Photo by Rachel Hershberger,

150 Years

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, Pepin

The beloved children’s author Laura Ingalls Wilder was born north of Pepin in northwest Wisconsin in the Big Woods region of Wisconsin. She would have been 150 this year. Her first book, “Little House in the Big Woods,” chronicled the story of her pioneer childhood and was published in 1932. Her eight “Little House” books are considered the ultimate depiction of late 19th century pioneering life on the American frontier. Pepin even fetes the famous author annually during the Laura Ingalls Wilder Days festival, this year held on September 9-10. Families can enjoy traditional crafts such as blacksmithing, woodworking and handspinning, as well as live music, a spelling bee and the popular Laura “dress-alike” contest. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum season runs through October 15.,


Pepin is one of 33 charming river towns along the 250-mile Great River Road. Motor along this National Scenic Byway for panoramic views of the mighty Mississippi River.

125 Years

The Milwaukee County Zoo, Milwaukee In 1892, the Milwaukee County Zoo opened in downtown Milwaukee’s Washington Park. Now located a few miles west of the city, the current site of 200 acres has been used since 1958. More than 3,300 mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles call the zoo home, and it houses one of the largest zoo-born groups of bonobos, a highly-endangered species of great ape. Two ropes courses and a 500-foot zip line also operate there in fall, spring and summer. The zoo is also open year-round.


The Milwaukee Public Market in downtown’s Historic Third Ward is a unique foodie destination. Enjoy a lobster roll at St. Paul Fish Company, or, stock up on handmade sausages, brats and artisan cheeses at the West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe, which has served the Dairy State for more than 30 years.

115 Years

Mader’s German  restaurant, Milwaukee: The majority of Milwaukee’s residents were German in 1902 when Charles Mader started serving up homeland favorites in his restaurant like sauerbraten, wiener schnitzel, pork shank, oxtail soup, liver dumpling soup and red cabbage. Today’s customers enjoy many of the same delicacies, as well as the vast collection of beer steins and Hummel figurines.


Arthur Davidson was just 20 years old in 1901 when he started creating a motor-driven bicycle with his friend William Harley. The Harley-Davidson Museum showcases such company history, its infamous cycles and the passion of its riders.

100 Years

The Wisconsin State  Capitol, Madison The core of our state’s government, Wisconsin’s capitol building is the only one with a granite dome in the U.S. Once inside, look up to see the “Resources of Wisconsin” ceiling dome mural featuring 12 women holding state products such as lead, tobacco and wheat. Free tours are offered seven days a week, too (check the website for times).  A special Wisconsin Historical Society 20-panel exhibit called “A Century of Stories” will be in the capitol’s rotunda as a centerpiece of a year-long birthday celebration.


Kitty-corner from the capitol is the Madison Children’s Museum with hands-on exhibits, an art studio, water feature, imaginative play area with a suspended bridge and a scenic rooftop green space with chickens.

100 Years

Camp Randall Stadium, Madison Long before the University of Wisconsin– Madison Badger football team battled at Camp Randall, more than 70,000 Civil War Union troops were trained on the grounds. Confederate soldiers were also detained there. After its training ground days, intercollegiate football began on the lower part of the UW campus in 1889. In 1917, the Badgers won 34-0 over Minnesota in the first game played there. The stadium is the fourth oldest in the nation and is named for Wisconsin’s first wartime governor, Alexander W. Randall. Stadium tours can be scheduled online.


When the kids scream for ice cream, go where food scientists from UW–Madison have studied and perfected production. The Babcock Hall Dairy Store sells ice cream, award-winning cheeses and bottled milk.

50 Years

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center,  Sheboygan Four million people have been reached through extensive programming for all ages and abilities at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. Register for classes and workshops through year-end, and learn such skills as woodblock printing, book binding, ballet for children, pickling and canning, drawing, ceramics, pine needle basketry or beer making. A wide variety of contemporary art is for sale at the ARTspace gallery store.


Hike amidst fall colors, majestic sand dunes and beaches with panoramic lake views at Kohler-Andrae State Park. Or learn all about Native American structures at Sheboygan Indian Mounds Park.

20 Years

Monona Terrace, Madison The Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center opened in 1997 after 60 years of debate and planning. The exterior building plans were originally proposed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1938 and showcased a curvilinear design to link the shore of Lake Monona to the state capitol. Monona Terrace extends 90 feet out over the lake, showcasing the architect’s signature one-with-nature design. Free tours are offered.


When the weather allows, order your meal to go, grab a blanket and hike out onto Picnic Point, an almost mile-long peninsula and nature preserve along Lake Mendota’s southern shore.

Brewed To Last

Wisconsinites love their beer—visit these breweries that are celebrating anniversaries, and propose a toast.

Stevens Point Brewery, Stevens Point

Brewery history in Wisconsin is best understood by visiting Stevens Point Brewery, which is one of the oldest continuously operating breweries in the U.S. at 160 years old. Well-known for their award-winning Point Special Lager, the brewery also sells gourmet soda, like Point Premium Root Beer.


For different sensory experiences, stop by the tasting room of the Sunset Point Winery, or dine supper-club style on German specialties at Bernard’s Country Inn, which celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2018.,

Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Chippewa Falls

Jacob Leinenkugel’s vision in 1867 was to utilize the German brewing traditions of his homeland to create a wide range of Germaninspired beers in the logging town of Chippewa Falls. One hundred and fifty years later, the sixth generation of Leinenkugels brew some of the same family recipes. Brewery tours begin at the Leinie Lodge, which has vintage brewing equipment, historic photos and Leinie souvenirs.


Celebrate the 15th year of Oktoberfest in Chippewa Falls from September 15-17. There will be eclectic entertainment such as euchre card  tournaments, sauerkraut eating competitions and polka bands.

Shipwrecked Brewery, Door County

Shipwrecked Brewery is Door County’s oldest microbrewery, clocking in at 20 years old. The Shipwrecked Brew Pub & Inn site has a rich and sometimes shady history, including having been a favorite hiding spot for gangster Al Capone. The restaurant serves hand-crafted Door County beers such as Door County Cherry Wheat, Lighthouse Light and Peninsula Porter.


The Cookery restaurant in Fish Creek celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The smoked whitefish spread and whitefish chowder are must-haves, as well as anything on the menu with cherries. A second floor wine bar offers a view of the Fish Creek Harbor.

This article originally appeared in the 2017 fall/winter issue of Experience Wisconsin magazine. The contents of this article were checked for accuracy when it was published; however, it’s possible some of the information has changed. We recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the destinations, attractions or restaurants mentioned in this article.

No portion of this article or magazine may be reproduced without prior written permission by the publisher.


Freelance writer Cindy Crain Newman lives in Racine County where she enjoys and writes about the hidden treasures of the Great Lakes.

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