This year marked the return of both in- and out-of-state travelers: some, eager to get out and explore for the first time in a few years!
Whether you live here, love to visit, grew up here, or just love cheese, you’re reading this because you have some tie to Wisconsin. As we continue our look back at 2022 and forward to 2023, we’re sharing the best headlines from the year that was.
Here are our top “good news” travel headlines:
1. Wisconsin Tourism Rebounds From the Pandemic, with Leisure Travel Leading the Way.
Data from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism showed travel generated nearly $21 billion in economic impact last year– 21% more than 2020 and just below the record-setting $22.2 billion in 2019.
Parts of the state that rely more heavily on tourism, like Door County, the Dells, and Green Bay, bounced back stronger than places like Madison and Milwaukee, which are more dependent on business travel.
The overall economic impact of Door County’s tourism was $531 million in 2021, $53 million more than 2019 and $134 more than 2020.
2. Evers Creates an “Electric Route 66” to Advance State’s Eco-Tourism Industry.
Gov. Tony Evers found a futuristic way to invest some of the money Wisconsin received from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Biden in 2022.
The “Lake Michigan EV Circuit Tour” will build electric vehicle charging stations at tourist destinations including lighthouses, parks, and breweries along more than 1,000 miles of drivable Lake Michigan shoreline across Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
The $80 million cost of installing these stations will be completely covered by the Infrastructure Law. The “Electric Route 66” is expected to be finished within five years.
3. The Seven Weirdest Roadside Attractions in Wisconsin.
While we’re known for our cheese, beer, waterparks, and farms, the Badger State is also filled with unexpected, quirky attractions.
When driving to Door County, stop by Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant to see goats on the sod-covered roof. Near La Crosse? Check out the World’s Largest Six Pack: a half-dozen 54-feett-tall storage tanks that have been around since ’69.
Manitowoc is home to the Sputnik Crash Site and Fountain City is famous for its Rock in the House (not to be confused with the better-known House on the Rock.) Dr. Evermor’s Sculpture Park in North Freedom, the Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, and Middleton’s Mustard Museum also made our list of can’t-miss roadside attractions.
What Does This Mean for 2023 (& Beyond)? Travel is back, which is welcome news for anyone who lives, works, and/or travels within Wisconsin. Now is a great time to be a tourist in your own backyard, explore a new part of the state, and support local hotels, businesses, and restaurants that have survived a historic three years.