In Wisconsin, the unexpected is the delightful norm. The state is known for the athletic superiority of its Green Bay Packers; the architectural wonders of two extraordinary houses — Frank Lloyd Wright’s classic Taliesin and over-the-top kitschy House on the Rock; and an art museum, the “winged” Milwaukee Art Museum. In Wisconsin, airplanes thunder across the skies during the annual Oshkosh Air Venture air show as Harley-Davidsons roll off the lines at plants near Milwaukee. Wisconsin’s a state where agriculture remains at the forefront thanks to placid Holstein dairy cows, side orders of cheese curds and oversized plastic wedges of cheese Packers fans wear on their heads that help those rabid football supporters live up to their nickname “Cheeseheads.”
From Lake Geneva to the south and Lakes Superior and Michigan to the north, the Badger State has also been a vacation spot since the 1800s. It has the business traveler in its sights, parlaying its hospitality, absorbing attractions and sports-focused activities into destinations that excel at blending meetings and family vacations. And the effort is paying off.
“In the past few years, Wisconsin has undergone an extreme makeover that has changed the landscape of the meeting and convention market,” said Kelli A. Trumble, tourism secretary for the state of Wisconsin. “Million-dollar expansions have produced a host of new or renovated hotels, meeting venues, convention centers, sports facilities, water park resorts, spas and PGA-caliber golf courses.
“In 2008, spending by meeting and convention travelers was $1.4 billion, up 8.5 percent from 2006. All of these new and innovative spaces and destinations are putting Wisconsin on the map as a destination for corporate events.”
The cities covered in this guide — Wisconsin Dells, Green Bay, Oshkosh, LaCrosse, Waukesha/Pewaukee and metropolitan Milwaukee — are but a microcosm of numerous destinations across the state that are opening their doors and arms to planners and attendees. Dana Ecker, director of sales for the Oshkosh Convention and Visitors Bureau, describes a common thread: “Oshkosh is totally open, friendly and welcoming, from its Friday-night fish fries to its cheese factories to pig roasts in the park. It’s all about Midwest hospitality.”
Wherever the meeting spot in this state, Wisconsin’s traditions and personality are ingrained, bringing planners a wide choice of state-of-the-art, historic and lively facilities; a sense of fun and family; and a warm welcome in every season.
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