Our great home state of Wisconsin is brimming with local, state and national history. From the tragic stories of Native American history to quaint views of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Cabin to the industrial marvels of the National Railroad Museum, our state is brimming with history. Wisconsin’s place in our nation’s history is not something to be missed with its vast landscapes, diverse cultures and intriguing stories. To pay tribute to our state’s history, we’re highlighting the best campgrounds at or near important Wisconsin historical sites.
Aztalan State Park – Jefferson County
Aztalan State Park contains the ruins of an ancient Middle-Mississippian village, which thrived between 1000 and 1300 AD. The people who settled Aztalan built large, flat-topped pyramidal mounds. They hunted, fished and farmed along the Crawfish River, which you can now canoe, boat and fish yourself a thousand years later. Their homes, ceremonial complex, and other cultural artifacts are available for viewing at the park and accompanying museum. Although the village is preserved by the state in Aztalan State Park, there’s no camping available at the park. We recommend Hickory Hills Campground, just thirty minutes away, as the Wisconsin campground of choice.
Circus World Museum – Baraboo
Right here in Scenic RV’s hometown of Baraboo is the Circus World Museum. This big-top museum is family-focused, highlighting the exciting history of the American circus. Enjoy all your favorite circus acts, clowns and tightrope walkers included. The museum is home to over 200 antique circus wagons, posters and costumes. Why the Wisconsin Dells? The museum is located at the same spot the Ringling Bros. Circus stayed every winter. Baraboo Hills Campground is a great nearby Wisconsin campground. While you’re in town, stop by Scenic RV’s Baraboo location for parts and service!
First Capitol Historic Site – Belmont
This Wisconsin historical site is the birthplace of the state, it’s the very first state capitol building and it still stands in Belmont. Next to the grand edifice of Madison’s current capitol structure, this small wooden building is all the more precious. In the fall of 1836, legislators for the Wisconsin territory gathered for 46 days. They passed laws, set up a judicial system and chose Madison for the state’s permanent capitol within the walls of the First Capitol building. This Wisconsin historical site is perfect for those interested in the rich history of our state’s true beginnings. Less than 15 minutes from the First Capitol Historic Site is Lake Joy Campground, our recommended historic Wisconsin campground.
Forest Home Cemetery – Milwaukee
Historic Forest Home Cemetery was established soon after the city of Milwaukee was founded in 1846. When searching for a peaceful place to lay loved ones to rest, city leaders found the rolling hills and wooded acres that became Forest Home. The first burial in Forest Home took place in 1850, when a man named Orville Cadwell was laid to rest. Walk the cemetery and spot the namesakes for Wisconsin streets and parks. This Wisconsin historical site also serves as the eternal resting place of mayors, governors, military officials and a few beer brewers for good measure. Select the names of different dignitaries you can find in the cemetery and read up on them here. We recommend staying at the Wisconsin State Fair RV Park when you book your trip to the Forest Home Cemetery. It’s the only RV park in Metro Milwaukee, and it’s open year-round. With its city-centered location, you’ll be near all the best Milwaukee sights and stops at this metro Wisconsin campground.
Fort Crawford – Prairie du Chien
From 1816 until 1856, Fort Crawford watched over the folks of Prairie du Chien. Situated at the intersection of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers, Fort Crawford was a critical show of American claim to the land. During the Civil War, Fort Crawford was used to recruit and train Union men. After troops left for the battlefield in 1863, Fort Crawford was converted into a hospital to care for sick and wounded Wisconsin soldiers. In the late 1800’s, after decades of service to American soldiers, Fort Crawford began to be forgotten. That was until the Daughters of the American Revolution came along in 1921 and purchased the hospital for preservation. In 1960, the State Medical Society of Wisconsin opened a rebuilt Fort Crawford to the public, and it’s stood as a symbol of Wisconsin’s history ever since. Frenchtown Lake RV Park sits along the Mississippi River just north of Fort Crawford, making it the perfect campground for visitors.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum – Pepin
Any fan of American literature knows Laura Ingalls Wilder. Born in 1867 in Pepin County, Wisconsin, Wilder is most well-known for her book series Little House on the Prairie. The books were based on her own childhood in a family of pioneers, and they eventually spawned a hit TV show. On the land where she was born The Little House in the Big Woods was built, based on the details Ingalls remembered in her book. The Wayside Cabin stands as a place where visitors come to get a taste of what life on the prairie was really like. Stay in Laura’s hometown of Pepin at the Lake Pepin Campground, just a few minutes down the road from the museum.
Milton House Museum – Milton
The Milton House takes you to a turbulent time in US history, this house is the last certified Underground Railroad station in Wisconsin. The house, established in 1838, was built in a community founded on progressive ideals. The community of Milton was well known for its abolitionist beliefs and fight for social equality. The Milton House served as a stop on the Underground Railroad, a system of secret routes and safe houses that enslaved people could take to freedom. The house takes you back to a dark era in US history where you can learn about the courageous people of Milton and their fight for social equality. If you plan to visit the Milton House, we recommend parking at Lakeland RV Campground. In “the heart of Wisconsin’s southern gateway,” this Wisconsin campground sits along Lake Koshkonog. The campground offers plenty of water sports and activities and is just a ten-minute drive from the historic Milton House Museum.
Old World Wisconsin – Eagle
If visiting famous Wisconsin historical sites isn’t enough, you can step into the history itself at Old World Wisconsin. Old World Wisconsin has 60 restored historic structures that instantly transport you more than 100 years back in time. Different areas at Old World Wisconsin tell you a different story, and engage you in old-time activities, from the 1840s to the 1910s. Costumed staff around the historic sites will complete your experience in this 600-acre time machine, and they’ll be happy to assist you in getting hands-on with history. Circle K Campground is roughly 20 minutes from the Old World Wisconsin experience. Circle K Campground offers plenty of RV sites, a general camp site, swimming and fishing, and even a ceramics class.
USS Cobia – Manitowoc
Those interested in military and maritime history have to take a tour of the USS Cobia. Located at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. The USS Cobia submarine was launched in late 1943 and sank 13 Japanese vessels during World War II. The Cobia’s sinking of a Japanese transport ship carrying 28 tanks is considered critical in the US Marine’s capture of the island of Iwo Jima, a major tipping point in the war. The Cobia was restored to her 1945 configuration in the late 90’s. Since then, it has served as a memorial to Wisconsin’s submariners and military men. If you’re interested in visiting this Wisconsin historical site, and the other exhibits at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, we recommend the Village Inn on the Lake Hotel & RV Park. Roughly five miles from the museum, this inn and RV park has everything from minigolf to a poolside bar providing on-campground entertainment for the whole family.
These Wisconsin historical sites offer tons of indoor and outdoor activities for visitors of all ages. They allow you to see and feel the history of America’s Dairyland. Stop by these sites to upgrade your camping experience and gain a true understanding of what your ancestors once experienced. If you visit a Wisconsin historical site, be sure to let us know by tagging us in a picture on Facebook!
If you need a new RV to take you on your next summer adventure, stop by Scenic RV Centers. Our staff will be more than happy to help you find the perfect unit for your family.