Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a state in the Midwest in the United States of America. The name Wisconsin means "meeting of the waters" and is of Native American origin. Wisconsin borders Illinois, and Iowa to the south, Minnesota to the west, and Michigan to the north. To the east lies the long Lake Michigan shoreline and in the northwest a smaller Lake Superior shoreline. Wisconsin is known nationwide for its dairy heritage, or as "America's Dairyland". Being home to two Great Lakes, thousands of inland lakes and waterways, the state could easily be called the nation's "waterworld" instead. The southern portion of the state is mainly agricultural and urban while the northern half is mostly rural and forested and is more similar in appearance to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The central region acts as a transition zone with both forests, farm land and small cities. The state's largest city and urban area is Milwaukee located in southeastern Wisconsin. In south-central Wisconsin lies the state capital Madison. Green Bay is listed as the state's third largest city. Wisconsin is a popular Midwestern travel destination both in the summer and winter months.

Regions

Wisconsin regions - Color-coded map
Southeast Wisconsin
Southeast Wisconsin is the state's most populous region. The major cities are Kenosha, Milwaukee (Wisconsin's largest city), Racine, and Waukesha. The popular summer getaway destination of Lake Geneva is also included in this region; as well as the scenic areas of the Kettle Moraine, and Lake Country, Waukesha Co.
Southwest Wisconsin
The major cities are La Crosse and Madison (capital city and campus of the University of Wisconsin).
Northeast Wisconsin
The major cities are Appleton (Houdini central), Green Bay (home of the intensely beloved football Packers), and Oshkosh.The popular summer getaway destination of Door County is also included in this region.
North Central Wisconsin
The major city is Wausau, gateway to the northwoods.
Northwest Wisconsin
The major cities are Eau Claire and Superior.

Cities

Other destinations

Understand

Talk

Wisconsinites speak with a Midwestern accent and tend to emphasize vowels. Examples include the words "roof" and "Wisconsin".

People in the state commonly refer to a drinking fountain as a "bubbler". Unlike much of the Midwest, Wisconsinites in the eastern part of the state (especially the Milwaukee area) refer to soft drinks as "soda" rather than "pop".

It's common for people in many parts of the state to refer to ATM's as "TYME Machines" (named for what was the most common type of ATM in numerous areas meaning Take Your Money Everywhere). Most residents also refer to parking garages as "parking ramps".

Time

Wisconsin is in the Central Time Zone, as are all neighboring states except Michigan, which is in the Eastern Time Zone (with the exception of a small portion of the Upper Peninsula, which is also in the central time zone).

Get in

By plane

Unless flying to Milwaukee or Madison, it is often easier to enter Wisconsin by making a connection in another state. The most comprehensive service from a hub/hubs to Wisconsin is provided by Delta Air Lines through Minneapolis, Detroit, Memphis, Cincinnati, and Atlanta. United also provides frequent service to the southern two thirds of the state via Chicago O'Hare. American has a substantial number of flights from Chicago O'Hare as well. Other carriers providing less frequent service include Southwest. There is the CWA (Central Wisconsin Airport) that connects to the larger, more popular airports such as Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago O'Hare, and Detroit. It is located in Mosinee, WI, conveniently in the center of the state, around 10 minutes away from Wausau, WI, the largest city in the central region of Wisconsin.

Milwaukee handles a very limited number of flights from Toronto and some Mexican destinations. Travelers originating internationally will find the greatest number of flight options if they opt to make connections through Chicago O'Hare. Connections from international services are also available through Minneapolis and Detroit as well as Cincinnati.

By boat

These services are only available from late Spring through early Fall.

By bus

Greyhound and Megabus serve Milwaukee, Madison, and other cities. Also check Van Galder and Jefferson Bus lines. Check their websites from services, schedules, and fares.

By train

Get around

By public transportation

By bus

Several bus companies provide service with-in the state.

By plane

Wisconsin has one international airport, Mitchell International in Milwaukee (MKE), though international flights to it are very limited. Regional airports with scheduled service exist in Madison (MSN), Green Bay (GRB), Appleton (ATW), Wausau/Stevens Point (CWA), Rhinelander (RHI), La Crosse (LSE), and Eau Claire (EAU). Service to the far western "Indianhead" region of the state can be found across the Minnesota border in Minneapolis (MSP) and Duluth (DLH). In the last 25 years, there has not been any flights within Wisconsin.

By train

Amtrak has two lines that service the state. The Hiawatha has 7 daily roundtrips between Milwaukee and Chicago, with additional stops outside of Racine and at Mitchell Field Airport. The Empire Builder runs once daily, and effectively parallels I-94 to Chicago coming all the way from Seattle, Washington. The Train station has recently been remodeled into a nice clean and modern looking building located downtown.

By car

The following are the major routes in Wisconsin:

Unless there is a sign saying otherwise, it is legal to make a right turn after stopping for a red light.

See

Milwaukee has a number of good attractions:

Madison is the state capital. The capitol building has one of the world's largest domes. The University of Wisconsin has several small museums and a large hill crowned by Bascom Hall. Connecting capitol square and the university is State Street, with many shops and ethnic restaurants. Other attractions include the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, UW Arborteum, and Henry Vilas Zoo.

Wisconsin Dells has many touristy attractions:

Door County is a scenic peninsula with numerous sites. Peninsula State Park is the third largest in the state and has beaches, campsites, a lighthouse, and an observation tower high on a bluff. There are several other lighthouses, and wineries. The county is also well known for its cherries, and there are many stands selling them. Boats run to Washington Island off the northern tip, through an area littered with shipwrecks.

Do

Tourism is one of Wisconsin's largest industries, relying on Illini and others who enter during the summer for fishing and its parks and recreational facilities such as those in Wisconsin Dells, those entering during the fall for a very popular hunting season, and Winter for ice-fishing, ice-sailing, ice-skating, skiing and snowboarding, snowmobiling, and much more.

If you look at your left hand, palm facing away from you, it looks like the shape of Wisconsin. Door County would be your thumb, a peninsula extending far into Lake Michigan. Door County is well known as a vacation destination for family outing (esp. family reunions) and its laid-back vacations. It has numerous apple and cherry orchards, boating opportunities on Lake Michigan, and many B&Bs. As well, there is an active arts community with several galleries worthy of note like the Edgewood Orchard Gallery and the Potter's Wheel.

Noah's Ark is "America's largest Waterpark" in Wisconsin Dells. Wisconsin Dells is full of waterparks, amusement parks, shopping and shows. It also includes Tommy Bartlett's Watershow, one of the world's greatest waterski shows. Wisconsin Dells is also famous for its ducks, truck-like vehicles that can travel on land and sea that travel from lake to lake and along the rivers of "the Dells" to demonstrate the sights and nature. A good family destination.

Hiking, bicycling, and in the wintertime, cross-country skiing are popular overland activities. Wisconsin was one of the first states to begin conversion of abandoned railroad right-of-ways into bicycle trails. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail traverses all parts of the state, extending for more than 1,600 km (1,000 miles), and offering evidence of Wisconsin's recent natural history. The most popular segments of this trail, since they are nearest to large urban centers, are in the Kettle Moraine region.

Eat

Fried cheese curds, a Wisconsin delicacy

As a consequence of the large German immigration to Wisconsin, German meals found their way into the local eating habits. Bratwursts are common and well liked, with Sheboygan claiming to be the home of the bratwurst. The Bratwurst is a state delicacy served during summer cookouts, preferably boiled in beer prior to being grilled.

The modern hamburger was said to have been first served as a meatball-like product when its creator realized they stayed on the bun better if flattened. It was first sold at a Seymour, WI fair.

Frozen custard is also a Wisconsin delicacy not found often outside the Midwest. Frozen custard is similar to ice cream (it is NOT yogurt!). It is unique in that there is far less air in it (making it less "fluffy" and far more smooth and creamy). It contains egg, making it richer and creamier. It has an inappropriate reputation as unhealthy relative to ice cream when in fact most frozen custards have less calories, less fat and less sugar, being less healthy only in that it has slightly more cholesterol than ice cream.

Wisconsin and the surrounding area is famous for its dairy products, and there are various regional specialties following this theme. Even fast-food chain restaurants in this region often give the option of fried cheese curds as a side in addition to the more common french fries.

Drink

Alcohol drinking age

The drinking age in Wisconsin is 21. However, persons under 21 and over 16 who are with a parent, legal guardian, or spouse (if the spouse is 21 or over) may, at the discretion of the establishment, be sold and allowed to drink alcohol beverages.

Beverages

Milwaukee is home to the Milwaukee Brewers - both the baseball team and numerous breweries. Until Pabst closed its Milwaukee brewery and began contracting out its production during the late 1990s Milwaukee was the brewing capital of the nation. Although only one major brewer (Miller) remains in the city, it's brewing heritage lives on in the large number of micro-breweries and brewpubs it has to offer. Some more famous "small" breweries in Wisconsin include Point (located in the college town of Stevens Point), City (formerly G Heileman), New Glarus, Berghoff, Leinenkugels (in Chippewa Falls), Riverwest and Sprecher (both from Milwaukee, the latter also makes many fine sodas). Many restaurants and bars have their own local breweries inside the facility such that patrons can see the tanks as they eat.

Grays Brewing is well known for its sodas also using real grain sugar (rather than the fine, processed sugar used almost everywhere else in all American food) which gives the flavor a unique and outstanding flavor. Gray's makes primarily fruit-flavored sodas and reuses (not recycles) its bottles, so bring 'em back.

Point Brewing is now offering various sodas, including rootbeer, diet rootbeer, cream and other flavors. The tour of the brewery is said to be quite fun and extensive and concerts are held in the summer (Rock the Brewery).

Sprecher Brewing also is well known, and is gaining recognition nationwide, for its sodas, particularly its root beer and unique labels such as Orange Dream, Raven Red, etc. A Root Beer or Orange Dream float with vanilla Frozen Custard is about the best beverage one can find. Tours are held Fridays and Saturdays all year-round, and everyday during the busy summer season. The cost of the tour is $4 for adults and $2 for those under 21. The price is well worth it, however, considering that the tour includes plenty of social time with unlimited samples of their sodas, and up to 4 samples of their beer.

Sleep

Wisconsin offers the usual assortment of chain motels, usually located just off the interstate highways, as well as a number of larger resorts. Bed & Breakfasts-- from the one bedroom in a home to large, historic, buildings, and inns are also popular. Some areas, such as Baraboo also specialize in casino hotels.

Go next

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