Maybe you’ve never attended a one-room school heated by a wood-burning stove. Maybe you’ve never milked a cow by the light of an oil lantern. Or maybe, you’ve never ridden through a wild forest aboard a coal-fired train.
Here’s your chance.
A road trip to Wisconsin’s antique stores will take you on a fascinating journey back in time. Scattered in beautiful communities across Wisconsin, these shops are ever-changing museums that tell the story of a great state that quickly transitioned from a wild backcountry into a center of agriculture, business and recreation. You’ll find surprising historical treasures and unlike a traditional museum, anything you see can become part of your life, a prop in the next chapter of your story.
If you’ve never been antiquing before, be careful: this can be very addictive hobby. Before you know it, you may be shopping for a vehicle with more cargo space! But antiquing is also one of the most rewarding ways to experience a getaway in Wisconsin.
Maybe you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for on one of these trips, maybe you’ll come home with a treasure you didn’t know you needed. And maybe, you’ll come home with nothing more than some great memories with some time on the road with a friend or loved one.
There’s only one way to find out. So hit the road, visit some of these shops and enjoy yourself. Keep an eye out for these special Wisconsin items. Happy hunting!
What to look for: decorative glass milk bottles at long-gone Wisconsin dairies like the Eagle River Creamery in Vilas County. You might start your dairy antique hunt in Eagle River, where you can fuel your adventure with some hand-scooped Wisconsin ice cream. Also, keep an eye out for other classic dairy finds, like milking stools, oil-fired barn lanterns, crockery butter churns and galvanized milk cans. They make fantastic decorative pieces and who knows, maybe some day you’ll decide to get a cow!
What to look for: postcards and photos from iconic northern Wisconsin destinations like Boulder Junction, Land O’ Lakes and Sayner-Star Lake. Go ahead and buy a few of these items; they are inexpensive and then you can have a lot of fun recreating the scenes later with your camera. It can be surprising to see how much things haven’t changed in the Northwoods. There’s a reason this area has been so beloved by travelers, for so long.
What to look for: vintage sports memorabilia. There’s more than a little Packers memorabilia in Wisconsin antique stores, which is good news for fans of the green and gold. There’s also plenty of Wisconsin Badgers finds and some fun and unique items connected to Wisconsin’s high school mascots. For example, there’s only one high school in the world with the Hodag as a mascot – keep an eye out for this elusive, toothy monster around Rhinelander. Look for his image on vintage banners, apparel and glassware in Rhinelander-area shops.
Beer, cheese and sausage
What to look for: signs, glassware and other memorabilia from now-defunct breweries like The West Bend Brewery. Pro tip: look in West Bend area shops so you can take a shopping break at the Riverside Brewery, which is alive and well. Also look for other items related to iconic Wisconsin food items, like farmhouse sausage grinders, vintage grilling tools, and century-old cheese boxes.