Wisconsin’s rural beauty is easy to find—depending on where your road starts, adventure could be less than a gas tank away. The Dairy State’s natural beauty, local cultural traditions and unique cuisines are remarkable, and adventurous road trippers have been navigating our scenic winding roads as long as there have been cars with four wheels. This year, chart your own course on Wisconsin’s beautiful backroads. Here are a few tips for your next road trip.
Tip: Pack a cooler
Many travelers only put a cooler in the car when they’re camping or heading to the beach. They are missing out, though, because some of the best souvenirs are tasted with a fork. Wisconsin has some of the world’s best cheesemakers, and artisan butchers can be found in dozens of our small communities. Bakers use rich local butter to churn out old-world delights. Our supper clubs serve up delicious portions that challenge even the biggest eaters. Search out these food finds and take some to go.
Tip: Use a map
In the age of smartphones, a paper map might seem like a throwback that has little purpose. But on Wisconsin’s backroads, they’re still invaluable. Local maps are usually free and can be found in kiosks at hotels, rest stops and service stations. They can be a source of inspiration, pointing out interesting local attractions like museums and cheese factories. Sometimes they’ll show you a route that’s not digitally mapped. And when your phone is running out of battery or the wireless signal is weak, these maps can be truly helpful.
Tip: Allow time to explore
This might seem obvious, but in an age when the Internet can use real-time data to predict your drive time to the minute, it can be too easy to make plans that leave little room for wandering. Some of the best roadside discoveries can’t be planned. Maybe there’s a local bakery selling pie—perhaps the baker is in and willing to share a recipe. Or maybe there’s a trail that leads to a dramatic overlook if you have time for a short stroll. Plan for the unplanned, and leave a little extra time in your schedule.
Tip: Take lots of pictures
It’s easy to forget to capture the beauty of your vacation, so take time to take some images from the road. Consider the offbeat, the bits of Americana that are part of the fabric of Wisconsin’s small towns, and keep an eye open for the wildlife that may be hiding in plain sight. Consider a camera with a zoom lens to photograph distant subjects like birds or deer. A tripod that can accommodate a smartphone can be useful for on-location family portraits—you just might find the perfect image for this year’s holiday card.
Tip: Find the perfect location
Half the fun of road tripping in Wisconsin is finding the undiscovered. Some good places to start your exploration: the Blue Hills in Rusk County, the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive near West Bend and the forest roads of Oneida and Vilas counties.