Ah, Muk Luks. The comfy, fashionable footwear originated in Princeton and gained worldwide acclaim. The Muk Luks Museum opened in 2014 with Muk Luk artifacts and a variety of styles to show. Original Muk Luks, the tools used to make them, old shipping boxes, and more adorn the small but interesting museum. And there’s plenty there to keep you warm.
The museum is open Saturdays, 11am-3pm. It’s part of Princeton’s Shops of Water Street District, just south of Highways 23 and 73.
631 W. Water Street
Princeton, WI 54968
The Hoard Historical Museum covers Fort Atkinson’s colorful history, starting with its namesake William Dempster Hoard, the “father of American dairying.” The museum also offers a good look at the likes of noted Sauk warrior Black Hawk and the “Black Hawk War” of 1832, the experiences of a young Abraham Lincoln as he rode into and through the area, and poet and Fort native Lorine Niedecker. Other historic artifacts, current and historic artwork, and an exhibit on area Native American mounds round out the museum’s top offerings.
The Hoard Historical Museum is open Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30am-4:30pm. Admission is free, although donations are welcome ($5/person or $10/family is suggested – and a good idea.) The National Dairy Shrine Museum is adjacent; the two share a Visitor Center.
You’ll find both along U.S. 12/Highway 89 just south of downtown Fort Atkinson. It’s just east of Business Highway 26 and about half a mile south of Highway 106.
401 Whitewater Avenue
Fort Atkinson, WI 53538
(920) 563-7769 Website
The Dahl Auto Museum offers a stroll down memory lane, where you can immerse yourself in the rich history of automobiles. The Dahl family has been in the automotive dealer business for over 100 years, spanning five generations – so they know their history and have an impressive collection to show. Much is shown “through the eyes” of the Ford Motor Company; there’s also an extensive mascot collection and many beautifully restored classic automobiles from the turn of the century to present.
The museum is downtown in La Crosse, along 3rd Street. U.S. 14, 53, and 61, along with Highways 16, 33, or 35, bring you either there or within blocks.
The Dahl Auto Museum is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10am-4pm. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for Seniors and Kids 9-16, and free for Kids under 8 and service guests of Dahl.
711 3rd Street South
La Crosse, WI
(608) 791-6494 Website
Exhibits and interactive displays for children of all ages cover three floors, and the Mt. LeKid Climbing Wall lets grown-ups compete with the kids to see who can reach the top. It’s an impressive museum for a city the size of La Crosse, and it draws families from all over the region.
Hours: Tuesdays–Saturdays, 10am-5pm, Sundays Noon-5pm. Closed Mondays and major holidays.
Admission: $7.00 per person admission ($6 on Sundays). Infants (under 12 months) are free.
207 5th Avenue South
La Crosse, WI 54601
(608) 784-2652 Website
This museum looks small from the outside but the inside is extensive. The Door County Historical Museum tracks the extensive and colorful history of the peninsula, complete with an original jail cell, a fire truck you (and the kids) can sit in, and even a nature section illustrating the variety of plants and animals you’ll find throughout the area. The Chicago Tribune even named it the “Best Small Museum in the Midwest.”
The museum is free, although a $2 donation is suggested.
You’ll find it on 4th Street in downtown Sturgeon Bay, one block east of where Business Highway 42/57 veers onto 3rd Street.
18 N. 4th Avenue
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
(920) 743-5809 Website
Located right along the waters on the “mainland” side of Sturgeon Bay, the Door County Maritime Museum offers four galleries showcasing model ships, shipwrecks, lighthouses, the shipbuilding companies in the region, and an in-water exhibit of the restored tug John Purves from 1919, which was restored in the 1960s and continued to serve until 2000. You can use a submarine periscope to spy on Bay Shipbuilding across the bay (the largest in the area) as they busily build more ships. The museum is right next to the historic Steel Bridge, which opened in the 1930s and served as the only road connection across the bay for four decades, taking Highway 42 and 57 between southern and northern Door. Today, the Oregon Street bridge provides another downtown connection while the mainline 42 and 57 use the bypass bridge a mile to the east.
The Door County Maritime Museum is open year ’round, although tug tours of the John Purves are only available from May through October (that water gets old in those other months, you know.) Admission is $13 for adults, $10 for kids 5-17, and free for kids 4 and under, although the tug tour for the little ones will run $6.
120 N. Madison Street
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
(920) 743-5958 Website
Since Manitowoc is “Wisconsin’s Maritime Capital” (even one of the high schools has the nickname “Shipbuilders”), it’s only fitting that the Wisconsin Maritime Museum would be located in the city. Holding one of the nation’s most extensive collections of Great Lakes maritime artifacts and history, the museum prominently features the USS Cobia, a World War II submarine similar to the ones manufactured in the city. The Cobia is permanently berthed in the river and can not only be toured, but kids and parents can bunk down for overnight stays during monthly events!
Other exhibits include the Children’s Waterways Room, the Maritime History Gallery, an Aquatic Species Investigation Lab, and “Treasures of NOAA’s Ark”, which offers a look at Wisconsin’s underwater treasures. The museum is a big part of the effort to turn the Lake Michigan coast from Port Washington to Two Rivers into a national marine sanctuary.
Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for children ages 6-15, and free for kids 5 and under. Other discounts are available for military, AAA members, senior citizens, and families.
The museum’s hours vary by season:
• Spring (Mid March – June): 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
• Summer (July – August): 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
• Fall (September – October): 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
• Winter (November – Mid March): ◦Weekdays: 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
◦ Saturday – Sunday: 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
They are closed New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
75 Maritime Drive
Manitowoc, WI 54220
(920) 684-0218 Website
The Rahr West Art Museum sits just north of downtown Manitowoc along northbound U.S. 10/Business 42 (8th Street) in an 1893 Queen Anne mansion. The mansion was originally built for Joseph Vilas, a successful merchant and two-time mayor of the city (UW-Madison students will recognize his name on their communication building.)
A museum since 1941, the Rahr West features a variety of art collections including a rare porcelain sculptures, original furnished 1930s dollhouses, and period furniture throughout the museum’s many rooms. Special exhibitions are regularly held, as is Sputnik Fest, which commemorates a piece of the Soviet satellite landing in the street in front of the museum in 1962.
The Rahr West’s hours are 10am-4pm Tuesday-Friday, 11am-4pm Saturdays and Sundays. They are closed Mondays.
610 N. 8th Street
Manitowoc, WI 54220
(920) 686-3090 Website
The Circus World Museum is a place where boys, girls and children of all ages can see how circuses have worked and entertained people for generations. As they say, “experience the thrill that never gets old.” Featuring a Circus Museum, an area called Ringlingville, a wide variety of circus animals and the World’s Largest Circus Wagon Collection, Baraboo’s Circus World Museum is open 10am-4pm daily. History abounds; a series of buildings in the Circus World Museum date back to the 19th century and plenty of plaques will tell you more.
Circus World Museum is right along Highway 113 on the south side of Baraboo; U.S. 12 is to the west and Highway 33 is just to the north.
550 Water Street
Baraboo, WI 53913
(608) 356-8341 Website
The Spinning Top & Yo-Yo Museum offers yo-yos, gyroscopes, spin toys, and plenty of hands-on science exhibits…. over 2,000 in all! Regular presentations and interactive tours make it a fun stop.
Please note the museum requires tickets or arrangements scheduled ahead of time; you can’t just “drop in”. However, several times per month presentations take place (as listed on their website here) and with larger groups custom tours can be arranged. They also offer yo-yo classes.