Jefferson County Attractions
Picturesque and historic Jefferson County cities, towns and villages offer a wide range of things to see and do such as a reconstructed fort, American Indian culture, 1830’s pioneer settlements, music and cultural festivals, fine dining, dinner theater and antique malls and much more!
For outdoor enthusiasts Jefferson County features one of the state’s premier biking trails, the Glacial Drumlin Trail, as well as camping, hiking, fishing, golfing, boating and canoeing at its 29 state and local parks. Winter sports of cross-country skiing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, as well as skating and sledding are easily accessible and public wildlife areas and hunting grounds are also plentiful in Jefferson County.
Jefferson County Airport even offers hot air balloon rides, hanggliding and ultralight aircraft rides and instruction.
Whether you hike, bike walk, fly, motor or snowmobile your way, Jefferson County is easy to find. Located to the north and south of Interstate 94, 50 miles east of Madison and west of Milwaukee, and just 80 miles northwest of Chicago, Jefferson County is one of southern Wisconsin’s most accessible travel and fun destinations.
Museums and Historical Sites
Aztalan Historical Society Museum
Cty. Hwy. B & Q, Lake Mills
(920) 648-4632 or (920) 648-4496
Visit this pioneer village museum which includes a church, 1840’s cabin and school, and many items representative of the pioneer settlement of the area. Artifacts of prehistoric Indian culture, maps, documents, vintage clothing and more, are also on display. Open mid-May through September.
Octagon House and First Kindergarten
919 Charles St., Watertown
The Octagon house, five floors of solid brick construction with 57 rooms, completed in 1854, was designed and built by John Richards, a pioneer Watertown settler. One of the largest single family residences of the pre-Civil War period in Wisconsin, construction features include a central spiral staircase from the first floor to the tower room and many “modern conveniences” including central heating, running water and ventilating systems. It is furnished with many original Richards’ family pieces. Other historic buildings on the museum grounds include the Plank Road Barn, which houses a collection of pioneer tools and farm implements, and the first kindergarten in the United States which was begun in Watertown in 1856. Open daily 10:00 – 4:00 Memorial Day to Labor Day and 11:00 – 3:00 in May before Memorial Day and in September after Labor Day.
Hoard Museum and National Dairy Shrine
407 Merchants Ave., Fort Atkinson
Hoard’s Museum features Blackhawk Indian artifacts and displays depicting the areas pioneer history and the Black Hawk War of 1832. A self -guided tour of the adjacent National Dairy Shrine Visitors’ Center captures the sights and sounds of dairy farming of the past, present and future. Open September through May 9:30 – 3:30 Tuesday through Saturday, June, July, August 9:30 – 4:30 Tuesday through Saturday, and 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Sundays.
226 W. Main Street, Palmyra
The home of the Plamyra Historical Society features local WWII artifacts among its many exhibits of local and area interest.
Old Rome Graded School House
N30866 West Street, Rome
Carefully preserved, the Old Rome Graded School House is home to the Rome-Sullivan Historical Society and museum of local history.
504 S. 4th Street, Watertown
Sample the sound of the civil War era preserved and performed by the 80-plus member 1st Brigade Band on recordings available from the Heritage Military Music Foundation headquartered in Heritage Hall. Playing from reconstructed, century-old sheet music on restored instruments, attired in period gowns and uniforms, the 80-plus members of the 1st Brigade Band breathe life into history. Uniforms, instruments, music, and the story of the 1st Brigade Band are stored and on display here.
Fort Koshkonong 1832 Replica
Riverside Drive, Fort Atkinson
Visit the reconstructed Fort built by General Henry Atkinson during the 1832 Blackhawk War. Originally named Fort Koshkonong, this authentic replica is located on Riverside Drive in the city later named after its founder, Fort Atkinson.
Parks & Nature Centers
Aztalan State Park
Hwy. Q., Lake Mills
Stroll back thousands of years through the remnants and replica of a pre-historic stockade village of the Middle Mississippian Indian culture at Aztalan, one of the state’s most important archeological sites. This 172-acre park also offers picnic areas, hiking trails and good fishing spots. The archeological site and warm weather park activities are open May through October 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Hiking trails are open to cross country skiers in winter.
Kettle Morraine State Forest
Cty. Hwy. Z, ZZ, Palmyra
Stretching from Waukesha County in the east through Jefferson County to Walworth County south and west, the 46,000 acre Kettle Morraine State Forest’s campgrounds, varied landscape, abundant wildlife, lakes, and beaches, all connected by scenic hiking, biking and cross country ski trails, offer varied recreational opportunities for the whole family. Fishing enthusiasts will enjoy warm water and ice fishing in the park’s four lakes, Whitewater, Cravath, Tripp and Rice.
Indian Mounds Park
Take a historic walking tour and explore the Indian Mounds dating between 200 and 1200 AD in this 1.5-acre city park.
Rock River Park
Meander the Rock River banks then picnic, swim, lay back and watch the children enjoy the play area, have a game of tennis or just enjoy the view. This 113-acre park stretches along the Rock River from the east to west Fort Atkinson city limits.
Glacial Drumlin Bicycle Trail
1213 South Main Street, Lake Mills
Named for the glacier-formed elongate hills viewable from this 47-mile trail, Glacial Drumlin winds its way from Waukesha to Cottage Grove along the 1880 Chicago and Northwestern railbed. Hikers, bikers and snowmobilers will enjoy this route as they travel the countryside and farmlands of southern Wisconsin through London, Jefferson and Deerfield.
Special Things To Do
Rock river Park, Fort Atkinson
Get a real taste of pioneer life from the 1830’s when you visit with traders, skinners and their families at this annual May – June event.
1911 C. W. Parker Carousel
Dickenson Street, Waterloo
Purchased in 1925 by the Waterloo Fire Department and installed in Firemen’s Park, this meticulously restored antique 1911 carousel, complete with band organ, has been delighting generations of children – and their parents – ever since. Rides are available every Sunday afternoon 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day.