Your 199ride List of 7 Wisconsin Roadside Attractions to Visit This Summer
From weekend road trips with the family to afternoon getaways to nearby attractions, summertime is the perfect season to navigate to unique destinations throughout Wisconsin. Jump in your car, buckle up, and make your way to one or more of 199ride’s favorite roadside attractions in the Badger State.
1.) Chatty Belle, The World’s Largest Talking Cow
At 16 feet tall and 20 feet long, Central Wisconsin’s famous fiberglass Holstein first debuted as part of Wisconsin’s exhibit at the 1964 World’s Fair. Those traveling through Neillsville at that time could place a quarter in the coin box next to the statue to learn about 100% natural Wisconsin cheese.
While Chatty has held onto her title as the world’s largest talking cow, the coin-operated voice box at her base no longer sings the praises of Wisconsin’s fine dairy products. Visitors traveling along Hwy 10 can still capture a glance at the oversized statue and stop by the gift shop next door.
2.) Fred Smith’s Wisconsin Concrete Park
Just off Highway 13 in the town of Worcester near Phillips lies the unusual sculpture park, Wisconsin Concrete Park. With more than 200 oversized folk art concrete sculptures ornately decorated with glass bottles and other objects, this attraction is a unique outdoor museum with exhibits the whole family can enjoy.
Designed by retired logger, Fred Smith, the park began construction in 1950. Over the course of 14 years, Smith’s creation continued to expand, with more than 200 concrete sculptures over more than 3.5 acres of land. The park features folklore legends, Paul Bunyan and Mabel the Milker, as well as notable historical figures such as Abraham and Mary Lincoln and Sacagawea.
Currently owned by the Kohler Foundation, the park offers free admission and is open seasonally from dawn until dusk.
3.) Kovac Planetarium
Though Northern Wisconsin may not be known as a gateway to the stars, the Kovac Planetarium in Rhinelander gives visitors a sight that’s truly out of this world.
The planetarium was designed by resident, Frank Kovac, who while on a Boy Scout outing in 1996, grew frustrated at cloudy conditions interfering with a clear sight of the night sky. From that day forward, the paper mill employee was determined to build a 22-foot diameter, two-ton globe with more than 5,000 stars hand painted to their appropriate brightness and position in the sky.
The electrically powered globe is one of the only four globe style planetariums in the United States. The structure is located roughly 5 miles east of Rhinelander off Hwy 5, making it a convenient destination for amateur astronomers and curious road trippers alike.
4.) Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron
Straight out of a futuristic film is Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron, a mechanical fantasyland built entirely from scrapped metal. The Forevertron, which stands at 50 feet high and 120 feet wide and uses parts from 1920s power plants, transports visitors to an alternative world filled with telescopes, egg capsules, laser beams, and other intergalactic oddities.
In addition to the Forevertron, the sculpture park is filled with transformers and elaborate fictitious creatures, including giant insects, a dragon, and a UFO. The 35-year-old sculptures are the work of retired demolition expert and antique machinery enthusiast, Tom Every.
Seven miles away from Baraboo, Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron is just a short drive off Hwy 12. Perfect for a quick stop or an afternoon with the family, the Forevertron and Every’s metal sculpture park has a little something for everyone.
5.) Bathtub Spring
Soldiers Grove, WI
If trekking across Wisconsin has left you parched, you may want to consider stopping by the Bathtub Spring in Soldiers Grove. Located off County Road C in Star Valley, the unusual lichen-covered bathtub boasts of sparkling spring water with a colorful past.
The original spring served as a water source for residents in the 1940s, however, over the years, the location became a hotspot for pranksters who at one point, replaced the stock tank with an old cast iron bathtub that gradually sunk into the ground over time. While the tub and rusty pipe have since been replaced, the site remains an unusual hotspot for travelers in the area.
Though the government has declared it unsafe for consumption, many thirsty passersby still stop for a swig of the sweet, slightly mineral tasting spring water.
6.) House on the Rock
Spring Green, WI
Built as a weekend retreat in the 1940s, the House on the Rock is one of Wisconsin’s most popular roadside attractions. Boasting the world’s largest indoor carousel, with more than 250 carousel animals and over 20,000 lights, the 14-room structure is built on a sandstone rock formation in the Wyoming Valley. From underground walkways to a 200-foot model of a whale fighting a squid, visitors can enjoy hours of sightseeing in the museum of bizarre collections.
Located about an hour west of Madison between the cities of Dodgeville and Spring Green, the House on the Rock is a perfect destination for road trippers traveling on Hwy 23. This roadway also gives access to multiple state parks, as well as Wisconsin Dells; a perfect route for a day trip or weekend getaway with the family.
7.) Mars Cheese Castle
A Wisconsin road trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha.
Conveniently located off I-94, the gas station-turned cheese store features a multitude of cheeses, cheese and sausage gift packs, baked goods, and other tasty delicacies for those passing through the dairy state.
The shop, which opened in 1947, recently underwent a nine-month renovation and expansion. Now more than twice its original size, Mars Cheese Castle offers even more Wisconsin greatness for tourists and locals alike.
Explore the Badger State in a Used Car from 199ride
Whether you’re on the road with family this summer or are looking for some exciting stops on the way to your next destination, be sure your trip involves a Nicer, Newer™, Worry-Free car from 199ride. Stop by one of our five convenient Wisconsin dealerships in Green Bay, Appleton, Wausau, Antigo, and La Crosse and check out our extensive used car inventory to find the perfect vehicle for all your Wisconsin excursions.