Chilton has the “rural cool” thing down pat and it doesn’t even know it. Natural beauty, salt of the earth people and an unhurried pace – to locals, it’s just everyday life. To everyone else, it’s an act of rebellion. From time to time, it’s thrilling to trade city lights for something less obvious.
Nature abounds in Chilton. The area offers family-focused outdoor fun for every season, from a renowned nature center to a drive-in movie theater. Foodies will have fun too. With a population of just under 4,000, Chilton is the Calumet County seat and in the heart of the official “Supper Club Capital of the Midwest.” (Unofficially, that also makes it the Old Fashioned Capital of Wisconsin.) From the Wisconsin Micro-Brewers Beer fest in May to the citywide Christmas Celebration in December, visitors will soon discover what makes Chilton a destination worth visiting more than once.
Top 5 Ledge View Nature Center Must-Dos
This 105-acre nature center offers everything from educational programs to cave tours.
1. Explore a cave.
Get dirty on a tour of Ledge View’s underground bedrock caves, formed by ancient groundwater and glacial meltwater. Guided tours are available spring through fall. Reservations recommended. Mark your calendar for the kid-friendly Halloween candlelight tours scheduled October 20-21 from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
2. Climb the Tracy Wagner Memorial Tower.
This 60-foot observation tower offers panoramic views of the Chilton countryside.
3. Visit the bat barn.
There are several interactive exhibits inside the nature center’s exhibit hall including the bat barn featuring live bats and the sturgeon exhibit with live young lake sturgeon.
4. Hike the quarry overlook.
There are two miles of hiking trails on the property and this overlook provides a great view of the dolostone quarry located on the property.
5. Celebrate maple syrup.
Tap a maple tree, collect sap, learn the history of syrup and try some on pancakes during Maple Syrup Sunday in March, the grand finale to the maple syruping season.
Looking for an adrenaline rush? Gravity Park USA offers weekly competitive bike and ATV racing from April through October. Stop by on Friday night for the action-packed Dirtgrinder Series competition and Killsnake Clubhouse’s famous fish fry. With a bird’s eye view of the race track, the clubhouse offers free spectator admission.
Just five miles east of Chilton is the Killsnake Wildlife Area. Here, birders can view sandhill cranes and bobolinks in summer and short-eared owls and rough-legged hawks in winter. Hikers can walk for hundreds of yards amongst the prairie grasslands. From canoeing the Manitowoc River to gathering wild edibles, the 7,000-acre wildlife area offers a bounty of recreational opportunities.
Golfers will want to schedule a tee time at Hickory Hills Country Club. This 18-hole golf course is open to the public and a favorite of locals and visitors. Make sure to check out the Friday fish fry served June through August and the haunted Halloween golf cart rides in October. Another family-friendly option is to throw some discs at Chilton Elementary School’s 9-hole disc golf course.
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