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Hello from Wisconsin – the dairy capital of the United States! Wisconsin is home to some of the most dairy cows (1,274,000). Wisconsin also has over 15,000 lakes and 43,000 miles of river.
SEE ALSO: 7-Day Road Trip To Utah National Parks
So what else is there to do in Wisconsin other than eat cheese? Here’s my 4-day road trip across Wisconsin for the best restaurants, breweries, wineries, apple orchards, and cheese curds.
Day one – Madison, Wisconsin
From Austin, we flew into Madison to start our road trip across Wisconsin.
Delta Beer Lab
The first stop in Madison Wisconsin was at Delta Beer Lab – a local brewery that focuses on the science of brewing – everything from the malt to the water. The owner, Pio, told me that Wisconsin has hard water with minerals that can affect how a beer tastes. A local farmer also came by during my visit to pick up the leftover hops that he’ll use to feed his goats and cows.
I tried a flight of beers in their social laboratory and taproom. I love sour beers and was delighted to learn about gose, kettle-soured German-style wheat beer infused with different fruit purees. Delta Beer Lab makes several gose on tap – mango and blueberry acai.
Most popular on tap:
- PTR.01 (Porter)
- Black Is Beautiful – IPA.16.6 (Black IPA)
- KSR.03 (Mango Gose)
167 E Badger Rd, delta.beer
Wisconsin Brewing Company
Wisconsin Brewing Company and Lake Louie Brewing has 12 beers on tap every day and a huge dog-friendly patio that overlooks the pond. I got to try their limited-edition Sandy Cheeks, a pineapple hefeweizen infused with real pineapple.
Most popular on tap:
- Badger club – Amber Lager
- Warped Speed – Scotch Ale
If you do like any of their taps, you can get them in cans to-go! Wisconsin Brewing cans overs 6000 cans a day.
1079 American Way, wisconsinbrewingcompany.com
The Old Fashioned
You can’t come to Wisconsin without having cheese curds and the place to go is The Old Fashioned in downtown Madison that’s right across from the Wisconsin State Capitol. The Old Fashioned has 50 Wisconsin beers on tap and hand muddled Old Fashioneds. We had the house-made fresh Wisconsin beer-battered cheese curds, fish fry with walleye, and an Old Fashioned.
23 N Pinckney St #1, theoldfashioned.com
There are several amazing restaurants in downtown Madison, we decided to go to Heritage Tavern, an New American restaurant that focuses on upscale farm-to-table cuisine in an approachable, classic atmosphere.
Owner and Executive Chef Daniel Fox founded Fox Heritage Farms to raise heritage breeds of pigs including Hampshire-Yorkshire, Mangalitsas, Swabian Hall, Red Wattle, and Tamworth-Hereford—all of which are prized by chefs for their flavor.
What to order: crispy pork belly & tuna or the chai siu pork shoulder & tuna with Bibb lettuce cups
131 E Mifflin St, heritagetavern.com
Overnight at AC Hotel
We stayed in AC Hotel in downtown Madison – it was so convenient to be within walking distance from so many restaurants and cafes like Ancora, The Old Fashioned, and Heritage Tavern.
Day two – Viroqua + La Crosse, WI
For breakfast, we walked over to Ancora – a colorful and plant-filled cafe that serves brunch all day. The chorizo hash with poached eggs and pickled jalapenos was delicious!
107 King St, Madison, WI, ancoracafes.com
Spring Green General Store
Quick pit stop from Madison to Viroqua, Spring Green General Store is a coffee shop, library, and general store with snacks and drinks.
137 South Albany St, Spring Green, WI
The Driftless Cafe focuses on seasonal and fresh ingredients by using over 200 certified organic farms in Vernon County. Start with the cheese board featuring all local Wisconsin cheese and housemade pickles and bread. We loved the baked Wisconsin mac and cheese with 5 different kinds of Wisconsin cheese, local salad with maple balsamic vinaigrette, and fish fry with beer-Battered North Atlantic cod.
What to order: Local cheeseboard, Wisconsin mac and cheese, local salad, and fish fry.
118 W Court St, Viroqua, WI, driftlesscafe.com
La Crosse Distilling Co.
Nestled on the banks of the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin, La Crosse is at the heart of the Driftless Region. La Crosse Distilling Co. partners with local family farms that grow organic heirloom ingredients that they then feature in their vodka, gin, and whiskey bottles. La Crosse Distilling Co. also runs on geothermal energy and is one of the few distilleries in the world that does that.
The cocktails and appetizers were absolutely delicious!
What to order: Korean cucumber salad, papas machas (fried driftless organics gem potatoes), and watermelon salad.
129 Vine St, La Crosse, WI, lacrossedistilling.co
Suncrest Gardens Pizza Farm
Have you heard of a pizza farm before? Me either! The drive to Suncrest Gardens Pizza Farm very scenic and I recommend going before sunset. All the pizzas at Suncrest Gardens Pizza Farm come from the farm itself and you can see all the chickens, sheep, and cows that they have on the property. The farm is family-friendly so pack a picnic blanket! The u-pick flower gardens bloom in July.
What to order: garlic cheese curds and any of the specialty pizzas
S2257 Yaeger Valley Road, Cochrane, WI, suncrestgardensfarm.com
Overnight at Big River Escape Riverside Cabins
We stayed by the Mississippi River at the Big River Escape Riverside Cabins. I recommend waking up early and drinking your coffee on the dock!
950 North Front Street, Buffalo City, WI, bigriverescape.com
Day 3 – Stockholm
Quick breakfast at this local diner – the Pepin breakfast comes with eggs, sausage, cheesy hashbrowns, and a big pancake.
809 3rd Street, Pepin, WI, US, 54759
Villa Bellezza Winery
You’ll feel transported to Italy at Villa Bellezza Winery – there’s the tasting room, Il Forno (country Italian restaurant), La Piazza Bellezza, and La Fontana (fountain). Villa Bellezza Winery is known for its white wines that have won awards at San Francisco International Wine Competition but also make splendid aged reds and blends.
1420 3rd St, Lake City, WI, villabellezza.com
Stockholm Pie Company
We stopped by Stockholm Pie Company for a chicken pot pie and a slice of cherry pie with vanilla ice cream. This pie shop is also a grocery store and gift shop.
N2030 Spring St, Stockholm, WI, stockholmpieandgeneralstore.com
Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery
Located on an 80-acre farm near Stockholm is Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery – they produce products made from fermented apple juice as well as fresh fruit, preserves, and baked goods. You’ll see rows and rows of apple trees when you pull in, head into the tasting room to try a flight of apple ciders, or take a 4-pack home as I did. Honeycrisp Hard is one of their best sellers but don’t be afraid to ask what’s in season.
W12266 King Lane, PO Box 34, Stockholm, WI, maidenrockappleswinerycidery.com
Common Man Brewing
For dinner, we went to Common Man Brewing for burgers. They also have tacos and sandwiches.
193 E Main St, Ellsworth, WI, commonmanbrewing.com
Overnight at David Motel Lodge
We stayed in these rustic cabins at David Motel Lodge in Pierce County.
W7670 US-10, Ellsworth, WI, davidmotellodge.net
Day 4 – Ellsworth
If you like cheese curds, you have to go straight to where it’s made at Ellsworth Creamery! Ellsworth is the Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin and Ellsworth Creamery makes over 190,000 lbs of cheese curds daily. They process 1.9 million lbs of milk from dairy cows in Wisconsin and Minnesota. You can purchase all different flavors of cheese curds by the bag to-go AND hot out the fryer beer-battered cheese curds from the food trailer outside. I also had the best soft serve I’ve ever had from Ellsworth Creamery and it’s because they get the best milk.
Did you know the state of Wisconsin requires a license for cheese making? Wisconsin is also the only state in the U.S. with a master cheesemaking program. Licensed cheesemakers must have over a decade of experience before they can enter the program.
232 N. Wallace Street, Ellsworth, WI, ellsworthcheese.com
Knoke’s Chocolates & Nuts
A sweet treat for the flight home – you’ll feel like a kid in a candy shop at Knoke’s Chocolates & Nuts. The cases are filled with all different kinds of chocolates and the walls are lined with jars of colorful candy.
220 Locust St, Hudson, WI, knokeschocolatesandnuts.com
Hop & Barrel Brewery
One more drink before heading out – Hop & Barrel Brewery is a small brewery and taproom located in the heart of downtown Hudson, Wisconsin. There are sixteen taps available along with classic games like foosball, skeeball, duck claw, and a dog-friendly environment.
310 2nd St, Hudson, WI, hopandbarrelbrewing.com
What’s your favorite thing to do in Wisconsin? Comment below.