OPINION  Sometimes it seems like we forget what a beautiful state we live in. It’s easy to do when we’re so accustomed to the beautiful great outdoors surrounding us. Thousands of years ago glaciers carved our northern region to leave behind rich soils and minerals along with an iconic landscape.

We may sometimes forget what we have right down the road from our front door, but out-of-state visitors have flocked here for decades to escape their own flat or treeless landscapes. During the years thousands have built their summer homes in northern Wisconsin because of the breathtaking natural beauty and recreational opportunities. But we tend to just drive by the natural landscape and forget how lucky we are. Many of us plan our vacations traveling to other states because it’s a chance to be away from work to explore someplace new.

But this year is different. COVID-19 has changed how we plan our vacations and interact with others, where we go and how often we go anywhere. Fortunately we have all we need right here in Wisconsin.

If some Wisconsinites flew to distant places in the past, they’re staying closer to home this summer. If they booked hotels, they’re now looking at other options like camping in tents or renting recreational vehicles. If they went to waterparks before, they now feel safer social-distancing on rivers or lakes in their own kayaks or boats.

COVID-19 has forced many to look at vacation through a different lens. I’ve heard RV sales are through the roof, and kayaks and boats are difficult to find because they just can’t build them fast enough for the demand this year.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the summer while being responsible and practicing social distancing during the pandemic. And what better place is there to live than in the state where the rest of the nation would come to unwind if they could?

Wisconsin has more than 2,500 miles of hiking trails and 66 state parks. Here in Wisconsin we’re framed by two Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. We have more than 15,000 lakes as well as countless streams and rivers meandering through Wisconsin, making it a great place to fish, kayak and canoe.

We have Door County, which is nationally renowned for its beauty surrounded by Lake Michigan. North leads to the south shore of Lake Superior; the immensity of the largest freshwater lake in the world is amazing. Enjoy fresh fish from any of the many fisheries around the lake. And don’t forget the wild rice!

There are still ways we can support local Wisconsin businesses while staying safe. If in Hayward take a look at the giant musky, then enjoy some of that tasty fresh toffee in the area. Check in with a nearby supper club to enjoy Wisconsin’s infamous Friday fish fry, or visit a local brewery to try creative new beer.

And of course there’s lots to enjoy here in western Wisconsin, including the most beautiful drive on Wisconsin Highway 35 that stretches from Prescott all the way south through Platteville. It’s known as the Great River Road. The Great River Road has been rated in national reports to be the most scenic drive in America. Take the time to plan a trip on the Great River Road along the Mississippi River. Stop at all the markers to read the historical significance of the river to our predecessors.

So while some may feel bummed they couldn’t go to that faraway city or destination, this may be the time to rediscover Wisconsin. We can remind ourselves what we have right here all around us. Take a slow trip and stop at all the unique and interesting places along the way; there are a lot we have missed by leaving. Wisconsin is worth the time. Wisconsin has it all.

Jeff Smith of Brunswick represents the 31st District of Wisconsin as a member of the Democratic Party.