Sauk Prairie

Escape for the day
By Ali Hinchcliffe


Get out on the water! Cool down on a hot afternoon canoeing, kayaking or tubing the Wisconsin River below the iconic hydroelectric dam. WI River Outings/Sauk Prairie Canoe Center offers solo and large-group trips with various departure and pick-up spots along the river.


For a nature fix, hop in the car and head up Highway 78 to Parfrey’s Glen. Within Devil’s Lake State Park, this spectacular gorge has a stream flowing through it and is home to very diverse insects, including a rare species of diving beetle, the “Agabus confusus”.  


No visit to Sauk City is complete without a stop at Wollersheim Winery—celebrating 20 years this summer—for its stunning grounds, hourly tours and award-winning wines. Keep an eye out for the new distillery, which is slated open by summer’s end.

Nestled along the Wisconsin River less than 30 minutes from Madison, Sauk City has a plethora of options for an enjoyable day trip. Don’t be confused—although Sauk City and the neighboring town of Prairie du Sac are technically separate, the general area is collectively referred to as Sauk Prairie. There have been many proposals over the years to merge the towns, but each time the vote is in favor of keeping them separate, despite their similarities. Both downtown areas have a main street overlooking the river and bluffs, and have many stores and restaurants to explore.

Although it is the birthplace of the well-known and loved restaurant franchise Culver’s, there is no shortage of other local options to try. Start your day off right with breakfast on the gorgeous multitiered back porches of The Blue Spoon, a casual euro-bistro style eatery. Try a burger—the Bistro Cheese Burger is a flavorful classic—and don’t forget the homemade gelato! Or, grab an organic, made-from-scratch pastry to go from The Mixing Bowl Bakery to nosh riverside.

Head to nearby Ferry Bluffs Overlook, just a short stroll south from downtown to sit for a spell and enjoy the lovely river view. You can also scope out the best place for spotting eagles come winter, when the birds move to the area to fish after lakes freeze over. If you’ve brought a canoe or kayak, paddle off down the Wisconsin River; rentals and shuttles are available to get you to and from the segment you’d like to explore.

Once you’ve worked up your appetite again, the Woodshed Ale House is a great stop for an end-of-day drink. Owned by the proprietors of Madison’s Vintage Brewing locations, and known for its craft beers, it’s a great place to sample some suds. Try the pale ale, Sauk Hop or Higher Grounds coffee stout, all brewed specifically for the tavern.

Come experience the charms of this sleepy river town, or mark your calendars for the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw Sept. 4 and 5 when the town comes alive with an arts and crafts fair, two stages of free entertainment, 5K and 10K runs and much more. The current cow chip throw state record is 248 feet—come see if you have what it takes to beat it! No matter when you visit, this town’s scenic beauty and quaint character will surely captivate you.

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