The Ringling Brothers put Baraboo on the map, so it’s no surprise that the Circus World Museum is a big attraction here. It’s so big that it encompasses a collection of buildings, including the remaining structures of the original wintering grounds of the Ringling Brothers Circus, a big top where they host live performances, and an entire library dedicated to circus-centric history books, archives, and photographs. You’ll also find outdoor areas with circus wagons and other significant memorabilia.
The Circus World Museum is owned by the Wisconsin Historical Society, a group dedicated to preserving interesting locations and historical places all around the state. A trip through the exhibits, the big top, and the circus wagon display is a nostalgic experience for many. Some may say it harkens back to a simpler time when entertainment wasn’t directly available to us at every minute of the day.
There’s no better Baraboo lodging option than the Ringling House Bed and Breakfast for those planning a trip to the Circus World Museum. Built by Charles Ringling in 1901, the Georgian Revival home near the downtown Baraboo, WI, remained in the Ringling family until 2015 when Innkeepers Julie Hearley and Stuart Koehler bought the property. They are dedicated to maintaining the intricate architecture and history of the home while making it a comfortable and welcoming place to stay for the ultimate getaway to Baraboo.
Head to the Circus World Museum for an Exciting Tour
As a guest at the Ringing House Bed and Breakfast, you’ll be within walking distance (about 15 minutes) or a three-minute car ride to the Circus World Museum. Before you head out, be sure to join us for a delicious homemade breakfast at the historic Ringling Brothers dining room table; imagine the simpler time when the famed-circus family dined together.
Here are five things to know about the Circus World Museum before you go:
- The Ringling Circus used this National Historic Landmark site as their home base from 1884 to 1918. The five brothers curated a collection of wonders and talents and showcased them to excited audiences across the country. The winter quarters—all part of the Circus World Museum—are the largest and oldest group of circus structures in the United States from this period.
- The exhibits are open to the public starting March 21st this year from 10 am to 4 pm, while the live programming resumes during the summer season from May 20th to August 28th, 2022, with open hours from 9 am to 4 pm.
- This year’s theme for the performances in the Big Top at Circus World is pirates, with the premiere of “Yo-Ho at the Big Top” for the 2022 season. You’ll experience the high-flying stunts, hilarious comedy clowns, and talented circus acts with the high-seas as a backdrop.
- Big Top Parade in downtown Baraboo takes place on June 25th, featuring wagons from the Circus World Museum’s collection and showcasing this small town’s connection and history of the Ringling Brothers. It’s a sight to behold!
- For those true circus historians, make an appointment to visit the Robert L. Parkinson Library and Research Center. Here you’ll find the most extensive collection of American circus documents, containing rare photographs, posters, manuscripts, and artifacts. The library fields thousands of questions for educational institutions, businesses, and more each year.
After visiting the Circus World Museum, it might be time for some downtime with a local performance, musical show, or movie. The historic AL. Ringing Theater is a fantastic place to do just that—and it’s known as one of America’s prettiest playhouses. The 2022 season has an impressive lineup, with Seussical The Musical running through March and the Madison Brass Band performing in April. Recently, the theater installed a new movie screen, sound, and lighting system, upgrading the movie experience.
The Best Lodging in Baraboo WI for Your Next Getaway
After a day exploring the exhibits and catching a show at the Circus World Museum, you’ll love heading on back to our Inn. Our Baraboo Bed and Breakfast, located in one of America’s top-rated small towns, offers the perfect blend of historic charm and modern amenities to make your stay relaxing and memorable. Each of our beautiful guest rooms calls to the rich living history of the Ringling Brothers, each named after a loving couple within the family.