Wisconsin © Yinan Chen
The varied terrain of Wisconsin, which borders Great Lakes Superior and Michigan, offers visitors some of the most picturesque landscapes in the Midwest. The rolling hills and fertile land of the east have made it a prime agricultural area, though it is also home to many of the state's bustling urban centres, including Milwaukee and Green Bay.
In the north, heavily forested hills hide hundreds of small glacial lakes. In central Wisconsin, the scene shifts again to sharp buttes and mesas usually associated with the Southwest, while the western area along the St. Croix River gives way to limestone and sandstone bluffs. The diverse geography does have one common feature: pristine beauty. Wisconsin residents have a reputation for being energetic and outgoing, and once visitors have gone trout fishing on the Kinnickinnic River, explored the historic lighthouses and stunning waterways of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, gone mountain biking across the Kettle Moraine or tapped trees for maple sap in the Northwoods, they will understand why.
Wisconsin's invigorating setting and crisp, pine-scented air are complemented by its rich culture, thrilling pro sports scene and decades-long brewing tradition. While German immigrants are credited with introducing the famous bratwursts and brews, Scandinavian immigrants have also had an impact on Wisconsin heritage, particularly in the north, which boasts some of the best Nordic ski trails in the country. Each year, international athletes travel to Wisconsin for the American Birkebeiner ski marathon, part of the elite Worldloppet circuit and the most significant cross-country skiing event in America. The state also has a large Amish community, which is welcoming of visitors and an unrivalled source for quilts and crafts, antique furniture and delicious homemade food. Wisconsin's 11 Native American tribes also offer unique cultural experiences, including historic villages and cultural festivals. As for the arts, Wisconsin was the home state of visionary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the founder of the Prairie School of Design. In Spring Green, visitors can tour Taliesin, his home and architectural magnum opus.
The features for which Wisconsin is best known among Americans often go hand in hand: beer and football. Milwaukee is the brew city, home to Miller, the quintessential American thirst-quencher, as well as countless microbreweries and local brewpubs, any of which is the perfect accompaniment to watching Wisconsin's beloved Green Bay Packers take the field. The Packers are NFL legends, and adventurous visitors might join Wisconsin fans, or 'cheeseheads', in braving snow and freezing temperatures to cheer them on at their home stadium. The odd nickname of Packers fans is a testament to another of Wisconsin's claims to fame: dairy products. Often called America's Dairyland, Wisconsin produces more cheese than any other state in the country, and its beer, wine and cheese tours are an indulgent way to spend a weekend.