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.

Total eclipse of the heart (of America): where to see the 2017 solar eclipse

Total eclipse of the heart (of America): where to see the 2017 solar eclipse

Most visitors who trek through the vast interior of the USA are in search of natural wonders on the ground. But on August 21, 2017, they’ll be in search of a…

24 Nov 2016 • AnneLise Sorensen insert_drive_file Article
A Las Vegas survival guide: the dos and don’ts of Sin City

A Las Vegas survival guide: the dos and don’ts of Sin City

Few destinations can match the unbridled hedonism of Las Vegas. Nevada’s pulsating desert city, a tangle of neon-lit casinos and roaring freeways, is one of t…

16 Nov 2016 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
The dos and don'ts of Thanksgiving travel

The dos and don'ts of Thanksgiving travel

The only thing more challenging than an interminable turkey meal with a squabbling family? Getting there in the first place. Thanksgiving may kick off the mo…

11 Nov 2016 • AnneLise Sorensen insert_drive_file Article
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