As part of our journey to see all 50 states, my husband, Glen, and I recently spent 48 hours in Wisconsin.
We convinced my sister-in-law and brother-in-law to join us for the trip and the four us ate a lot of cheese, were extensively touristy, laughed a lot, and collectively had no regrets.
Interested in kicking off your own 50 state tour, or just want to go eat some cheese in Wisconsin? Follow along with our itinerary!
But be prepared that it is ridiculous. Straight up ridiculous.
Also, since I can’t turn my inner career coach off, there will be weird career development musings throughout.
Fly Me to Milwaukee
Glen and I flew from Boston to Milwaukee, leaving the kids with my parents for the weekend. We FaceTimed with them once while we were gone and quickly realized what FaceTiming with toddlers and preschoolers looks like from the other end.
It was a short flight to Milwaukee and we got in at 8:30pm. The first thing we noticed, everything was closed. Restaurants, stores, even the bathroom… locked up. You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.
So my first impression of Wisconsin is that they believe strongly in work life balance on the whole and want employees to get home to their families, or into Chili’s restaurants not located in the airport. If you’re job hunting, look for these tell tale signs of a positive company culture.
While waiting in line to get our rental car, I stopped by the brochure stand to see what 48 hours in Wisconsin could be all about. I had contributed literally nothing to this trip planning besides the pleasure of my company up until this point, and figured I should start pulling my weight.
Suites and Sweets
We stayed at Homewood Suites in downtown Milwaukee, a historic building known as the Button Block, where we were greeted with bottles of water and snacks. Two thumbs up for the history lessons and sweet and salty combined in one bag. I was already a fan.
We didn’t find the stairs in this hotel until a solid 24 hours in though. They were hidden behind a door as if to say “Guys, there’s an elevator right there. Just be efficient with your time please, you only have 48 hours in Wisconsin.”
Before locating the stairs though, we located a delightful restaurant called Sweetdiner that was so fancy. Beyond fancy. I drank kale and ate an omelet that I believe a higher power whipped up in the back.
In addition to the deliciousness, the place has a lovely ambiance that includes lots of exposed brick. Glen called this “brickerage” which isn’t a word, but should be.
Over our kale and carrot juice and pancakes that just wouldn’t quit, Glen and I started coming up with a life plan that involved us buying an old mill building with cool brickerage, naming it “The Brickerage” and then turning into apartments. While I doubt we will follow through on this, I hope someone does. The career lesson here, there are possibilities everywhere if you keep your eyes peeled, and your vocabulary flexible.
The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame Museum. No, really.
I wasn’t kidding when I said I wanted to go to the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum. Which is a real thing, established in February 2019.
We walked our way through the Historic Third Ward to get there, and then found ourselves surrounded by thousands of bobbleheads. Thousands!
Some important things to note about The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, and I’ll try to keep it brief but I could talk about this forever.
- There is a Home Alone bobblehead set here, that Mackuley Caulkin himself visited. If you know me at all you understand how happy this makes me.
- The two creators of the museum started it after building out their own bobblehead collection and uncovering a passion for sharing these gems with the world. Now creating, collecting, and displaying bobbleheads is their full-time job. Career Sweet Spot!!!
- The theme song is incredibly catchy and I’ll be singing it until I’m dead. That’s great marketing.
The Cheese Head Factory Tour
After a bite to eat at Merriment Social, surrounded by very delicious food, Spotted Cow beer, and many people levels cooler than us (including one guy rocking a fedora), we made our way to the Cheesehead Factory with expectations of eating some cheese. When in Wisconsin!
Yet upon arrival at the Cheesehead Factory we quickly learned that this was not a cheese factory tour, but very literally a Cheesehead Factory tour. Like, where they make the famous foam Wisconsin fan “Cheeseheads” popular at Green Bay Packers game.
As part of the tour we learned the history of the Cheesehead, saw the original Cheesehead made out of foam from a sofa, and then made our own cheesehead hats. It was so much fun that we forgot we didn’t get to eat cheese. At least for a little while, we ate cheese from the Milwaukee Public Market later. 10 stars, highly recommend.
But back to the Cheesehead Factory for a moment. I really wanted to sit down with each employee and learn about their career paths, but I didn’t because they were busy. Each employee there seemed to work the front desk, and manufacture Cheeseheads by hand, and give tours, and manage the inventory. They did all of the things and seemed genuinely into Cheeseheads.
Can you blame me for wanting to know what led them to a life of Cheeseheads that seemed to involve so many different skill sets? Next time, next time.
Decoding Missions and Eating Cheese Curds at The Safe House
For dinner, we made our way to The Safe House, a theme restaurant that includes spy paraphernalia, a password to get in that we still don’t know, and bomb cheese curds.
All of the waitstaff spoke in spy speak. “Have you decided what you would like to eat?” was “Have you finished decoding?” “That comes spicy, is that okay?” was “That mission packs high heat, are you willing to accept this challenge.” We were also all called “spy”, “agent,” or “operative.”
I have a feeling the waiters and waitresses there also moonlight as actors and they used this job to practice their skills. That’s smart career development right there.
Top three things I enjoyed about this place.
- The laughter
- The fake mustaches
- The aforementioned cheese curds.
The Lambeau Family Field
Last stop on our whirlwind tour of Wisconsin was Lambeau Field to watch the Denver Broncos take on the Green Bay Packers. This was a big part of the reasons we decided on Wisconsin for our trip this year, well aligned football schedules. Plus, as football fans, Lambeau Field is a historic landmark.
Unfortunately it was a landmark we couldn’t find.
We used two of our 48 hours in Wisconsin to drive north to Green Bay from Milwaukee, got off the exit confidently, and found ourselves driving by houses with extensive acreage. (And I’m just realizing right now that the word “acreage” is probably where Glen got the world “brickerage.”) The GPS told us that the field was just a couple miles away, so we drove on.
However, when got to .5 miles away and hadn’t seen another car for that past 5 minutes that seemed off. Also, there was no stadium in site.
We realized that our GPS has brought us to “a field” instead of “Lambeau Field.”
Perhaps it was the Lambeau family’s field? It was nice enough, but it did lack entertainment.
Go, Pack, Go!
Eventually we made it to Lambeau Field to watch the game.
If you are a football fan, it really is a cool experience to be at Lambeau with some seriously die hard NFL fanatics, who also happen to be some of the nicest people on the planet. We were decked out in full Broncos gear and the most we got was a gentle ribbing and kind smiles from the Packers fans.
The Broncos lost, which was sad for the three Broncos fans I was with, and for me because I was wearing a Broncos hat and love all three of them a great deal.
But it’s also always nice when the home team gets the w. So Go, Pack, Go!
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our 48 hours in Wisconsin on our journey to see the 50 states. Thanks for having us for state number 21, WI!
Where should we go next?
With love for 49 states and tolerance for Delaware,