Part of our 2023 Bucket List series, we’re sharing where to go and what to see in every part of the Badger State.
Southwest Wisconsin is not only home to the state’s capital, but the Mighty Mississippi and some of the most beautiful parts of the state. The region’s rolling hills, award-winning waterparks, and historic haunts are more than worthy for a place on your bucket list. Whether you live in the area or are visiting from another part of the state, here are a few ‘can’t miss’ attractions!
Visit the Apple Orchards of Gays Mills
Location: Crawford County
Price: Varies by orchard
Nestled in the Kickapoo River Valley, Gays Mills is home to six apple orchards. More than 100 years ago, farmers found the fertile land and decided it was the perfect place for growing mouth-watering apples. While the orchards are busiest during the fall harvest, don’t be afraid to stop by earlier in the summer for berry-picking, mushroom-foraging, hiking, cave exploring, canoeing, and more.
Travel the Great River Road
Location: WI Highway 35, from Prairie Du Chien to Pepin
Wisconsin’s Great River Road is the state’s only National Scenic Byway, and a good portion of it is in Southwestern Wisconsin. Along the winding byway, you’ll find quaint restaurants, historic downtowns, and scenic stops, like the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder in Pepin or the best scones you’ve ever had at Little Larke Bakery in historic Stockholm. Wherever you stop, you can’t go wrong.
Dine at A Pig in a Fur Coat
Location: 940 Williamson St., Madison
Hours: Wed. through Sat., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Price: Entrees range from $17 to $63
There’s no shortage of restaurants throughout southwestern Wisconsin, but for a one-of-a-kind communal dining experience, add Madison’s A Pig in a Fur Coat to your bucket list. This cozy bistro is more than just a cheeky name. The menu showcases Mediterranean comfort food–from classic starters like Foie Gras and Beef Tartare to pasta dishes like Risotto and Casoncelli with oxtail and black truffles. Guests also rave about the lamb, jerk rabbit, and quail.
Spend a Day at the House on the Rock
Location: 5754 State Rd. 23, Spring Green
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., from mid-March through December
Price: Range from $4.95 for kids under 6 to $32.95 for adults
As you travel along the Wisconsin River, you’ll come across Wisconsin’s architectural wonder—The House on the Rock. Since 1959, the one-of-a-kind house has grown into a collection of eclectic, eccentric, and indisputably enjoyable displays. The Circus Room, The Music of Yesterday, and The Infinity Room are just a few of the spaces you can explore during your visit.
Learn About Wisconsin’s History at the Stonefield Historic Site
Location: 12195 County Hwy. VV, Cassville
Hours: Jun. 1 to Oct. 1, Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Price: Range from $8 for children 5-12 to $13.50 for adults
The Stonefield Historic Site offers a glimpse into what it was like to live on a rural Wisconsin farm in 1900. You’ll find an entire village on-site, complete with a general store, school, farmhouse, and jail. But the extras are what really make Stonefield a must-see. The site houses Wisconsin’s largest collection of farming machinery and tools! Visitors can also explore the home of Wisconsin’s first governor, Nelson Dewey.
Scream Like a Hyena at Kalahari
Location: 1305 Kalahari Dr., Wisconsin Dells
Price: Starts at $60, with discounts for military members and free admission for resort guests
The Dells is the Waterpark Capital of the World. And if you’re looking for thrills, head to Kalahari. The resort’s Screaming Hyena drops riders through a platform door from 60 feet above the water park until they splash in a huge pool below. This free fall might be one of the few things on land that mimics skydiving. Afterwards, wind down by floating on the calming Lazy River or tackling some of the resort’s tame slides.
Enjoy a Spotted Cow in New Glarus
Location: 2400 State Hwy 69, New Glarus
Hours: Mon. through Fri., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Price: Free or upgrade to $30 Hard-Hat Tour
Plenty of famous beers come from the Badger State, but perhaps none are more uniquely Wisconsin than New Glarus Brewing Company’s Spotted Cow. It’s just the perfect name for a beer from America’s Dairyland. For the best experience, sign up for a Hard-Hat Tour, offered at 1 p.m. on Fridays. The three-hour exploration takes you behind-the-scenes at both the original brewery and its current one. Don’t forget to stay for the beer and cheese pairing afterward!