Wisconsin September 03, 2017
The Quirkiest Town In Wisconsin That You’ll Absolutely Love
A visit to Baraboo is a study in paradoxes. This quaint little city with a charming downtown and Main Street was once a booming lumber spot due to its location in between the Baraboo and Wisconsin Rivers. Some of the most gorgeous and most popular state parks and natural areas are in Baraboo. The city served as the home base for the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus in the late 1800s and has been home to the Circus World Museum since the 1950s. Add in The International Crane Foundation and one man’s collection of scrap metal sculptures and you have a super interesting mix. That’s why I think Baraboo is Wisconsin’s quirkiest town.
Downtown Baraboo looks like it could be any other small and charming midwestern spot. The locals are friendly, the businesses are family-owned and everything feels basically perfect.
Just a few short miles away is the state's biggest park - a hugely popular spot for hikers, campers and swimmers. The area here is known as the Baraboo Hills and it's about as close to mountains as we get here in Wisconsin.
Designated one of the "Last Great Places" by the Nature Conservancy, the hills were created by glacial action and create some gorgeous, craggy terrain that's showcased in both Devil's Lake and Parfrey's Glen. The area is home to rare rocks, plants and animals.
Less than two hours from Madison, Milwaukee, the Dells, La Crosse and Appleton, this gorgeous natural area is what many know Baraboo for.
In contrast to the craggy Baraboo Hills, the International Crane Foundation uses more than 3,000 areas of nearby savanna, marshland and prairie as a global headquarters for the study and conservation of all 15 different species of cranes. A visit to the ICF couldn't be more different than a day in one of the nearby parks. It's difficult to believe you're just 10 miles away from the glaciated landscape of Devil's Lake.
In stark contrast to the peaceful nature and environment that surrounds the town, it's history as the home of the circus for more than 100 years cannot be ignored or overlooked. The Ringling Brothers grew up here and created a home base in Baraboo. Their fingerprints and red noses are all over the city, from the Circus World Museum to the gorgeous and recently restored Ringling Theater.
It's somewhat inescapable that Baraboo is really Clown City, USA and that this silly history coexists with the lovely natural beauty that draws folks into the area.
Somehow, Baraboo manages to balance all it's wonderful and unique aspects to create one of the quirkiest and most interesting towns you'll ever visit. On any given day folks visiting Baraboo could be there for a variety of different reasons and interests and that mixing up of personalities is what makes the town so awesome.
There's a beautiful town square, restored Victorian-era store-fronts and, the true sign of a town that's just a bit odd in the best possible way - an artist colony. A true mix of old and new, silly and staid, and as many types of natural you can define, life in Baraboo is certainly never boring.
Baraboo is a city in Sauk County, Wisconsin. Downtown Baraboo has a beautiful square, restored Victorian storefronts, enthusiastic shopkeepers, and artists abounding.
Looking for more unique Wisconsin towns? Check out
The 12 Towns You Need To Visit In Wisconsin In 2017.