When most of the world thinks about Wisconsin, often they don’t think about a world competitor with great local leadership and thriving communities. Most of the world thinks of cheese and cheese heads. Even if you asked our neighbors in the Midwest what Wisconsin was known for, they would likely take the Packers and cheese and add beer, Milwaukee, Madison, and a lot of lakes. Even though Northeast Wisconsin only has a regional population well under 2 million, they hold many unique titles, and many top ten spots in some unexpected lists.

Official Bests

Sheboygan Best Freshwater Surfing

Sheboygan claims the best freshwater surfing in the world. Called the Malibu of the Midwest, Sheboygan is best surfed from August to April when the water is freezing and wind blows between 20-25 miles per hour. Apparently Sheboygan has embraced freshwater surfing for over 50 years!

Home to the only NFL team owned by fans

Northeast Wisconsin hosts one of the most humble football programs in the NFL. Not only are the Green Bay Packers located in one of the smallest cities for a professional football team, but they are the only professional team in the country that is owned by its fans! Operating as a “publicly-owned non-profit,” the Packers sell stock to their fans, and consider themselves a “community project.” This type of mentality brings the Packers to often make decisions that are in the best interest of the community rather than profit.

This model is not even allowed to be adopted anymore. There was a rule written in the 60s that states that teams entering the NFL can not exceed 32 owners. Despite this model, the Packers are the 17th most valuable team in sports according to Forbes.

Fox River Flows North

Not exactly the world’s only, but the Fox River, much like the Nile in Egypt, flows opposite of neighboring rivers. Due to an elevation change, roughly the same as Niagara Falls, from Appleton to Green Bay, the Fox River Flows north into the Bay of Green Bay. Joining a list of a little over 30 rivers known for this behavior.

Fox River elevation profile. Credit: FoxLocks.org

UW Oshkosh Third Most Sustainable School in US

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (UWO) prides itself in sustainability. In 2015 UWO was rankest the third most sustainable school in the US by the Sierra Club. Beating schools like Colorado State, UC Sand Diego, and oh yeah… every other university except UC Davis and UC Irvine! UWO is part of a biodigester project that burns methane from food waste to provide 20% of the heat for its buildings. They also have cutting edge environmental programs, and hold the designation of a Tree Campus USA school.

EAA Airventure

Oshkosh, WI is home to, “the world’s largest and most significant annual aviation event.” The event quickly turns the humble Wittman Regional Airport into the busiest airport in the country, if you measure by flights per hour. The last event had approximately 590,000 attendees! Generating approximately $110,000,000 throughout Eastern Wisconsin communities. Money aside, a large number of aviation enthusiasts call Oshkosh home for a week each summer!

EAA Airshow. Credit AOPA.org

Most Lighthouses in any US County

Door County is not number one, but number three. They are behind Suffolk and Barnstable Counties, which are host to Long Island and Cape Cod respectively, Door County, WI has the third most lighthouses in any county. The county has 11 lighthouses in total, and there are many options to tour them all! Long Island has 15 and Cape Cod has 13.


Largest Cattail Marsh in the World

Northeast Wisconsin also is partial host of the world’s largest cattail marsh. Although closer to Southern Wisconsin, Horicon Marsh is the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the world! Serving as one of the largest wetlands in the United States and critical home to Redhead Ducks.

Horicon Marsh
Horicon Marsh

Largest Lake in the State and the World

Lake Winnebago is located exclusively in Northeast Wisconsin, and is the largest lake in Wisconsin. Even more impressive to learn Wisconsin has lakes throughout the state, and that Winnebago is the 27th largest lake in the United States. Also interestingly enough, according to the University of Wisconsin, Lake Michigan and Huron are technically two halves of one lake. This makes Michigan-Huron the largest freshwater lake in the world. Although not exclusive to Northeast Wisconsin, the Door Peninsula, Bay of Green Bay, Rock Island, and Washington Island are very unique area and access points to the largest freshwater lake in the world, and that is pretty cool.

First House Powered by Hydroelectric Energy

Owned originally by a paper company entrepreneur, the first house to run off of a hydroelectric powered plant using the Edison System. Now called the Hearthstone House Museum in Appleton, WI. The Fox River and paper industry put Appleton in a position for success in the late 1800’s.


Self-Proclaimed Firsts

First Commercially Successful Electric Street Car Company

A list of street car companies lists Wisconsin Traction Light Heat & Power as beginning operation in 1886 in Appleton Wisconsin. We found claim that this company was the first commercially successful electric street car company in America.

First Enclosed Mall in America

Appleton used to be home to the Valley Fair Shopping Center. Built in 1954 and enclosed sometime after that. The center laid claim to have been the first enclosed shopping mall in America. Although this claim has been disputed.

First State to Recycle Paper in 1860s

Another broad claim that we could not back up with our resources, but would be interesting, and falls in line with Northeast Wisconsin’s impressive paper history.

First Hamburger

Seymour Wisconsin claims to be the official “Home of the Hamburger.” Even owning the domain homeofthehamburger.org, and backed up by legislation by the state of Wisconsin. This is also claimed by White Castle and New Haven, Connecticut among others. Here is a list of others that claim to have invented the hamburger.


Welcome to Seymour sign
Seymour, WI

Northeast Wisconsin has one of the world’s most unique sports franchises, many unique natural occurrences, rich history, and strong local traditions. In a region with less than two million people, we also are home to a handful of world renowned companies like Kohler, including Fortune 500 companies Kimberly-Clark and Oshkosh Corp, and a handful of Fortune 1000 companies like Plexus, Bemis, and Manitowoc. Northeast Wisconsin citizens no doubt take pride in their region!

At Venture Wisconsin, we categorizes Northeast Wisconsin from Sheboygan to Waupon to Ripon to Waupaca to Green Bay to the tip of the Door Peninsula and back to Sheboygan. If you liked this post, share it and tag a friend that would enjoy it. Thanks for reading and if we missed any Northeast Wisconsin bests, let us know in the comments.



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