15 Best Things to Do in Wisconsin

Known for the Green Bay Packers and cheddar cheese, Wisconsin has many other hidden gems waiting to be discovered. From Madison’s elegant museums to well-preserved state parks, you can learn about history and art for yourself, see where it happened, and read about it in museums. There are also hands-on activities for train lovers or architecture enthusiasts – ride a historic steam locomotive or visit the buildings left by architectural genius Frank Lloyd Wright. You’ll never get bored in Wisconsin, and its charm and beauty will always win you over. Check out our list of things you can’t miss while you’re here and start planning your Wisconsin trip!

Let’s explore the best things to do in Wisconsin:

1. Mound Cave

mound cave

Cave of the Mounds is located near Blue Mounds, Wisconsin. The eastern mountain of the two mountains, called the Blue Hill, is hidden in a cave on the southern slope. It is a designated National Natural Landmark, known as the “jewel box” of North American caves, and is known for the beautiful limestone formations that adorn its interior.

This beautiful cave was accidentally discovered in 1939 by quarry workers while blasting rock, but it was not open to the public until 1940. Visitors continue to visit to see the gorgeous limestone stalactites – walkways there to guide you and lights artistically placed to accentuate the natural beauty of the cave. Enjoy one of the natural phenomena that nature has left for us.

2. Interstate State Parks

Interstate State Park

Interstate Park consists of two state parks, one in Minnesota and one in Wisconsin. The park is divided by the valley of the St. Croix River. You’ll enjoy the pristine beauty of the canyon with its deep potholes and dramatic rock formations. If you’re in the nearby towns of Taylor Falls, Minnesota, and St. Croix Falls, you might want to stop by the park.

Explore the western terminus of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail or the St. Croix National Scenic River. Swim at the beach at O’the Dalles Lake or climb the cliffs along the river. If you’re ready to be rough, there are several campgrounds available, or visit for a day and explore 8 miles of hiking trails. It will definitely take your breath away.

3. Historic Cedar Fort

Historic Cedarburg

This historic town on the banks of Cedar Creek in southeastern Wisconsin has been attracting tourists for decades. Mixing old and new, you can visit a covered bridge and a gleaming city centre next to several larger and new McMansions, or visit a well-preserved old mill. Artists have also poured into the town to paint charming old-fashioned streets in an attempt to capture the essence of Cedar Fort.

Visit the restored mill, Cedar Creek Settlement, and enjoy local shops and restaurants—there’s even a winery! The town also specialises in parties – they host the Wine & Harvest Festival, Strawberry Festival and Winter Festival, to name a few! Enjoy the charm that historic Cedarburg has to offer and relax in beautiful surroundings.

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4. Wisconsin State Capitol

Wisconsin State Capitol

The Wisconsin State Capitol is located in Madison, the state capital. It is surrounded by Capitol Square and houses all 3 government departments of the Legislature, the State Supreme Court and the Governor’s Office. It is the tallest building in Madison, a fact preserved by the State House, ensuring that no other building can surpass the State Capitol.

This state capitol is actually the third state capitol — the first was rebuilt for expansion, the second burned down, and this one was built in 1917. A statue of Athena holding the national animal, the beaver, stands beside the building. If you walk by, you will see naturally occurring fossils such as starfish or coral throughout the stone. Absolutely a beautiful building, visit the Wisconsin State Government Capitol and see the stunning architectural design that pays tribute to the state of Wisconsin.

5. Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Olbrich Botanical Garden

The Olbrich Arboretum is located in Madison, Wisconsin. The garden was founded in 1952 by Michael Olbrich and is named after him. They added a greenhouse in 1991 and a Thai Pavilion in 2002, donated by the King of Thailand.

The garden is divided into 7 sections. There is a traditional English garden called the Sunken Garden with a long reflecting pool surrounded by limestone terraces. The Thai Garden has pavilions filled with Thai sculptures. Also don’t miss the rose garden, which is filled with all kinds of flowers. Peaceful and relaxing, you can spend the whole day here exploring and relaxing among the beautiful flora and fauna.

6. National Railway Museum

National Railway Museum

The National Railroad Museum is located in Ashworth Bennon, Wisconsin. It is one of the oldest institutions in the United States dedicated to preserving railroad history. The museum spans more than a century of railroad history and houses some of the largest collections of steam locomotives. There are even standard gauges around.

If you’re a train fan, you’ve come to the right place. There are locomotives donated by the army, and several charming cabooses. They even have a Thomas Tank Engine for younger kids! Don’t miss Halloween, when the museum grounds will be transformed into a scary attraction called “Fox phobia”; if you’re brave enough, you can ride a haunted train at night!

7. Kohler, Wisconsin

Kohler Golf Course

Kohler is located in Sheboygan County, along the Sheboygan River. It was originally built by the Kohler Company as a planned community before being incorporated. Now, a charming resort, Kohler continues to attract tourists.

Treat yourself to a vacation here. The American Club is a 5 star hotel conveniently located close to town. Book yourself a room with a view and a spa treatment or two. You can relax with a round of golf or go shopping. You should pamper yourself every now and then.

8. The Apostles Islands

Apostle Islands

The Apostles Islands are located on the shores of Lake Superior. There are 21 islands in total, many filled with historic lighthouses, sea caves and forests. The islands are formed from red sandstone, water formed by melting glaciers eroding the land, leaving behind some beautiful natural formations.

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Come visit this natural paradise in northern Wisconsin. Rent a boat to dock on the island and explore the natural habitat. You can fish for salmon or trout depending on the season. Canoe from island to island, stay overnight and camp, or go hunting if you have a permit. If you want, go scuba diving and see rock formations and shipwrecks!

9. EAA AirVenture Show Oshkosh

EAA AirVenture Show Oshkosh

Held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the Airventure Show is an annual summer gathering of aviation enthusiasts at Wittman Regional Airport. It is sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association and is the largest aircraft of its kind in the world. The first meeting was held in 1953.

Thousands of tourists flock to the week-long event to watch the flight or attend seminars or forums. After watching the show, peruse the EAA AirVenture Museum. It showcases experimental and historic aircraft and features indoor and outdoor displays. Some of the planes were French and German fighter jets of the First World War! Airshows and history will keep you entertained and teach you some interesting new things about aviation.

10. Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Art Museum

Located in Milwaukee, the Art Museum is one of the largest in the country with a collection of more than 35,000 works of art. It was founded in 1872 to bring art to a port city that was still unable to host art exhibitions. Nine years later, Alexander Mitchell donated a collection and established a permanent art exhibition. It was officially declared a museum in 1957.

The museum consists of 4 floors and displays works from ancient times to the present. Their collections of American Decorative Art, German Expressionism, and Haitian Art are among the best and perfect for any kind of art lover, and at the Milwaukee Art Museum you’ll find plenty to catch your eye.

11. Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture

Gilmore House

Frank Lloyd Wright was a noted American architect who grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, and later lived in nearby Spring Green. He built some of his famous Prairie-style houses and public buildings in the area, and while some remain private residences, others are available for public viewing. If you’re an architecture lover, check out some of these.

Places such as Monona Terrace and First Unititarian Meeting House are open to the public. You can also drive past the Walter and Mary Ellen Rudin home based on his Usonian project. Don’t miss the Eugene A Gilmore House, also known as the Airplane House. You can’t go in, but the outside is well worth a visit. Finish your plans for an architectural tour of Madison with a cup of coffee on the Monona Terrace.

12. Lake Minokwa

Lake Minokwa

Lake Minokwa is located in Oneida County and is part of the Lake District in northern Wisconsin. Drive through lush countryside and countless lakes, where there are plenty of photo opportunities to commemorate your trip. Whether you love water sports or just want a lakeside vacation, the county has plenty to keep you busy.

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It’s best to go water skiing or boating on Lake Minokwa during the summer months. Swim in the lake or work on the tan lakeside. You can rent a summer house or stay at the resort to relax. If you come here in winter, you’ll find plenty of skiing and snowboarding opportunities to keep you busy.

13. Great River Road, Wisconsin

Great River Road, Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Great River Road is the only officially designated National Scenic Route in Wisconsin. Jump on the wheel and hit the road, covering 250 miles and 33 cities. Load up this road trip playlist and get ready, whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or an art lover, there are plenty of stops along the way that will interest you.

If you’re a fan of fishing or boating, take a look at any of the lakes and rivers along the way. Stop in town to check out the shops and art galleries, or take a break in the evening. You can even visit some wineries as you explore, or stop for camping and hiking. The scenery is beautiful and sometimes getting off the beaten path is just what you need.

14. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

water park

Wisconsin Dells is a city in south-central Wisconsin, named for the Wisconsin River Gorge, a canyon on the Wisconsin River. It is a popular Midwest tourist destination due to its sandstone formations and beautiful river views.

Come visit this beautiful corner of Wisconsin and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Take a boat trip and witness beautiful sandstone formations and canyons. Or, visit one of their many water parks, a place the county is famous for. Take a duck tour or explore miles of wilderness trails. Enjoy a trip to a resort and a natural paradise.

15. Door County

door county

Dole County is located in eastern Wisconsin and is named for the narrow body of water between the Dole Peninsula and Washington Island. That strait is lined with shipwrecks of the old days when sailors struggled to navigate the narrow passage. The county is full of state parks and a beautiful coastline.

Come visit Cape Cod in the Midwest, especially in the summer months. There are five state parks in the area for those looking to hike and get back to the great outdoors. Visit Cave Point County Park to admire the beautiful coastline, or visit any of the 10 historic lighthouses in the county. Come pick your own cherries during cherry season or head to any of the 8 local wineries for a wine tasting.

Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Wisconsin (WI)
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