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Are you planning a road trip to Wisconsin and looking for some unique and quirky attractions to visit along the way? Look no further than Wisconsin’s roadside attractions! From the World’s Largest Fish in Hayward to the House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin has a variety of offbeat and fascinating sights to see.
Roadside attractions have been a staple of American road trips for decades, and Wisconsin is no exception. Whether you’re interested in folk art, science fiction landscapes, or giant animal statues, there’s something for everyone in Wisconsin. Take a break from the highway and explore some of the state’s hidden gems that will make your trip even more memorable.
Let me introduce you to some of the must-see roadside attractions in Wisconsin. I’ll provide you with a list of offbeat stops that will expand your love of the state and make your road trip even more exciting. So buckle up and get ready to discover some of Wisconsin’s weirdest and wildest roadside attractions!
If you are looking for some out-of-the-ordinary stops during your road trip in Wisconsin, then you should definitely check out these quirky landmarks that will surely expand your love for this state.
1) Sputnik 4 Crash Site
Located in Manitowoc, the Sputnik 4 Crash Site is a unique roadside attraction that commemorates the crash of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik IV spacecraft in 1962. Due to a rocket malfunction, the satellite drifted in space for years before falling out of its orbit and crashing in the rural area of Manitowoc.
The site features a historical marker, a replica of the satellite, and a small museum that showcases artifacts related to the space race. It’s a fascinating place to visit for space enthusiasts and history buffs alike.
2) World’s Largest Penny
If you are passing through Woodruff in the northern part of the state, you should make a stop at the World’s Largest Penny. This roadside attraction is a giant replica of a 1953-D Lincoln penny, which stands over 17 feet tall and weighs over 13,000 pounds.
The penny was created to commemorate the town’s centennial celebrations in 1988 and has since become a popular photo spot for visitors. It’s a fun and quirky landmark that will definitely catch your attention.
3) World’s Largest Fish
Another quirky landmark that you should not miss is the World’s Largest Fish in Hayward. This 143-foot-long fiberglass sculpture of a musky fish is hard to miss and has become an iconic symbol of the town.
The sculpture was built in 1979 and has since been attracting visitors from all over the world. You can take a photo with the giant fish or even climb up to its mouth for a unique perspective.
4) World’s Tallest Grandfather Clock
Standing tall at 35 feet and 10 inches, the World’s Tallest Grandfather Clock in Kewaunee is an eye-catching landmark located at the trailhead for the Ahnappee State Trail along the scenic harbor in downtown Kewaunee (322 Milwaukee St.).
Erected in 1976 as a gift to the city, this towering timepiece not only serves as a unique timekeeping device but also as a charming tourist attraction. In 2014, it underwent restoration and was relocated to its present location, where it continues to capture the attention of visitors.
5) World’s Largest Cone Top Beer Can
The influence of G. Heileman’s legacy extends far beyond La Crosse, about 100 miles south to Potosi, where a 40-foot-tall silo has been creatively transformed into a colossal replica of a 1950s Good Old Potosi cone-top beer can.
The La Crosse brewery was the pioneer in producing cone-top cans back in 1935, and this gigantic homage stands proudly across from the revived Potosi Brewing Co., which was brought back to life by the small town in 2008. The complex across the street not only houses the brewery but also features a brewpub and the National Brewery Museum, home to a remarkable collection of original cone-top cans.
6) World’s Largest Six Pack
Nestled outside City Brewery at 925 S. Third St. in La Crosse, you’ll discover an extraordinary sight: the World’s Largest Six Pack. These towering structures are actually a set of aging tanks, but they are adorned with vinyl covers that replicate the appearance of the brewery’s La Crosse Lager brand, creating the illusion of a colossal six-pack of beer. In the past, these tanks sported the image of G. Heileman Brewing Co.’s Old Style beer, brewed on-site until the brewery’s closure in 1996.
7) World’s Heaviest Ball of Twine
South of Lake Nebagamon in Douglas County resides a fascinating creation that has been growing for over three decades. Known as the world’s heaviest ball of twine, this colossal marvel weighed an impressive 23,675 pounds in 2020, according to Roadside America.
The twine ball was meticulously crafted by James Frank Kotera, also known as JFK, who began this ambitious project in his backyard at 8009 S. Oakdale Road in 1979. It’s a true testament to human determination and ingenuity.
8) The Hodag
In 1896, Eugene “Gene” Shepard, a timberman, conjured up the legendary creature known as the Hodag—a fearsome beast with the body of a dragon, menacing horns, and a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. This mythological creature has endured through the years, even becoming the mascot of the local high school.
Throughout Rhinelander, you’ll find statues of the Hodag, but one of the most prominent and photo-worthy stands proudly outside the Chamber of Commerce at 450 W. Kemp St., which also provides a list of other Hodag statue locations for enthusiasts to explore.
9) World’s Largest Soup Kettle
A heartwarming community tradition that began in 1919, the Russell family’s free Soup Sunday at their cottage on Silver Lake has evolved into an annual event hosted by the Lions Club every August.
While the giant kettle on display along Highway 8 south of Mill Road doesn’t actually cook soup, it stands as a symbol of this beloved community gathering. This oversized kettle serves as a reminder of the warmth and togetherness that defines this event, making it a cherished fixture in Laona.
10) World’s Largest Talking Cow
You will want to meet Chatty Belle, a 16-foot-tall and 20-foot-long fiberglass Holstein. Originally created for Wisconsin’s exhibit at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, this bovine beauty now resides at 1201 Division St. in Neillsville, near the Wisconsin Pavilion from the fair.
Chatty Belle has a unique feature—a quarter inserted into a box at her base will bring her to life with conversation. It’s a fun and interactive way to pay a visit to this giant talking cow.
Other Big Cows:
Wisconsin boasts several other impressive bovine statues worth mentioning. You can find Bernice at the Cedar Crest Ice Cream Factory & Parlor (2000 S. 10th St., Manitowoc), Bessie at 3501 Milton Ave. (Janesville), Sissy outside Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet (4879 County Road V, DeForest), and Dutchess at Marieke Gouda (200 W. Liberty Drive, Thorp). These charming cows add to the state’s quirky and delightful roadside attractions, each with its own unique charm and personality.
11) World’s Largest Bicyclist
Sparta proudly holds the title of the “Bicycle Capital of America,” and its enthusiasm for cycling is embodied in the impressive “World’s Largest Bicyclist” statue. This towering monument stands a towering 32 feet tall and features “Ben Bikin” atop a 19th-century penny-farthing bicycle, also known as a high wheel, characterized by its large front wheel and smaller rear wheel.
You can find this colossal cyclist at 101 E. Wisconsin St., located approximately half a mile north of the western trailhead for the Elroy-Sparta State Trail. This trail is particularly noteworthy as it’s considered the first rail-trail in the United States, making the statue’s placement even more meaningful to the town’s cycling heritage.
12) Boris the Black Bull
Boris, the imposing 12-foot-tall black fiberglass steer that has been a steadfast presence in Wautoma for half a century. Boris’s unwavering presence was briefly interrupted in 2014 when a drunk driver toppled him. Fortunately, Boris was lovingly repaired and now stands tall once more.
To prevent any further mishaps, pylons have been strategically placed around him as protective guardians. You can pay your respects to Boris at the Silvercryst Resort, located at w7015 WI-21, Wautoma, WI. He’s situated on the east side of town, on the south side of WI-21, just after you pass between the two lakes.
13) World’s Largest Badger
Once a proud fixture at the Badger Country gas station, the world’s largest badger in Birnamwood has undergone some interesting transformations over the years. In the late 1990s, the gas station changed its identity to become the Northern Exposure Gentleman’s Club, marked by new signage promising “Hot Girls” and “Ladies Get in Free.”
The badger, previously seen poking up from the top of the Badger Country gift store, has seen a significant change as well. Now, only its shoulders and clawed paws emerge from a small mound of dirt by the roadside, creating the illusion of a buried badger waving for help. You can find this unique roadside sight at Hwy 45, Birnamwood, WI, located 5 miles north of Birnamwood on the east side of Hwy 45, just outside of the Northern Exposure Gentleman’s Club.
14) Large Mechanical Wolf
Bayfield, Wisconsin, boasts an intriguing outdoor sculpture—a giant mechanical wolf crafted from recycled plastic bottles, egg cartons, and assorted salvaged materials. This animated wolf offers a unique interactive experience. Pulling a rope causes the wolf to howl, and pedaling a stationary bike spins a globe inside its gullet.
You can find this captivating creation at Howl Adventure Center Bike Shop, 35265 S. Co Hwy J, Bayfield, WI. It’s visible on the west side of WI-13, approximately a mile south of Bayfield. Visitors, especially kids, are sure to have a blast with this unique piece of art.
15) Pinkie the Elephant
For travelers journeying along I-90/94 and seeking a unique roadside attraction, DeForest, Wisconsin, has something special to offer—Pinkie the Pink Elephant. Situated near the Shell Station off Highway V, this massive fiberglass sculpture has become an iconic landmark in the area.
Pinkie the Pink Elephant is hard to overlook, with its distinctive hipster black-rimmed glasses and eye-catching appearance. What initially began as a creative way to attract customers to the gas station has transformed into a beloved selfie spot for passersby and visitors alike.
16) Lincoln Legs
In Aniwa, Wisconsin, you’ll encounter a whimsical piece of yard art known as “Lincoln Legs.” This distinctive sculpture features the familiar bearded head and stovepipe hat of Abraham Lincoln, supported by a pair of naked legs. Additionally, on the same site, you’ll find a towering 15-foot-high hammer and an intriguing smoking baby.
These artistic creations are the work of Eric and Molly Gunderson. You can explore this imaginative artwork at 4112 WI-52, Aniwa, WI. To get there from Wausau, drive east for 18 miles on WI-52, and you’ll spot these sculptures on the left (north) side, just after crossing Hwy Y. While it’s on private property, visitors are welcomed to stroll through the yard and appreciate this one-of-a-kind artistry.
17) Mouse With Cheese And Sausage
In Beloit, Wisconsin, you’ll encounter a whimsical fiberglass statue of a sizable mouse indulging in a sausage link and a wedge of cheese. This delightful piece of public art can be found outside the Cornellier Superstore, located at 2909 Ford St, Beloit, WI.
Positioned right on Hwy 81, it’s conveniently accessible just off the interstates. Alongside the mouse, you’ll also discover a sizable cow placed on its own pose-with-me viewing platform. These charming sculptures add a touch of whimsy to the local landscape and are sure to bring a smile to passersby.
18) World’s Largest Loon
In Mercer, Wisconsin, the World’s Largest Loon is a delightful roadside attraction that celebrates the town’s connection to the serene and picturesque Northwoods. This massive sculpture pays homage to the common loon, an iconic bird often associated with the region’s pristine lakes.
Standing proudly at its location in Mercer, the World’s Largest Loon is a whimsical and eye-catching piece of art. As with many oversized sculptures, it offers an excellent opportunity for photos and is a unique addition to your travel itinerary.
Overall, Wisconsin has some of the most memorable roadside attractions that are worth a visit. Whether you are interested in space history, numismatics, or just want to see some quirky landmarks, these three stops are definitely worth adding to your itinerary.
Museums and Exhibits
If you’re looking for a more educational stop on your Wisconsin roadside attraction tour, there are plenty of museums and exhibits to choose from. Here are three must-see options:
19) National Mustard Museum
Located in Middleton, the National Mustard Museum is a unique and quirky museum dedicated entirely to mustard. With over 6,000 jars of mustard from all over the world, you’re sure to learn something new about this condiment. The museum also offers tastings and a gift shop where you can purchase your favorite mustard to take home.
20) House on the Rock
The House on the Rock in Spring Green is a bizarre and fascinating attraction that defies description. It’s part museum, part art exhibit, and part architectural wonder. The house was designed and built by Alex Jordan Jr. in the 1940s, and it’s filled with an eclectic collection of art, antiques, and oddities.
Highlights include the Infinity Room, which extends 218 feet out from the house and appears to float in mid-air, and the world’s largest indoor carousel.
21) Wisconsin Automotive Museum
Car enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Wisconsin Automotive Museum in Hartford. The museum features a collection of over 100 antique and classic cars, including a 1917 Overland, a 1928 Kissel, and a 1963 Studebaker Avanti. The museum also has exhibits on Wisconsin’s automotive history and the role the state played in the development of the automobile.
22) Wisconsin Concrete Park
Nestled in Phillips, the Wisconsin Concrete Park is a county park like no other. It’s home to a remarkable collection of over 230 sculptures, each crafted from concrete, broken bottles, and various odds and ends. These imaginative creations depict a wide range of subjects, from people to animals and more.
The mastermind behind this unique art installation is Fred Smith, a self-taught artist and retired lumberjack who devoted his creative energy to building these sculptures between 1948 and 1964. You can explore this extraordinary park free of charge, though donations to the nonprofit organization responsible for its maintenance and preservation are greatly appreciated. You’ll find this artistic wonderland at N8236 Highway 13.
23) Jurustic Park
In Marshfield, an enchanting world of metal sculptures springs to life at Jurustic Park. These whimsical creations are not only visually captivating but also come with fascinating backstories—they’re said to be creatures that emerged from the nearby McMillan Marsh.
The genius behind these sculptures is Clyde Wynia, a retired lawyer with a boundless imagination. Visitors have the unique opportunity to tour the grounds surrounding his house and studio at 112021 Sugar Bush Lane, where these metal marvels reside. The park typically opens its gates from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on most days, offering a delightful and otherworldly experience for all who visit.
24) 45×90 Geographic Marker
Located in northern Marathon County, the 45×90 Geographic Marker claims to denote the precise center of the northern half of the Western Hemisphere. It marks the intersection of the 90th meridian of longitude and the 45th parallel of latitude. Well, almost—the marker indeed accurately pinpoints the crossing of these lines of latitude and longitude.
However, due to the Earth’s shape not being a perfect sphere, the actual halfway point between the Equator and the North Pole lies about 10 miles to the north, as noted in a paper by UW-La Crosse physics professor Frank E. Barmore. Nevertheless, this marker remains an intriguing point of interest for geography enthusiasts. You can find it at 5651 Meridian Road, northwest of Poniatowski, where you can contemplate the nuances of Earth’s geography.
25) Dickeyville Grotto
In the quaint village of Dickeyville, you’ll discover the mesmerizing Dickeyville Grotto—a labor of love and faith constructed by Father Matthias Wernerus. Father Wernerus served as the priest at the Holy Ghost Church parish next door, and between 1918 and 1931, he dedicated himself to creating this awe-inspiring grotto and a series of religious shrines.
These structures are meticulously crafted from stone, mortar, and an array of brightly colored materials, including glass and seashells. You can encounter this breathtaking masterpiece along the Great River Road at 305 W. Main St. The Dickeyville Grotto is a testament to both artistic expression and spiritual devotion, offering visitors a tranquil and visually captivating experience.
26) Circus World Museum
In the heart of Baraboo, Wisconsin, the Circus World Museum is a captivating tribute to the golden era of the circus. This enchanting museum takes visitors on a thrilling journey through time, offering a treasure trove of circus memorabilia, interactive displays, and live performances that transport you to the magical world of the big top. From meticulously restored antique circus wagons to the charming streets of the Ringlingville Historic District, where the Ringling Bros. Circus wintered, the museum provides a vivid glimpse into the vibrant history of the American circus.
Located at 550 Water St, Baraboo, WI 53913, the Circus World Museum is a delightful destination for all ages. Whether you’re an avid circus enthusiast or simply seeking a captivating and educational experience, this museum promises an unforgettable adventure filled with the timeless wonder and excitement of the circus.
Whether you’re a mustard lover, an art aficionado, or a car buff, these museums and exhibits are sure to provide a unique and memorable experience on your Wisconsin roadside attraction tour.
Wisconsin is home to some of the most breathtaking natural attractions in the country. Here are three natural attractions you won’t want to miss on your next visit to Wisconsin.
27) Apostle Islands
Located in Lake Superior, the Apostle Islands are a group of 22 islands that offer visitors a variety of outdoor activities. With crystal clear waters, sandy beaches, and towering cliffs, the Apostle Islands are a nature lover’s paradise. Visitors can take a boat tour to explore the islands or kayak along the shoreline. Hiking trails on the islands offer stunning views of Lake Superior and the surrounding forests.
28) Devil’s Lake State Park
Devil’s Lake State Park is one of the most popular natural attractions in Wisconsin. The park is known for its stunning sandstone bluffs, clear blue lake, and hiking trails that offer breathtaking views. Visitors can swim, fish, or boat in the lake, or hike one of the park’s many trails. With over 29 miles of hiking trails, Devil’s Lake State Park is a great place to explore Wisconsin’s natural beauty.
29) Cave of the Mounds
Located in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, the Cave of the Mounds is a natural limestone cave that was discovered in 1939. The cave is known for its stunning stalactites, stalagmites, and other unique rock formations. Visitors can take a guided tour of the cave to learn about its history and geology. The cave is open year-round and offers visitors a chance to experience Wisconsin’s natural wonders underground.
Whether you’re looking for stunning views of Lake Superior, hiking trails through sandstone bluffs, or a chance to explore an underground cave, Wisconsin’s natural attractions offer something for everyone.
Family Friendly Spots
If you are traveling with your family, Wisconsin has plenty of roadside attractions that will keep everyone entertained. Here are two family-friendly spots that are worth visiting.
Located in Janesville, Wisconsin, the Aquajays are a celebrated water ski show team known for their thrilling performances on the picturesque waters of the Rock River. With precision, creativity, and synchronized routines, they showcase their impressive water skiing skills, including daring jumps, intricate formations, and captivating pyramids. The Aquajays’ shows, complete with colorful costumes and music, offer family-friendly entertainment and are a must-see summer attraction for both Janesville residents and visitors.
They typically perform their water ski shows during the summer months. The exact schedule and locations may vary from year to year, so it’s recommended to check their official website or contact them directly for the most up-to-date information on their performance dates, times, and specific locations within Janesville.
31) Noah’s Ark Water Park
Noah’s Ark Water Park is the largest water park in the United States and is located in Wisconsin Dells. With over 70 acres of water attractions, this park has something for everyone in the family.
Some of the popular attractions include the Black Anaconda water coaster, the Scorpion’s Tail looping water slide, and the Time Warp water slide. There are also several areas for younger children, including the Tadpole Bay kiddie pool and the Big Kahuna play area.
There are several ticket options available, including single-day tickets, two-day tickets, and season passes. The park is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, so plan your visit accordingly.
Whether you are looking for a thrilling water ski show or a day of fun in the sun at a water park, Wisconsin has plenty of family-friendly roadside attractions to choose from.
Wisconsin is known for its culinary experiences that are unique and delicious. From cheese factory tours to fudge shops, there is something for everyone in Wisconsin.
32) Cheese Factory Tours
Wisconsin is known as the cheese capital of the world, and for good reason. With over 600 varieties of cheese produced in the state, it’s no wonder that cheese factory tours are a popular attraction. During these tours, you can learn about the cheese-making process and sample some of the delicious cheeses that Wisconsin is famous for.
Some of the most popular cheese factory tours in Wisconsin include:
|Hook’s Cheese||Mineral Point|
|Carr Valley Cheese||Sauk City|
|Widmer’s Cheese Cellars||Theresa|
|Cedar Grove Cheese||Plain|
33) Wisconsin Dells Fudge
Wisconsin Dells is known for its fudge shops, which offer a wide variety of flavors and styles of fudge. Some of the most popular fudge shops in Wisconsin Dells include:
You can watch the fudge being made and sample some of the delicious flavors, including chocolate, peanut butter, maple, and more. Many of these fudge shops also offer other sweet treats, such as caramel apples and saltwater taffy.
As you can see, Wisconsin’s culinary experiences are not to be missed. Whether you’re a cheese lover or have a sweet tooth, there’s something for everyone in Wisconsin. So, make sure to add these culinary experiences to your Wisconsin itinerary.
Final Thoughts on Roadside Attractions Wisconsin
You’ve now discovered some of the most fun and quirky roadside attractions in Wisconsin. From the world’s largest fish in Hayward to the giant muskie in Lake Nebagamon, there’s no shortage of unique stops to make on your next road trip.
Whether you’re traveling with friends or family, these attractions are sure to provide some memorable moments and photo opportunities. And don’t forget to check out some of the other offbeat landmarks and oddities that Wisconsin has to offer.
Here’s a quick recap of the 31 best roadside attractions in Wisconsin, alphabetically by city:
|Circus World Museum||Baraboo|
|Devil’s Lake State Park||Baraboo|
|Large Mechanical Wolf||Bayfield|
|Cow, Mouse with Cheese and Sausage||Beloit|
|World’s Largest Badger||Birnamwood|
|Cave of the Mounds||Blue Mounds|
|Pinkie the Elephant||DeForest|
|Wisconsin Automotive Museum||Hartford|
|World’s Largest Fish||Hayward|
|World’s Tallest Grandfather Clock||Kewaunee|
|World’s Largest Can of Beer||La Crosse|
|World’s Heaviest Ball of Twine||Lake Nebagamon|
|Sputnik 4 Crash Site||Manitowoc|
|World’s Largest Loon||Mercer|
|National Mustard Museum||Middleton|
|World’s Largest Talking Cow||Neillsville|
|Wisconsin Concrete Park||Phillips|
|45 x 90 Geographic Marker||Poniatowski|
|World’s Largest Cone Top Beer Can||Potosi|
|World’s Largest Soup Kettle||Silver Lake|
|World’s Largest Bicyclist||Sparta|
|House on the Rock||Spring Green|
|Boris the Black Bull||Wautoma|
|Noah’s Ark Water Park||Wisconsin Dells|
|World’s Largest Penny||Woodruff|
So pack up the car, grab your camera, and hit the road to explore these must-see roadside attractions in Wisconsin.
Frequently Asked Questions About Roadside Attractions Wisconsin
What are some interesting roadside attractions to see in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin is home to many interesting roadside attractions that are worth checking out. Some of the most popular ones include the World’s Largest Musky in Hayward, the House on the Rock in Spring Green, and the National Mustard Museum in Middleton.
What are some unique things to do in Southern Wisconsin?
Southern Wisconsin is home to many unique attractions and activities. Some of the top things to do in this region include visiting the iconic Wisconsin Dells, exploring the Cave of the Mounds in Blue Mounds, and touring the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Taliesin in Spring Green.
Other recommended activities include hiking in Devil’s Lake State Park, sampling cheese at the many local cheese factories, and attending a Badgers game at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
What are some family-friendly attractions to see in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin is a great destination for families with many fun attractions to visit. Some of the top family-friendly attractions include our amazing children’s museums, the Wisconsin Dells, the Milwaukee County Zoo, and the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee.
What are some recommended stops between Eau Claire and Green Bay?
If you’re traveling between Eau Claire and Green Bay, there are many interesting stops to make along the way. Some of the top recommendations include visiting the Leinie Lodge in Chippewa Falls, touring the Lambeau Field Stadium in Green Bay, and exploring the EAA Aviation Museum in Oshkosh. Other recommended stops include the Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center in Warrens, the Horicon Marsh in Horicon, and the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee.