Nature & Modernity in the Midwest

WI and MN preserve the old while bringing in the new

By Morgan Saltz

Meeting professionals and event groups can have the best of both worlds if they are open to the natural beauty, rich culture and modern growth of the Midwestern states. Wisconsin and Minnesota have their place in American history, yet a growing population of younger and more progressive residents is redefining the traditional preconceptions of the Midwest.

Wisconsin and Minnesota are producing top-notch hotels, desirable meeting spaces and offering group activities meeting professionals can’t find anywhere else. Plan your next meeting in Wisconsin or Minnesota—the Midwest is coming up in a big way.

Insider Tip

“From USA Triathlon to the US Open and USA Fencing to USA Beach Volleyball, the Greater Milwaukee area offers teams, venues and countless vendors.”

–  Claire Koenig, senior director of communications & public affairs, Visit Milwaukee


5 Reasons Meeting Profs Love It Here

ground floor view of convention center
Fiserv Forum stadium, Milwaukee

Booming food scene, Wisconsin

Season 21 of the ultimate food competition and nationally acclaimed reality series “Top Chef” will be filmed in Wisconsin. Former winner Kristen Kish will host and the show will feature talented chefs from the state and across the country. “I know our diverse culinary traditions will help inspire the participants,” says Governor Tony Evers.

Unique Venues for Meetings, Minnesota

Saint Paul is proud to have many unique event spaces that will wow attendees with architecture and history. The Union Depot was a train station built in 1879 and opened in 1881. It became a helm for immigrants and orphans heading west for opportunities. Now the facility offers both outdoor and indoor meeting spaces while showcasing Minnesota history.

Outdoor Group Activities in Madison, Wisconsin

Wisconsin is known for its great outdoors and that is evident in its city of Madison. Claiming to be the most bikeable city in the country, their biking and hiking trails stretch over 200 miles long. With lots of rentable bikes and group hiking tours, groups can team-build while sightseeing.

Sporty Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee has truly been growing and can provide both venues for meetings and/or incentives and team-building activities. MLB Brewers, NBA Bucks, AHL Admirals and MASL Wave keep adrenaline high.

EAA AirVenture, Wisconsin

Oshkosh is home to the world’s largest airshow, EAA AirVenture. With access to ATM machines, charging stations, restrooms, a communications center and shuttle routes available throughout the camping grounds, your group can have a safe and thrilling experience that is only available in Oshkosh, WI.


The Midwest Food Scene

While Midwest food is traditionally known as meat and potatoes, casseroles and cheese curds, it has been elevated to so much more while still maintaining the integrity of its regional roots. Keeping up with its culinary counterpart, the historic beer scene of the Midwest has continued to stay relevant and noteworthy for centuries. The Midwest is much more than just your regular meat and potatoes—the elevated culinary cuisine and artisanal brewing industry is putting the Midwest on the destination map for the sophisticated.

Muse at Sentry

lime sorbet
Sorbet at the Muse at Sentry

Taking meat, bread and potatoes from the Midwest to a globally inspired elevated menu, Muse at Sentry in Stevens Point, Wisconsin is one of the most revered Midwest restaurants. Rather than the infamous “meat and potatoes” one might expect from the region, Muse at Sentry offers prime hanger steak with romesco and crispy potatoes with a hazelnut salsa verde and grilled young onions. Do you think the Midwest just has sandwiches? Think again. The steak sandwich at Muse at Sentry is accompanied by an herb blue cheese spread, pickled red onions and arugula.

The venue can host up to 150 people in the main banquet area and is equipped with AV and full amenities in its modern indoor layout.

Yarusso Bros

Bringing Rome to Minnesota, Yarusso Bros. Italian Restaurant offers authentic Italian cuisine to St. Paul, Minnesota. The Yarusso family was born in a small village south of Rome and eventually settled in New Jersey. After fathering 14 children, Francesco Yarusso turned over the cafe to his sons who made sure the family recipes carried on throughout the generations.

Groups of 15-25 are available most days, groups of 30 to 50 need a reservation due to limited space, but catering is available.

Cheese curds at Union Star Cheese Factory and Willow Creek Creamery

Free group tours of the factory commence at 8 a.m. at Union Star Cheese or 9 a.m. at Willow Creek Creamery and last 30 minutes as famous Wisconsin cheese curds are being created. At both cheesemaking factories, fresh milk from local farmers is pasteurized and the “good bacteria” is transferred into a cheese vat with the enzyme rennet causing it to transform into a soft gel. These gel pieces are then cut into sections and cooked to separate the curds from the whey. The curds are then sold as a prized Wisconsin delight.


The History and Modern Technology of Brewing

aerial view of large building
New Glarus Brewing Company

As German immigrants established a formidable community in the Midwest, brewing beer became not only a way for the new residents to support themselves but also as a staple of the growing Wisconsin/Minnesota economy. With a beer industry spanning over 200 years, it is no surprise that Midwest natives are proud of their beer industry and the area continues to be a desired destination for beer enthusiasts.

Milwaukee Brewing

By the end of the 19th century, Milwaukee had made a name for itself as a national leader in beer brewing with the success of Miller, Pabst, Schlitz and Blatz—all companies that achieved great success within the city limits of Milwaukee, Minnesota. The companies continued to expand into the 20th century, eventually earning the monikers of largest breweries in the world.

Take a group of 15 people or more on a private Miller Brewery Tour to learn about the rich history as well as the modern innovations in beer brewing applied in the global brand today. Samples for those 21 years of age and over are offered at the historic Bavarian-Style Miller Inn as well as the modern Brew House packaging and distribution centers.

New Glarus Brewing Company

Exclusively found in Wisconsin, one of the state’s most beloved beers, Spotted Cow, is brewed at New Glarus Brewing Company. With a focus on individuality and completely natural ingredients, Deb Carey established herself as the first woman to found and operate a brewery in the United States while partnering with her husband Dan Carey, a diploma master brewer. After a trip to north London, the couple became inspired by the cows and realized the love of cows could be relatable in Wisconsin.

Spotted Cow has become an iconic beer of Wisconsin and the Midwest. “Brewing a beer is an artistic expression,” says Dan Carey. “It’s a marriage of science, engineering and art.” The New Glarus Brewery gift shop offers free self-guided tours and has recently added a new museum. All of the hand-crafted brews are available for purchase onsite.

Twin Cities Brewery Tours

bottle of cider
Beer Flight at Number 12 Cider

Private tours of different varieties are available through this company with several themes guiding their menu of excursions. Pick three local breweries with the Craft Brew Hop tour or experience local cuisine such as the locally beloved tater tots with your beer if you choose the Brews ‘N Bites tour.

The newest, coolest brew in town? The hard cider produced in the Twin Cities. Take a tour of Sociable Cider Werks, Number 12 Cider and the Minneapolis Cider Company through Twin Cities Brewery Tours to sample this artisanal beverage from pressed apples. Just like beer, different ciders have different flavors from dry to sweet and everything else on the flavor spectrum!

This article appears in the September 2023 issue. You can subscribe to the magazine here.