Circus World is one of Wisconsin’s 10 state historic sites and contains a rich collection of circus memorabilia. Intricately decorated circus wagons fill two buildings. A museum tells the history of the Ringling Brothers, who made Baraboo their circus’ winter quarters from 1884 to 1918.
Outside there’s a carousel, small playground and display on famous circus sideshow characters from the past, such as Siamese twins Eng and Chang, and Gen. Tom Thumb, once the world’s smallest man. Special demonstrations are held daily, including one on odd circus instruments.
But the most popular event by far is the one-hour circus. This show alone is worth the price of admission. Talented acrobats, jugglers, rope dancers, clowns and animal handlers perform a wide variety of top-tier acts. Grab a seat near the top of the bleachers, where there’s better air flow. And steer clear of the pillars holding up the big top. They’re hard to see around.
Haven’t gotten your fill of all things circus? Head about a mile northwest from Circus World to the AL. Ringling Mansion. The massive red-stone building, available for tours, was once the home of AL. Ringling and his wife, Lou. AL. was the oldest of the five Ringling brothers. The home is on the National Register of Historic Places.