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Yerkes Observatory

373 W. Geneva St, Williams Bay, WI 53191
262-245-5555
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Type: Observatories/ Planetariums, Landmarks
Owner description: This 100-year-old observatory, which is owned by the University of Chicago, five research...
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Attraction details
Type: Observatories/ Planetariums, Landmarks
Owner description: This 100-year-old observatory, which is owned by the University of Chicago, five research telescopes, one of which is the largest refractor in the world. Free tours for the public are held on Saturdays throughout the year at 10:15 a.m.,11:15 a.m. and noon.

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46 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Chicago, Illinois
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
19 attraction reviews
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 12, 2014

The staff at the observatory did an outstanding job with the history of the building and Yerkes himself. The architecture is beautifully done and while they did have some construction going on it did not subtract from the experience. Getting to go into the dome was beyond any expectation I may have had - its a shame the telescope is... More 

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 7, 2014

Beautiful building with what i thought was a huge telescope, but with the tour guides help learned it is small compared to what is out there now. Very interesting tour, only 45 minutes about a subject i Know nothing about. worth seeing if you are in the Lake Geneva/Williams Bay area. Boy scout troop on our tour and it kept... More 

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Nicollet, Minnesota, USA
Top Contributor
65 reviews 65 reviews
16 attraction reviews
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 20, 2014

We stumbled across the observatory on a frigid day, read the sign that they give tours, $25 a group whether your group is 1 or 5. Since we were cold, curious and standing at the door we said we wanted a tour. What a great place to explore. The guide knew his stuff. He was a bit technical but then... More 

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Lake Villa, Illinois
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 23, 2014

Loved looking at all the carvings and could have stayed all day looking at the architecture and the history.

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Illinois
Top Contributor
71 reviews 71 reviews
14 attraction reviews
44 helpful votes 44 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 29, 2014

Yerkes Observatory is a special spot, especially for us nerds. It houses the largest refractor telescope in the world and, in it's day, was a prime science facility. It is still used for science and continues as a useful instrument. I have taken various granddaughters several times to instill the wonder of science. Yerkes does not disappoint to widen their... More 

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Waukesha, Wisconsin
2 reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 25, 2014

A jewel on the landscape of Williams Bay above beautiful Geneva Lake in Wisconsin, Yerkes Observatory built in 1895 and completed in 1897 stands frozen in time. A testament to the vision and mind of George Ellery Hale to build the 40 inch refracting telescope, at the time the largest in the world. First exhibited at the 1893 Chicago Worlds... More 

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Des Moines, Iowa
Top Contributor
80 reviews 80 reviews
32 attraction reviews
36 helpful votes 36 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 31, 2014

The building is beautiful. To understand the architecture helps understand the science. The free Saturday tour is wonderful. (A $5 per person donation is suggested, and well worth it.). We did that, and also paid for a nightly group viewing session for $30 each. Wow, Dan knows his stuff. We viewed the moon, Saturn, and other celestial objects over several... More 

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Madison, Wisconsin
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
18 attraction reviews
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 3, 2014

Live in Wisconsin more than 25 years but never have a chance to check out this place. Yesterday, a friend invited me to join them for a day trip to William's bay, and I check out this attraction. The tour is good, the architecture is interesting even it was not the best. Recommend to check out the George William college,... More 

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Littleton, Colorado
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
9 attraction reviews
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2014

Our son-in-law suggested a day trip to William's Bay and Lake Geneva. He knows I like architecture so recommended that we check out the observatory. Sadly we had missed the last tour, go early if you want a guided tour. However, the very friendly volunteers and staff let us in to look at the main entrance foyer and gave us... More 

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Rockford, Illinois
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
5 attraction reviews
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2014

This place is definitely worth one's time, but the tour focuses more on the building's architecture and history than on the science/technology side. So, if you're a science geek, you may be somewhat disappointed in the Sat. public tours. Try the other options with costs but views.

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  • Do I have to buy a ticket for my infant?
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  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?