World's Largest Carousel at House on the Rock

World’s Largest Carousel


Inside the legendary House on the Rock along Highway 23 south of Spring Green, Wisconsin, you’ll find the World’s Largest Carousel. This amazing, dizzying display of lights, animals, figurines and more sits inside one of the House on the Rock buildings.

This carousel, replete with music similar to the tunes emanating from so many other instruments in this dazzling attraction, features over 20,000 lights; 182 chandeliers; and 269 animals – ironically, not one of them is a horse. Making its debut in 1981, the World’s Largest Carousel measures 80 feet in diameter, is 35 feet high, and weights 36 tons!

No, you can’t ride it.




World’s Largest Carousel Address:

Inside House on the Rock
5754 Wisconsin Highway 23
Spring Green, WI 53588
(608) 935-3639
Website

Wedl's Hamburgers & Ice Cream Parlor, Jefferson

Wedl’s Hamburger Stand, Jefferson

Wedl's outdoor burger stand

64 square feet of hamburger heaven at Wedl’s in Jefferson, along US 18 just east of Business Highway 26.

Along U.S. 18 right by the city/”business” route of Highway 26, you’ll find that good things come in small packages. Wedl’s, perhaps one of the smallest burger stands in the nation, is ready to provide small, tasty burgers using a cast iron skillet over a century old. All from a building that measures about 64 square feet.

Wedl’s Hamburger Stand & Ice Cream Parlor is a combination burger grill and ice cream shop in downtown Jefferson with roots that go back to the shop’s original opening in 1916. The outdoor stand opened three years later. Ownership has changed through the years; previous names for the Wedl’s include Becker’s (1949-1974) and Armstrong’s (1974-2002). The seasoned cast iron skillet, an original, dates back over 100 years; it was launched into the street when an 80-year-old driver plowed into the small stand in 1999. While the stand was destroyed, the two employees inside were not seriously injured. The grill was found about a half block down the street, restored, and put back into service after a rebuild.

Wedl's Burger Stand in Jefferson, right off the more than century-old grill

This cast iron skillet, over 100 years old, seasons and cooks the tasty little burgers at one of tastiest burger stands in the country: Wedl’s in Jefferson.

Wedl’s offers their burger slider-style. The meat patties are around 1/8 pound, so a “double” is 1/4 pound. As described by Robby Wedl, manager and part owner, they start with a big mound of lard in the morning. They add the patties as orders come in, add onions and cheese when people want them, and they gradually use up all the lard. And that’s a big reason these burgers taste so good: old-fashioned lard.  It’s not the lightest way you can cook up a burger, but there’s no doubt it’s natural and delicious. And a little greasy sometimes.

Cheese, bacon, and either raw or fried onions are your choices for toppings when Wedl’s serves you; no lettuce or tomatoes. They do offer condiments and pickles you can add yourself, though, on the metal tray in front of the pick-up window. You can also get pizza burgers and – from the other kitchen inside – fish or chicken sandwhiches, hot dogs, brat, and the like. Sides range from onion rings and fries to jalapeno poppers and nachos. See their full menu here.

A double cheeseburger from Wedl's in Jefferson

Part-way through a double cheeseburger. They’re so good, you almost forget to take a picture.

Wedl’s is popular for carry-out orders. You can also eat inside the parlor or on the patio deck in the back on good weather days. You’ll find the stand right along U.S. 18/Racine Street, one block east of “Business” Highway 26 in downtown Jefferson. It’s also about a mile east of Highway 89 and the newer Highway 26 bypass. Either way, it’s definitely worth the stop!

Wedl’s Hamburgers & Ice Cream Parlor Address:

200 E. Racine Street (U.S. 18)
Jefferson, WI 53549
(920) 674-3637
Website




Snowflake Ski Jump in summer

Snowflake Ski Jump Complex


Perched above Timber Coulee just north of Westby in Vernon County, the Snowflake Ski Jump – used for national and international competitions – is the highest of five jumps used by skiing enthusiasts and draws competitors from all over the world each winter. It is considered a “large hill,” meaning it has a K-spot (a hill’s steepest point) of at least 106 meters. The jump rises 118-meters/387 feet high, qualifying it for Olympic trials. It is the seventh largest such ski jump in North America. It was constructed in 1960, and the first ski jumping tournament took place in 1961. Tournaments have been held every year since. Currently, the record is held by Fredrik Bjerkeengen of Norway, who jumped 130 meters on February 10, 2008.

Snowflake Ski Jump during competition

The Large Hill Meet is held early each year in February and attracts not only U.S. ski jumpers but competitors from around the world. The four smaller hills at the site include a 65 meter hill, as well as smaller 40, 20, and 10 meter hills for training junior jumpers. Many Olympic and world-class ski jumpers have competed at the complex; their annual events draw thousands of spectators each year.

The Snowflake Ski Jump is high enough to catch your eye a few miles away on Highway 27 as you drive north of Westby. Here’s an example:

Snowflake Ski Jump from County P, a few miles away

This is the Snowflake Ski Jump from County P, about two miles from Highway 27. And yes, on a clear day, it towers above the horizon from the highway, too.

Snowflake Ski Club members donate many hours preparing and grooming the hills, making use of snowmaking and grooming equipment to keep the hills in good condition regardless of natural snowfall. During the summer, you can check out Snowflake for golf and more. They also host numerous events throughout the year.

Snowflake Ski Jump verticalSnowflake Ski Jump Address:

Snowflake Ski & Golf Course
E7940 County Road P (off Highway 27)
Westby, WI 54667
(608) 634-3211
Website

To reach Snowflake from Westby or Sparta: follow County P west from Highway 27. Highway P winds around for several miles before you reach the Snowflake Ski Club & Golf Course. The intersection is just a few miles north of Westby, off U.S. 14/61.

To reach Snowflake from Norskedalen: follow County P east from County PI about five miles.



 

Chatty Belle, the World's Largest Talking Cow

Chatty Belle, the World’s Largest Talking Cow

Chatty Belle, the World's Largest Talking CowIf you’re going to chat with a cow, why not pick one who chats back? Chatty Belle, the World’s Largest Talking Cow, is ready to converse with you in Neillsville. Chatty is a big Belle, standing 16 feet tall and 20 feet long; she’s about seven times largest than the average Holstein cow. But then again, the average Holstein doesn’t talk.

Chatty was for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City and was installed in Neillsville, the seat of Clark County, afterward. She given her name by a 1st grader who hailed from nearby Loyal in 1966 – the prize for the little girl’s naming skills was 100 pounds of butter and a trip through the Grassland Dairy Cheese Factory.

So with Chatty’s size, how productive would she be if she were real vs. a fiberglass Holstein? James Crowley, a former Extension Dairyman at the University of Wisconsin, ran the numbers and calculated that Chatty would produce 270 pounds of milk per day – that’s 83,000 pounds per year. She’s also consumer 11 tons of grain, equivalent to 24.5 tons of silage, per year. That’s 24.5 tons of silage for 41.5 tons of milk, if you like figuring the ratios.

Chatty was originally branded as the world’s largest cow, but there was a larger one elsewhere. So a coin-operated voice box was added, allowing her to keep the title of “World’s Largest Talking Cow.” Chatty’s conversational abilities lean toward touting Wisconsin’s dairy products (shocker) but her voice box has been off-and-on in operation lately, so we can’t guarantee she’ll be in a talkative mood when you see her.

Neillsville's WCCN Station and WI World's Fair Pavilion BuildingNext door is the building used for the Wisconsin Pavilion in the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City; its design is very 60s/Jetsons/retro-but-futuristic. This cool structure now houses WCCN-AM/FM & WPKG-FM radio, along with a gift shop that sells post cards and cheese. The broadcast-style tower atop the building, with “Wisconsin” spelled out in vertical lettering, drew plenty of attention at the World’s Fair.

Chatty sits right along U.S. 10 just east of downtown Neillsville. Highway 73 comes within a few blocks to the west; Highway 95 approaches Neillsville from the south and is also a good access point.

Address for Chatty Belle, the World’s Largest Talking Cow:

1201 E. Division Street (U.S. 10)
Neillsville, WI 54456
(715) 743-2222
Facebook page

 




45x90 Marker at exact point, NW of Wausau

45×90: The Center of the NW Hemisphere

Wisconsin feels like the center of it all, doesn’t it? And the 45×90 point proves that for the Northern and Western Hemispheres, it is! Technically, it’s the exact center of the northern half of the Western Hemisphere.

45x90 center sign

On Earth, the 90th Meridian (90°W) marks the halfway point between the Prime Meridian (which runs through London and other locales as 0°) and the International Date Line (180°). In other words, it’s the midpoint of the Western Hemisphere. Meanwhile, the 45th Parallel (45°N) marks the theoretical halfway between the Equator and the North Pole, making it the midpoint of the Northern Hemisphere. Now, this one is a little more debatable, since the slight flattening of the earth’s sphere near the poles means from a mileage standpoint, the halfway point between the North Pole and the Equator is actually about nine miles north, but it depends.

In western Marathon County, 45°N and 90°W meet. The point is prominent on every globe and major world map you’ve ever seen. There are four of these “double-halfway” points on the Earth; this is the only one easily accessible on land. 45×90 is a very unique geographical landmark.

45x90 Area walkup

This path leads you to the point where 45°N and 90°W meet.

45x90 Marker at exact point, NW of WausauFor centuries, this significant geographic point sat under corn stalks in a farmer’s field; Meridian Road ran north-south about 300 yards west of the 90°W line and a parking lot by the road featured a marker, noting the spot was “near.” In 2017, the exact point became marked and accessible to the general public; a walking path leading from the parking lot leads you there. Signs provide insight on the location’s significance and a concrete and stone marker notes the exact point of the exact center of the Northern Hemisphere. You can stand on it, around it, whatever you want.

45x90 marker, aerial view from drone

The 45×90 marker from above.

 

Directions from Highway 29 Eastbound: Near mile marker 149, turn north of County M and follow it to County U. Turn right on U to Meridian Road. Turn left on Meridian and 1/4 mile north the parking area will be on your right.

Directions from Highway 29 Westbound: Take Exit 150/Edgar (County H) and head north on H. After a few miles, turn left on County U and follow it to Poniatowski. At the main intersection (you’ll know it, trust us), turn left/west, which is a continuation of County U. About one mile down, turn right on Meridian Road; about 1/4 mile north the parking area will be on your right.

“45×90 Club” Guest Book
Wausau is the nearest sizable city to the 45×90 point, and if you make it to their Visitor Center, you can sign the guest book and be a part of the “45×90 Club” – showing you’ve been there. They’ll even give you a commemorative coin!

45×90 Address:

5651 Meridian Road
Athens, WI 54411




Ben Bikin statue in Sparta

Ben Bikin, the World’s Largest Bicyclist

Ben Bikin is the crown jewel in Sparta’s crown as the “Bicycling Capital of America.” Sparta is the northern terminus of the Elroy-Sparta Trail, the first rail-to-trail project in the United States. Other major trails, including the La Crosse River Trail, converge here. The city celebrates bicycling throughout the year, although summer and fall is clearly preferred.

Ben Bikin stands 32 feet high atop an 1890s-era Penny Farthing bicycle. A local company, F.A.S.T. (Fiberglass, Animals, Shapes, and Trademarks) Corp., created the statue, where he’s been stationary in his present location in 1995. He is considered the World’s Largest Bicyclist.

The statue of Ben inspired the mayor of Port Byron, Illinois to commission FAST Corp to build a similar statue for their town. This replica in Illinois was named Will B. Rollin’ and it inspired a bicycle ride between the two towns. Now, the annual Will To Ben Bike Tour gives riders the opportunity to cover over 300 miles of beautiful roadways from Will B. Rollin’ in Port Byron to Ben Bikin in Sparta. Will To Ben runs annually in early October, when fall colors are often at or close to peak.

Ben Bikin even has his own Facebook page. You’ll find him perched on his bike at the corner of Highway 16/71 (Wisconsin Street) and Water, on the edge of downtown Sparta.

Ben Bikin Address:

101 E. Wisconsin Street (Highways 16/71 at Highway 21)
Sparta, WI 54656
(800) 354-2453




Sparta is also home to the Deke Slayton Memorial & Bicycle Museum and has a lot of small town charm. Highways 16, 21, 27, and 71 reach Sparta, as well as I-90 via Exits 25 and 28. Tomah is about 15 miles to the east and La Crosse is about 25 miles to the west-southwest. The city is in the midst of Wisconsin’s beautiful Driftless Area and features abrupt hills and attractive topography.

World's Largest Muskie in Hayward, along US Highway 63

World’s Largest Muskie

Hayward hosts the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, so it’s only natural they would also have the World’s Largest Muskie. Standing 143 feet long and 41 feet tall, the muskie holds names of world record-holders in fishing across the world – over 3,000 entries. You can check out the names and climb the steps to show yourself from the muskie’s mouth, 4 stories off the ground. It’s a popular place to get your picture taken… how can one resist?? This fish also holds the title of the World’s Largest Fiberglass Sculpture, so you’re getting two for one in terms of “World’s Largest” distinctions.

National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame grounds - fiberglass fishCheck out the grounds of the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame while you’re there. The six acre spread includes the “Sea of Fishes” (why not a “school of fishes”??), a sculpture garden peppered with perch, bluegill, and more. Some are clutching fiberglass frogs; some have lures in their mouths. All are fun and interesting works of art. The museum has over 5,000 fishing lures on display along with 200 rods and reels, 400 mounted fish, and a room of outboard motors (remember, the outboard motor was invented in Wisconsin!)

We have a whole gallery of photos here.

National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame front entrance.

You’ll find the World’s Largest Muskie at the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Sawyer County in the midst of the vast North Woods. It’s just south of downtown Hayward nestled between Hayward Lake and Highway 27. U.S. 63 and Highway 77 are within blocks. The National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame is open year ’round, so feel free to attend on a hot summer day, a chilly winter day during the annual American Birkebeiner, or the World Lumberjack Championships, which takes place annually just a stone’s throw away.

Address:
10360 Hall of Fame Drive (Highway 27)
Hayward, WI
(715) 634-4440
Website

 

World’s Largest Muskie

Hayward hosts the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, an “international headquarters for education, recognition, and promotion of freshwater sport fishing” (their words from their website.)

So it’s only fitting that this Hall of Fame would host the World’s Largest Fiberglass Sculpture, which is also the World’s Largest Muskie. Standing 143 feet long and 41 feet tall, the muskie holds names of world record-holders in fishing across the world – over 3,000 entries. You can check out the names and climb the steps to show yourself from the muskie’s mouth, 4 stories off the ground. It’s a popular place to get your picture taken… how can one resist??

National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame grounds - fiberglass fishIt’s more than the big muskie, though. The six acre spread includes the “Sea of Fishes” (why not a “school of fishes”??), a sculpture garden peppered with perch, bluegill, and more. Some are clutching fiberglass frogs; some have lures in their mouths. All are fun and interesting works of art. The museum has over 5,000 fishing lures on display along with 200 rods and reels, 400 mounted fish, and a room of outboard motors (remember, the outboard motor was invented in Wisconsin!)

National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame front entrance.

You’ll find the World’s Largest Muskie at the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Sawyer County, just south of downtown Hayward nestled between Hayward Lake and Highway 27. U.S. 63 and Highway 77 are within blocks. The National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame is open year ’round, so feel free to attend on a hot summer day, a chilly winter day during the annual American Birkebeiner, or the World Lumberjack Championships, which takes place annually just a stone’s throw away.

Address:
10360 Hall of Fame Drive (Highway 27)
Hayward, WI
(715) 634-4440
Website

Mickey-Lu Bar-B-Q, Marinette, along U.S. 41

Classic “burger and a shake” deliciousness awaits at Mickey-Lu Bar-B-Q. Delighting Marinette residents and visitors alike since 1942, the “Bar-B-Q” in the name refers to the charcoal grilling technique they use for cooking burgers and grilling brats – you won’t find pulled pork or brisket here. But that’s okay, because these are some of the tastiest burgers you’ll ever find in an all-American joint that looks like a trip back in time on the inside.

Mickey-Lu Grill for burgers - and buns

We hope you like your buns grilled, too.

A Mickey-Lu burger, cross-sectioned so you can see the goodness.

A Mickey-Lu burger, cross-sectioned so you can see the goodness.

The burgers are fairly small, larger than White Castles but smaller than, say, a Whopper. But they pack serious flavor, stemming from the high-quality beef, onions, pickle, and a little pat of butter – plus the cheese if you want it. Of course you have a choice of many other toppings but the basics work so well with a Mickey-Lu burger. The Zemal hard rolls are fresh bakery buns that also see some time on the grill, adding a slight crunch to the bun and holding the burger into a tight, tasty package. It’s as close to burger perfection as you’ll find. They also start at less than two bucks each.

The charm of Mickey-Lu includes not only its small size and vibrant history, but all the little authentic touches: jukeboxes on the countertop and tables (plus an original floor model that plays 45s), classic bottles, cans, and packages on shelves, even a dispenser that lets any customer have a free Tootsie Roll – but be warned: if you want another one, it’ll cost you a penny, Mr. Moneybags.

Mickey-Lu in Marinette

Mickey-Lu tabletop jukebox

The tunes crank out of these little jukeboxes at Mickey-Lu. They don’t take credit cards and they’re not hooked up to Internet. Deal with it.

Mickey-Lu is right along U.S. 41 on the south side of Marinette, near the eastern start of Highway 64; Highway 180 begins nearby on the west side of town and follows the Menomonee River. Michigan is less than two miles away, and this place draws the Yoopers. Heck, it draws Chicagoans who view this four-hour drive as worth it.




Address:
1710 Marinette Avenue (U.S. 41)
Marinette, WI 54143
(715) 735-7721

Larry the Logroller along Highway 32 in Wabeno

Larry the Logroller

wabenobandshell_800Driving along Highway 32 through Wabeno? You can’t miss Larry the Logroller, a 22’4″ lumberjack who serves as this town’s answer to Paul Bunyan. Instead of an ax, Larry brandishes a logging tool. He stands guard over the Wabeno Logging Museum and a 1901 Phoenix Log Hauler, a steam locomotive that once helped haul logs out of town. In the city park where he stands, you’ll also find a bandshell, a mini-amphitheater, and picnic areas along the North Branch of the Oconto River, which runs right behind Larry (apparently, that’s the river in which he would do his logrolling.)

Wabeno is a town of about 1,200 in Forest County which likes to claim a title of “Dual Sport Capital of the World” based on the active ATV and snowmobile use in the area – it’s in the heart of a very extensive trail system. But the town’s history is based on logging; it’s in the heart of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Wabeno’s high school nickname is the “Logrollers” and Larry is their mascot – they just don’t bring him to football games. He’s tough to carry around.

wabeno-park01

wabeno_larrylogroller01

Before the 2013 repairs, Larry DID seem to slouch a bit…

Ironically, Larry the Logroller had to be repaired and reinstalled in 2013 when a log rolled on him, in a sense – a tree fell in a storm and damaged his fiberglass body. He once again stands guard over the town.

By the way, if the Phoenix Log Hauler on display is of interest, this is what it looks like when it’s just running around:

So basically, while you’re traveling through Wabeno there’s something cool to stop and check out: Larry the Logroller and his logging museum. And the train. And it’s a nice city park in general. Highway 32 goes right past it, and Highway 52 begins about a mile away on the northwest edge of town, connecting to Antigo and Wausau.