Hello! We are Sarah and Tim. Sarah grew up in Richmond, Virginia and Tim grew up in Denver, Colorado and Green Bay, Wisconsin. We met in 2009 when we both worked at a software company in Madison, Wisconsin. We had each done some traveling previously – Sarah studied abroad in a medieval French city in college and Tim went on a cross country road trip with some buddies when he was 19 that landed them in Tijuana.
Two years into our relationship, on a beach in Mexico, we met a couple who knew of a couple who “quit their jobs to travel”. This was the first time we heard such a thing, and though Sarah’s interest was piqued, she didn’t think about it again until a few months later when she came across a quote: “Whatever your wildest dreams are, start taking them seriously”.
Fast forward through three years of planning and saving, and in January of 2014 we embarked on our first trip around the world. We visited all seven continents over the course of 11 months. Upon returning back to the United States, we immediately started planning for the next big trip – a 500 day honeymoon around the world in 2018 and 2019. This is when we started documenting our travels on our blog: https://organizedadventurer.com.
In 2020, when the pandemic hit, the world changed. At that moment, we decided to travel around Wisconsin by car – a state we lived in together for over a decade. Now, we road trip around the country in our converted van with our cat, Mara, in tow. We have been on the road (off and on) for the 11 years we have been together, with Wisconsin as our home base.
Recently, we have been spending the winter road trippin weekend warrior style through the US southwest – with Las Vegas as our base during the work week. Together, we have visited 49 states (Tim has been to all 50). Hawaii is the last state to visit together before we will have visited them all!
Why you Should Visit Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a great destination for all types of travelers. It has world-class museums, a vibrant culinary culture, and plenty of state and national parks for outdoor adventures. The Badger State actually boasts more lakes than Minnesota and it has a stunning coastline along two of the Great Lakes.
This state is also home to the Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Brewers, not to mention the University of Wisconsin Badgers. There is no shortage of sports enthusiasm here! Wisconsin should be on your bucket list if you love sports, beer, cheese, forests, wildlife (especially birds or deer) and lakes!
Our favorite place in the state, without question, is Madison. It’s a very special place to us for many different reasons – it’s where we first met, where we fell in love and where we began to build our lives together. Our first dates were over locally brewed beer and cheese curds on the capitol square – blocks away from the home we would eventually share together.
11 Best Things To Do in Wisconsin
The mix of experiences to enjoy in Wisconsin is truly outstanding. Each season brings something new to the table. Cheese, food, craft beer, lakes, and then snow draped cities (in winter), and a “Midwest nice” vibe that is felt when you meet the friendly and helpful Wisconsinites – all of these things come together to create quite the offering. So, to help you plan your trip to Wisconsin, we have put together this list of the top 11 things to do.
1. Visit Door County for State Parks & Lake Views
Door County is situated on a peninsula between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. There are over 300 miles of shoreline to explore here – with views out to Lake Michigan that are nothing short of incredible! The sunrises and sunsets in this county are very special. And then you have the state parks of Door County which are all worth visiting too. Each park has its own charm and character, and offers travelers their own adventure playground of sorts.
The state parks of Door County are: Rock Island State Park, Whitefish State Park, Newport State Park, Peninsula State Park and Potawatomi State Park. All these parks can help you get your daily dose of nature! Whether you revel in hiking, trail running, swimming, paddle boarding or picnics by the lake admiring the views – whatever you enjoy Door County can provide the goods. Winter also brings snow and a different experience all together.
2. Kayak in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Lake Superior is a destination you should visit whether you are coming to Wisconsin or not (it can also be experienced in Michigan and Minnesota). One of the crown jewels of this lake is Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – 21 beautiful islands which you can explore. The best way is to hire a kayak and weave your way through these islands. We had the pleasure of doing this midway through 2020, during quarantine, and it was awesome!
Kayaking in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – with the sun shining on us and being surrounded by Lake Superior’s fresh water – was an experience that we will never forget! We recommend going in summer when it’s warmer and you are guided along by the warmth of the sun’s rays.
3. Have an Adventure at Devil’s Lake State Park
Devil’s Lake State Park is hands down one of our favorite state parks in Wisconsin. It’s located near the resort town of Wisconsin Dells and it makes for a great day trip from Milwaukee, Madison or perhaps even Chicago. Fall is a fantastic time of the year to visit this hidden gem of Wisconsin, and we highly recommend hiking the Devil’s Doorway Trail when you visit in fall.
The loop hike of Devil’s Doorway takes you to these incredible balanced rock formations with views over the lake. It’s only a short hike of two miles but it can get steep. At the top you get offered some amazing views of Devil’s Lake and you can also hike around at the top which then takes you to more wonderful viewpoints of this superb lake. We absolutely loved this fall hike: foliage, rocks and a big blue lake – what more could you ask for?
4. Bar/Restaurant/Museum Hop in Milwaukee
If there was ever an underrated city in the USA it would be Milwaukee. This place barely gets recognized by travelers yet it’s such a cool place. You can bar, restaurant and museum hop your way around and never get bored! There are some fantastic art galleries to visit, you have the awesome Harley-Davidson Museum and many other cool spots. Go for a few nights and you will be stunned at just how this city manages to stay under the radar.
5. Go to a Packers Game at Lambeau Field
A Packers game at Lambeau Field is an unforgettable experience, whether you are into football or not. If you are visiting in fall you might have the chance to catch a regular season match, if you go in the winter you might be in town when the Packers make the playoffs and if you go in summer? Well, you can always visit Lambeau Field to see the Packers train preseason. Green Bay has a lot to offer in terms of places to visit, and eat and drink.
6. Check out Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home at Taliesin
Frank Lloyd Wright was an architect whose houses and structures became famous all over the world. He is credited for bringing American architecture to the fore with styles that merged seamlessly with nature. Taliesin was his personal estate in the hills of Wisconsin home to his own house, a studio, school and 800-acres of agricultural land. Frank Lloyd Wright’s grandparents were Welsh and Taliesin means “Shining Brow”.
7. Walk Down State Street in Madison, Wisconsin
State Street is the beating pulse of Madison. It offers everything – whether you enjoy outdoor dining in cool cafes and restaurants, marveling at architectural masterpieces like the historic Wisconsin State Capitol, checking out contemporary art museums or shopping through an array of fantastic boutiques! Just head on down for a good old stroll any time of the day and you will start to fall in love with Madison that much more.
8. Rent a Boat and Explore a Wisconsin Lake
The lakes of Wisconsin are endless and you are spoiled for choice when it comes to this type of nature. You have Lake Superior to the north and Lake Michigan to the east – with a host of other lakes around the state including Lake Winnebago, Lake Mendota, Castle Rock Lake, Lake Monona and more! Renting a boat or kayak is the best way to experience these lakes.
9. Explore Wisconsin Dells in the Fall Season
Wisconsin Dells might just be the best fall destination in all of the Badger State. It’s a wonderful place to spend a week or so, or just a short weekend getaway, exploring the town itself and finding hiking opportunities nearby. The fall colors start peaking at the start of September and last for weeks.
There are a few must-visit places in this part of Wisconsin. Firstly, Rocky Arbor State Park is 10 minutes away and offers stunning foliage. After enjoying a hike, you can head to Sundara Spa for spa treatments to warm you up. If you need a drink along the way, Wisconsin Dells has some great wineries where you can relax outside in that mild fall weather. No matter what you are into, Wisconsin Dells has something for you!
Our best travel memory from Wisconsin was the trip we took to Wisconsin Dells for Sarah’s birthday in 2016. We stayed at one of the indoor water parks and had a blast on the slides and in the outdoor hot tubs before going out to eat at our favorite restaurant in the Dells – High Rock Cafe.
Then we danced at the Showboat Saloon and played craps at Ho-Chunk Casino. We caught the last shuttle back to town from the casino and got a late-night breakfast before walking through the snow back to our hotel. It was such a special trip and it made us want to keep coming back!
10. Hike in Wyalusing State Park/Mississippi River
This gorgeous state park sits at the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers. Here you can enjoy outdoor adventures such as hiking, canoeing, camping, fishing, boating and bird watching but most visitors just come to enjoy the variety of trails. There are over 14 different hikes to choose from at Wyalusing State Park, all varying in length and difficulty.
11. Try the Best Restaurants & Breweries of Madison
Wisconsin is known for its food, specifically brats, dairy and beer. Here are some notable places to visit in/near Madison, Wisconsin. For the best restaurants: Ian’s Pizza, La Taguara, Yume Sushi, Maharani and Ha Long Bay. For the best alcohol: New Glarus Brewery, Wollersheim Winery & Distillery, Capital Brewery, Great Dane and Eno Vino. Try them all if you can!
Final Tips for Visiting Wisconsin
Unless you are an enthusiast for winter activities like snowmobiling, ice fishing or ice skating we suggest visiting in spring, summer or fall. This state is great for fall foliage and summers on the lakes can’t be beat. If you have never experienced winter in the Midwest and do plan to visit during that time, pack appropriately because without exaggeration it will probably be the coldest time of your life. Enjoy everything Wisconsin has to offer!