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Yerkes Observatory

373 W Geneva St, Williams Bay, WI 53191-9603
+1 262-245-5555
Review Highlights
Don't miss, if nearby

While on a weekend getaway for our anniversary in Lake Geneva, a small $10 donation treated my wife... read more

Reviewed 2 days ago
Jeff K
Woodstock, Illinois, United States
Wonderful excursion

We went on a cold Saturday afternoon for the noon tour. It was fantastic. The docent who gave us... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
Chicago, Illinois
via mobile
Read all 220 reviews
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Yerkes Observatory is owned and operated by the University Chicago, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and located in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. Built between 1895 and 1897 in the classic Romanesque style, Yerkes is home to the largest refracting (lens-type) telescope in the world and two other research-grade reflecting (mirror-type) telescopes. The building is beautifully preserved and ornamented with Roman brick and terra cotta, has three telescope domes (the largest is 90 feet in diameter and 10 stories in height), and is situated on 77 acres in a park-like setting. Tours of the building and the refractor are available Monday through Saturday. The cost is $10 per person age 18+ and $8 per person age 6 - 17. Weekday and Saturday hours vary by season. Consult the website for the most current tour schedule. Saturday tours are held for the public at 10 and 11 am, and 12Noon (11 am and 12Noon only from January 1 to mid-March). Reservations are not required. Saturday visitors are asked for a donation of $10 per person for adults and $8 per person for ages 6 - 17. The grounds are open every day, during daylight hours, for self-guided walking tours, free of charge. Photography is permitted. Professional photographers are required to contact the Observatory in advance during weekday hours to obtain permission for any photo shoot. The staff also hosts public observing sessions with the 40-inch refractor and the 24-inch reflecting telescopes many evenings throughout the year. Reservations are required and there is a charge for participation. Visit the Yerkes website for more information. The Observatory contains a lovely museum, many interesting displays concerning its construction, history, architecture and the science of astronomy, and a beautiful new gift shop with many unique items.
  • Excellent78%
  • Very good19%
  • Average1%
  • Poor1%
  • Terrible1%
Travellers talk about
“tour guide” (24 reviews)
“lake geneva” (27 reviews)
“saturday tour” (6 reviews)
373 W Geneva St, Williams Bay, WI 53191-9603
+1 262-245-5555
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Reviews (220)
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1 - 10 of 219 reviews

Reviewed 2 days ago

While on a weekend getaway for our anniversary in Lake Geneva, a small $10 donation treated my wife and I to a fascinating hour long tour of a little known functioning museum rich in 1890s- early 1900s history. For anyone interested in the inspiring story...More

Thank Jeff K
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

We went on a cold Saturday afternoon for the noon tour. It was fantastic. The docent who gave us the tour of the building was informative and knew his stuff. Then the scientist took over the part of the tour for the telescope was also...More

Thank RBBD
Reviewed 1 week ago

Our B&B host recommended we check out the Yerkes Observatory. Take the tour, there's no way to learn the interesting ins and outs of the architecture. If you go in cold weather WEAR coat! Part is outdoors and the dome is cold! Worth a visit!

Thank DrNana1
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Tours are on Saturday only in the Fall, check the website for info.Tour was very informative and did not require a lot of walking.Guide shared history of the observatory and a lot of information on how it worked.More

Thank Lee E
Dan K, Manager at Yerkes Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 3 weeks ago

Thank you for your kind review. I offer here just a slight revision for readers to mention that tours are offered six days a week, Monday through Saturday, year round. Please check our website for the most current schedule. For fall 2017 the Yerkes Tours...More

Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

Entertaining and educational this is a great place to spend an hour or two. The tours lasts about an hour and then you can spend additional time reading all the wall displays. There is a very very small museum, actually a hallway with astronomy related...More

Thank Mary K
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

We thoroughly enjoyed the Yerkes Observatory and the tour we participated in today. The tour guide was a skilled speaker and very knowledgeable. I was thrilled that the tour included information about the architecture and history of the amazing building (built in 1895) as well...More

Thank terri53226
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

I recently experienced an evening observation tour of the 24" reflecting telescope and was amazed at what is practically in my backyard. As a child, I recall that our grade school did a walking tour, which was probably 55 years ago for me, but I...More

Thank Terry L. M
Reviewed 5 weeks ago

The one-hour guided tour of this historic and scientifically significant site was spectacular. The guide was very skillful in weaving the architectural, mechanical and astronomical elements of the site into his presentation. The history and stories of the personalities responsible for design, funding and construction...More

Thank ScoopMakovec
Reviewed 11 October 2017

Wonderful experience for anyone even vaguely interested in stars, planets, galaxies & the people who discovered them. Many of those famous people (Einstein, Hubble, Hale, Wilson, etc.) made those important discoveries looking thru THIS telescope, once the world's largest. Even the kids (age 10-12) were...More

Thank David K
Reviewed 10 October 2017

A great experience for both novice and experienced astronomers! To realize that you are looking into the same telescope that Carl Sagan did his research is pretty cool. Just seeing the size of this telescope and the building was very impressive. Dan was an awesome...More

Thank harpersm
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Questions & Answers
Mary D
23 August 2017|
AnswerShow all 4 answers
Response from SteveT6029677454 | Reviewed this property |
Thanks for your comment Mary. Important for other folks to know.
Bridget G
28 June 2016|
AnswerShow all 5 answers
Response from Dan K | Property representative |
Bridget, our tours are most appropriate for ages 6 and up. Weekday tours are structured and visitors must stay with the tour guide at all times. Yerkes is a working facility and our offices are open on the main floor and... More
27 August 2015|
Response from Dan K | Property representative | Reviewed this property |
Hi, and thanks for asking about Yerkes. I am one of the tour guides and am happy to give you directions. The Observatory is located at 373 W Geneva St (Hwy 67), Williams Bay, WI 53191. Travel west from the central area of... More