Nearly as many cows as humans call WISCONSIN home; more than five million of each reside in this rich, rolling farmland. However, America’s self-proclaimed “Dairyland” is more than just one giant pasture. Beyond the massive hills, red barns and silvery silos lie endless pine forests, some fifteen thousand sky-blue lakes, postcard-pretty valleys and dramatic bluffs. The state, whose Ojibway name means “gathering of the waters”, is bordered by Lake Michigan to the east, Lake Superior in the north and, to the west, the Mississippi and St Croix rivers.

The history of Wisconsin is a familiar one in the American narrative of westward expansion. Seventeenth-century French and British explorers began by trading with the Native Americans and soon ousted them from their land. The European settlers who followed – predominantly Germans, Scandinavians and Poles – tended to be liberal and progressive; such major national social programmes as labour laws for women and children, assistance for the elderly and the disabled, and unemployment compensation found their first manifestation in the USA right here.

Wisconsin today is best known for its liquids. The milk from all those cattle yields cheeses of all kinds, while the beer, as the song says, is what made Milwaukee famous. Sparkling Madison apart, Wisconsin’s other cities can veer toward the quiet and tame side, but they’re also safe and amiable.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

7 places to get off the tourist trail in New York City

7 places to get off the tourist trail in New York City

Ticked off New York City’s big sights and wondering where to go next? From sinking a pint in Brooklyn's Red Hook to sampling Italian delicacies in The Bronx, …

11 Apr 2017 • Stephen Keeling insert_drive_file Article
In search of the real Wild West on America's Great Plains

In search of the real Wild West on America's Great Plains

Wild West – we all feel something when we see or hear those words. But why? How much is true and how much is fantasy? Our editor Neil McQuillian took to the (…

06 Apr 2017 • Neil McQuillian local_activity Special feature
15 of the most beautiful places in Alaska

15 of the most beautiful places in Alaska

With mountains to climb, rivers to raft, glaciers to coo over and a bevy of bears to photograph, Alaska is the ultimate wilderness – and this year is the per…

30 Mar 2017 • Sarah Reid camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month