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Yerkes Observatory

373 W Geneva St, Williams Bay, WI 53191-9603
+1 262-245-5555
Review Highlights
Informative and inspiring

Took the tour of this old, ornate building that houses a historical, still-functioning telescope... read more

Reviewed yesterday
via mobile
Great tour!

Richard was very informative and humorous. The history and architectural information was great... read more

Reviewed 3 days ago
via mobile
Read all 173 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 Friday. The cost is $10 per person age 18+ and $8 per person age 6 - 17. Hours vary a bit 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. Reservations are not required. While there is no charge for visitors, the suggested donation on Saturdays is $10 per person for adult 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 gift shop with many unique items.
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  • Very good20%
  • Average2%
  • Poor1%
  • Terrible2%
Travellers talk about
373 W Geneva St, Williams Bay, WI 53191-9603
+1 262-245-5555
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Reviews (173)
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1 - 10 of 172 reviews

Reviewed yesterday via mobile

Took the tour of this old, ornate building that houses a historical, still-functioning telescope. First we got some information about the upcoming solar eclipse from one of the observatory directors. Then a knowledgeable person who is writing a book about the building told us about...More

Thank Astrid1028
Reviewed 3 days ago via mobile

Richard was very informative and humorous. The history and architectural information was great. This was the standard tour not a viewing opportunity. However viewing options are available. Richard also spent a good deal of time discussing the upcoming solar eclipse which we appreciated.

Thank kady13
Reviewed 4 days ago

I visited the Yerkes Observatory last weekend and I learned that it is owned and operated by the University Chicago, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. I was impressed by the fact that Yerkes possesses the largest refracting (lens-type) telescope in the world and two other...More

Thank doglovr2
Reviewed 5 days ago

I will recommend it to all age groups. It's a very good place and especially when you attend the tour. I went on Saturday for 1hr tour and guide are totally attached to this place and very knowledgeable. I really enjoyed.

Thank Rahul G
Reviewed 1 week ago

It is a very worthwhile visit, and I suggest a Saturday when the tours show more things. The architecture is very interesting but the telescope is REALLY something! Three excellent tour guides and a gift shop with many very unique items. Worth the time and...More

Thank John M
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

If your in the area you need to visit the Observatory. It was very educational and the guides were excellent and very knowledgeable. The architecture is interesting with a lot of history.

Thank Sam S
Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

The tour on Saturday takes about an hour divided up into August 2017 solar eclipse; architecture of the facility and viewing of 1897 telescope and demonstration. Would need to be at least 12 to enjoy.Interesting dialogue. Something totally different than any other Lake Geneva activity...More

Thank Ralph B
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Beautiful building full of history. There is no tickets - just donation. They provide very impressive tour on weekends. Guides are passionate and really know what they talking about. They explained everything the way everyone can understand and enjoy it. recommended for everyone above 7...More

Thank Elzbieta G
Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

What I love most is how the guides really care about the place. It is obvious they want to share the great history here. I loved it when we got to the telescope room. Watching 1800's technology lift the floor, rotate the roof and the...More

1  Thank wondertraveler40
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Marvelous value! The tour guides were friendly, informative and knowledgeable. The architecture is magnificent and the telescope was "out of this world". Don't skip this!

Thank Sheila M
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Questions & Answers
Bridget G
27 June 2016|
Answer Show 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
26 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
10 January 2015|
Answer Show all 3 answers
Response from theguysm0m | Reviewed this property |
Saturdays are the free tours. But if your schedule won't allow you to be there that day of the week they will do a tour in the morning for up to five people for $25, plus $5 per additional person. To schedule a tour, email... More