This summer we decided to become members of the Wisconsin Historical Society. I had already known we would be going to Old World Wisconsin at least once, as it is one of my daughter’s favorite spots. Becoming members seemed like a natural next step….free admission to 12 spots in WI….our day trips were going to involve some very interesting Wisconsin history!
Old World Wisconsin
If you haven’t been to Old World Wisconsin, I highly suggest you get there! My daughter even dresses the part, with a dress that looks like period clothing and a bonnet. The complex is huge and exploring it is so much fun for both of my kids (7 and 8 years old). Added to the fun and learning is the fact that there are so many staff, dressed in period dress, that lead the children (and adults) in activities of late 1800’s Wisconsin farm living. It’s a living history museum where the school has an actual teacher that teaches a lesson, and the kids can do chores like thrashing rye, weaving linen, gathering eggs from a chicken coop, and carding wool. Staff prepare meals in the manner of the time period for the other staff and the kids get to learn all about it. This time, one woman was making a rhubarb pie in one kitchen, and in another kitchen, the woman showed my kids how to start yeast for bread. We always leave thinking we wish we could stay longer and when can we come back. The best part is, there is always something new too. This year, you could get an old fashioned soda in the inn and could buy small items in the shop with an old fashioned coin!
Another spot we enjoyed in our #summerofhistory was Pendarvis. While this is a much smaller spot, we still enjoyed it. The staff here gave us a tour that I thoroughly enjoyed. There were all adults on our tour, aside from my own kids, and I felt that the guide geared it much more to adults. Thus, I think my kids got a little bored. They were glad when we got to the end of the tour and were able to explore on our own for awhile. The mining aspect of this little town was very interesting and now the kids know why we are called the Badger State!
A great little day trip for us was rounded out by a stop at Hook’s Cheese for superior and delicious fresh cheese curds and a stop at the quaint and sweet High Street Sweets. There is a very nice park with picnicking facilities directly across from Pendarvis too!
We spent an afternoon at Circus World in Baraboo with friends. This is also a stop that is free with membership in the historical society. I personally loved the old circus wagons with all of their colors. My son very much enjoyed the huge model of a working circus from the past that takes up a whole room. It was very interesting to see the old buildings and explore the winter grounds for the Ringling Brothers Circus. A lot of history right there! The kids enjoyed learning both the history of the circus and seeing the shows, especially the silly and funny show with 2 goofball clowns.
We’d like to see Villa Louis yet, and we will return to Old World Wisconsin again soon I’m sure. Another historical thing we did during our #summerofhistory was the mail boat tour of Lake Geneva. This is pricey tour, and pretty expensive, but it had been on my own summer bucket list for many summers. It has been around delivering mail for 100 years. While delivering this way is no longer really necessary, it’s a tradition that is fun and a part of the history of the area. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it to younger kids. It is about 2.5 hours long and a rather slow, luxurious boat ride. However, you will learn a TON about the history of the area and see and learn about many of the huge, beautiful mansions that line the lake. Plus, it really is fun to see the high school age mail jumpers deliver the mail around the lake, jumping off and on the boat as needed!
My kids really do like learning about history, and I think it is very important to learn about the past. My daughter enjoyed a Pioneer Day at Shake Rag Alley and now wants a butter churn for Christmas. Ha!