Two hours north of Chicago by car or train, Wisconsin’s largest city, Milwaukee, has quietly developed into a charming metropolis on Lake Michigan. There, the Milwaukee Art Museum, with a striking new wing by Santiago Calatrava, has a surprisingly strong permanent collection (the nearby Harbor House is an excellent choice for a lake-view lunch). And the pedestrian-friendly state capital, Madison, is one of the nation’s loveliest, sandwiched on a scenic isthmus between two lakes. But the real delights of Wisconsin reveal themselves in the countryside, where small towns and pristine lakes punctuate vast expanses of hilly forests and pastures. Kohler is home to world-class golf courses designed by Pete Dye; in 2020, the Ryder Cup will be held at the Straits at Whistling Straits course.
Our favorite time to visit Wisconsin is autumn, when the trees burst into color in a sensational display rivaling any in New England.