 30’s. There’s something for everyone; hiking, biking, camping, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, lakes, and waterfalls. I would love to explore the state parks more. This is something I haven’t really done.
Plus, outside of the state parks, there are tons of awesome places to visit in Wisconsin like Door County, Apostle Islands, Madison, Milwaukee, Hayward, and Green Bay. The cities are cool and there is still plenty of hiking outside of the parks.
The Dells are fun for pretty much everyone
You already know I don’t like swimming, and in case you didn’t, well, I don’t like swimming very much. But Wisconsin Dells is still fun to visit. It’s the Waterpark Capital of the World! No matter the season, there’s something to do, a waterpark to enjoy. Noah’s Ark, Mt. Olympus, and the Kalahari Resort are three really awesome ones.
And if you go in the summer, there are roller coasters for everyone and mini golf galore. Wander the downtown area and do a little shopping or explore Ripleys Believe it or Not between waterpark adventures.
There are tons of breweries to visit
Leinenkugels, New Glarus, Lazy Monk, Brewing Projekt, Sprechers, Point. Those are just the ones I can think of, or know of, but there are so many more popping up all over the place. You could make a whole road trip out of just this. And while you’re at it, throw in the wineries, too.
Don’t forget the wineries
One Saturday in college, me and my roommates just drove around visiting the wineries near us. We made a whole day of it and that was just in the Eau Claire – Chippewa – Menomonie area. There’s Autumn Harvest, Cottage Winery, Infinity Beverages, and River Bend, just to name a few in that area. It’s a great place for wine lovers.
It’s not always freezing
Yes, it can get cold in the winter. A few years ago it was below zero for almost two months! But in the summer it can get up into the 90’s, so it’s not always an icebox. If you don’t like cold, summer is definitely the time to visit. Fall is also great to see the leaves changing.
It’s easy to get away from cities and go hiking
Like I said, there are tons of state parks, but there are just as many hiking opportunities outside of the parks. There are bike trails all over the state and those are great for finding other places to explore. That’s how I found all kinds of awesome stuff around Menomonie, and it was all within walking distance of where I lived. In Eau Claire, I also live pretty close to some good hiking. It’s nothing crazy, but it feels far enough away.
Add this to your beer and wine road trip and you’ve got the best road trip theme out there! I’m a true Wisconsinite having worked at the best little cheese and sandwich shop for eight years. I’ve also spent a whole day going from cheese shop to cheese shop. It’s a fun way to see the state and some of the little towns along the way.
It’s great for Geocaching
I don’t know about the whole state, but after a quick search of Madison and Eau Claire, there were around 1,500. And that’s just two areas. I love Geocaching at home, and just in my neighborhood there are still a ton I haven’t even looked for and a couple I’ve tried and just cannot find. It’s a fun way to get outside, see some new places, and do a little hiking or walking, depending on where you are. To do it, just download the app on your phone or go the old school way and use coordinates on a handheld GPS. Both are very fun.
And if you need one more thing to convince you, it’s where That 70’s show takes place, which I happen to be watching as I write this. So, I hope that someday you give Wisconsin a chance because it is actually pretty cool sometimes.
Have you been to Wisconsin? What did you think of it? What did you do there?