13 Best Places and Things To Do in Baraboo, Wisconsin

Baraboo, Wisconsin, located in Sauk County, is a charming city known for its natural beauty, historical attractions, and vibrant arts scene. Nestled in the picturesque Baraboo Range, this small town offers a plethora of outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, and family-friendly activities. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Baraboo.

1. Devil’s Lake State Park


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Just a few miles south of Baraboo, Devil’s Lake State Park is a natural gem and a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. This stunning park offers opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, swimming, boating, and picnicking. The park’s namesake lake, surrounded by towering cliffs, provides breathtaking views and ample recreational activities.

2. Circus World Museum

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Baraboo has a rich circus heritage, and the Circus World Museum is a must-visit attraction for all ages. Explore the fascinating history of the American circus through exhibits, live performances, and interactive displays. You can watch thrilling circus acts, tour vintage wagons, and even try your hand at circus skills.

3. Parfrey’s Glen

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Parfrey’s Glen is known for its stunning natural beauty. The gorge is carved by a clear, rushing stream that flows through the sandstone cliffs, creating picturesque waterfalls and small pools. The surrounding forest is lush and green, providing a serene and peaceful atmosphere. There are well-maintained hiking trails that wind through Parfrey’s Glen. The main trail follows the stream, taking you deeper into the gorge and offering breathtaking views along the way. The trail can be rocky and uneven in some areas, so wearing appropriate footwear is recommended. The hike is relatively short but can be moderately challenging, making it suitable for most skill levels.

4. Al. Ringling Mansion


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History buffs will enjoy a visit to the Al. Ringling Mansion, once home to one of the famous Ringling Brothers. This opulent mansion showcases the grandeur and elegance of the early 20th century. Take a guided tour to admire the intricate architecture, lavish interiors, and learn about the Ringling family’s influence on the area.

5. Mirror Lake State Park


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The park’s namesake, Mirror Lake, is a serene and reflective body of water surrounded by rolling hills and lush greenery. The calm waters of the lake provide a perfect setting for kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and fishing. It’s a great place to relax, soak in the peaceful atmosphere, and enjoy the scenic beauty. Mirror Lake State Park offers a network of hiking and nature trails that wind through diverse ecosystems, including forests, meadows, and wetlands. The trails vary in difficulty, from easy paved paths to more challenging routes. The popular Tumbled Rocks Trail takes you along the edge of the lake, offering stunning views and opportunities for wildlife sightings.

6. Aldo Leopold Foundation

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Nature lovers will appreciate a visit to the Aldo Leopold Foundation. Learn about the influential conservationist Aldo Leopold, author of the environmental classic “A Sand County Almanac.” Explore the Leopold Center, take a guided tour of the historic Leopold Shack, and immerse yourself in the foundation’s land restoration and environmental education initiatives.

7. Pewit’s Nest Gorge


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Pewit’s Nest Gorge is renowned for its natural beauty and picturesque surroundings. The gorge features steep cliffs, carved out by the Skillet Creek, which flows through the area. The sandstone formations and the clear water create a breathtaking sight, especially when combined with the lush greenery and vibrant plant life that surrounds the gorge. There is a designated hiking trail that allows visitors to explore Pewit’s Nest Gorge. The trail meanders through the woods, leading you to the heart of the gorge and the main attraction, a stunning waterfall. The hike to the gorge is relatively short but can be moderately challenging, with some steep and rocky sections. Sturdy footwear is recommended for a safe and comfortable hike.

8. Ochsner Park Zoo

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Families with children will enjoy a visit to the Ochsner Park Zoo. This small and intimate zoo is home to a variety of animals, including lions, bears, monkeys, and more. Kids can get up close to the animals and even participate in educational programs and feeding sessions. The zoo also features a playground and picnic area, making it a perfect spot for a family outing.

9. Baraboo Bluffs

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The Baraboo Bluffs are part of the Baraboo Range, which consists of quartzite rock formations that were formed over a billion years ago. These bluffs are remnants of a once towering mountain range that has eroded over time. The unique geology of the region attracts geologists and nature enthusiasts interested in understanding the Earth’s history. The Baraboo Bluffs are best experienced through Devil’s Lake State Park, a popular and scenic destination in the area. The park surrounds Devil’s Lake, a stunning glacially-formed lake nestled between the bluffs. Hiking trails such as the East Bluff Trail and West Bluff Trail offer breathtaking views of the bluffs, the lake, and the surrounding landscapes.

10. Glacial Lake Wisconsin


Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glacial_Lake_Wisconsin

Glacial Lake Wisconsin was formed as the last continental glacier, known as the Wisconsin Glacial Episode, retreated from the region approximately 15,000 years ago. As the ice melted, it left behind a depression in the landscape, which eventually filled with water from melting ice and precipitation. The lake drained primarily through the Wisconsin River, which served as its outlet. The river’s flow increased significantly during the period when Glacial Lake Wisconsin existed, carrying vast amounts of water and sediment from the melting glaciers.

11. International Clown Hall of Fame


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The International Clown Hall of Fame was founded in 1986 by Leon McBryde, a former circus clown known as “Milo” and “Pinto.” McBryde had a deep passion for preserving the art of clowning and wanted to create a space to celebrate the art form’s history and its iconic figures. The museum features a wide range of exhibits that showcase the history and evolution of clowning. Visitors can explore displays of clown costumes, props, makeup, and memorabilia. The exhibits highlight the diversity of clowning styles and pay homage to legendary clowns from different eras and cultures.

12. Sauk County Historical Museum

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The museum features a variety of exhibits that chronicle the history of Sauk County from its early settlement to the present day. The exhibits cover a wide range of topics, including Native American history, pioneer life, agriculture, industry, transportation, and notable local figures. Through artifacts, photographs, documents, and interactive displays, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of the region’s past and its significance.

13. Historical Man Mound

Man Mound.jpg

Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_Mound

The Historical Man Mound is believed to have been constructed by the Native American people of the Effigy Mound culture, who inhabited the area between 700 and 1,200 years ago. These mounds were created as earthen monuments and are considered sacred sites, reflecting the cultural and spiritual practices of the indigenous communities. The Effigy Mound culture was characterized by the construction of earthen mounds in various shapes, including animals, birds, and humans. These mounds served as burial sites, ceremonial spaces, and landmarks that marked important locations or events in the lives of the indigenous people.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, history buff, nature lover, or art enthusiast, Baraboo, Wisconsin, has something to offer everyone. From its rich circus heritage to its natural beauty and cultural attractions, this charming city promises a memorable experience for visitors of all ages.