Feeling stressed? Wisconsin can help.
The state knows how to serve up comfort food and relax the senses with stunning natural vistas. Groups can embrace Wisconsin’s friendly locals and love of fun at destinations across the Badger State.
Wisconsin prioritized the local food movement long before it became trendy. Groups can enjoy the state’s high-quality cheese, brats, beer and other dining options at modern cities and quaint towns alike.
Visitors can see some of the highlights of America’s Dairyland in these destinations that welcome groups.
Motorcycles, museums and diverse cultural attractions make Milwaukee an exciting first stop in Wisconsin. The city honors its roots with revitalized architecture and events celebrating the various ethnicities that help shape the city.
Groups can see much of Milwaukee on the three-mile Riverwalk, which takes a shortcut through downtown. Boat tours, like those with the Milwaukee Boat Line, allow guests to see the skyline from the water for a laid-back experience.
The Harley-Davidson Museum showcases the city’s cool factor by featuring some of the company’s most creative custom motorcycles. Highlights include Elvis Presley’s motorcycle and other historic bikes that reveal how the brand influenced modern culture. Interactive exhibits allow guests to design their own motorcycles, learn how engines work and sit on one of 10 available motorcycles.
Along the riverfront, giant wings spread out to the span of a Boeing 747 each morning at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the modern building features movable parts that open in the morning, appear to flap at noon and then close in the evening. Inside the unusual building, groups can see the state’s largest art collection.
Other trademark Milwaukee experiences include browsing the historic Milwaukee Public Market for a taste of local artisan foods, touring the Pabst Mansion for a peek at Gilded Age splendor and visiting the 1929 Basilica of St. Josaphat to admire the ornate interior. This summer, the city will reopen America’s Black Holocaust Museum in a new building. The museum will feature a major expansion and interactive exhibits that explore the harmful legacies of slavery.
One hour west, groups can plan an evening at the Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson. The dinner theater offers year-round shows, award-winning cuisine, four gift shops and Broadway musicals in the round. For 56 years, the family-owned venue has welcomed and entertained groups to high acclaim.
Moving west, guests can feel like they have suddenly left Wisconsin for Switzerland. Yodeling and alphorn blowing highlight the Swiss heritage of New Glarus and the surrounding Green County.
Known as America’s Little Switzerland, New Glarus has retained ties to its early settlers. At the Swiss Village, 19th-century buildings such as a church, a general store and a one-room schoolhouse show how these settlers brought their Swiss customs to Wisconsin. Many of the personable guides are descendants of the original settlers.
The Swiss experiences can continue from there with fondue appetizers at the New Glarus Hotel Restaurant or the Chalet Landhaus. With help from Green County Tourism, groups can arrange an exclusive performance with Swiss entertainers.
Green County’s motto is “eat, drink and yodel.” The county offers plenty of chances to sample local beer and cheese. The agricultural area is accessible to groups, with popular tours that include the area’s barn quilts, its dairy farms and the National Historic Cheesemaking Center in Monroe, which showcases cheesemaking traditions of the past. Groups can contrast the cheesemaking center’s historic methods with modern cheese production at the Alp and Dell Cheese Store. The store’s manager not only leads tours for groups but can also show off his yodeling skills, for a memorable experience.
Since the beer industry grew with the cheese industry, groups like to sample both in Monroe.
“Downtown Monroe tends to be a delightful surprise,” said Noreen Rueckert, director of Green County Tourism. “It is reminiscent of a European downtown with the castlelike Historic Green County Courthouse at the center with shops and restaurants all around.”
Historic brewery tours at the Minhas Craft Brewery show off a microbrewery that has consistently served artisanal brews since 1845. Planners can also organize a dine-around experience with free time for shopping.
North of Green County, the state’s capital city offers engaging attractions and scenic panoramas with five local lakes and more than 260 parks.
“Madison is teeming with the youthful energy of a university town,” said Anna Shircel, public relations and communication manager for Destination Madison. “It is a city of makers and boasts an independent, quirky spirit.”
The Wisconsin State Capitol provides a great spot to see how Madison is on an isthmus between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona. Free tours also highlight the building’s intricate mosaics and rich history.
Betty Lou Cruises take advantage of Madison’s lakes for group charters and public cruises with buffet food and beverage service. Madison Boats also offers kayak, canoe and pontoon floats.
Culinary experiences abound in this foodie town, such as tastings at the National Mustard Museum, cocktail lessons at the Bitters Boot Camp and educational cheese tours with Fromagination. Fromagination’s informational tour and tastings teach guests how to tell the difference between cow, goat and sheep cheese.
Groups can sip cocktails with ingredients chosen from the 16-acre Olbrich Botanical Gardens during a Garden to Glass program. The sensory tour explores either the indoor tropical flora in the Bolz Conservatory or the outdoor gardens. Tours feature stories about the gardens’ history, people and plants, along with the specialty cocktail.
Not far from Madison in Spring Green, groups can explore Frank Lloyd Wright’s sprawling Taliesin campus. The UNESCO World Heritage site preserves Wright’s home and school. Groups can choose among five tours that delve into the enigmatic architect’s life and ideas.
For groups looking for the unusual, the House of Rock channels children’s imaginations to create a carnival-inspired attraction. The world’s largest carousel, enormous music machines and a 200-foot sea creature make this 1960 site an entertaining stop.
Farther north, Wisconsin Dells is an area full of contrasts. Groups can admire the colors of a sunset on a boat tour or scream in delight on a waterslide. Known as the Waterpark Capital of the World, the family-friendly destination offers attractions for both adrenaline seekers and those preferring peaceful outings.
Despite its youthful vibe, the town draws many adult groups. Nearly 40% of visitors come to the Wisconsin Dells without children.
Wisconsin Dells offers 19.5 square miles of scenic waterways. The breathtaking sandstone cliffs and rock formations along the Wisconsin River surprise visitors regularly.
Groups can indulge themselves with golf courses, world-class spas and shopping at the city’s vibrant downtown. Entertainment options run the gamut, from the action-packed Dells Lumberjack Show to the state-of-the-art musicals at the Palace Theater.
The haunting bugling call of cranes can be heard on a tour of the International Crane Foundation. Set amid acres of restored tall grass prairie, the site offers exhibits, interpretive walking trails and an education center. The only place in the world to see all 15 species of cranes will reopen this summer after a $10 million renovation.
Fields of lavender, cherry trees and rocky bluffs create colorful views and ambrosial fragrances at the New Life Lavender and Cherry Farm. From June to September, groups can tour the 40-acre farm on an hourlong wagon ride. The farm also has a wildflower sanctuary for bees, manicured gardens and samples of the farm’s signature lavender cherry pie.
Natural wonders exceed expectations across northern Wisconsin. One place to enjoy lake views in the state’s pristine scenery is Door County.
Located on a 70-mile-long peninsula jutting out into Lake Michigan, the county preserves its majestic 300-mile shoreline with green spaces, five state parks and more than 50 public beaches.
The county’s natural beauty and culture complement one another at history, art and local culinary attractions. Guests can tour lighthouses dotting the county’s waterfront to hear stories about the keepers and explore the grounds. The 150-year-old Cana Island Lighthouse will open a new welcome center in the coming year.
Many groups come to admire Door County’s 2,000 acres of cherry orchards, which bedeck the countryside in blooms each spring. In July, groups can pick their own pails of cherries to enjoy the fruit at peak ripeness.
Groups also enjoy the area’s water on scenic boat cruises that sail past the shoreline’s bluffs, islands, caves and beaches. Many of the area’s businesses offer behind-the-scenes tours. The Door Artisan Cheese Company provides cheesemaking insights and a walk through the site’s cheese-aging caves.
The Northern Sky Theater opened an indoor theater space in the fall of 2019. Groups can watch a performance at this new indoor stage or choose the company’s outdoor space in Peninsula State Park for a musical under the stars.
Less than an hour south, groups can explore Green Bay’s Lambeau Field and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. Green Bay also offers plenty of non-sports-related attractions, such as the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, the Green Bay Botanical Garden and the Oneida Casino.