The Badger State is number 30 in the United States. Not surprisingly the state animal is the badger. The state fish is the muskellunge. And the flower is the wood violet. The nation's first Republican Party meeting was held at The Little White School House in Ripon.
Bikers will like the Elroy-Sparta Trail. This 34 mile trail was the first rails-to-trails conversion in the country. There are 3 tunnels on the trail. One is almost 3/4 of a mile long. Of course you have to walk your bicycle through the tunnels because they are often wet and you can't see anyway. There are several small towns along the trail that will be glad to serve you lunch or give you a cold drink.
For plant lovers, there are a lot of botanical gardens. Olbrich Botanical Gardens has the Thai Pavilion which is a gift from the King of Thailand. There is a Thai garden surrounding it. There are 16 acres of gardens. The Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory is known for having one of the finest collections of cacti, succulents, shrubs, and arid-land bulbs in the world.
Wisconsin has some spectacular water falls. The highest of these is Big Manitou Falls which drops about 165 feet into the Black River. In the area of the falls are scenic overlooks, campsites, trails, and water access.
Pines and Mines Trails is a challenge for experienced mountain bikers. There are over 300 miles of signed routes that take you through some beautiful scenery. You can stop at Plummer Mine. From the times when mining was the big industry of the area, you'll see a giant structure of iron girders known as a headframe. It was used for lifting ore from thousands of feet below the surface.
A trip down the river can be relaxing or exciting. The current of the Fox River is slow and opens into large areas of lake and marsh. The Flambeau River offers one of the best whitewater trips in the midwest. There are campsites along the way so you can travel for a few hours or make a few days of it.
Who's up for bird watching? The Shlitz Audubon Nature Center is a 225 acre sanctuary along the Lake Michigan migratory corridor. More than 250 species have been recorded here. Ponds, ravines, prairies, and woodlands give a variety of habitat for a variety of birds. Hawks, ducks, warblers, finches, owls, and falcons are a few.
There are so many opportunities to explore in Wisconsin. Try a train ride, horseback, boat cruises, ferry boat rides, farm tours, one of a bunch of state and national parks, geocaching, historic sites, lighthouses... I could go on. But I think I'll leave you to plan your own adventure. That's half the fun. I have some helpful links below. Remember to check the links in your travel guide too. Then go explore Wisconsin and come back and tell me what you did. I want to see a replication of a 200 pound, 7 foot long, lizard-like creature called a Hodag. Then there is the Museum of Historic Torture Devices (I know.. gruesome) and Fred Smith's Concrete park looks promising.
Official Wisconsin Site
Wisconsin Geocaching Association
Department Of Natural Resources
Wisconsin Historical Society
Offbeat Tourist Attractions