July 17, 2019 by: Kathleen Fleming
A Perfect Day at Old World Wisconsin
Old World Wisconsin should be a bucket list destination for any history buff, child both old and young at heart, and curious Wisconsinite. Spend the day learning about early pioneer life and how the original Wisconsin residents shaped our culture to the loving midwest lifestyle that is still alive today.
What is Old World Wisconsin?
Located in Southeast Wisconsin, just outside the charming village of Eagle, lies Old World Wisconsin, a sprawling historic site and an outdoor museum showcasing early 19th-century farm life. Opened in 1976, this site has collected more than 60 historic structures from all over Wisconsin. Each piece of a historic building was carefully removed and rebuilt on the grounds exactly like it was originally. This outdoor museum is situated on 600 acres featuring not only the buildings, but heirloom gardens, antique tools and trinkets, and historic animals. You can take a self-guided walk around the grounds and enjoy a day learning about history, but what really sets this site apart from the others are the dedicated staff. All of the wonderful workers are historical enthusiasts who have an undying passion for educating others about pioneer life through fun activities, hands-on demonstrations, and delicious old world food. No wonder Family Tree ranked Old World Wisconsin on the Top 10 Outdoor History Attractions in the US!
Due to growing interest and increased demand, Old World Wisconsin has decided to open their grounds for weekday exploration. For just $5 per person, you can roam free on the 600 acres of land and guide yourself at your own pace. For an extra $5, you can take a guided tram tour and receive exclusive access to some of the buildings.
- Walk the grounds: The designers of the village have created different self-guided tours that are perfect for the guest wanting to travel at their own pace and fully take in the rich history of Wisconsin. The Architecture Walk takes you through their 60 structures featuring German Fachwerk, Scandinavian corner notching, and a Cutover cordwood house. The Garden Walk showcases the heirloom flowers, fruits, veggies, and herbs that draw from old world traditions. Tour these gardens at different times of the year to experience the different stages of life. The Nature Walk is designed to help you explore the unique landscapes and wildlife of the Wisconsin forests on well-maintained paths.
- Take a Guided Tram Tour: Want to learn more about Wisconsin’s rich history? The guided tram tour provides a more hands-on experience to help you immerse into the old world culture. Enter historical buildings, meet heritage animals, and enjoy our forgotten foods.
- Pack & Enjoy a Lunch: The cafe & creamery on-site are closed on weekdays, but you can bring your own food onto the grounds. Pack a delicious picnic to enjoy in the forest, near your favorite building, or surrounded by garden flowers. Grab some famous Wisconsin cheese, seasonal fruit, local meats, your favorite crackers, and some cookies for a perfect lunch.
On the weekends, Old World Wisconsin really comes to life. The buildings open up and are filled with historical enthusiasts ready to share their knowledge and immerse you in the old world culture. For just $20 a person, you can spend the day living in the 19th century.
- Scandinavian Homesteads: Take a class in the one-room school. Milk a cow, try a new craft, cook a traditional dish, or participate in a lesson about the beginnings of Wisconsin life.
Life On the Farm: Roll up your sleeves and get to work! Now that you know what all these tools are, it is time to use them. Help out with the chores and farm work that early pioneers used to do on a daily basis. Remember, there was no electricity back then!
- Enjoy a Ploughman’s Lunch: Stop by the Clausing Barn Cafe located in the old milking parlor for a simple, seasonal lunch. Relax indoors, on the patio, or take the food to go and enjoy a picnic on the museum grounds.
- Ride a High Wheeler: Head on over to the Wheelmen’s Club after lunch to take a spin on a High-Wheeler or a 19th-century tricycle. A regular mountain bike just won’t be the same after one of these fun, old-fashioned bicycles!
- Shop the Crossroads Village: Meander around the village and hop in and out of stores. Meet with the blacksmith and see metal take shape and come to life in front of you. You can pick up Time Travel Tokens to shop around just like in the old days.
- Enjoy Old Fashioned Ice Cream: You can’t leave without a wonderfully cold, creamy treat! Stop by the cafe on your way out and try one of their premium ice cream flavors.
Old World Wisconsin sure knows how to throw an event. Good food, wholesome historical enactments, and seasonal gatherings make any of their events fun for any age. While any weekend is a blast on the grounds, attending one of these special events may just be the highlight of your year.
- 1860s Spanferkel: Come on over to the museum on August 17th for a good old fashioned German pig roast. Dine on heritage pork that has been slowly roasted over a fire all day and accompanying historical side dishes and historic beer brewed on-site. Enjoy a special and delicious meal reminiscent of the early Wisconsin immigrants.
- Halloween Legends & Lore: Two weekends in October (Oct 18-19 & 25-26) are overrun with Halloween fun. Watch the old supernatural tales come to life as you explore the Crossroads village after dark. These aren’t your usual folklore, and you may find yourself a little spooked.
- An Old World Christmas: Christmas has always been a day filled with traditions and fun. At Old World Wisconsin on the weekends of December 2-8 & 14-15, you can experience vibrant holiday traditions in a fairytale winter wonderland. Prepare Vanocka, see America’s largest Yule Goat, and beware of Krampus!
Whether you visit Old World Wisconsin on a weekday, a weekend, or attend one of their special events, you’ll be surprised by how much there is to learn about early pioneer life, and how fun it is to get in on the action. Visit in the spring, summer, winter, or fall for a different experience and explore the seasonal traditions held by our ancestors.
Planning a trip to Old World Wisconsin? Book a stay at the lovely Hamilton House Bed & Breakfast in downtown Whitewater, just minutes from Kettle Moraine State Park & Old World Wisconsin.