Celebrate Hispanic Culture in Wisconsin
The story of Wisconsin is woven together by many groups of people, including Indigenous groups who have lived here for thousands of years, French and British colonists and immigrants from Europe and all over the world.
One of the groups that plays an important and ongoing part of Wisconsin’s identity is Hispanic people. Spanish-speaking communities of Wisconsin date back to 1910, when people of Mexican heritage began to settle here after the Mexican Revolution. Since then, many other Hispanic groups have also made Wisconsin their home and brought with them vibrant cultural traditions, art, food and more. And today, over 18% of Wisconsin's population identifies as Hispanic.
Read on to discover some amazing local Wisconsin attractions, events, stores and tasty restaurants owned by Hispanic Wisconsinites that are sure to add extra fun and meaning to your vacation.
Delicious Spots to Dine Together
Food is a huge part of Hispanic culture and there are tons of great authentic, locally-owned spots in Wisconsin to savor. Stop in Alice Good Coffee in Verona for a delicious brew that also returns as much of the economic benefit as possible back to Colombia. Here, you and your crew can also enjoy tasty bakery items like sweet potato doughnuts from Bloom Bake Shop and bring home stylish glassware made from recycled bottles in Bogotá.
For lunch and dinner, there are dozens of tasty options throughout the state. From the Mexican favorites at Tello’s Grille in Port Washington passed down for five generations to the Whitewater local favorite Cozumel Mexican Restaurant, each offers unique specialties in generous portions with options for everyone in your group.
In the Driftless Region, stop in Hillsboro for traditional Nicaraguan cuisine at La Marimba. Travelers come all the way from Chicago to taste the flavorful specialties here like Baho, made up of brisket, green plantains and yuca cooked in banana leaves originating from the mix of cultures found throughout Nicaragua.
Farther north in Oshkosh, The Taqueria is a family-owned restaurant offering Mexican street food like elote (street corn), tamales and Cali fries topped with pico de gallo, cheese, guacamole and a meat of your choice.
For something sweet, visit downtown Wisconsin Dells to try the wide variety of treats at WIchoacana Mexican Dessert Bar. Choose from colorful popsicles, Mexican-style ice cream and other goodies homemade with fresh fruit and perfect for enjoying with friends and family on a hot day.
Shop Hispanic-Owned Stores
If you’re looking for memorable souvenirs and gifts while in Wisconsin, check out these one-of-a-kind Hispanic-owned small businesses.
Whitewater is home to multiple unique locally-owned shops, including Aranda Unique Appeal—a boutique offering stylish men’s and women’s clothing and accessories as well as soccer apparel for the whole family. While in town, be sure to also stop in Happy Little Gems, a jewelry and gem shop with all handmade pieces made with ethically sourced stones.
In West Allis and Glendale, visit All Goods MKE for vintage clothing finds as well as sneakers, hats and other accessories. Also look out for their annual summer block party, All Goods Fest, which brings together vintage sellers from all over the Midwest with tasty food trucks for a whole day of fun and good finds.
Must-Visit Attractions and Lively Events
Anyone and everyone interested in art and learning more about the diverse Hispanic communities in Wisconsin should visit Latino Arts, Inc. in Milwaukee. Find it located near the south side of the city that's home to many of the metropolitan area’s over 100,000 Hispanic residents. Latino Arts’ facilities include the Latino Arts Gallery, a 3,000-square-foot space that is the only Wisconsin fine arts institution dedicated exclusively to showcasing the works of Hispanic artists.
The property also includes a 350-seat auditorium as well as the Hispanic Heritage Center, a permanent multi-media exhibit chronicling the history of the Hispanic community in Milwaukee. All areas of the property are wheelchair accessible, and you and your group can visit for the low cost of a $1 suggested donation per person. Watch the Latino Arts calendar for regular events like gallery tours with coffee and churros and an annual gallery night with music and dance performances.
Another event celebrating Wisconsin’s Hispanic communities is the annual Mexican Fiesta held at Henry Maier Festival Park on Lake Michigan. Originally started as a celebration of Mexican Independence Day, the event has become a tribute to the vitality of the Hispanic community that attracts over 100,000 visitors each year. Bring the whole family to join the celebration held each August to experience three days of delicious food, music, dancing, culture and art that benefits scholarships for Hispanic children in the local community.
Other spirited celebrations of the Hispanic communities of Wisconsin include ¡Estamos Aquí! in Green Bay, an outdoor festival celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 through October 15) with live music, art, food, a car show and much more.
And in Viola, take part in the Driftless Region’s Dia de los Muertos Celebration offering ways for everyone to celebrate and learn including engagement in Mexican folk art, cultural traditions, food and community. The free event includes creating corn husk flowers, painting a community mural and tasty tortilla making.