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Wisconsin

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Travel Guide North America USA Midwestern United States Wisconsin

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Introduction

Day 17 - Wisconsin Farm

Day 17 - Wisconsin Farm

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When most Americans think Wisconsin they think cheese. The residents of this fine state embrace this by making lactose the state microbe but at the same time there is much more to the state. Unlike most other midwestern states Wisconsin is not flat but has a series of pretty rolling hills across the state. Also there are several lakes dotting the landscape that make great swimming holes in the summer. Along the coastline of the great lakes the stunning land scape is natural and is a protected wilderness area. For people looking for culture, nightlife and sports the cities of Milwaukee and Madison can provide better then most places in the world. So get ready to eat some cheese, dance some polka and drink some beer because Wisconsin is waiting for you.

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Geography

Wisconsin is bordered by the Montreal River; Lake Superior and Michigan to the north; by Lake Michigan to the east; by Illinois to the south; and by Iowa to the southwest and Minnesota to the northwest. The state's boundaries include the Mississippi River and St. Croix River in the west, and the Menominee River in the northeast. Wisconsin is the northernmost state that does not share a border with Canada.
With its location between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, Wisconsin is home to a wide variety of geographical features. The state is divided into five distinct regions. In the north, the Lake Superior Lowland occupies a belt of land along Lake Superior. Just to the south, the Northern Highland has massive mixed hardwood and coniferous forests including the 6,100 km2 Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, as well as thousands of glacial lakes, and the state's highest point, Timms Hill. In the middle of the state, the Central Plain has some unique sandstone formations like the Dells of the Wisconsin River in addition to rich farmland. The Eastern Ridges and Lowlands region in the southeast is home to many of Wisconsin's largest cities. The ridges include the Niagara Escarpment that stretches from New York State, the Black River Escarpment and the Magnesian Escarpment. The bedrock of the Niagara Escarpment is dolomite, while the two shorter ridges have limestone bedrock. In the southwest, the Western Upland is a rugged landscape with a mix of forest and farmland, including many bluffs on the Mississippi River. This region is part of the Driftless Area, which also includes portions of Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota. This area was not covered by glaciers during the most recent ice age, the Wisconsin Glaciation. Overall, 46% of Wisconsin's land area is covered by forest.

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Cities

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Sights and Activities

Apostle Islands

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore are a stunning series of 21 islands and 12 miles of mainland of protected Lake Superior shoreline. The park is 69,372 acres (281 km²) and has a collection of historic lighthouses, sea caves and even some old growth forests that are extremely rare in the midwest. It is believed that Native Americans inhabited the area for centuries although the French explorer Étienne Brûlé named the islands in the 17th century. You can hike, canoe, sail or cruise to experience this shoreline and area.

Wisconsin Dells

The Wisconsin Dells is an intense regional vacation destination. Starting after World War II people from the surrounding states started to visit the Dells to see the amazing river bluffs abroad old World War II landing craft, known as duck boats. The area has grown into a sort of mega-resort aimed to towards family boasting countless water parks, mini golfs courses, go cart tracks, odd museums, duck boat rides and other family oriented entertainment. Starting in the 90s Indian Casinos were built nearby making the elderly folk in droves for nickel slots. Interestingly though the natural beauty is still there and great hikes and rocking climbing can be found at Devil's Lake.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Canoeing can be done on the rivers and lakes around the state.
  • Devil's Lake is home to great hiking and some of the best rock climbing in the midwest.
  • Hiking can be found throughout the state. Some of the better trails are located in the state and national protected areas.
  • Hunting and Fishing is an extremely popular activity with locals and for more information check this website: http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/ORG/LAND/wildlife/hunt/
  • Nightlife can be found in cities like Milwaukee and Madison.
  • Polka Dancing is the state's national dance and is widely practiced.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.

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Weather

The southern third of Wisconsin is classified as hot summer humid continental climate and the colder northern portion is classified as warm summer humid continental climate. Overal, summers are warm, dry and with the occassional showers winters are relatively cold with temperatures mostly below zero. The highest temperature ever recorded in the state was in the Wisconsin Dells, on July 13, 1936, where it reached 46 °C. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Wisconsin was in the village of Couderay, where it reached -48 °C on both February 2 and 4, 1996. Wisconsin also receives a large amount of regular snowfall averaging around 40 inches in the southern portions with up to 160 inches annually in the Lake Superior snowbelt each year.

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Getting There

By Plane

General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) is located about 5 miles (8 kilometres) from the central business district of Milwaukee. It mainly serves other US cities, though there are international flights to Toronto and seasonal flights to Cancun.

To/from the airport
Badger Coach has frequent trips between Mitchell Airport, Downtown Milwaukee, Madison, Johnson Creek, and Goerkes Corners. Milwaukee County Transit System Route 80 serves the Airport with a $2.25 fare to anywhere in the county. Amtrak has a station platform 3/4 of a mile from the airport and uses the Wisconsin Coach Lines operates frequently to the two Chicago Airports: O'Hare Airport (ORD), Midway Airport (MDW) and to Waukesha, Milwaukee (Downtown Amtrak/Greyhound Station), Racine, and Kenosha.

By Train

Two trains, operated by Amtrak travel to and from Wisconsin:

  • The Empire Builder, operated by Amtrak, travels between Chicago, Illinois and Seattle, Washington, stopping en route in a number of places in Wisconsin, including Milwaukee.
  • The Hiawatha travels between Chicago and Milwaukee, also stopping on the international airport of Milwaukee.

By Boat

The SS Badger travels between Ludington, Michigan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin once or twice a day between late May and early October. The trip takes around 4 hours and costs $67 one way, $110 roundtrip for adults.

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Getting Around

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

Wisconsin has a number of National Scenic Byways which offer a great way to explore the state crossing beautiful landscapes. Mostly, there are lots of national parks, state parks or monuments along the way and it's generally a better alternative than the faster but boring Interstate Highways.

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Eat

Cheese and Dairy Products dominate the thoughts, minds and beliefs of the residents of Wisconsin.

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Sleep

The larger towns have an assortment of the major hotel chains and motels dot the highways. Another popular option is to stay in a Bed and Breakfast. For more information on Bed and Breakfasts in Wisconsin check this website: http://www.wisconsinvacations.com/lodging/bedbreakfast.cfm.

Hotel and Motel Chains

There are dozens of hotel and motel chains, ranging from budget to top end. Allthough they are not the most charming accommodations, they usually have a very decent midrange service with good rooms and are generally good value. At least you know what to expect and in some cases they are either the only or the best option in the area. Some of them include:

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Wisconsin Travel Helpers

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This is version 29. Last edited at 8:00 on Dec 23, 16 by Utrecht. 27 articles link to this page.

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