Let's start with a little history lesson in Wisconsin Birding, Wildlife, & Nature. Wisconsin’s connection to the land plays out poetically in pioneering naturalist Aldo Leopold’s 1949 book “A Sand County Almanac”. This book chronicled his vision of a land ethic and how caring for people cannot be separate from caring for the land. He wrote it from his home in Baraboo, Wisconsin which you can still visit. It's now the Aldo Leopold Foundation, where you can learn how to be a better land steward in your own life.
Other Wisconsin conservation heroes who have come and gone before us include John Muir, who was an early advocate for national parks and a founder of the Sierra Club. Similarly, there's Owen Gromme, the “dean of U.S. wildlife artists”. He brought attention and action to important conservation issues through his paintings. Furthermore, we have Warren Knowles, the state’s 37th governor, who spent his entire life supporting conservation efforts. There's Gaylord Nelson, former governor and U.S Senator who chaired the Wilderness Society and founded Earth Day. Finally, there is George Archibald, co-founder of the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo. As a result, it is the only place in the world to see the complete collection of all 15 species of cranes.
All this brings us to today. Fascinating, diverse Wisconsin wildlife exists in every corner of the state!
A must-visit for any birder is the Horicon Marsh. It's the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States, hosting nearly 270 species of waterfowl. The marsh is also a major fall stopping point for Canada geese. Eagle watching in Sauk Prairie is spectacular! This is thanks to a section of the Wisconsin River that rarely freezes. Alma, along the Mississippi River, is known for the nesting ground for wintering bald eagles. Don’t overlook urban birding! The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center on the shore of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee is a stellar birding location. This is all thanks to its mix of woodland, grassland, wetlands and lakefront. Certainly climb the 60-foot-high observation tower for a panoramic view!
The Important Bird Areas program in Wisconsin, administered by the National Audubon Society, is a good starting point to map out birding locations. It points out 88 locations around the state. Likewise, The Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail brochure series from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is a set of five highway-based viewing guides. It offers the best Wisconsin Birding, Wildlife, & Nature watching opportunities in the state.
Along side birding, explore Wisconsin’s State Natural Areas, which protect outstanding examples of Wisconsin’s native landscapes and provide some of the last refuges for rare plants and animals. There are nearly 700 in all, giving you options spanning spring wildflowers to fall colors.
Start your search here on the Wisconsin Birding, Wildlife, & Nature page. Above all, you're certain to find the perfect fit in any corner of the state!
When it comes to Wisconsin Breweries and Wineries, we like to note that Wisconsin’s brewing heritage is the stuff of legends.
Records of the state’s earliest breweries date back to the 1830s. At at time, German immigrants brought their knowledge of brewing techniques to the state. By the time of the Civil War, there were nearly 160 Wisconsin breweries.
Many of the oldest still operating breweries in the U.S. are right here in Wisconsin. We have the Pabst Brewing Company, which dates to 1844. Similarly, there's the Miller Brewing Company, which opened in 1855. There’s also Minhas Craft Brewery in Monroe which opened in 1845. We can't forget Stevens Point Brewery, which was founded in 1857. Additionally, we have Leinenkugel’s, which opened in the Chippewa Valley in 1867.
The titans of beer – think family names including Pabst, Miller and Schlitz – helped Milwaukee earn the unofficial title as “the beer capital of the world.”
The beer scene in Wisconsin has come full circle with many cities and towns once again having at least one local microbrewery. Many of those artisan breweries source locally for ingredients.
While beer is king in Wisconsin, the wine landscape is nothing to sniff at. That is, unless you’re taking in the aroma of a fine Wisconsin wine made with cold-hardy grapes before enjoying a sip. Would you be surprised to learn there are 100+ Wisconsin wineries?
Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac dates to the early 1840s. Hungarian nobleman Agoston Haraszthy discovered the sloped land of the Wisconsin River Valley and planted grapevines. In December 1849, he followed the gold rush to California. He is therefore considered one of the fathers of the California wine movement.
We mustn’t leave out distilled spirits either. The craft cocktail craze is only gaining in popularity in Wisconsin and across the country. With the Old Fashioned Wisconsin’s unofficial state drink, you can be assured brandy tops the list of choices at many distilleries, with whiskey a contender too.
Two more Wisconsin-made libations to quench your thirst and satisfy your taste buds – hard cider and mead. So, if you're searching for the thirst quenching taste that Wisconsin Breweries and Wineries offer, you can start right here!
Our state is known as one of the friendliest places on the planet, so it should come as no surprise that you can find Wisconsin pet friendly B&Bs, cabins, & lodges to accommodate the entire family, Fido included.
People are certainly traveling more with their pets today. Let’s face it; our pets are part of the family. If you are planning a family vacation, then naturally you want Fido to come and be part of the fun family adventure. Many of the best family memories probably include your pet. Besides, it just might be your furry friend who looks best on Instagram! Sometimes, it might also be that we just don’t want to leave our pets with someone else or incur the cost of boarding.
Pet parents are making their vacation plans with their pets in mind, creating pet-centric trips and doing things together that everyone will enjoy. With so many types of Wisconsin pet friendly B&Bs in various locations, you can find any experience you might be looking for.
For B&Bs that accommodate pets, often there are “pet perks” like pet beds, feeding bowls, treats, or the famous rubber ball. With many B&Bs having ample space for both the pet and owners to roam, this can be a fun service.
Some Inns may charge an extra fee for pets, limit accommodations to certain rooms or cabins, and may have rules and regulations you need to be aware of. This is an attempt to ensure that everyone staying has a good time, including your pet. Do inquire, so everyone is on the same page.
When traveling with your pet, also make sure you ask your innkeeper for recommendations on pet friendly parks in the community, pet friendly beer gardens and al fresco dining spots, pet boutiques with toys and treats, even festivals with pet participation.
As the Wisconsin Department of Tourism likes to say, pets are welcome in Wisconsin and they can bring their owners too if they like!
A Wisconsin bed & breakfast vacation is restful and restorative by its very nature. Now add in B&Bs with spa services right on-premise! There are inns with massage therapists, or inns that partner with local spas. Similarly, we have inns with labyrinths or that host yoga classes and meditation retreats. There are even locations for forest bathing! Transformative travel is well within your reach as you plan Wisconsin spa services getaways for yourself and the most important people in your life.
Wellness tourism is one of the fastest growing pursuits around the world. This is not surprising given the stresses of modern life. Basic human needs can often be addressed with a B&B getaway. These include needs like being in nature or knowing where your food comes from. Likewise, there's getting a good night’s sleep or making time for the people most important in your life.
We also have Wisconsin inns nearby to the following well known spa retreats. You can enjoy rejuvenating spa treatments, and then retreat to your B&B to keep that spa glow going. There's Sundara Spa in Wisconsin Dells, Kohler Waters Spa in Kohler and Aspira Spa in Elkhart Lake with their prestigious readers’ choice awards. Likewise, there's Edgewater Spa in Madison, Well Spa in Lake Geneva and Evensong Spa in Green Lake. Condé Nast Traveler Magazine and Travel + Leisure Magazine have recognized all these Wisconsin spas!
While traditional massage and facials top the list of most popular spa treatments, there is growing interest in healing energy therapies such as Reiki and Ayurvedic spa treatments including reflexology.
For yoga, you can choose! There's hot yoga, power yoga, aqua yoga, aerial yoga, hatha yoga, yin yoga, restorative yoga and many more.
There's also guided meditation and mindfulness, as they are the mainstream now, and it’s about time given the many documented benefits.
Have you taken stock of your well-being lately? If not, then how about a getaway to an inn that offers spa services in-house or nearby?
Wisconsin course and court sports come with a top-notch pedigree that surprises many. From golf to tennis and disc-golf to ultimate frisbee, course and court sports are plentiful! Time to tee it up with a Wisconsin B&B getaway that revolves around golf and other popular sports.
There are some 500 public golf courses in the state, with fairways designed by major champions including Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. The Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic and the PGA Champions Tour American Family Insurance Championship are here. In addition, Wisconsin will host the 2020 Ryder Cup.
Perhaps the most important golf milestone took place in 2017 when the U.S. Open, the grandest stage in golf, was contested in Wisconsin for the first time. The venue was Erin Hills in Erin, just a short drive from Milwaukee, and only the sixth publicly accessible course to host the championship, which says a lot given it was the 117th U.S. Open. Golf Erin Hills plus the two other public courses in Wisconsin designed by the same designers who created Erin Hills, Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry - Wild Rock in Wisconsin Dells and Troy Burne in Hudson.
Few would argue that it was the courses of Kohler - Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run – that put Wisconsin on the golf map. The newest course, Sand Valley, Nekoosa, in Central Wisconsin, was named the “#1 Best New Golf Course for 2017” by Golf Digest.
Other noteworthy courses include SentryWorld in Stevens Point and University Ridge in Madison.
Likewise, there are two other golf options - disc golf and frisbee golf. Wisconsin has nearly 300 public disc golf courses. As a result, it's in the top five in the nation for courses and tournaments. Courses range from compact 3-hole layouts all the way up to 27 holes. Most courses are free.
Ultimate frisbee, on the other hand, is a seven-person team sport played on a football field. In this keep-away game, players move the Frisbee by passing, with one point earned per goal in the end zone. Certainly, strategy and athleticism define this sport.
Switching gears from courses to courts, Wisconsin is a hotbed for pickleball. You read that right, pickleball, with major tournaments played in Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison and Milwaukee.
For the full-court experience, pack your tennis racquets and play at well-maintained public courts around Wisconsin.
Want To Get Married At One Of The Wisconsin Bed & Breakfast Association Wedding Venues?
The bed & breakfast industry already has a sweet reputation for catering to couples in love. Think charming inns, whether historic or contemporary, quiet breakfasts, manicured gardens, bedrooms with fireplaces, high-end linens and comfy featherbeds and ensuite baths appointed with steam showers and whirlpool tubs. So, it’s only natural that innkeepers would expand on the romantic appeal of their properties with forays into the destination wedding business. Welcome to the world of Wisconsin Bed & Breakfast Association Wedding Venues.
Couples planning their wedding should think about making it uniquely special, reflecting the two of you perfectly. No two weddings are alike. Helping to create a wedding of your dreams is what these innkeepers do! There are many choices and options available for you to explore in a wedding venue at a Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast Association member inn. There are many gorgeous properties for beautiful indoor weddings. Image the pictures! Outdoor weddings have gained in popularity over the years and are all the rage. From gardens, gazebos, praire or lawn to historic barns, coach houses, or outdoor tents, the option is yours.
Bed and breakfasts are also perfect for bridal showers, gift-opening parties, rehearsal dinners or the honeymoon. Something this special should also be somewhere special and memorable. The innkeepers will work with you to achieve the vision you have and create memories of a lifetime. Each inn has different offerings and specialties so have fun in the search and ask many questions.
The Wisconsin Bed & Breakfast Association informally surveyed its member inns to see which innkeepers really love hosting weddings, as evidenced by having a wedding planner on staff, officiating the ceremony themselves, or even baking the wedding cakes. For more romantic B&Bs, search by amenities that include weddings, elopement and honeymoons.
Wisconsin leads the nation in production of artisan and farmstead cheeses, thanks to the work of master cheesemakers along the Wisconsin Cheese Trail. The Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin organization will back us up on that claim to fame. Not only do we lead the production, but Wisconsinites think our state simply has the most delicious cheese too!
There are more than one million cows in the state on over 11,0000 farms. More than 90% of the milk is made into cheese. Wisconsin produces over 2.8 billion pounds of cheese or 25% of all chees in the United States.
We don't think that other state of Californina, who claims they have the happy cows, can hold a candle to Wisconsin cheese. You be the judge though.
Wisconsin produces 600 varieties of cheese, and that’s more than double the amount of runner-up state California. Cheese curds, in our humble opinion, are the freshest form of cheddar. They are best eaten deep-fried with a beer batter.
Wisconsin won big in the 2018 World Championship Cheese Contest, with the most awards of any state, the most awards overall, and the most category awards.
Visitors are known to plan an entire Wisconsin vacation around stops at cheese factories and cheese stores. In fact, we rather like that idea of a dedicated Wisconsin cheese trail. Really, when you think of Wisconsin, you do think Wisconsin Cheese! No matter what part of the state you travel, you will certainly discover and find a new Wisconsin cheese to sample. Travel along the Wisconsin Cheese Trail and have fun. Don't forget to purchase some to take home to you and your family and friends. What a great way to remember your Wisconsin vacation.
If you’re a cheese connoisseur or someone who just craves curds, the Wisconsin Cheese Trail with B&Bs along the way is all you need to know.
When winter weather spans a good number of months, you find ways to enjoy it. That holds especially true in our state where Wisconsin ski resorts and snow sports are more popular than ever. The state has 700 well-groomed cross-country ski trails and more than 250 snowshoe trails.
Let’s start with the cross-country category. Along with conventional daytime routes, there are lighted trails that help extend your options and candlelight ski events. These events have become so popular, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has real-time updates so you know when events are filling up.
The American Birkebeiner cross-country ski race, which starts in Cable and meanders to a finish line in Hayward, is the largest race of its kind in North America. It ranks among the top three in the world. Racers can choose the classic ski race with skiers staying in tracks. Or, they can choose the skate course that has skiers creating an “x” when pushing off like speed skaters do.
State parks with pristine cross-country ski trails include Lapham Peak near Milwaukee, Mirror Lake near Wisconsin Dells, Willow River near Hudson, the Brule River State Forest in Brule, Copper Falls State Park near Ashland, and Kettle Moraine State Forest near Greenbush. A popular Nordic ski center is Minocqua Winter Park with 80+ km of groomed trails. In Green Bay, the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary has groomed flat trails ideal for beginners.
For downhill skiers, try the 1950s-era Trollhaugen Outdoor Recreation Area in Dresser in the northern part of the state. Similarly, you can try the ancient Penokee Range at Whitecap Mountains in Upson with views of Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands. In central Wisconsin, Granite Peak at Rib Mountain State Park in Wausau has 75 runs spread out over the face of this 700-foot mountain. This is the tallest mountain in Wisconsin, and is made of a single chunk of quartzite that dates back two billion years. In southern Wisconsin, Cascade Mountain and Wilmot Mountain have both plowed millions into improvements over the last few years.
Snowshoeing is another terrific snow sports option. It’s a great workout, doesn’t require a tone of technical equipment and can be enjoyed in county and state parks. And they're often right on the properties of Wisconsin B&Bs.
To really get the heart pumping, try fat biking on frozen lakes and snowy trails. You might say Wisconsin serves up the perfect storm for this sport – a warm and welcoming bike culture, great trails, and a love of the outdoors that doesn’t drop off when the temperatures do.
For the romantic in all of us, ask your innkeeper about horse-drawn sleigh rides.
Never tried ice fishing for your snow sports activities? Wisconsin B&B owners can hook you up with gear and guides and maybe even a toasty warm ice fishing shanty.
One final tidbit: The first snowmobile sled was invented in Wisconsin by Sayner resident Carl Eliason. Today, the state has 25,000 miles of snowmobile trails and Eagle River is “The Snowmobile Capital of the World.”
Wisconsin family vacations are known to be legendary. With multiple generations gathering annually at a Wisconsin B&B in the style of a cabin, lodge, lake resort, country house, B&B or farmstead, it's sometimes enough to just be together.
Making family memories and finding a place and location that pleases all the family is easy when you choose a Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast Associaton member inn. Why? Well, not only are there a variety of B&B types and locations throughout the state, but the Innkeeper has a personal and genuine interest in helping make your family vacation one to remember and doing all they can to ensure a good time is had by all.
Many innkeepers provide those things for the family so you don't need to lug them along. Things like cots, pack & plays, booster seats, high chairs, lounge chairs, firepits, games, movies and more. Bikes, canoes, and other recreational equipment rental may also be available at some Inns. Simply ask your innkeeper how they can be of assistance. Comforts of the guest rooms, common areas, porches, patios and yards will be enjoyed. Similarly, ask your innkeeper for innsider tips on area activities that should not be missed. Think of them as your personal consierge. They love to share tips about the popular as well as the out of the way spots that shouldn't be missed.
Start the day with a hearty breakfast to fuel toddlers to grandparents for the fun ahead. Many innkeepers accommodate dietary restrictions and serving styles and times, so inquire. The other "B" in our name is breakfast, so a hot cup of coffee and a scrumptious breakfast is what our innkeepers delight in.
Although we may think of family vacations happening in the warm weather months, autumn and winter are magical times in Wisconsin for family travel too. Off-season may be met with greater availability and lower rates. Whether you find a full week or a long weekend in all of your schedules, don't miss the opportunity to experience fall or winter at a Wisconsin bed and breakfast. Think about the hiking, running, jumping and playing in the splendor of colored leaves and a warm campfire under the stars at night. Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, fat-tire biking and building snowmen together in the winter months will build memories for a lifetime. Start a new tradition, and consider holidays at a bed and breakfast!
Wisconsin family vacations, regardless of the time of year, is a tried-and-true way to reconnect with each other and the simple pleasures in life.
Wisconsin Hiking, Biking, & Running
Get out there and enjoy the great outdoors of Wisconsin!
Are you a backpacker, section hiker, or thru-hiker? Are you training for a half or full marathon, or perhaps the IRONMAN in Madison? Do you have a biking bucket list or an annual mile goal? Then the Wisconsin Hiking, Biking, & Running page is a great place to start your search for the perfect trail! No matter which of these categories you fall into, you’ll be pleased to know Wisconsin has more then 2,500 miles of hiking and running trails and more than 90 bike trails in the “rails-to-trails” system.
Did you know that of the 11 National Scenic Trails in the U.S., Wisconsin has one of them? Wisconsin hosts the Ice Age Trail. It's a 1,000+ mile trail that traces the last advance of the glacier that covered much of the state during the Ice Age. There are lots of Wisconsin B&Bs along the way, so get to work on achieving “Thousand Miler” status with the Ice Age Alliance.
There are many other popular Wisconsin hiking destinations to include in your search. There's Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo, or the northern and southern units of Kettle Moraine State Forest in Southeastern Wisconsin. How about Wyalusing State Park at the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers? Don't forget Timm’s Hill of Price County, which is the highest natural point in Wisconsin. There’s also the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in the Northern part of Wisconsin. Make sure Copper Falls State Park, a secluded waterfall hike, is on your list too while in the north.
For trail runners, try the 22-mile La Crosse River State Trail in Southwestern Wisconsin. Similarly, there's the 20-mile Old Abe State Trail in Northwestern Wisconsin or the 24-mile Sugar River State Trail in Southern Wisconsin. Any one of these will help with your distance running regime.
Our state is one of the crown jewels in the nation’s rails-to-trails conservancy program, with more than 90 Wisconsin bike trails in the system. These are former railroad corridors that have been converted into recreational trails. In 1965, the Elroy-Sparta State Trail became the first rail trail in the U.S. Most of Wisconsin’s 41 State Trails are rail trails. Try the Badger State Trail in south central Wisconsin. Or, the Glacial Drumlin State Trail in central Wisconsin. There's the Gandy Dancer State Trail in far Northwestern Wisconsin, and also the Ahnapee State Trail near Door County.
The League of American Bicyclists bestowed Platinum status on Madison as part of its Bicycle Friendly Community Program which ranks cities across the United State, with Madison joining just a handful of other cities to reach this impressive ranking.
Will it be the exercise challenge or the stunning scenery that takes your breath away? We'll guess both, and your search begins here on the Wisconsing Hiking, Biking, & Running trail page.
Water sports are pure joy in Wisconsin. Turn your gaze to the water on any given spring, summer or fall morning and you’ll see people gliding across mirror surfaces on kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard.
Let's start with a Wisconsin kayaking trip. One of the most spectacular places for Wisconsin kayaking is the ancient sandstone sea caves of Lake Superior. Lake Superior is the largest and most pristine of the Great Lakes. Also, you can find the Apostle Islands archipelago here. It's a string of 22 islands plus a 12-mile segment of shoreline that comprise the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
The other Great Lake, Lake Michigan, is popular for charter fishing. Furthermore, it's also popular for sailing, especially along the beautiful Door County peninsula.
The largest inland lake is Lake Winnebago, where boating and fishing are part of the warm weather lake culture.
Wisconsin’s stretch of the Mississippi River and the Great River Road provide scenery second to none, with lots of Wisconsin B&Bs dotting the road map. Enjoy a river cruise on the La Crosse Queen. Or, you can take the Cassville Car Ferry, one of the few operating car ferries on the Upper Mississippi River.
Locals and tourists alike enjoy a wide range of activities on Waupaca's Chain O' Lakes in Central Wisconsin. It ranges from quiet kayaking through Otter Lake to live music performances on a floating stage at Clearwater Harbor. Or, you can go by boat to play mini golf or bike the winding roads around the lakes to Hartman Creek State Park or a rustic state road. Fish, swim, tube, ski, boat, or jet ski the big lakes!
Essentially, you’ve not really vacationed in our state unless you’ve gotten out on the water. And there is no shortage of water or water sports in Wisconsin!