Welcome to Wisconsin! I really enjoyed my couple of days in this State: it’s hard to pin-point why exactly, but I just got a good, friendly vibe about the place and the people. It’s real and honest with no frills: the locals drink beer, watch sport, and eat cheese. Any they’re happy. Can’t see much wrong with that. I would have liked to have made it even further North to catch a Green Bay Packers game.
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3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:
MARS CHEESE CASTLE | is just over an hour and a half drive North of Chicago, and a treat for anyone that likes cheese, sausages, bakery goods, sweets and smokehouse meats. So…. everyone then? It’s huge inside with plenty of samples (tick) and a surprising number of cheese related gifts, including Wisconsin Cheeseheads – foam hats shaped like cheese wedges that Green Bay Packers fans proudly wear on game day.
LAKEFRONT BREWERY | our amazing Milwaukee couch-surfing host Josh lived in the Back Bay area, and took us to this spot. It’s touristy, granted, but feels like good value at $7 for 4 samples and a souvenir pint glass, plus a fun intro to the area. We stayed on for the ‘famous’ fish fry dinner and polka dancing, which was basically a bunch of cute old-skools kicking off the cobwebs. Also check out: Milwaukee has plenty of dive bars spots: we grabbed cocktails at the Tiki Bar, and enjoyed great live music from the Charles Walker Band at Riverwest Public House.
WISCONSIN STATE FAIR | when we first rolled in to Milwaukee it was SO quiet, and I honestly think everyone was at the fair! Seems it’s the done thing: this place is MASSHOOSIVE. I admit it was less red-neck than I’d expected, haha, and mainly families, fairground rides, and farm animals. Oh, and terrible food: literally everything is deep-fried, but make sure to try the famous ‘Cream Puff Lights’, which get really messy to eat.
3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:
WISCONSIN STATE CAPITOL | in Madison, Wisconsin, houses both chambers of the Wisconsin legislature along with the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Office of the Governor. Walk up to the top for great panoramic views, then along the bottom of State Street – an artsy, student area. Also check out: we had dinner at The Great Dane, and drinks at Natt Spil bar.
MILWAUKEE RIVERFRONT | Wisconsin is definitely a State for sampling dairy-based new foods! Milwaukee Public Market is interesting enough, and here we sampled frozen custard – basically tastes like smooth, light ice-cream. From here, you’re right by the riverfront. There was no one around, but you will get to see the Golden Fonz (sitcom Happy Days was set in Milwaukee during the 1950s) and a cool book-crossing scheme that’s in operation.
MADISON MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART | ok, ok, I admit we only went to the bar for a drink. But it’s a gorgeous building, and a great spot for a view over the town. I’m sure the exhibitions are worthy of your time too, but just don’t hold me to it!
3 THINGS TO STEER CLEAR:
MINNEAPOLIS | Bordering Wisconsin, in the State of Minnesota, I found myself in this city waiting for a 7am bus to Rapid City, South Dakota. Annoyingly – despite hunting for couch-surfing options, motels, and hostels – I had to pay $180 for a Westin hotel room: very upsetting for a gal on a budget! Even worse, the city was bland with nothing there to explore, making it just a stop over that turned out far too expensive.
CAMBRIA SUITES | myself and my travel buddies Luke and Helena booked in to this hotel, but turned out it was 20 miles out-of-town from Madison. Luckily we had a car, but it still proved an inconvenience. In general, it was quite a struggle to find decent accommodation in the State, versus some of the more touristy areas. I stayed on an extra night and found the decent enough HI-Madison hostel.
CHEESE COMA | we had total dairy overload at the Old Fashioned in Madison: between 3 people for dinner, we ordered cheese curds (taste like baked halloumi), cheese soup, a walleye sandwich, and a cheese platter. No need :/
1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:
HARLEY-DAVIDSON MUSEUM | it seems only fitting whilst touring the US, to visit this tribute along the Menomonee River bank, Milwaukee, containing more than 450 Harley-Davidson motorcycles and hundreds of thousands of artifacts from the company’s 110-year history. I saw hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Harleys whilst driving in America – a real US institution.
AND KNOW THIS: Milwaukee is experimenting with a cheese brine mix to help combat icy roads. Apparently, using a pre-wet substance (in this case, liquid cheese waste) helps the salt work at colder temperatures. Blimey, these guys love their cheese.
–> –> –> Next stop The Mount Rushmore State | South Dakota –> –> –> (post coming soon)