When you think of Wisconsin, what comes to mind? Cheese? The Packers? There’s a lot more to the state, as I’ve discovered over the past few years during my travels.
Harley Davidson motorcycles, Jelly Belly jelly beans, and streetcars are just some of the intriguing attractions in the Badger State.
Also on our list of the most unique things to do in Wisconsin are quirky attractions, like a beer baron mansion, the world’s largest penny, and a museum dedicated to a specific condiment.
Follow along with my rundown of Quirky Travel Guy-approved Wisconsin sights, presented in random order.
15 Cool and Unique Things To Do in Wisconsin
Harley Davidson Museum (Milwaukee)
Even people who aren’t motorcycle fans will get a kick out of the Harley Davidson Museum, where you can view 100-year-old motorcycles, which look like street bicycles with small motors.
You’ll also see Harley-created military vehicles, Harley snowmobiles, and even a bedazzled, rhinestone-covered motorcycle from the Elvis era.
There are dozens of Harleys from the past several decades on display, and you can sit on some of them to create that perfect photo opportunity.
House on the Rock (Spring Green)
Basically, starting in 1945, a wealthy, eccentric man built a maze of rooms and buildings that contain classic toys, musical instruments, Rube Goldberg machines, a sea creature larger than the Statue of Liberty, and a giant carousel that is purportedly the world’s largest.
The House on a Rock is almost impossible to describe with words alone. Just rest assured that’s full of odd toys and decorations and things that will blow your mind.
Jelly Belly (Pleasant Prairie)
There are dozens of flavors here, and you can ask for free samples of the ones you’d like to try. If you’re adventurous, try oddball flavors like cantaloupe, beer, pancakes with syrup, and cappuccino.
If you’re really adventurous, try some of the gross jelly bean flavors like dog food, ear wax, soap, and vomit. Yep, those are actual Jelly Belly flavors. You haven’t lived until you’ve tasted a vomit-flavored Jelly Belly bean!
Explore the State Capitol Area (Madison)
With a bunch of cool neighborhoods and the state university campus, Wisconsin’s capital city of Madison has a lot going for it. I was particularly impressed by the area surrounding the capitol building.
Within just two blocks of the capitol, you can find live music venues, pizza parlors, taverns, book stores, and attractions like the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and Madison Children’s Museum.
Many other state capitals do not offer this level of excitement in the immediate vicinity. Here’s a longer list of activities and sights in Madison.
The Sputnik IV Crash Site (Manitowoc)
In 1960, the Russians launched Sputnik IV into space. Two years later, a small piece of the craft fell to earth and landed right in the middle of downtown Manitowoc.
That event has been marked with a small plaque on the street where the fragment crashed. The city embraces its Sputnik connection by holding Sputnikfest each fall. It’s a full-day event with music, art, and family activities.
Bronze Fonz Statue (Milwaukee)
The “Bronze Fonz” is a statue of Henry Winkler as Arthur Fonzarelli from the ’70s sitcom Happy Days. It’s a lifesize statue, standing five and a half feet tall, which is how tall Winkler stands.
The statue is located right along the Milwaukee Riverwalk, so anyone visiting downtown Milwaukee can easily find it. He’s giving his famous thumbs-up gesture.
Giant Pink Elephant (DeForest)
One of the most well-known roadside attractions in America is the giant pink elephant off I-90 just north of Madison. It is literally just a big pink elephant statue in a Shell gas station parking lot.
The elephant has been here since the 1960s. It’s the last remaining of several gas station elephants in the area. For those who love quirky Americana, make sure to pull over here to get a few selfies with the elephant!
National Bobblehead Hall of Fame (Milwaukee)
I know I’m featuring a lot of Milwaukee attractions on this list, but there’s no way I can leave the National Bobblehead Museum off the list! It’s an entire museum dedicated to the bobblehead toy.
Many of the museum’s bobbleheads are athletes, which makes sense, since the bobblehead gained fame as a sports collectible. But the museum also has bobbleheads of the casts from Big Bang Theory and Duck Dynasty, and many other celebs from pop culture.
Vintage Streetcars (Kenosha)
Electric streetcars returned to the city of Kenosha in the year 2000, 68 years after they went away.
The single streetcar rail line covers two miles, taking visitors from the Metra train station through the business district and over to the shores of Lake Michigan.
Kenosha’s streetcars are cool because they are painted to resemble vintage streetcars in cities where they were hugely popular in the early 1900s, like Toronto, Chicago and Pittsburgh. Kenosha is a really offbeat city!
National Mustard Museum (Middleton)
Is there really a museum dedicated to mustard? You betcha. It holds more than 6000 different mustards from every state and 70+ countries. It’s clearly one of the most unique things to do in Wisconsin. And it’s totally free to visit!
The Mustard Museum opened in 1992 and moved to its current location just outside Madison in 2009.
Milwaukee’s Summerfest is technically the biggest music festival in the world, with nearly two weeks of live music featuring over 800 bands.
The event has brought in world class acts like Stevie Wonder, Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar, and Sheryl Crow.
I will never forget the summer that I attended a bucket list concert when I saw the Rolling Stones at Summerfest. It was an unforgettable experience.
Pro tip for those looking to save on parking at Summerfest: Park for free in the hip Walker’s Point neighborhood and make the 20-minute walk over to Marcus Amphitheater.
World’s Largest Penny (Woodruff)
Head up the northern Wisconsin to see the world’s largest penny! The penny is 10 feet in diameter and weighs more than 17,000 pounds.
It was created in 1953 and has been on display for seven decades! Visitors to the area always stop by the take a picture with the giant penny.
Pabst Mansion (Milwaukee)
The Pabst Mansion was built, as you might expect, for the founder of Pabst beer. It was built back in 1892, and today offers tours to guests eager to see the preserved interior.
At one time, the mansion had 14 fireplaces and more than 60 rooms. Take a tour to see how opulent folks lived more than a century ago.
Snowmobile Hall of Fame (St. Germain)
Find the Snowmobile Hall of Fame in the small community of St. Germain. It’s up in northern Wisconsin, exactly the part of the state where you’d expect snowmobile usage to beat its highest.
The museum features displays honoring Hall of Fame inductees over the years. You can also see some of the coolest snowmobiles in existence. It’s only open Thursday through Saturday, so plan accordingly.
Wisconsin Campgrounds (statewide)
Campgrounds aren’t necessarily unique, but trees cover more than 40% of the Badger State, so truly experiencing the state means taking part in one of the many Wisconsin camping opportunities.
Getting a chance to relax, pitch a tent, roll out a sleeping bag and do some grilling in the forest is always a great way to recharge the batteries.
I’ve been camping at a few different spots in the state and once even got to observe a deer for quite some time while I sat inside my van.
Wisconsin has roughly 4,900 official campsites across the state, serving backpackers, families, large groups, and individuals with disabilities.
Which of these unique things to do in Wisconsin would you most like to visit?