Nothing Says Wisconsin Like These Iconic Experiences
The Wisconsin Heartland—a compelling landscape of sandstone cliffs, serene lakes and rolling shills—has welcomed tour groups for generations. Whether you want to learn about the state’s circus history, cruise through dramatic gorges or watch entertaining live theater, you’re sure to find it in the center of the Badger State.
Day 1 – Baraboo
Did you know that Baraboo is the birthplace of the renowned Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus? This charming town holds a special place in the hearts of circus enthusiasts around the world. Begin your day at the historic Al. Ringling Theatre, built in 1915. Take a guided tour of this magnificent showplace, designed in the style of grand French opera houses, to learn about its rich history and marvel at the stunning architecture. If there’s a performance scheduled, consider attending a show at this iconic venue.
Immerse yourself in a carefree world of fun at Circus World Museum. It’s a treasure trove of memorabilia that will transport you back to a time when circus magic came alive under the big tops. Located at the original winter home of the Ringling Bros. Circus, this National Historic Landmark site examines the innovations, excitement and wonder of the American circus. Touring the grounds, you’ll explore seven massive buildings that bring to life the fascinating heritage of the more than 100 circuses that made their home in Wisconsin. Through engaging exhibits you’ll experience the legendary lives and pageantry that fueled America’s most popular form of entertainment
Your visit wouldn’t be complete without a performance under the big top. This year’s theme is “Blast Off.” Watch camels and acrobats as they gallivant through the galaxy of horses, aerialists, acrobats, dogs, llamas and clowns.
Day 2 – Baraboo & Stoughton
This morning, head over to the International Crane Foundation, the only place in the world with all 15 species of these birds. It is a one-of-a-kind place dedicated to the protection and breeding of cranes. Many of these long-legged creatures are endangered and on the verge of extinction. Take a leisurely stroll on paved trails to learn about and enjoy these magnificent birds.
This afternoon, explore downtown Stoughton, a delightful small town with strong Norwegian roots. Visit Livsreise, which spotlights the journey from Norway, features the cultural heritage brought to Stoughton and shares stories of individual immigrants. Changing exhibits and displays highlight Norwegian heritage and arts organizations including the Vesterheim National Norwegian American Museum.
Immerse yourself in the stories of emigrants’ personal journeys in America and explore the cultural roots of Norwegian-American heritage, from performing arts and traditional customs to industrial entrepreneurs and the language. Stoughton’s culinary scene is reflected in over 30 restaurants, cafes and cocktail lounges that vary from American grub to Norwegian cuisine. Downtown, visit locally owned boutiques and galleries housed in buildings dating from the 1880s. You’ll find crafters and artisans who sell art, antiques, gifts and jewelry.
Day 3 – Eagle, Wisconsin
Before heading home, spend the morning experiencing the world of Wisconsin’s early immigrants at Old World Wisconsin, where history comes alive. Set against the backdrop of the Kettle Moraine State Forest and 600 acres of picturesque woodlands, prairie, and wetlands, Old World Wisconsin is a one-of-a kind-place where the modern world fades away to reveal over a century of history.
The site includes 60 authentically restored historic homes, farms, stores and workshops. Step into the daily lives of the early immigrants who arrived between the 1840s and 1910s by trying your hand at crafts and trades, chores and cooking. Lend a hand in the blacksmith shop, dye and spin wool, knead bread, collect eggs, try on wood shoes, ride high-wheel tricycles and have a beer in the Brewhouse. Groups can explore the site by complimentary tram.
If you’re planning a tour to Baraboo, check the calendar for the most thrilling event of the season – the not-to-be-missed Big Top Parade! Prepare to be transported back in time as you witness the awe-inspiring spectacle of the circus coming to town. Set for Saturday, June 8, 2024, this one-of-a-kind parade is a true extravaganza that will leave you breathless and filled with wonder.
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