Sun Prairie is an active and growing city in the northeastern part of Dane County, Wisconsin.
It’s a suburb of Wisconsin’s capital city, Madison, and it’s Dane County’s second most populated city.
Sun Prairie was incorporated as a town in 1846, as a village in 1868, and finally as a city in 1958.
Famous as the birthplace of Georgia O’Keefe, the American modernist artist, Sun Prairie displays an advantage with its location and distance to Madison.
The city offers a wide range of services, activities, and attractions to locals and tourists alike.
Sun Prairie has earned a reputation for a good quality of life, great parks and leisure programs, a charming downtown, an outstanding public school system, and a forward-thinking approach to community growth and redevelopment.
Discover the many fascinating attractions that make this city a fantastic destination to visit or call home.
Here are the best things to do in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.
Explore Downtown Sun Prairie
Downtown Sun Prairie, with the construction of Cannery Square, serves as the central district of the community.
As a booming commercial area, Downtown Sun Prairie offers a wide range of stores, restaurants, bars, arts venues, entertainment, and services.
Charles Bird was the area’s first settler in 1839, and the current downtown area stands on his property.
As the center of the thriving city, Downtown Sun Prairie’s unique spaces provide residents and visitors with a local taste in dining and shopping.
Downtown Sun Prairie also features the Historic District, the Sun Prairie Historical Library and Museum, and government services.
The Downtown Historic District, which covers parts of four square blocks and includes 28 buildings that face East Main Street, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2019.
Spend Time in Nature at Patrick Marsh Wildlife Area
The Patrick Marsh Wildlife Area is a wildlife and conservation area that spans 340 acres, situated on the northeastern side of Sun Prairie.
Visitors are welcome to explore the prairies, marshes, and savannas with more than two miles of trails.
Surrounding the 148-acre Brazee Lake, Patrick Marsh Wildlife Area makes an excellent location to spend the morning or afternoon.
Options for recreation include hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, wildlife viewing, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking.
Groundswell Conservancy manages the Patrick Marsh Wildlife Area in cooperation with the Patrick Marsh Conservancy, Wisconsin DNR, local government, and residents.
Go Skating at the Sun Prairie Ice Arena
The Sun Prairie Ice Arena is a 91,000-square-foot state-of-the-art ice arena on Grove Street owned by Sun Prairie Ice, Inc.
The Ice Arena offers community recreation all year round, especially for skaters of any age and interests, including recreational skaters, hockey players, and figure skaters.
The facility features two NHL-sized rink surfaces, a seating capacity of 1,100 and 600, concession stands, an on-site restaurant, meeting and birthday party rooms, a dance studio, and more!
Learn how to skate by joining one of their public skating sessions, available several times weekly.
The Sun Prairie Ice Arena also offers ice hockey and figure skating classes for both kids and adults.
Watch a Race at the Angell Park Speedway
Angell Park Speedway features a 1/3 mile dirt racetrack operated by the Sun Prairie Fire Department.
Donated by Colonel William Angell in 1903, the track gained popularity for its midget car race events, which first started competing in 1936.
As of 2008, it’s the only racetrack in the country to hold midget car races every week.
To honor this, Angell Park Speedway houses the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame, a museum featuring midget cars.
The race occurs every Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day, although the program may change due to weather and special track events.
It has become a family tradition in Sun Prairie to visit Angell Park Speedway and watch racers compete in these events.
Take the Kids to Explore Children’s Museum
Explore Children’s Museum is a non-profit organization and museum located on West Main Street that offers children and adults the chance to actively participate in education through play, collaboration, and relevant information.
The concept of a children’s museum in the city began in the spring of 2019, followed by research, connections, and visits to children’s museums throughout the midwest.
Explore Children’s Museum finally opened to the public in 2022.
Explore’s unique learning experience is distinct from other children’s museums in the region and is appropriate for kids ages 0 to eight.
Explore Children’s Museum presents a wide variety of permanent and rotating exhibits and play areas curated carefully to foster creative thinking, imaginative play, and hands-on learning.
Your kids will explore arts, literature, building construction, science exploration, environmental sustainability, and possible career options.
Get a Fitness Membership at the Prairie Athletic Club
For fitness and sports enthusiasts, the Prairie Athletic Club (PAC) is for you.
Prairie Athletic Club is Wisconsin’s biggest leisure and recreational fitness center, with more than 250,000 square feet of facilities.
PAC is a membership-based club, but don’t worry; they have a variety of membership programs that will suit your time and needs!
Before you commit to a membership, take advantage of PAC’s free tours to learn more about what sets it apart from the rest!
One of the highlights of PAC is the Dolphin Cove Water Park, named the “Best Thing for Kids to Do” in Sun Prairie and the best private outdoor water park in Dane County.
Here, you can have fun and entertainment by sliding down exhilarating slides, relaxing in the lazy river, zooming down a 75-foot zipline, splashing through lily pads, or climbing the Aquaclimb wall.
At the Prairie Athletic Club, you’ll find everything you need.
Enjoy 100 classes per week, 125 cardio pieces, CrossFit, yoga, basketball, indoor soccer, racquetball, martial arts, saunas, adult and youth programs, and much more!
Visit the Sun Prairie Historical Library and Museum
The Sun Prairie Historical Library and Museum has gathered, preserved, interpreted, and exhibited historical collections on the growth of Sun Prairie and the daily lives of its inhabitants for more than 50 years.
This free museum provides historical walking tours and rotating exhibits and is an essential source of information for historians and genealogists.
The facility has operated in the 1924 Sun Prairie Public Library building on East Main Street since 1969.
Some exhibits are the Georgia O’Keeffe Room in honor of Georgia Totto O’Keeffe’s contribution to the world of art and the WI Porcelain Company featuring the largest employer in Sun Prairie from 1940-1963.
The Sun Prairie Historical Library and Museum is open from May to October to provide visitors with an insight into this region’s rich history and to foster a sense of community.
See a Show at the Sun Prairie Civic Theatre
For over 50 years, the Sun Prairie Civic Theatre (SPCT) has used theater as an instrument to give inspiration to the local community.
Since SPCT opened its doors to the public in 1970, thousands of people have contributed their time and skills both onstage and backstage to Sun Prairie and the surrounding areas.
SPCT stages a variety of comedies, dramas, and musicals every year, with the Sound of Music as the group’s best-selling performance, selling more than 2,000 tickets.
Most of the time, SPCT produces annual plays for children to expose the younger generation to the performing arts.
The Sun Prairie Civic Theatre was one of the original chapters of the nationwide program, the Penguin Project.
It offers kids with disabilities a safe space to develop their artistic skills.
Locations for performances vary.
However, most rehearsals and sets are at the SPCT Barn on South Bird Street.
Attend a Beading Workshop at Meant to Bead
Meant to Bead is an upscale bead shop conveniently located in Downtown Sun Prairie, serving the Sun Prairie and Madison areas.
Meant to Bead features locally-made jewelry pieces and sells an excellent selection of beads by artists from across the country.
Their wide variety of high-quality beads includes Czech glass beads, fire-polished, semi-precious stones, seed beads, and Swarovski crystals!
For lessons and workshops, Meant to Bead has a beading room with hand tools and design boards accessible to finish your projects.
The room is also fit for birthday parties and other private celebrations.
Get Creative at Board and Brush Creative Studio
Book a fuss-free workshop at Board and Brush Creative Studio if you’re longing for a new DIY project without having to gather all materials and make a mess at home!
Moreover, Board and Brush Creative Studio combine paint and wood with the delight of beer, cocktails, and wine.
You may design a custom wood sign while enjoying a beverage and interacting with friends and family in a lively, enjoyable environment.
Their raw wood and timeless designs will help you make a unique DIY item for your home.
They also offer various interactive and private activities, including birthdays, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, corporate events, and fundraising programs.
Board and Brush Creative Studio are in the heart of Sun Prairie, close to the intersection of Main and Bristol Downtown.
Book a Kiddie Party at the Prairie Kids Club
The Prairie Kids Club is the ideal space to play or to celebrate a particular party for your kids!
Children of all ages can enjoy their open gym times with inflatables, trampolines, imaginative play zones, ride-on, and game tables.
Aspiring gymnasts can use their available professional equipment, such as balance beams, parallel and uneven bars, vaults, and tumble tracks!
Prairie Kids Club offers a fantastic Party Program, so booking your next kiddie party here is an excellent way to make their big day enjoyable and memorable for everyone.
The staff of Prairie Kids Club takes great pride in being knowledgeable and skilled and always prioritizing the kids’ safety and best interests.
Join a Scavenger Hunt at Sun Prairie Dream Park
The Sun Prairie Dream Park, also known as Firemen’s Park in the Prairie, was built in just five days in the summer of 2007 with the help of hundreds of local volunteers from Sun Prairie!
This park is managed by a group of volunteers known as Friends of Firemen’s Park, who works with the community to maintain its facilities.
The Sun Prairie Dream Park is about spending quality time with the family, and a scavenger hunt is always a good idea for great family time!
Print out a scavenger hunt map from the park’s website before your visit for an educational but fun activity you can do with your kids.
The Sun Prairie Dream Park has a playground, picnic areas, restrooms equipped with baby changing stations, and a 27-stall parking area on the garden’s eastern side, with more parking spaces along the road or at the bottom of the hill.
Drop by the Sun Prairie Public Library
The Sun Prairie Public Library is the community’s public resource for reading materials, computer stations and wi-fi, movies and music, digital and audiobooks, and more.
Other services include copying, faxing, scanning, areas for group work and individual study, early literacy programs, exam proctoring, and technical assistance.
The Sun Prairie Public Library is a vital, positive influence in the neighborhood.
The library hosts activities and programs that cater to all age groups, from kids to teens to adults, such as book clubs, storytimes, and story walks, among others!
The Sun Prairie Public Library strives to provide chances for every citizen to participate, connect, and learn about cutting-edge, conventional, and developing library resources and services.
This library connects visitors with the world of ideas, literacy, literature, and information.
Unwind at the Full Mile Beer Company and Kitchen
Full Mile Beer Company and Kitchen opened in 2018 to unite the community over delicious food and drinks in a setting specifically for that purpose.
With its craft beers, a fully stocked bar with premium cocktails, spirits, and wine, a wood-fired pizza oven, and unique dishes in a friendly, laid-back atmosphere, it’s an experience you won’t get anywhere else in the city.
All their house beers and seltzers are produced and served just a few feet from the bar.
It’s the freshest beer you can have, not to mention creativity, variety, and quality!
Don’t miss “Third Thursdays with Soggy Prairie,” Sun Prairie’s local Bluegrass band takes center stage every Thursday for everyone’s entertainment.
In case you miss it, there’s always music or an event every Saturday!
If you’re looking for a fantastic spot to unwind after a long and busy day, Full Mile Beer Company and Kitchen will keep you company!
Celebrate Groundhog Day
The Groundhog Day celebration in Sun Prairie dates back to 1948, declaring the city the “Groundhog Capital of the World.”
It comes from a Pennsylvania Dutch belief that if a groundhog comes out from its burrow and finds its shadow because of clear weather, it will return to its den, and winter will last another six weeks.
However, spring will come early if the animal doesn’t see its shadow.
This Sun Prairie tradition started when Eau Claire-based artist, Ira Bennett, produced a set of postcards associating several cities in Wisconsin with special holidays.
Bennett selected Groundhog Day for the city because of this idea.
The groundhog sees its shadow when the sun rises on the prairie, hence the name Sun Prairie.
Join the yearly Sun Prairie Groundhog Prognostication held every February 2, when people wait for a groundhog to emerge from its burrow and predict the arrival of spring.
Besides the groundhog, companies and organizations across Sun Prairie also offer various Groundhog Day deals!
Sun Prairie is a thriving community offering activities for people of all ages.
Its proximity to Madison and plenty of kid-friendly locations make it an ideal city for tourists and new residents, particularly families!
Experience how good life can be for the whole family with the best things to do in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin!