We awoke the last morning in Michigan excited. While it was sad to leave Michigan where we had a lot of good times we were very excited to move on to a new state. From Marquette our first stop in Wisconsin was Green Bay, which was about a 2.5 hour drive. Off we went through the last non-stop pines of the Upper Peninsula and finally reached the Wisconsin line. After going through a small town on the border we were on a highway speeding towards our first actual city in quite a while.
Green Bay was the first city that we would be going to that Julie had been to before and I had not. She had traveled there a few years prior for work so she had warned me that while Green Bay was a city, it wasn’t all that big. I thought that while that might be true, they do have a NFL franchise so they cant be too tiny. We arrived and found parking in a neighborhood across the Fox River from downtown and started to walk around. It was just our luck that we found parking where we did as a Thursday farmers market was just starting. The main street in the neighborhood had been closed off and all of the tents with produce and other goods were just about done setting up. We wandered around picking up a few goods to put back in the van before stopping at a cigar lounge for a cocktail and cigar (we are on a quasi vacation after all). When we were finished we decided to walk over the bridge and into downtown. It looked like the town had just been through a major revitalization process with all new apartment/condo buildings and a boardwalk lining the riverfront. On a main square in the city were statues and a timeline of the Green Bay Packers history. It seemed that most things in this town were geared toward the 10 or so dates that the Packers had home games in this city.
From downtown the only logical place to go was to check out Lambeau Field. We drove over and to get there for most people you drive through neighborhoods then seemingly out of nowhere pops up this huge football stadium. As it was a weekday in the off season we were able to park right next to the stadium and walk directly into the team store located on the outside of the building. To say the store was huge would be a disservice to it. The store was massive. It was hard to see all the way across. All you could see was the team colors of green and yellow on jerseys, shirts, hats, pictures, and every other product under the sun. From there we walked up into the main atrium. For those of you that have been to NFL games (and especially for those that have seen a game played on this field) it was awesome. It made our home team Buffalo Bills stadium look like a glorified high school field. The atrium was multiple stories high with the entrance to the seats right in front of us. As it was closed and tours were done for the day we couldn’t see anything but it was cool to be inside nonetheless. From there we said goodbye to Green Bay got in Bubbles and went to a small Lake Michigan town of Two Rivers to spend the night.
The next morning we woke up ready to go. We were going to spend the next few days in Milwaukee with our friends Dave & Jen. We were only about an hour away so in no time at all we went from sleepy lakeside town to the bustling neighborhoods of Milwaukee. For those who have never been (as both Julie & I had not) we had not heard too much at all about the city. We thought that probably due to its proximity to Chicago it’s usually overlooked. Milwaukee however has a lot going for it. We were able to park Bubbles right in front of Dave & Jen’s apartment, put some of our things into their guest room and said hi to their dachshund Nathan, cat Batman and set off for the day. First up for the day was a tour of the Miller Beer Company. Miller has been in Milwaukee for a long time and their campus is called “Miller Valley”. We signed up for a tour and were treated to a short video on the company’s history and a walk through their brewing, bottling and historic beer caves. Lastly and the best part of the tour was the tasting deck! We were able to choose from a number of Miller beers and were able to choose 2 each. Bottoms up for us! Next up was a local burger joint called Kopp’s which is famous for their butter burgers (hamburger made using a lot of butter on the grill and a toasted & buttered bun) as well as their custard. We then took a walk around Milwaukee exploring the riverfront and taking in a few drinks at local establishments before calling it quits for the night.
The next day we woke up and had big plans. We had rented a pontoon boat for the early afternoon and would be able to drive it up and down the Milwaukee River. After a great breakfast of delicious beef bacon (who knew that existed and its delicious) we packed a cooler and we were off. After signing our lives away we were off and on the river. We slowly moved down the river past skyscrapers sipping drinks and watching people look at us from the buildings and sidewalks. On occasion a bridge would open up as a bigger boat would pass. This was a bit of a spectacle as in downtown Milwaukee the drawbridges do not split in the middle and each section go straight in the air. In Milwaukee the entire bridge just gets raised straight in the air. Its very different and a cool thing to see. We eventually reached the lake which was a bit choppy for our little vessel and turned around, stopping at a pub and picking up some of Dave & Jen’s friends for a bit before returning the boat. This was a great time and we would highly recommend any tourists (or locals) who live there to do this. For dinner that night we wanted sushi & bbq. Strange combo but it works. We ended up stopping at a ramen place by accident and instead of having a sushi appetizer opted for wings instead. We then walked over to Pitch’s Lounge for their Milwaukee famous ribs. They were fall off the bone delicious. It was an end to a great day in the city.
The next day as much as we wanted to stay in Milwaukee it was time to move on. Next destination was the capitol of Madison. It was only a 2-hour drive, so it seemed that we made it in a flash. In addition to being the capitol, Madison is also home to the main campus for the University of Wisconsin. Since we were there on a Saturday the town was buzzing with activity. Even though school was not in session it sure didn’t seem that way. People were everywhere on the main street with every shop open and every café full. We walked to the University first walking around for a bit before walking all the way back down the main street and into the Wisconsin Capitol building. We were able to take a tour and learned from the tour guide that one of the previous capitol buildings was heated by keeping pigs in the basement and using their body heat to heat the building. Such a strange but interesting fact it was. We were glad that the current building had a modern heating system. From there we hopped back into Bubbles and made our way to the resort town of Wisconsin Dells for the night. The next morning we woke up wanting to explore the town for a bit. We didn’t really know what to expect since we were in the woods of central Wisconsin but after some quick online sleuthing we found out that we were in the “Water Park Capital of the World”. From the campsite we drove into town and were just blown away. If any of you have been to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls or a New Jersey boardwalk just imagine that, the most touristy place you could ever imagine then reimagine it being 10 times bigger. That is Wisconsin Dells. The town actually does have some actual beauty with it sitting on the Wisconsin River, which has some neat sandstone carved rocks on it. That really isn’t why people come though. They come for the huge Greek themed waterpark; the all you can eat buffet restaurants or the 25 tee shirt shops lining the downtown streets. After our fill of wandering in the same store 25 times over we thought that we should hit the road. If you have kids ages 6 and up they would love it in Wisconsin Dells.
The original plan was to drive straight into Minnesota however since we were only a few hours from Iowa and thought that we probably would not go there otherwise we should go there now then drive up and into Minnesota. So we were off to our one and only stop in Iowa, Dubuque! After about a 2-hour drive (and crossing the Mississippi River) we were there. Dubuque is an old river town. As we arrived on a Sunday most things in the downtown were shut down. It was still neat to walk around and down the streets with each building constructed of brick and a view of the Mississippi at every cross street. We learned while walking around that Dubuque was popular with tourists (as incredible as that sounds) because it is one of the only Iowa cities with actual hills and a riverfront. While having the hills part was true and it was a nice enough looking city I’m not sure how many other tourists were there walking around. They did have a great chocolate and wine bar that Julie and I stopped at to grab a few chocolates; they were delicious. After getting our fill of chocolate we hopped back into Bubbles and made our way to the north central part of the state to camp for the night.
Next up we head to Minnesota and our first adventure in North Dakota!