Wisconsin Travel Guide

Rolling through the Midwest? Don’t miss the chance to explore Wisconsin. Whether you’re an outdoor adventurer, foodie, architecture buff, or foodie, the best places to visit in Wisconsin will tame your cravings.

Start your visit to “America’s Dairyland” in Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s biggest city, for the perfect urban introduction to the state. Known for its German culture, penchant for beer, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Milwaukee offers travelers plenty of history and modern culture to explore.

Cheese lovers seeking out the Holy Grail should plan a visit to Monroe, often dubbed the nation’s “Cheese Capital.” Located an hour south of the state capital of Madison, the small town of just over ten thousand is the perfect spot to mix two of Wisconsin’s passions—cheese and beer—in one picture-perfect, fell swoop.

For nature lovers, Wisconsin is no slouch, either. Hemmed in by Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and the Mississippi River—and over 15,000 inland lakes—the state teems with outdoor adventures. Set your sights on top Wisconsin nature destinations like Cave of the Mounds, Lake Geneva, or Pattison State Park.

Ready to pad your Midwest itinerary with some of America’s most surprising travel destinations? Plan your ultimate trip with this quick & easy Wisconsin travel guide!

Where to go in Wisconsin

Milwaukee

If you can only make it to one destination in Wisconsin, make it Milwaukee. Perched on the shores of Lake Michigan, Wisconsin’s biggest urban center is the quintessential Midwestern city. Milwaukee teems with historic neighborhoods and modern charms. From superb restaurants and craft breweries to boutique shops and world-class museums, you’ll find it all here.

Unsurprising given the city’s strong German heritage, Milwaukee is a destination par excellence for beer lovers. Although most well-known for its historic trio of industry giants—Pabst, Schlitz, and Miller—Milwaukee’s craft beer scene is even more impressive. Sip pints at laid-back craft breweries like Eagle Park Brewing Company or Lakefront Brewery along the Milwaukee RiverWalk.

Milwaukee

Seeking a dash of culture? Carve out time in your Milwaukee itinerary to explore the city’s finest museums. Browse the impressive collection of German expressionist art at the Milwaukee Art Museum or the expansive natural history exhibits at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Motorcycle enthusiasts should, of course, beeline to the Harley-Davidson Museum, filled with interactive exhibits all about the almighty “hog.”

To wander through Milwaukee’s history, take a stroll along the cobblestoned Old World Third Street, soaking up the city’s German culture. Save time to explore the Historic Third Ward, now stuffed to the brim with art galleries, boutique shops, and some of the city’s finest restaurants. While you’re there, slide into the Milwaukee Public Market to sample delicious local delicacies, from meat and cheese to baked goods.

Ready to plan your Milwaukee trip? Get started with these travel tips and resources…

Madison

After checking out its biggest urban destination, slip over to Wisconsin’s capital city of Madison. Wedged between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, Madison is a wonderful refuge for history & architecture buffs, foodies, and nature lovers alike.

No Madison attraction is more striking than the eye-popping Wisconsin State Capitol. Modeled after the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, Wisconsin’s capitol building is a must-see. Join in on a guided tour to learn more about its history and notable architecture.

Madison

After a capitol tour, wander westward on State Street. Soak up museums like the Wisconsin Historical Museum and Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, browse shops, or poke into restaurants en route to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The university campus is the heart of the bustling college town. It even offers a handful of its own museums, like the Chazen Museum of Art and the Geology Museum.

To dig into Madison’s natural treasures, set your sights on the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Perched upon the northeastern shores of Lake Monona, the botanical garden charms with 16 acres of indoor and outdoor exhibits, including a golden Thai Pavilion and a tropical conservatory.

Elsewhere in the city, nature lovers can traipse along hiking trails at Governor Nelson State Park, explore the prairie forests and wetlands of the 1,200-acre University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum, or stroll across the entire city along the 13.5-mile-long Capital City State Trail.

Ready to plan your Madison trip? Get started with these travel tips and resources…

Wisconsin Dells

Visiting Wisconsin with the kids? A stop in Wisconsin Dells should be at the top of your sightseeing list. Straddling the banks Wisconsin River, the small town got slapped with the moniker “Waterpark Capital of the World,” thanks to its high concentration of water parks. 

Wisconsin Dells

If the summer heat’s got you down, cool off at one of the many water parks, including Noah’s Ark Water Park or Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park. Or, if you’d rather chill out au naturel, take a dip at the beach at Mirror Lake State Park after a day of exploring Wisconsin’s wilderness on the hiking trails.

Green Bay

Founded as a small French trading post in 1634, Green Bay is the oldest settlement in Wisconsin and a modern-day must-see. The city, huddled to the southern shores of its namesake bay on Lake Michigan, is more famed for its revered Green Bay Packers, one of the three most popular teams in the NFL.

Even if you’re not a “Cheesehead,” catching a Packers game at Lambeau Field is practically a rite of passage for sports fans. Bring an appetite for fun and join in on cheering the hometown boys to a big win. Afterward, be sure to check out the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame for a primer on the team’s history and to learn all about the greats.

Green Bay

After you’ve shouted your cheering voice yourself hoarse, rejuvenate by tackling Green Bay’s nature destinations. No matter what time of year you’re visiting, you can pencil in a stroll in the beautiful Green Bay Botanical Garden, spanning 47 acres west of downtown. Or head northeast of the city to Cecil Depeau Bay Shore Park to hike the bluffs atop the Niagara Escarpment, soaking up beautiful views over The Bay of Green Bay.

Lake Geneva

The Badger State’s penchant for the outdoors comes to the fore at Lake Geneva. The Southeastern Wisconsin resort city, perched on the shores of Geneva Lake, was once a popular summer retreat for Chicago’s elite. And the town’s popularity with the well-to-do shows in its architectural palette.

Lake Geneva

Roam along the Lake Geneva Shore Path and admire its spectacular mansions dating back to the Gilded Age. Venture outside town to marvel at the Black Point Estate and Gardens, built as a summer home for beer baron Conrad Seipp in 1888. The 19th-century mansion shows off a handsome Queen Anne architectural style and teems with Victorian-era furniture.

When you’re done with sightseeing, dive into the sparkling waters of Lake Geneva at Big Foot Beach State Park, the resort city’s most popular lakeside retreat.

Other destinations in Wisconsin

  • La Crosse
  • Appleton
  • Kenosha
  • Racine
  • Oshkosh
  • Cave of the Mounds
  • Pattinson State Park
  • Door County
  • Apostle Islands
  • Bayfield

When to visit Wisconsin

The best time to visit Wisconsin is from May to September. The late spring and summer months offer warm temperatures and plenty of sunny days to enjoy your holiday.

Wisconsin in Summer

If you decide to travel at this time, keep in mind that the summer months are also the peak tourist season in Wisconsin. Expect higher prices and be prepared to book well in advance if traveling between June and August.

How to get to Wisconsin

By air

Wisconsin is home to eight commercial airports, including three international airports. Most visitors arrive in Wisconsin by air via Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (MKE) or Dane County Regional Airport (MSN) near Madison.

Major airlines flying into Wisconsin from domestic and international gateways include:

  • American Airlines
  • American Eagle
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Spirit Airlines

By road

Wisconsin is well-connected by road to the neighboring states of Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa. Popular road routes to/from Milwaukee and approximate driving times include:

  • Minneapolis, MN (4h59m)
  • Detroit, MI (6h4m)
  • Chicago, IL (1h33m)
  • Des Moines, IA (5h26m)