1. The University of Wisconsin system
Wisconsin is home to one of the finest public university systems in the country. Not only are the schools strong academically, they also have elite sports teams (Go Badgers and Warhawks!) and a student body that really knows how to have a good time (google: Mifflin Street Block Party). With the price of education skyrocketing all over the country, that in-state tuition is also pretty darn sweet if you are from WI (or Minnesota — yay for reciprocity).
2. The public parks system
From Lake Park in Milwaukee to Lake Michigan, from Devil’s Lake to Peninsula State Park, Wisconsin has a long, progressive tradition of protecting its beautiful outdoor spaces. No calling us fly-over country anymore — Lake Park in Milwaukee was designed by the same landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York City. Not to mention that Wisconsin has truly made its green mark on this planet — Gaylord Nelson, former US Senator and former Governor from Wisconsin, started Earth Day.
3. Wisconsin’s beautiful coastline
Speaking of beautiful outdoor spaces, take a trip to Lake Superior in the North or Lake Michigan on the East coast of Wisconsin, and you will swear you were on the most beautiful of oceans. Not only are the lakes so big that you cannot see the other side, but you also don’t have to deal with three of the peskiest elements you find in the ocean: salt, tides, and dangerous marine wildlife. Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, two of the Great Lakes, help make up the largest supply of fresh water in the entire world, blessing Wisconsin lakeshore communities with fresh and amazing tasting water.
4. Public school system
Wisconsin’s public schools may be plagued with many issues, including continual budget cuts and decreased support for teachers, but our state has provided our children with a free quality education since the mid-1800’s — whether they live on a farm or in a crowded neighborhood of Milwaukee. Bud Selig, the former commissioner of baseball, Lance Kendricks, a recently signed Packers player, Frank Lloyd Wright, a well-known architect, and Georgia O’Keefe, artist extraordinaire, all attended Wisconsin public schools.
5. Surviving every winter
You may not think we deserve a gold star for just getting through a season that is inevitable, but try visiting Wisconsin in the winter and then think again. Or better yet, stay here for a whole winter. Shoveling out your car every morning, falling on ice, and having to put on ten layers before venturing outside for 5-6 months out of the year is no fun.
The entire state of Wisconsin (and Milwaukee in particular) has a long history of beer and breweries — that’s why our professional baseball team is called the Brewers. Wisconsin has seen a boom of local, craft breweries in recent years, further contributing to our sweet-tasting legacy.
7. America’s team
The Packers are the only entirely publicly-owned professional sports team in the US. The team is owned and deeply loved, by its fans, so it can never be suddenly sold to a greedy owner or moved to a different city. The passion in Green Bay is real — it doesn’t matter if you go to the supermarket, a car dealer, or even your local funeral home — you will see a reference to the Packers somewhere.
Wisconsin harvests well over half of the nation’s cranberry crop. Cranberries are an example of one of North America’s native fruits, representing a powerful tie to Wisconsin’s first peoples.
9. We wear the underdog hat with pride.
The Brewers and Bucks always go down with a fight. Since there is limited revenue sharing in the MLB and NBA, these two teams are constantly fighting an uphill battle — competing with much larger markets such as NYC and LA. But they always do it in style — with a big cheesy grin on their faces.
10. The intricate tapestry of Wisconsin’s people
From its Native Americans to today’s vibrant Hmong community, Wisconsin has a long and complex history of immigration and continuously evolving identities. Milwaukee, America’s “German City,” at one point rivaled New York City in its number of immigrants and legend has it that it used to have over 40 pages of the name “Schmidt” in the phonebook. The Great Migration, drawing Black Americans from the South, and new waves of immigration from Latin America and Southeast Asia from the 1960’s on, have continued to transform Wisconsin. In fact, today most of the farm workers in rural Wisconsin are Latinx.
11. America’s Dairyland
Wisconsin is the number one producer of cheese in the country and number four in the entire world.
Wisconsin pioneered one of the first rails to trails bike systems by converting abandoned railroads into gorgeous bicycle trails and also has an extensive system of rural roads popular with bikers. They were originally built to allow dairy trucks to reach the farms, so are not heavily trafficked but well maintained. As far as motorbikes are concerned, Harley Davidson calls Milwaukee home and wherever you turn in Wisconsin, whether in the big city or a small country town, you will get used to the powerful rumbling noise of Milwaukee iron coming out of a shiny Harley zooming past you.