Fond du Lac County Attractions
Want to combine beautiful scenery with wonderful active communities? Then Fond du Lac County is your destination. Best known for its proximity to Lake Winnebago, Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, and the National Ice Age Reserve Unit, Fond du Lac County is also very popular for watersports, hunting, hiking and more. While the countryside provides beautiful scenery and exciting recreation, the cities of Fond du Lac and Ripon provide its visitors with great restaurants, fine dining, wonderful historical districts and many cultural events.
Fond du Lac, which means “Foot of the Lake”, received its name from the French trappers exploring the south end of Lake Winnebago. The city’s 400 acre Lakeside Park serves as a central location to go and enjoy the outdoors, bringing both families and the community together. When in the city of Fond du Lac, enjoy touring the many historical areas and the wonderfully maintained homes and mansions, with a variety of architectural styling, from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. If you want family fun, make a stop at the Llama farm or take the twenty-minute drive to Ripon and see the Clydesdales. In addition to horses, Ripon has more to offer including Ripon College, a wonderful downtown area, and festivals throughout the year. Ripon also is proud to have contributed to the political shaping of our country by being the birthplace of the Republican Party.Back to top
Whether you love to hike, bike and escape to the great outdoors, or want to soak up history and admire spectacular architecture, you can do it in Fond du Lac. And since Fond du Lac’s location places it within 1 hour of Wisconsin’s major cities – Milwaukee, Madison, the Fox Cities, and Green Bay – it’s Wisconsin’s convenient and fabulous get-away.
Museums & Historical Sites
Little White School House
303 Blackburn Street, Ripon
The Little White School House became famous one legendary night in 1854 when a group of Whigs, Free Soldiers, and Democrats held a secret meeting to try to prevent the extension of slavery into the north. The result of this meeting was the creation of the Republican Party – a unified front against slavery. Call for tour information for this historically and politically significant home.
1856 Historic Octagon House
276 Linden Street, Fond du Lac
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this restored 12-room home was originally built in 1856 as an Indian Fort and holds a rich history. Once used as a part of the Underground Railroad, this house contains 9 passageways, a secret room and a hand-dug underground tunnel. It’s even rumored to haunted. Group and family tours available by appointment, plus special seasonal events. Admission.
Watson Street Historical District
Watson Street, Ripon
Stroll back through time and admire the original architecture of downtown Ripon, which has been carefully preserved and restored. The Ripon skyline has even earned a place on the National Register of Historical Places. This area is also home to the Historic Commercial District which houses such buildings as the first Marcus Theater, the Maples House… possibly the oldest building in Ripon, the original 1st National Bank, and many other historically significant sites.
Galloway House and Village
336 Old Pioneer Road, Fond du Lac
920-922-6390 or 920-922-1166
Take a tour of this historic Victorian Village and its main building, the Galloway House, completed in 1880. This stately 30 room Victorian mansion boasts a multitude of Italiante details. The village consists of 23 authentic buildings including a photographer’s shop, country store, a church, one room schoolhouse, a newspaper office and many other buildings that depict turn of the century commerce and lifestyle. Open daily Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day and weekends in September, 10am – 5pm; gates close at 4pm. Admission.
Painted Lady-Ebert Estate
199 East Division Street, Fond du Lac
920-921-2257 or 920-922-0090
This historic Queen Anne Victorian mansion, built in 1892 was designed to replicate a German Castle and has been painstakingly restored by the current residents of the home. Take a tour and see the 8 beautiful fireplaces and the lincrusta ceilings all designed by Italian artists. Special holiday events are held throughout the year. Private and group tours available year round by appointment. Admission.
Parks & Nature Centers
North Main Street, Fond du Lac With over 400 acres of open recreational space on the south end of Lake Winnebago, Lakeside Park is a great place to visit. Summertime brings impressive flower displays, boating of all kinds, picnics, and children of all ages to the many playgrounds. Summer also the marks the opening of the Lakeside Park Light House and its observation tower, open April 15 – October 15, 8am to dusk, weather permitting. Visitors can take nostalgic rides on the miniature train and enjoy the antique carousel. And while at Lakeside Park, be sure to visit the whitetail deer exhibit open year round. Lakeside Park is also host to a spectacular holiday event filled with Christmas lights, decorations and music.
Henry Ruess Ice Age Visitor Center
N2875 Highway 67, Campbellsport
Part of the Ice Age Trail, the Visitor Center provides educational information, including films, exhibits and panoramas about the glaciers that carved out Wisconsin; the glaciers in this part of the Kettle Moraine are specifically highlighted. Open Monday through Friday 8:30am – 4pm, Saturday and Sunday 9:30am – 5pm.
Horicon National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center
Highway Z, north of Kekoskee
920-387-2658 or 1-800-937-9123
Horicon Park is home to 32,000 acres of ice age legacy, beginning as a lake then gouged out by glaciers and pushed southward. The land has been used as a wildlife refuge since 1943 and is part of the National Ice Age Reserve Unit. The many acres of grasslands and wetlands shelter more than 250 species of birds including geese, herons, egrets and many songbirds. The marsh is best known as a rest stop for over 200,000 migrating Canadian Geese during the spring and fall. The Wildlife Refuge is also home to a variety of upland game such as muskrats, deer and fox. Trails are open year round for hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and wildlife observation. Waterfowl and non-waterfowl hunting allowed. Weekend naturalist programs are offered during the spring and fall at DNR offices.
Marsh Haven Nature Center
W10145 Highway 49 E., Waupun
Take self guided nature trails and climb the observation tower that overlooks the Horicon Marsh. The center houses a wildlife art gallery, gift shop and museum displays of the marsh. Open spring, summer, and fall 10am – 4pm Monday through Friday, Saturday & Sunday 9am – 5pm. Admission
Ledgeview Visitor Center
W2348 Short Road, Chilton
Three natural solution caves carved through the limestone by carbonic acid over thousands of years are open to the public for tours led by center naturalists. The center is situated on more than 100 acres with 3 miles of nature trails, a 60-foot observation tower, and groomed cross-country ski trails, all of which are open year round. Monday through Friday 8am – 4:30pm; Saturday & Sunday 10am – 4:30pm.
Special Things to Do
The farmers market in downtown Ripon is on the Village Green, June through October, every Tuesday and Saturday morning. In downtown Fond du Lac, you can find the farmers market from June through October, every Saturday 6:30 to Noon. Come and enjoy a huge selection of farm fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and plants, as well as homemade bakery goods and crafts. The Ripon Farmers Market is proud to host Pumpkin Fest every October.
Fond du Lac Airport, Highway 41
Be thrilled by the annual International Aerobatics Competition, hosted mid-July at the Fond du Lac Skyport. Watch daredevils perform amazing stunts as they jump out of planes and plunge to the earth at death-defying speeds. Call for specific dates and times.
Ripon’s annual celebration features bands, games, food, tournaments and the crowning of Miss RiponFest at the parade. Held the second weekend of July, be sure to call for exact dates and times of events.
Ripon Jazz Festival
Main Street, Ripon
An annual event featuring live jazz musicians, entertainment, arts and crafts, bike races and the Taste of Ripon. Held the third weekend of June; call for a schedule of events!
Village Green Concert Series
Village Green, Ripon
Perfect for a romantic date or a good time with friends, come to the open-air concerts and enjoy wonderful music. Free to the public every Friday evening, June through August.
Points of Interest
Wille’s Wildlife Zoo
W12599 Sunny Knoll Road, Fond du Lac
Lions, tigers and bears and more! See wild animals from as close as 4 feet away. Open daily, 9:30am – 5:30pm, May 1 through November 1. Admission.
Lamara Springs Llama Farm
W6158 Church Road, Fond du Lac
This is the place to see llamas up close. Learn all about the llamas’ skills and uses, walk through their pastures, touch real llama wool and more. A great attraction for the whole family and the kids will love it! Tours available by appointment only. Admission.
Larson’s Famous Clydesdales
W12654 Reeds Corner Road, Ripon
Visit the ranch and have a heartwarming day meeting and seeing how these gentle giants live. It’s an exciting and educational experience, learning about the history of the Clydesdales and the work they do. See a demonstration of a cart class in full costume and harness. Tour the museum and see antique hitch wagons, harnesses and equipment, plus the Clydesdale gift shop. Make sure you have time to stay and watch the 1pm grandstand show and see these national and international competition-winning Clydesdales in action. Open May 1 through November 1, Monday through Saturday, for 90 minute guided tours. Reservations preferred. Admission.
Talking Country Roads
Visitor Information Center, 19 W. Scott Street, Fond du Lac
Have an adventure on this unique automobile tour of the rural roads of Fond du Lac County and learn the rich history of the area. Choose from Kettle Moraine Site Forest & the Ice Age Area and Campbellsport; or Fond du Lac & the Holyland, Farm Country and Historic Ripon; or the Edge of Horicon National Wildlife refuge and Waupun. Cassettes are available for rental or purchase for your audio tour.
Fond du Lac Talking House Tours
Visitor Information Center, 19 W. Scott Street
Indulge in a true sampling of Fond du Lac’s fascinating architecture and geographical charm. Twenty-four homes and sites are included on this driving tour, fourteen of which are talking sites. Tune in your radio and hear some of Fond du Lac’s most famous buildings talk to you.