Life in Wisconsin is not like life anywhere else. The state and its inhabitants have their own traditions, quirky habits, culinary customs, and language that make it distinctively different (read: better) from any other in the nation. From summers on the lakes, cheeseheads dressed in green and gold, and waterparks galore the following embody the very essence of our state.

1. Tailgating the Packers game

There’s nobody left in this state who hasn’t celebrated sports by standing in a parking lot with their best friends, grilling up brats with all the fixings and a Wisconsin brew in hand.

2. Cold winters

Wisconsin without freezing winters is like the Bahamas without beaches — it just wouldn’t be right. When winter is as harsh as what we experience and lasts almost half the year, it becomes not just part of the culture, but part of who we are. Without winter, we wouldn’t have ice fishing, snowmobiling, or snowshoeing. There would be no deer season, ice skating, or frigid Packers games.

3. The Hodag

Scotland has Loch Ness, Romania has Count Dracula, and Wisconsin has the Hodag.

4. Dairy

Wisconsin is called the “Dairy State” for a reason. Our football team may be founded by funding from meat packers, but our fans are cheeseheads.

5. The Northwoods

Also called “up nort,” there is no consensus on the exact latitude where the Northwoods actually start. Somehow, though, we all know where it is.

6. Summers on the lakes

Minnesota can have its 10,000 lakes. Wisconsin has over 15,000 and we know how to use them. Nothing says Wisconsin summer like cruising around the lakes, tying up with friends, and standing knee-deep while playing drinking games.

7. Midwest nice

Don’t you know it wouldn’t be Wisconsin without our trademark kindness? More than mere manners, we genuinely care about others and find joy in helping them with whatever they need. Whether it’s help finding the bus stop or lending someone a phone to make a call, Wisconsinites are always ready to be “Midwest nice.”

8. Kitschy attractions

From House on the Rock to Little Norway, it just wouldn’t be the same without our weird and trippy road trip destinations. After all, only in Wisconsin can we turn scrap metal into a Forevertron.

9. The prettiest capitol building in the US

Modeled after the capitol building in Washington, DC, we all know the Wisconsin capitol is a stunner. There’s nothing more Wisconsin than the free concerts on its lawn every week in the summer, where open container laws don’t apply.

10. Bucky Badger

In a state where college football is almost as important as the NFL, Wisconsin just wouldn’t be the same without our ferocious badger, clad in red and white. Chances are you’ve also donned striped overalls in Bucky’s honor.

11. Devil’s Lake State Park

Every Wisconsinite knows there is no state park in the country more beautiful than Devil’s Lake. Whether it’s to hike, rock climb, kayak, or just lay on the beach enjoying ice cream, Devil’s Lake is one of our most-loved places.

12. The Waterpark Capital of the World

The Las Vegas of waterparks, the Wisconsin Dells is a quintessential vacation destination for all Midwesterners. In true Wisconsin style, thanks to our indoor waterparks, not even the dead of winter can keep us from the swim-up bar and lazy river.