15 Best Things to Do in Ripon, WI

Ripon, WI
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As a historic city with a close-knit community, the city of Ripon, Wisconsin, is proud of its heritage and the role it played in the history of the United States.

Ripon is home to almost 8,000 residents and offers its people a thriving and developing economy.

Likewise, this city features several historic sites and nature adventures, especially for visitors and tourists.

Known as the cradle of the Republican Party, Ripon continuously aspires to protect and preserve places and things with great historical value.

The city hopes to attract tourists to visit and connect with the people in Ripon’s communities.

If you are thinking about where to go for your next trip, here are the best things to do in Ripon to help you decide:

Walk Down Memory Lane at the Little White Schoolhouse

Exterior of the Little White Schoolhouse
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Considered the birthplace of the Republican Party, the Little White Schoolhouse was the first public school in Ripon, constructed in 1853.

It became a historic site when political parties gathered here on March 20, 1854, to express opposition to slavery through the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

The gathering gave birth to the Republican Party, which has since stood at the opposing end of the Democratic Party.

History marker of the Little White Schoolhouse
Aaron of L.A. Photography / Shutterstock.com

Because of this historic event, the Little White Schoolhouse became a part of the State and National Registry of Historic Places and named a National Historic Site in 1974.

Later, new owners moved the schoolhouse and renovated it into a private home.

Today, it operates as a museum located at 305 Blackburn Street.

Do not forget to drop by this historical site during your visit to Ripon.

Interior of the Little White Schoolhouse
Wwahammy, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Try Wine Tasting at the Vines & Rushes Winery

If you want to taste wine naturally grown in Wisconsin, try the famous Vines & Rushes Winery in Ripon.

Located along Country Road E, this winery boasts wine offerings made from grapes that have withstood the coldest winters in Wisconsin.

The vineyard also has a tasting room for your wine tasting, which includes ciders, white wine, and red wine.

While drinking wine, you can also enjoy their delectable food like pizza, pasta, salad, and desserts.

Live bands also perform there on weekends.

If you want to learn how to cook or do yoga, you can book classes at the Vines & Rushes Winery.

Meet a Special Horse Breed at Larson's Famous Clydesdales

Clydesdale horses are famous for their intelligence, beautiful build, and playful personality.

Ripon is home to these solid and sweet horses, which you can find at the Larson’s Famous Clydesdales along Reeds Corners Road.

Fifteen Clydesdales live in this tourist attraction which offers various activities for the young and the old.

You can go around the property on a 90-minute guided tour where you can interact and take photos with the Clydesdale horses.

You will also marvel at these world-class horses that have won in many shows locally and nationally.

If you want to raise your own Clydesdale horse, Larson's Famous Clydesdales also offers them for sale.

See a Movie at the Marcus Campus Cinema

After a long day exploring attractions in Ripon, you can see a movie at the Marcus Campus Cinema along Watson Street.

Established in 1935, the cinema is Ben Marcus’ first theater under the Marcus Corporation which now owns a chain of theaters, hotels, and resorts.

The Marcus Campus Cinema previously housed a department store, which they renovated and converted into the theater.

If you want to relax and enjoy a movie, visit the historic movie house and watch a classic or blockbuster with your loved ones.

Host a Bowling Party at Plaza Bowl

The entire family will surely treasure a memorable birthday party.

Head to the Plaza Bowl along Fond Du Lac Street to book a bowling party venue for your kids.

Parties at this venue include unlimited bowling and drinks for two hours.

They also give out cakes as part of the package for your kids birthday.

This is perfect for family gatherings and celebrations since they also serve food like pizza with various beverages.

If your birthday falls during your Ripon trip, consider a bowling party at the Plaza Bowl.

Take Your Pets for a Stroll at the Ripon Dog Park

Daytime view of Ripon Dog Park
Helene Woodbine / Shutterstock.com

Ripon Dog Park along S Koro Road is a must-visit place when traveling with pets.

You can enjoy going around the vast, green five-acre park with your dog.

Let them play in the open spaces or utilize equipment to test their skills and talents.

Signage at Ripon Dog Park
Helene Woodbine / Shutterstock.com

A fence protects the entire facility, and there are also areas for small dogs with separate barriers.

You can enjoy every inch of space here without paying for anything since donations continue to fund Ripon Dog Park.

Take your dogs here and the entire family to enjoy a day outdoors.

Learn to Ride a Horse at Cedar Ridge Ranch and Lodge

Situated on a 250-acre farm, Cedar Ridge Ranch and Lodge offers lovers of horses and those who want to ride these animals ample space for horseback riding.

Choose indoor and outdoor spaces for riding depending on your preferred riding experience.

Beginners can undergo basic training on horseback riding, while experienced ones can explore customized trails around the farm.

Meanwhile, for existing horse owners, Cedar Ridge Ranch and Lodge also offer horse boarding in their 22-stall facility equipped with rough boards.

When visiting Ripon, Cedar Ridge Ranch is a must-visit for horseback riding enthusiasts and those interested in horses.

Learn a new skill in Ripon!

Explore Nature at Riggs County Park

The 300-acre Riggs County Park gathers people of various ages to the open space along Douglas Street.

The park opened in 1998 and has seen the addition of several amenities.

Kids can enjoy water activities at the splash pads and climb big rocks on a sandy area.

There is also a community garden filled with vegetables.

A boardwalk ending with an overview of the open space is also a major attraction here.

Aside from these activities, you can also take a hike around the big farm and see various types of wild birds while taking a walk.

Bring your binoculars or cameras to capture these birds when you visit Riggs County Park.

Learn about Ripon’s History at the Ripon Public Library

If you love to read books, the Ripon Public Library has everything you need, thanks to its collection of readings and other printed materials.

Conceptualized as early as the 1880s and constructed in the 1970s, the public library will let you borrow books and other printed materials while also allowing you to unearth Ripon’s history with its local historical records.

Ripon Public Library is a repository of vital information from genealogy books to walking tours of the city.

You will learn how people started living in this city, its development, daily activities, and even cemetery records.

For history buffs, research and explore the rich history of Ripon and its people.

It will also help you appreciate the city's beauty not only on the outside but also in its storied history.

Other Things to Do Nearby

A trip to Ripon also allows you to explore other nearby attractions in adjacent cities.

Since the city is close to many Wisconsin towns and cities and driving to these areas takes just a few minutes, you might want to consider visiting these places.

Here are nearby tourist attractions which you can visit during your trip to Ripon, Wisconsin.

See a Musical at the Thrasher Opera House

Exterior of Thrasher Opera House
Royalbroil, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a 12-minute drive from Ripon to nearby Green Lake, Wisconsin, and find an arts haven worth visiting.

The Thrasher Opera House is a quaint music venue that promotes music and the arts and offers a look at the opera house's history.

Built in 1910, the Thrasher Opera House amused the entire community with movies that served as their entertainment source despite their busy lives.

It later screened silent films and musicals during World War II.

Later, they restored the theater under its original name as a tribute to Charlie Thrasher, the person behind its establishment.

The Thrasher Opera House is also part of the Wisconsin State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places.

Shows slated here include musicals, band performances, and movie showings.

Art exhibits also happen at the theater.

Rent a Boat and Explore the Green Lake Marina

Boats at Green Lake Marina
Aaron of L.A. Photography / Shutterstock.com

Experience luxury and adventure at the Green Lake Marina with boat and pontoon rentals.

If you are traveling with a big group, drive 14 minutes from Ripon to Green Lake Marina along Park Drive to rent boats and pontoons that can fit 6 to 15 people.

Operating for more than 50 years, the boat rental company lets visitors tour the shoreline of Green Lake aboard well-maintained boats and pontoons.

People on boats at Green Lake Marina
Aaron of L.A. Photography / Shutterstock.com

You can also try fishing while exploring as the lake abounds with various fish varieties like crappie, rock bass, and walleye.

Likewise, you can find accommodations at the Green Lake Marina if you want to spend more than a day there.

You can book a room for an overnight stay and then continue your adventure for the next day.

Ride a Snowmobile at the Mascoutin Valley State Trail

Enjoy winter activities, especially riding in a snowmobile near Ripon.

The Mascoutin Valley State Park Trail in Rosendale, Wisconsin, offers snowmobile trails you can explore with your friends and loved ones.

This winter destination is a 12-minute drive away from Ripon.

Bring your gear for the snow activities awaiting you on the Mascoutin Valley State Trail during the winter.

Besides a snowmobiling adventure, you can also try snowshoeing and cross-country skiing at the Mascoutin Valley State Trail.

During the summer, you can go biking, walking, and hiking at the park.

Dogs are welcome, but you must keep a close eye on them.

Spend the Day at Nathan Strong Park

Houses at Nathan Strong Park
Royalbroil, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located in Berlin, Wisconsin, an 18-minute drive from Ripon, Nathan Strong Park sits amid houses designed during the 1800s.

These structures follow unique old architecture scattered around its open spaces.

The park gets its name from its founder, Nathan Strong, who donated the city park to the residents of Berlin.

It was initially an area filled with grass and trees.

Over the years, the park added attractions, including a bandstand and a fountain.

Nathan Strong Park is a must-visit destination if you want to walk along the park while appreciating 1800s architecture.

Final Thoughts

Ripon remains true to its beautiful history even in this modern world, offering locals and tourists places and activities that pay tribute to its rich past.

The city also maximizes its natural resources in luring tourists to the area.

You can enjoy outdoor and historical activities, which residents of the place find equally crucial in preserving the history and culture of Ripon.

If you want a place to spend your next vacation, consider the best things to do in Ripon, Wisconsin.