Uncovering Wisconsin's Hidden Gems: Traveling by Fork

Photo by Travel Wisconsin

No matter your reason for travel—adventure, relaxation, culture, or entertainment—the good news is that you always have to eat! Personally, culinary travel is a top motivator for booking a trip.

If traveling by fork through Wisconsin has you thinking beer and cheese, you’re not wrong. But you’re also not all the way right. Certainly, we’re known as America’s Dairyland for a reason, and we’re recognized worldwide as a leader in brewing. But our proud agricultural heritage means there’s a lot more to Wisconsin’s food and drink story. In fact, Wisconsin was doing farm-to-table long before its rise as a mainstream culinary trend. For Wisconsinites, farm-to-table isn’t even a trend. We just call it eating. So this summer, grab your crew, pack an appetite, and make some memories savoring Wisconsin’s fresh spin on food, drink, and dining experiences.

Photograph provided by Travel Wisconsin

Pizza Farms
For a unique Wisconsin farm-to-table meal, visit one the state’s beautiful and immersive pizza farms. What’s a pizza farm, you ask? There are several Wisconsin farms where you can enjoy pizza made with local and fresh ingredients grown right on the farm. If it tastes like the ingredients were picked earlier that day, it’s because they probably were.

Don’t miss Suncrest Gardens Pizza Farm in Cochrane, nestled amidst the rolling hills of western Wisconsin. Enjoy their scrumptious Italian wood-fired pizzas inside the rustic barn or picnic style next to the blooming gardens. Stroll around the farm and visit the farm animals in their pastoral settings or pick a bouquet of flowers from the u-pick flower garden. After dinner, grab a s’mores kit and enjoy dessert by the fire or grab a local beer or wine and groove to the live music in this truly unique atmosphere. You can even stay at the farmhouse for the weekend to keep the fun going!

Other great spots to check out include Stoney Acres Farms in Athens, where you can also pick up some fresh produce and artisan cheese on your way out, and The Stone Barn in Nelson has scrumptious ice cream to top off your meal.

Photograph provided by Travel Wisconsin

Supper Clubs
You probably already have your favorite local supper club, but don’t miss a chance to discover another classic Wisconsin staple as you travel throughout the state.

If you haven’t visited the iconic Ishnala Supper Club in Lake Delton yet, put it on your bucket list now. Located in the middle of beautiful Mirror Lake State Park, a long winding road takes you through hundreds of acres of meadow and forest, where you’ll find the restaurant perched above the shore of tranquil Mirror Lake. They’re known for their vast menu, picturesque dining room, and for making a mean old-fashioned. In fact, in 2021, Ishnala broke its record for old-fashioneds sold, pouring a total of 93,738 delicious drinks—that averages out to 455 old-fashioneds per day! This record nearly doubled its previous record, set in 2019.

Another option known for its award-winning flavors, exceptional ingredients, and spectacular scenery is The Red Cabin at Green Acres Bar & Supper Club in Fond du Lac. Make sure to save room for dessert, as rumor has it that they make the best bread pudding in all of Wisconsin. Don’t take my word for it; check it out for yourself.

One more supper club with a can’t miss view is Sunset Bay Supper Club in Phillips. Grab a table inside or on the outdoor patio and witness the beautiful setting sun over Solberg Lake while enjoying traditional Wisconsin supper club fare.

Photograph provided by Travel Wisconsin

Festivals
Wisconsin’s spirited nature shines through at our many events and festivals, and we truly do have a festival for nearly any theme.

I look forward to the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis every year, and you can’t attend the Wisconsin State Fair without partaking in one of the most iconic Wisconsin traditions: sinking your teeth into a fresh baked cream puff! Cream puffs are an absolute must, but there’s a lot more state fair fare to enjoy with around 200 concession stands serving more than 800 different food and drink items. Gooey, deep fried, on a stick, or otherwise, there’s always something new to discover. Mark your calendars for August 4 through 14.

Looking for something a little more unique? Join herds of festivalgoers for a tradition more than 50 years strong, Beef-a-Rama, which takes place the last Saturday in September in Minocqua. You guessed it, there’s a beef eating contest and a roasting competition along with live music, games, and more. Cow costumes are optional (but encouraged).

And don’t miss a chance to celebrate Wisconsin’s state fruit at Warrens Cranberry Festival the last full weekend in September. Wisconsin produces more cranberries than any other state in the nation as well as more than half of the entire world’s supply, so we know a thing or two about how to enjoy the bouncing berry. Dig right into the action and enter the cranberry-chiffon-pie-eating contest or slowly taste your way through the more than 100 food booths, where you can enjoy a wide range of cranberry-inspired treats, including cranberry kettle corn and deep-fried cranberries on a stick. Grab a cup of cranberry coffee to keep you fueled while you explore more than three miles of shopping at the festival, including farmers’ market booths, a flea market, and handmade arts and crafts.

This is just a small taste of what Wisconsin’s culinary scene has to offer. Whether you’re looking for something quirky and casual or fine dining inspired by Wisconsin’s locally grown ingredients prepared by award-winning chefs, you’re bound to discover something delicious no matter where your travels take you throughout the state. Here’s to getting to know a place one bite at a time and sharing it with those who mean the most to you. For more ideas to travel Wisconsin by fork, visit travelwisconsin.com .

Anne Sayers is the secretary-designee at Wisconsin Department of Tourism.


Beef-a-Rama
vilaswi.com

Ishnala Supper Club
ishnala.com

Red Cabin at Green Acres Bar and Supper Club
redcabingreenacres.com

The Stone Barn
thenelsonstonebarn.com

Stoney Acres Farm
stoneyacres.farm

Suncrest Gardens Farm
suncrestgardensfarm.com

Sunset Bay Supper Club
sunsetbaysupperclub.com

Warrens Cranberry Festival
cranfest.com

Wisconsin State Fair
wistatefair.com