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This article is part of a series of posts I am writing for Hipmunk, called Destination Unknown — an exploration of lesser-known cities and towns around the world. Check out my other articles in this series.

You may think of Wisconsin as the land of cheese. It is often labeled America’s Dairyland, and for good reason. The state produces a large portion of America’s dairy products. While that reputation surely precedes it, Wisconsin has a lot more to offer at the table than your typical cheese plate. The state is loaded with cheese producers, farmers markets, and restaurants that showcase the ingredients that make Wisconsin so unique.

Here are five great food finds in America’s Dairyland. Next time you find yourself hungry in Wisconsin, you’ll know where to go.


A true cheese-lover’s tour of Wisconsin should begin in Madison at the Fromagination cheese shop, where you can sample some of the state’s top cheese products while sipping on a well-paired glass of wine, or even take a cheese cooking class to learn the finer points of cheese pairings and melting points. Madison also has a Saturday farmer’s market featuring many of the area’s top food products, including cheese, meats, and produce.

Fried Cheese Curds
Fried Cheese Curds (Image CC0 Public Domain)

Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells is an area in southern Wisconsin known for its striking sandstone landscape, making it a popular tourist destination. The area is referred to as The Dells. Alongside the great scenery is an abundance of restaurants and cheese shops where you’ll find one of Wisconsin’s most popular appetizers, cheese curds. We love to eat them both fresh and fried. You can find these delicious little morsels at shops like Carr Valley Cheese, or restaurants like Culver’s and Monk’s. Try them all and decide for yourself which is the best.


One of the best things about small towns are small town restaurants, where local ingredients shine in family recipes that have been passed down through generations. Appleton, Wisconsin, is one of those places where you’ll find classic pubs alongside bistros serving some of the area’s best food. Appleton is one of northeastern Wisconsin’s culinary hotspots, so you’ll find a great deal of variety in Appleton, from Greek to Italian, and even a German-style brewery. You’ll also want to hit up the Downtown Appleton Farm Market on Saturdays for fresh produce and local food products.

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (Image CC0 Public Domain)

Lake Geneva

A well-loved resort city, Lake Geneva is only 30 miles to the southwest of Green Bay, along the banks of picturesque Lake Geneva. Since the main reason for a visit to Lake Geneva is the scenery, it’s a top priority to scope out lakeside restaurants where you won’t have to compromise on the view. A few top choices are Pier 209 and Barrique Wine and Brew Bar.


A western suburb of Milwaukee, Brookfield is the type of place where you can find budget hotels within a quick drive from the city. From Brookfield, you can venture out to cheese shops like West Allis Cheese and Sausage Shoppe or even head to downtown Milwaukee for a tour of the Clock Shadow Creamery and the Milwaukee Brewing Co., next door. Back in Brookfield, you’ll find a wine bar, a pub, and a handful of local eateries that offer favorites like grilled cheese and fried cheese curds.

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