15 Best Things to Do in Fort Atkinson, WI

Fort Atkinson, WI
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Fort Atkinson is a tiny city in Jefferson County, Wisconsin.

This city gets its name from General Henry Atkinson, known for his role during the War of 1812.

Despite its size, Fort Atkinson proudly presents its rich history and heritage to everyone.

It's also known for its scenic natural areas ideal for outdoor adventurers.

Meanwhile, its museums and historical sites are treasure troves awaiting discovery by historians.

Moreover, its downtown area is perfect for leisure and entertainment.

You'll find its famous dinner theater and several year-round activities.

Read this list of the best things to do in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, to help you plan your trip.

Wander the Hoard Historical Museum

Exterior of the Hoard Historical Museum
Scott Catron, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hoard Historical Museum is a diverse museum featuring various exhibits of Fort Atkinson's history.

You can find this museum along Whitewater Avenue.

It mainly features Native American artifacts, ornithology displays, and 19th-century equipment.

In addition, its exhibits also display farming tools and machinery.

A display in Hoard Historical Museum
self, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Seeing these exhibits offers you a deeper understanding of Fort Atkinson's significant dairy farming history.

Moreover, visit the Dwight Foster House, Fort Atkinson's first frame home, at this museum.

Drop by the Hoard Historical Museum to familiarize yourself with the city's fascinating history.

A pigeon in Hoard Historical Museum
Royalbroil, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Treat Your Taste Buds at Cafe Carpe

Café Carpe is a family-owned café and bar along S. Water Street W., constructed back in 1901.

This place is known for its century-old brick building overlooking the Rock River from a distance.

Besides its delicious menu of sandwiches and burgers, you can also enjoy its listening room.

It features various musicians serenading the diners regularly.

In addition to its menu, its microbrewery serves craft beers on tap.

Historically, the Spaeth Brewery owned this cafe, which served as a tavern in the early 1900s.

Today, Café Carpe is one of the oldest running cafés and bars in Fort Atkinson, which remains popular with locals and visitors.

Discover Fascinating History at the National Dairy Shrine Museum

The National Dairy Shrine Museum along S. 4th Street is a vast dairy group established in 1949.

It mainly promotes the nation's extensive dairy industry and history.

It has over 18,000 members, mostly from various facets of dairying.

Visiting this historical attraction offers a deeper understanding of the prosperous dairy industry after World War II.

You'll see a dog-powered butter churn in the ice cream history section.

There are also photos of famous champion cows back in the day.

While visiting the National Dairy Shrine Museum, you'll discover the dairy industry's rich heritage, including its history.

Immerse Yourself in Nature at Rose Lake State Natural Area

The Rose Lake State Natural Area encompasses 480 acres, home to thriving local flora and fauna.

One of its access points is along Jones Lake in Fort Atkinson.

This place features shallow water seepage and wetlands, home to various local and migratory bird species.

In addition, it also serves as a breeding ground for different bird species.

Meanwhile, its vast mud flats are a favorite spot for shorebirds such as solitary sandpipers, pectoral sandpipers, and least sandpipers.

Visit this place to discover Fort Atkinson and Jefferson County's natural beauty.

Birdwatching and hiking are the two most popular outdoor activities at the Rose Lake State Natural Area.

Enjoy hiking through scenic lake shorelines while spotting rare birds and plants with your binoculars or camera.

Enjoy the View on Top of Fort Atkinson Water Tower

Daytime view of the Fort Atkinson Water Tower
Scott Catron, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Fort Atkinson Water Tower is a historical attraction built along S. 4th Street E. near Hoard Historical Museum.

The National Register of Historic Places has added this 112-feet tower, constructed in 1901, to the record.

The tower highlights a cream brick masonry architecture that serves as the base for the 33-feet steel tank.

It was the municipal water source of Fort Atkinson for over 120 years, a historically significant structure in the city.

Visiting the Fort Atkinson Water Tower is a fascinating experience you mustn't miss.

Climbing the tower's 120-steps takes you to the viewing platform, giving you an eagle's eye view of the city below.

Explore the Vast Dorothy Carnes County Park

The Dorothy Carnes County Park encompasses 512 acres of the natural area around Rose Lake.

The park's access point is along Radloff Lane in Fort Atkinson.

It has earned renown for its hiking trails spanning over nine miles, leading you through the vibrant local flora and fauna.

At the same time, locals in Jefferson County also love to do various outdoor recreation at this park.

You can try hiking, picnicking, camping, cross-country skiing, birdwatching, and snowshoeing during winter.

Exploring the Dorothy Carnes County Park takes you through lush natural areas of prairies, wetlands, and woodlands filled with wildlife.

Bring Home Fresh Produce at Poyer Orchards Farm Market

Since 1948, Poyer Orchards Farm Market has provided locals in Fort Atkinson with fresh produce and delicious pastries.

You can find this charming market along N. Fourth Street.

The market offers fresh produce, such as apples, pumpkins, and other vegetables and fruits.

At the same time, treat yourself to some refreshing apple cider.

Pair the cider with the orchard's freshly baked pies and caramel apples.

If you want to shop for delicious food and freshly-harvested produce, check out Poyer's Farm Market.

Aside from pies, ciders, and fresh produce, you can also buy honey, jams, and cheese.

Meet Yogi Bear at the Jellystone Park of Fort Atkinson

The Jellystone Park of Fort Atkinson is a fantastic place to see the famous classic cartoon character Yogi Bear and his forest friends.

You can visit this famous vacation destination along Wishing Well Lane.

It has a swimming pool, playgrounds, wagon rides, a mini golf course, and a volleyball court themed after the Yogi Bear cartoon.

If you want to find the best place to stay and have fun in Fort Atkinson, visit this campground and resort.

Aside from various amenities and outdoor recreational activities, you can choose from multiple accommodations.

Jellystone Park at Fort Atkinson has tent campgrounds, an RV site, and a rustic cabin for guests to choose from during their stay.

Feel some nostalgia by seeing Yogi Bear, one of Hanna-Barbera's most famous cartoon characters of the 1960s.

Uncover the Mystery behind Panther Intaglio Effigy Mound

The grounds of Panther Intaglio Effigy Mound
TheCatalyst31, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Let the Panther Intaglio Effigy Mound pique your curiosity.

It's a prehistoric effigy mound situated along the WI-106 highway in Fort Atkinson.

It features a unique 'panther-shaped' effigy mound molded by Native Americans over a thousand years ago.

In 1850, Increase Lapham discovered this remarkable effigy mound.

Lapham discovered 11 intaglios, or effigy mounds, during his Wisconsin survey.

Today, it's a famous prehistoric attraction you can visit to see its unique 'panther-shaped' mound.

Likewise, you can read numerous interpretive signs at this place.

At the same time, you can also join guided tours to understand further the mysterious purpose of the Panther Intaglio Effigy Mound.

Many believe these mounds are relevant to Native Americans' spiritual beliefs.

Rub Elbows with Locals at Fort Farmers Market

Fort Farmers Market is an outdoor market known as an excellent place to shop.

It mainly features seasonal produce, freshly-baked goodies, artwork, and local handicrafts.

You can visit this market along E. Milwaukee Avenue W. every Saturday from May to October.

Many locals love to visit the market every Saturday morning to stock up on freshly-harvested fruits and vegetables.

At the same time, you can eat local treats such as baked pastries, warm food, and refreshing drinks.

Likewise, you can find unique artwork and handicrafts at the Fort Farmers Market.

Score a Hole-in-One at Rock River Lanes & King Pin Adventure Golf

Rock River Lanes & King Pin Adventure Golf features various arcade-style entertainment experiences for everyone.

This place, situated along Larsen Road, is excellent for family entertainment.

It mainly features a video game arcade, a mini golf course, a sports bar, and a bowling alley.

At the same time, it has a menu featuring popular comfort food for everyone to enjoy after some tiring but fun activities.

Moreover, you can celebrate birthday parties and other affairs in the banquet hall of Rock River Lanes and King Pin Adventure Golf.

If you want to treat your family to a fantastic activity, bring them to this destination in Fort Atkinson.

Try Cherry Picking at Steffens Cherry Orchard

Steffens Cherry Orchard offers visitors a unique experience at its vast farm along McIntyre Road.

This orchard, known for its 1,800 cherry trees, lets its visitors pick their blueberries and tart cherries.

After picking, visitors can enjoy eating the cherries and blueberries afterward.

At the same time, munch on baked goodies and pastries made from the freshly-harvested cherries and blueberries.

Otherwise, take home your hand-picked cherries and blueberries.

The Steffens Cherry Orchard also serves locally-sourced honey and other homemade goodies, making it a nice place to visit.

Experience Top-Notch Entertainment at the Fireside Dinner Theatre

Exterior of Fireside Dinner Theatre
Nlhs1, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fireside Dinner Theatre is a renowned entertainment destination in the Midwest region.

You can visit this place along Janesville Avenue in Fort Atkinson.

This place has provided guests top-notch entertainment for over 50 years through its owner, the Klopcic family.

This theater is an actor's equity dinner theatre featuring a spectacular live performance while you enjoy a delicious meal.

Regularly scheduled live performances and stage plays should entertain you and your companions.

After enjoying live performances, proceed to the gift shop to buy unique souvenirs.

Spend a lovely evening at Fireside Dinner Theatre.

Other Things to Do Nearby

South of Fort Atkinson is the famous Lake Koshkonong, known for its vast natural beauty and fascinating history.

You can easily visit these places since they're only a few minutes outside Fort Atkinson.

Here are some of the most famous attractions to see near Fort Atkinson.

Go on an Outdoor Adventure in Lake Koshkonong

Lake Koshkonong sits roughly five miles and nine minutes southwest of Fort Atkinson.

This massive lake encompasses over 10,595 acres.

It covers the Dane, Rock, and Jefferson Counties, making it one of the biggest lakes in Wisconsin.

This lake is a natural water reservoir for numerous towns and cities in Southern Wisconsin.

However, everyone knows this lake for its boating, swimming, fishing, and watersports activities.

Lake Koshkononghas numerous public boat launches and public beaches.

Likewise, this lake is an angler's haven, abounding in northern pike, largemouth bass, panfish, musky, walleye, and catfish.

Take a Closer Look at the Koshkonong Effigy Mounds

You can find the Koshkonong Effigy Mounds 5.5 miles south of Fort Atkinson.

These mounds stand on the eastern shores of Lake Koshkonong, covering five acres.

Likewise, this historical Indian mound comprises 11 mounds.

Historically, Native Americans constructed these mounds between 650 AD and 1200 AD.

They built these mounts mainly for ceremonial and spiritual rituals.

To explore these mounds, you can hike through wooded trails, which gives you a better view of them.

Hiking through this place lets you discover not just the famous mounds but also a unique historical experience.

Visit the Koshkonong Effigy Mounds in Vinnie Ha Ha, Wisconsin, ten minutes from Fort Atkinson.

Final Thoughts

Which of these Fort Atkinson attractions will you visit first?

Don't forget to pack all your essentials and some extra energy to enjoy various outdoor activities.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin!