15 Best Things to Do in Baraboo, WI

Baraboo, WI
MarynaG / shutterstock.com

Baraboo, most often known as the “Circus City” due to its rich history with the circus, is a mixture of old estates that blend well with modern architecture.

This town offers a wide diversity of outdoor activities, museums, historic tours, natural landscapes, and majestic views.

It is also a hub for tourism, industry, and commercial establishments.

What are you waiting for?

Explore this rolling countryside that will leave you in awe and make you want to stay.

Check out these 15 best things to do in Baraboo:

Go Hiking and Camping in Devil’s Lake State Park

Devil’s Lake State Park
Yinan Chen, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The largest state park in Wisconsin and one of the best hiking and camping places in the town is the Devil’s Lake State Park.

Historically, the Devil’s lake or “De Wakacak,” which means Spirit Lake, is a 10,000-acre park with many natural areas, parklands, and ancient effigy mounds open to public recreation.

If you only have limited time to explore the skate park, go on a hike in the flat to challenging trails to see the best views and try out rock climbing in this prime tourist spot.

Boulders at Devil’s Lake State Park
CrispAir at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Another popular activity that you can do is explore the campgrounds and do camping, as this skate park has 423 sites in three campgrounds and nine group campsites that can accommodate 240 campers.

Other activities you can do are swimming, scuba diving, relaxing, and spending your time with your family or loved ones, as the skate park has sandy beaches, hiking and mountain bike trails, and large picnic areas.

Devil's lake state park
Corey Coyle, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The park is open from 6 am to 11 pm every day, and you can purchase admission tickets online or go to self-registration stations and electronic kiosks.

The park has no walk-in sites; that’s why you need to make sure you already have your tickets before going there.

Experience the Thrill at Circus World Museum

Circus World Museum
Keith Homan / Shutterstock.com

As home to the five Ringling Brothers who began a little show that expanded into the largest amusement enterprise, the Circus World is considered by many as the “National Treasure,” and it is one of America’s favorite circus attractions.

It’s time to be happy and go back to your inner childhood as you witness the one-hour show of jugglers, aerialists, clowns, elephants, horses, and the magic tricks they all do.

The live circus performance brings the rich artistry of the circus to life.

Admission includes all shows and exhibits to the most dazzling and fun show of acrobats, jugglers, and animals working harmoniously together to tell the story of the American circus.

Display at Circus world museum
User:BDunnette, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Circus World is also a perfect environment to enjoy the performances and street parades of the diverse groups who use a majestic working collection of the 100-year-old mechanical organs.

Be mesmerized with spirited sounds and a circus of music with the tune of sleigh bells, electric saucer bells, and air calliope.

The music is for children and young-at-heart who wish to witness and feel the fun of being in a lively circus.

Here, you'll see the world’s largest collection of parade wagons, costumes, memorabilia, and authentic buildings filled with colorful architecture.

Take a Guided Tour in International Crane Foundation

Crane at International Crane Foundation
Rod from Livonia, Michigan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The International Cranes Foundation protects the world’s ecosystems and watersheds, as cranes depend on these for their survival.

Cranes are among the endangered bird species in the world; in fact, fifteen crane species are high-likely to become extinct shortly.

But this foundation continues to unite people through their symbol of fidelity.

So you must have a guided tour here, as it is the only headquarter where you can hike along the trails and view all of the world’s fifteen crane species.

Black crowned crane at International Cranes Foundation
Susan Burgard / Shutterstock.com

The group tours are for all ages, and the experienced staff and volunteers provide enjoyable tours, share the foundation’s history, and learn the story of the different crane species.

You will also learn about crane biology, the current threats to the crane’s survival, the methods used to conserve endangered species, and the foundation’s initiatives.

Wattle Crane at International Cranes Foundation
Susan Burgard / Shutterstock.com

Aside from this important educational information, there are other activities you will enjoy, such as seed collecting opportunities, discussions with crane care specialists, and demonstration of radio telemetry.

This is indeed a great opportunity for you to learn and discover the world of cranes.

The International Cranes Foundation is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.

Learn the Process of Making Liquor in Driftless Glen

Driftless Glen
Corey Coyle, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the state’s Driftless region, you will find this local distillery that crafts liquors and unique spirits.

The distillery takes pride in its double distillation process that includes a 44-foot tall and 10,000-pound column with pot still.

They are offering a tour so that you can see the production of the liquor and learn about the process of making award-winning craft distillery and spirits.

The tour starts with you tasting the sample of Renee Olive Oil, and you will end up drinking other liquors, such as whiskey, vodka, and gin.

There is also an on-site store that allows you to buy limited-edition spirits bottles, bourbon-scented candles, and even DIY cocktail mix kits.

There’s also a fine dining restaurant overlooking the Baraboo River called Driftless Glen Restaurant, which offers delicious meals and refreshing cocktails.

Check Out the Historical Artifacts in the Sauk County Historical Museum

Sauk County Historical Museum
Jeff the quiet, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t miss out on the historic Van Orden Mansion in the Sauk County Historical Museum, which features more than one hundred years of historical artifacts.

The museum houses the historic Van Orden Mansion completed in 1904, which exhibits the Sauk County history from prehistoric times through the 20th century.

Dig into the past and look into thousands of memorabilia, Native American and pioneer artifacts, genealogical records, Civil war equipment, household furnishing, and even textiles.

Sauk County Historical Museum will leave you intrigued and entertained, as it has many cultural, historical, and artistic activities.

You will discover that its rich human history is closely tied with its natural history.

The historical society also offers research facilities to the nearby history center.

Have Fun in Ho-Chunk Gaming

Ho-Chunk Gaming
Corey Coyle, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You’ll surely have entertainment in the state’s famous Wisconsin Dells region.

The gaming hub offers bingo, live poker, baccarat, blackjack, and roulette.

You don’t need to go far away to eat because there are also fine dining restaurants, cafes, sports bars, and buffets in the place.

Relax in the Mirror Lake State Park

Mirror Lake State Park
Keith Homan / Shutterstock.com

Who’s ready for a great weekend?

Another great tourist spot that you’ll find in the Wisconsin Dells region is the two-acre land of the park referred to as Mirror Lake Skate Park.

This state park boasts 151 campsites, picnic areas, steep mountain and biking trails, and pristine swimming beaches.

Campers can easily access the cabin, as it’s built together in line with Wisconsin’s state park system.

Picnic at the Ski hi Fruit Farm

Water tank in Ski hi Fruit Farm
Corey Coyle, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With approximately fifteen acres of apples, Ski Hi Fruit Farm offers different local products and fresh baked goods.

During the apple harvest time, both locals and tourists go to the farm to enjoy apple products from around eight thousand trees and enjoy the stunning views of the field.  

There is a wide lawn where the children can run around and where you can have a picnic.

This is truly the best weekend get-away experience you’ll have, which is far from the busy and crowded metropolis.

Drink Different Handcrafted Wines in Von Klaus Winery

Von Klaus Winery was established in 1999, and since then, the winery makes twenty different handcrafted wines using old and modern technology.

Since the winery first opened, the wines have been using natural ingredients and similar, original recipes over the years.

Visitors can have a taste of the wine samples, and you can choose four-course food and appetizers in this winery.

Look at the Effigy Mounds in Man Mound Park

Man Mound Park
Helene Woodbine / Shutterstock.com

Situated east of Baraboo, the Man Mound features three anthropomorphic mounds: conical, platform-shaped, and effigy mounds.

The Man Mound Park was established in 1908, and it is named after a man-shaped effigy mound measuring about 214 feet long by 48 feet wide found within the park’s property.

Man Mound Park
Jeff the quiet, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

These mounds depict a horned human figure with a symbolic and religious significance to those who built it, making it a National Historic Landmark in 2016.

Aside from checking out the mounds, you can have a picnic, merry-go-round, and sit on the provided benches.

Have Fun in Oschner Park and Zoo

Oschner Park and Zoo
Corey Coyle, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Do not forget to stop and head to Oschner Park and Zoo, located on the west side of Baraboo.

This zoo is one of the five small municipal free zoos which is the home to native animals of Wisconsin, such as the black bear, wolves, and deers.

It first opened in 1926 with bear cubs and deer fawns, but now, it has over 30 different animal species and most of the animals are either rehabilitated wildlife or rescued from the exotic pet trade.

Aside from seeing all the native animals, Ochsner Park and Zoo hold educational talks and programs to educate the community about the animals and its history with the town.

Take this opportunity to see the river otters, gray wolves, llama, prairie dogs, snowy owls, capuchin monkeys, spurred tortoise, and many more.

There's no entrance fee here, and the best thing is that the place is adjacent to Baraboo Riverwalk with picnic areas, playgrounds, and even restrooms.

Visit International Clown Hall of Fame

International Clown Hall of Fame
Corey Coyle, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

History enables us to have a deeper understanding of the place and its people.

If you are interested to know why Baraboo is considered “Circus City,” this place has all of your answers.

As part of the dedication of the people in Baraboo to preserve the clown art and achievements and to pay tribute to the town’s most outstanding clown performers, the International Clown Hall of Fame (ICHOF) established the museum in 1987.

You can see the shelves of clown costumes, portraits of the pioneers in the circus, and even racks of props.

There are also various educational programs given to people of all ages to enhance the community involvement and support for the “Art of Clowning.”

This is the only museum in its genre, so what are you waiting for?

Learn and discover the great worlds of the past and the circus history of Baraboo.

Enjoy the Stunning Views of Pewit’s Nest

Pewit’s Nest
Brodie D Tyler / Shutterstock.com

For nature lovers, this place is the best for you!

It will take you time and effort to find Pewit’s Nest, or sometimes called "Peewee’s Nest," but it's well worth the effort.

Pewit’s Nest, one of Wisconsin’s nature reserves, features a thirty to 40-foot deep gorge created during the retreats of the last glaciers in the area.

You can go to the walking trail that leads to the gorge's mouth and see the mesmerizing view on top of the cliffs.

Pewit’s Nest
Lindsay Snow / Shutterstock.com

For a few moments, you can just sit and enjoy the peace and beauty of the hidden gem.

For the safety and security of visitors, administrators prohibit rock climbing, cliff jumping and entering any of the closed areas.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit the State’s Natural Area in Parfrey's Glen

Parfrey's Glen
Hank Erdmann / Shutterstock.com

Parfrey’s Glen has a long trail starting from the parking area’s lower part to the glen’s wall, and it has the most spectacular gorge incised into the sandstone conglomerate.

In the uppermost section of this place, you can see the 100-foot depth and the clear water flowing in the streams and rocks.

Parfrey's Glen
Hank Erdmann / Shutterstock.com

Glen, a Scottish word for rocky ravines, are sandstones with embedded pebbles.

The walls of the glen are moss-covered, making it home to various flora.

There is also a creek that streams cold and hard water through the gorge and harbors diverse fauna in the area.

Go for a Boat Ride in the Glacial Lake

Near the town of Baraboo, you will find a prehistoric lake that has existed for thousands of years.

This lake created new channels through its sand bottom, forming the Wisconsin Dells.

This place is best for boat rides as you can witness the glacial run-off with the impressive reminder of Wisconsin’s geological history.

You can also swim or catch a fish.

Glacial Lake will remind you of the wonders of creation that you were able to witness with your own eyes.

Final Thoughts

Baraboo is full of stunning attractions, local gems, as well as rich history and culture.

This is a place well known for its scenic beauty, recreational activities, and historical places.

If you are a traveler, Baraboo is the best for fun-filled memories and a worthwhile get-away.