Beer, cheese, mustard, and goats create reasons to get back on Wisconsin’s highways and byways.
Wisconsin lives up to expectations: the cows, the lakes and woods, the lively cities. But there are plenty of things to do in the Badger State that are also weird, quirky, and unexpected.
Here’s a look at a selection of the weird things to see and try in our state.
Goats on the Roof, in Sister Bay
On top of a quaint Swedish family owned restaurant in Sister Bay you’ll find more than excellent meatballs. If you look up you’ll also see goats on the roof. The hooved friends have made Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant one of the most famous in Door County.
The goats hang out on the restaurant’s sod-covered roof while waiters in old school Scandinavian clothes serve classic fare: Swedish meatballs, whitefish sandwiches and limpa bread among a variety of scrumptious plates.
The goats are perhaps even better known than the restaurant itself. Each year there is a “Roofing the Goats” parade in June and you can check out what the four legged friends are up to on the Goat Cam.
Tip from a local: Try the Swedish pancakes.
World’s Largest Six Pack, in La Crosse
Six, 54-foot-tall storage tanks make up the world’s largest six pack located in La Crosse. The tanks came to life in 1969 when they were painted to look like Heileman’s Old Style beer cans.
When the brewery was sold about three decades later, the tanks were repainted white, but it didn’t take a lot of squinting to still see the logos underneath. The new owners eventually realized that beer cans made for a better draw and so they placed new labels, this time wallpapered onto the tanks.
Today the tanks bear the logo of La Crosse Lager, but the facility also makes tea, soda, and energy drinks. The facility still offers tours and the tanks sure make for a great photo.
The Sputnik Crash Site, in Manitowoc
Manitowoc was forever placed on the map in September of 1962, when a piece of Sputnik IV crash landed downtown.
Sputnik left Earth weighing some seven tons back in 1960. But after a failed effort to bring the early space traveler back home, a 20-pound chunk of metal escaped the great expanse two years later and crash landed in the middle of Manitowoc, right in front of the gallery it now calls home.
What’s left of Sputnik’s fiery crash from the heavens was returned to the Russians so what sits now in the Rahr-West Art Museum is a replica. But visitors can see where the spot was memorialized in 1963, where members of the International Association of Machinists placed a brass ring in the street.
Local tip: The actual brass ring is hard to see and the road is still very much a road. It’s safer to check out the marker on the sidewalk. Look for a small, rectangular slab of pink granite.
Additional tip: Visit the crash site in September when the town celebrates Sputnikfest! This year’s extravaganza is set for Sept. 10.
Rock in the House, in Fountain City
In the same vein of crash landings, go check out Rock in the House. No, not the better known House on the Rock. In this case, the title really tells you all you need to know about how, in 1995, a 55-ton boulder rolled down a hill and crashed into a house’s master bedroom. The boulder remains there today.
A local realtor purchased the damaged house and now runs a unique open house. You can visit the house and its boulder from April through October daily from 10am to 6pm.
Dr. Evermor’s Sculpture Park, in North Freedom
For this wonderfully weird sculpture park, think “if Picasso did sculpture.” This outdoor gallery has hundreds of installations that range in size and are made of metal salvage.
The gallery is the work of Thomas Every, also called Dr. Evermor who passed away in 2020. Today the gallery is run by his daughter and ex-wife Lady Eleanor. Despite being divorced, the two continued to work and live together until his passing.
Check out “The Forevertron” while you’re there. It’s hard to miss because it’s the largest work in the gallery. Forevertron towers more than 50 feet and is made of things like car parts, old tools, musical instruments and a variety of small objects.
The Mars Cheese Castle, in Kenosha
Yes, it’s really a castle! The Mars Cheese Castle is a family-owned attraction with more than 700 cheeses, wines, and specialty items from Wisconsin and around the world. Inside you’ll also find a bakery that serves desserts and kringles.
Tip from a local: Try the bread made in the bakery, in particular the cheese and jalapeño bread, baked daily.
Mustard Museum, in Middleton
Middleton is home to a national museum—the National Mustard Museum. Within you’ll find a huge collection of new and old mustards from all across the globe.
The museum also features antique mustard serving sets and a set of movies shown throughout the day like Mustard: The Spice of Nations at the “Mustard Piece Theater.”
How serious are they about mustard? Check out our story from April 2020 and how the staff took great precautions in those early days of the COVID pandemic to ensure that the annual World-Wide Mustard Competition could still go on.