World's Largest Corkscrew along U.S. 2 in Hurley, Wisconsin

World’s Largest Corkscrew


Some places in Vienna, Austria and Bangkok, Thailand may beg to differ, but Hurley, Wisconsin lays claim to the World’s Largest Corkscrew. It’s located along U.S. Highway 2 just west of the Wisconsin-Michigan border by about one mile on the northern side of Hurley. It’s also just west of national northern terminus of U.S. 51 and the eastern end of Highway 77.

It’s right in front of – fittingly enough – a liquor store. The owner is apparently a corkscrew collector, with none larger than the one out front.

Corkscrew Liquor Store along U.S. 2 in Hurley, home to the World's Largest Corkscrew

World’s Largest Corkscrew (and Corkscrew Liquor Store) Address:

5619 W. U.S. Highway 2
Hurley, WI 54534
(715) 561-5645
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World's Largest Can of Chili, Beloit

World’s Largest Can of Chili


At the busy interchange where I-39/90, I-43, and Wisconsin Highway 81 meet in Beloit just north of the Wisconsin-Illinois state line, you’ll find the “World’s Largest Can of Chili.”

The “can” is part of the large Hormel plant in Beloit, which cranks out plenty of chili and other meat products here. This is one of the storage tanks, visible from the interstate. How much chili can fit inside that “can”? Estimates are between 1,500 and 2,000 gallons – that amounts to a LOT of beans!




Mars Cheese Castle


One of our favorite places that just screams “Wisconsin!” is the Mars Cheese Castle. This Wisconsin cheese shop, deli, bar, bakery and more is popular purveyor of cheeses, meats, hot sauce, bakery, and Wisconsin kick-knacks is a widely recognized landmark on the busy Milwaukee-Chicago corridor, with its iconic sign beckoning travelers.

Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, along I-41/94 and Highway 142.

Its new building, completed in 2011, finally makes it look like a castle. It didn’t for its first six decades.

Originally opened in 1947 along U.S. 41 and what was Wisconsin Highway 43 (today’s 142), the Mars Cheese Castle catered to travelers in search of a variety of cheeses and other local foods as they entered or left the state. Still a family business, Mario Ventura, Sr. started it up and added on as they could: a deli counter, a sandwich shop, a bakery, a bar, a gift shop… all of these were tacked on to the original building. He and partners built not only a successful travel stop, but a brisk mail-order and later online business, shipping cheese, sausage and other products from Wisconsin to locales all over the country. Their home brand of spreadable cheese is called “King of Clubs”, and a large tub of it with Town House crackers are available for enjoyment at the bar at all times.

Mars Cheese Castle samplesTheir deli offers an amazing selection of cheeses, sausages, crackers, and other enjoyable consumables; their wine and beer selection is extensive, their gift shop offers every Wisconsin-y thing you could imagine, their market and bakery offers everything from tons of hot sauce selections to kringle; and a State Trunk Tour favorite is a summer sausage sandwich from the deli. The bar even has a “leg lamp” – the kind popularized in the movie A Christmas Story – to add to the atmosphere… the lamps are crafted in Kenosha, after all.

Mars Cheese Castle's bar features a coveted "leg lamp"

The Mars Cheese Castle’s bar features a coveted “leg lamp,” just like Ralphie and the Old Man liked.

Mars Cheese Castle sausage selections

When I-94/U.S. 41 reconstruction began between Milwaukee and Chicago, it was determined Mars had to move to accommodate the new footprint of the freeway’s interchange with Highway 142. The new building opened in 2011 and finally resembles a castle on the outside and all the “regions of Mars” – if you will – are more easily accessible than they were in the original building. It’s still one of our favorite Wisconsin cheese shops.

Mars Cheese Castle sign at nightThe Mars Cheese Castle is open 9am-7pm, seven days a week. It’s easily accessible of I-41/I-94/U.S. 41 at Exit 340 (Highway 142), which is also famous for its “Bong Recreation Area” sign (note: it’s not what you may think.)

Address:
2800 W. Frontage Road (I-41/94 at Hwy 142)
Kenosha, WI 53144
(800) 655-6147
Website




Baumgartners in Monroe on the town square

Baumgartner’s Cheese Store & Tavern


Baumgartner’s Cheese Store & Tavern in Monroe is a State Trunk Tour favorite! A cheese shop and tavern established in 1931, Baumgartner’s is a highlight of any road trip, serving up selections of cheese, sausage, beer, and some terrific fresh sandwiches. Our favorite is the brick cheese and summer sausage on rye, especially if you take advantage of their variety of mustards. The house specialty is the limburger sandwich, featuring cheese direct from the only limburger cheesemaker in the United States: nearby Chalet Cheese Cooperative, which is only a few miles up the road.

Baumgartner's brick and summer sausage sandwich

Not the best lighting, but it IS one of the best sandwiches. Summer Sausage & Brick on Rye at Baumgartner’s.

The walls are adorned with murals, maps (check the pins indicating where people have visited from all over the world, especially Europe), and fascinating artwork while up top the ceiling is peppered with dollar bills, thrown up expertly by staff members who know how to incorporate a tack, a little weight, and a strong throw straight upward to help the donated bills stay there. About once a year, Baumgartner’s takes down the money and donates it to a different local charity.

Baumgartner's menu and taps

monroe_baumgartners02-dollars_300

Dollar bills, embedded in the ceiling from skillful employees, hover over you in Baumgartner’s. Each year, the money is donated to a local charity.

A festive atmosphere often permeates Baumgartner’s, as does the scent of Limburger cheese when a hearty soul orders it as part of a sandwich. They have a variety of foods to enjoy, cheese and sausage to buy, and people to meet, as this is a destination for many tourists from around the world. Check out where they’re all from on large national and world maps that adorn the south wall.

Baumgartner’s is right on Monroe’s town square, which hugs the beautiful Green County Courthouse across the street. Minhas Brewery – and its new distillery and wine-tasting room – is just down the street. Highways 11, 59, 69, and 81 all bring you to Monroe and this tasty Wisconsin experience.

Baumgartner's Limburger sign in Monroe

Baumgartner’s Address:

1023 16th Avenue
Monroe, WI 53566
(608) 325-6157
Website




Baumgartner's Cheese Store & Tavern front

The front entrance to Baumgartner’s, a destination for cheese and sausage (and beer) fans from around the world.