Many of the places people love in Wisconsin today first captured the hearts of those from long ago. There’s no shortage of great places to discover, and it’s safe to say that they’ve left a lasting impact. Take a look at some of the most then-and-wow-worthy places from around the state – all of which are over 100 years old and show why multiple generations have enjoyed these dynamic destinations time and time again. As you get your short list ready for your next adventure, see for yourself why so many people have decided to make their own memories there.
Devil’s Lake in Baraboo
Devil's Lake now:
Officially founded as a state park in 1911 but a popular tourist destination since the mid-1800s, Devil’s Lake was a natural stunner just as much then as it is now. The area was originally inhabited by the Ho-Chunk Nation for thousands of years and today many effigy mounds can still be found within the park.
Take a trip Devil's Lake to explore over 10,000 acres of natural beauty that draw nearly 3 million visitors each year. Whether you opt for beachside barbecues and boating or scaling the bluffs and mastering the hiking trails, Wisconsin’s most popular state park is the perfect playground for anyone in your crew to explore and enjoy.
Taliesin in Spring Green
Built on land owned by his family and frequented as a child, Frank Lloyd Wright designed and created Taliesin, a home that was “of the hill” – not on it. Meaning “shining brow,” Taliesin was completed in 1911 and purposefully situated below the top of the hill (instead of on it) to meld architecture organically into the surrounding landscapes.
Made with local materials and built “low, wide and snug,” Taliesin is one of Wright’s most popular expressions of Prairie-style organic architecture. His property is 37,000 square feet, functioning as a home, studio and school of architecture. As you revel in both the beauty of the Driftless Region and Wright’s career-defining architectural contributions, you’ll no doubt create core memories that will last a lifetime.
Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay
Yerkes Observatory now:
In 1892, a promising young professor of astrophysics at the University of Chicago named George Ellery Hale convinced the university’s president to acquire the needed funding from Charles Yerkes, a Chicago tycoon, to buy the land and build the observatory of his dreams.
Situated on the shores of Lake Geneva in Williams Bay, Yerkes Observatory opened in 1897 and quickly attracted the brightest minds in the field. Since its creation, the observatory has been a local and international destination for astronomers, scholars and novice explorers alike, propelling space exploration to the edge of the universe – literally. Yerkes continues to welcome curious minds and new generations of deep space explorers, keeping the wonderment of the galaxy alive.
Kohler-Andrae State Park in Sheboygan
Miles of golden beach known for its sand dunes have drawn people to this stretch of Lake Michigan coastline in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, for hundreds of years. Technically two parks but managed as one, Kohler-Andrae is a natural preserve that provides year-round fun for friends and families looking to make the most of their time together.
Outdoor enthusiasts can connect with nature by strolling on the boardwalk, exploring miles of trails on foot or cross-country ski, or ending the day tucked in the woods around a fire at your campsite.
Leinenkugel’s Brewery in Chippewa Falls
“Prost!” rang out loud and clear when the first round of pints were poured, clinked and consumed at Leinenkugel’s Brewery in Chippewa Falls – and a similar scene still takes place today.
The brewery was founded in 1867 by Jacob Leinenkugel, son of German immigrants. He saw the potential of the rich soil, paired with the water from the river, for growing hops and grain and knew he could apply his brewing knowledge to ferment something fantastic.
Initially popular with the local lumberjacks in town, the brewery persevered over the years, and today the sixth generation of Leinenkugels continues to produce uniquely hoppy delights that are popular with all kinds of beer drinkers.
Eagle Tower now:
Separating Green Bay from Lake Michigan is Door County, a peninsula rich in panoramic vistas. Eagle Tower, located in Peninsula State Park, has delighted visitors since its initial construction in 1914. The current tower offers a 100-stair climb or 850-foot canopy walk to the top, providing stunning, accessible views for all.
Another favorite is Potawatomi State Park, which touts 1,200 acres of rolling terrain that turns into limestone cliffs overlooking the shores of Sturgeon Bay. When stunning views and picture-worthy moments are what you seek, Door County does not disappoint.
Apostle Islands in Bayfield
Apostle Islands now:
The picturesque coastline of Bayfield is the ancestral homeland of the Objibwe people and today you can visit the nearby Red Cliff Reservation as well as Frog Bay Tribal National Park. Peppered along the water’s edge are the jewels of Lake Superior – 21 islands known as the Apostle Islands. Shaped from years of wind and water to create the famous sea caves, the Apostle Islands offer nooks and crannies aplenty to explore from the water with kayaks and afoot on land.
Bayfield and the Apostle Islands are equally mesmerizing during the winter and in the summer and offer adventurous go-getters gorgeous landscapes to discover that are sure to please everyone.
This is just a small handful of places around the state that showcase Wisconsin’s historic past – and their ongoing appeal for people today. Explore more with 7 buildings that shaped the state's history and amazing Wisconsin heritage sites where history comes alive.