Travel across this great state of ours, and you’ll find a bevy of things to see and do. Acres upon acres of state parks and natural areas, filled with scenic beauty and copious wildlife. Thousands of inland lakes, perfect for fishing, boating or relaxing. A lively cultural scene making its home in historic opera houses, performing arts centers and museums.
But there are plenty of unique and interesting attractions across the Dairy State, too, from the Midwest’s biggest geocaching event to (presumably) the nation’s only museum dedicated to a condiment.
Here are five non-traditional attractions you should be sure to check out as you make your way across Wisconsin.
Kovac Planetarium, Rhinelander
The clear skies of northern Wisconsin are a boon to stargazers, but what happens when fog rolls in or clouds obstruct the constellations? That’s the problem Frank Kovac wanted to solve in 1996 when he started building his own planetarium near Rhinelander. The result of Frank’s decade of hard work is the Kovac Planetarium, a two-ton, 22-foot diameter, electrically driven globe planetarium that shows every star – painted by hand by Frank himself – in Wisconsin’s night sky.
National Mustard Museum, Middleton
Ketchup fans visiting Middleton are out of luck – the condiment celebrated by the local museum in this Madison suburb is mustard. Inside the National Mustard Museum, you’ll find a whopping 5,400 types of mustard from all over the world – all 50 states and more than 70 countries – as well as mustard memorabilia, antiques and more. And, don’t worry: there are endless opportunities to sample new Dijons, yellows and plenty of other varieties in the museum’s store.
Stevens Point/Portage County breweries
Wisconsin’s rich brewing culture is alive and well in Portage County, with established breweries like the Stevens Point Brewery – the nation’s fifth-oldest continually operating brewery – sharing space with up-and-comers like O’so in Plover and Central Waters in Amherst. Each brewery has its own unique features – Point sits in the same residential neighborhood it has occupied since 1857, the tap room at O’so boasts a rotating selection of three dozen Wisconsin taps, and Central Waters is the state’s first green-powered brewery – but they all provide a warm, welcoming atmosphere to visitors. And, most importantly, beer.
West Bend Cache Ba$h
Just a short drive from Milwaukee is West Bend, the Geocaching Capital of the Midwest and home to the West Bend Cache Ba$h, an annual event that attracts hundreds of participants from across the globe. (For the uninitiated, geocaching involves using GPS devices to find hidden items, or caches, in a given area.) More than 600 teams participated last year, and this year’s Cache Ba$h – the fifth anniversary of the event – runs from August 10 to 12.
Fred Scheer’s Lumberjack Shows, Oneida County
Scheer’s Lumberjack Shows are a staple of Wisconsin’s Northwoods, and Oneida County is no exception. The shows run five days a week from June through August in Woodruff, to the delight of summer visitors and year-round residents alike. Visitors will see a wide array of events – including log rolling, power sawing, pole climbing and axe throwing – and probably a lot of sawdust.