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Yerkes Observatory

373 W Geneva St, Williams Bay, WI 53191-9603
+1 262-245-5555
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Review Highlights
Architecture, history, science - all in one

If you're interested in architecture, this is a must-see. If you're interested in history, this is... read more

Reviewed 2 weeks ago
SteveMirn
,
Fort Collins, Colorado
Disappointing tour

My familiy and I went to Yerkes Observatory for a weekday tour. We were the only ones that arrived... read more

Reviewed 2 weeks ago
artteach17
,
Heyworth, Illinois
via mobile
Read all 266 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.
  • Excellent79%
  • Very good18%
  • Average1%
  • Poor1%
  • Terrible1%
Travelers talk about
“tour guide” (26 reviews)
“solar eclipse” (9 reviews)
“lake geneva” (31 reviews)
LOCATION
373 W Geneva St, Williams Bay, WI 53191-9603
CONTACT
Website
+1 262-245-5555
Write a ReviewReviews (266)
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All reviews
"tour guide"
in 26 reviews
"solar eclipse"
in 9 reviews
"lake geneva"
in 31 reviews
"science history"
in 3 reviews
"terra cotta"
in 3 reviews
"saturday tour"
in 7 reviews
"architectural details"
in 6 reviews
"great tour"
in 16 reviews
"inner workings"
in 3 reviews
"gift shop"
in 16 reviews
"entire floor"
in 3 reviews
"architecture buffs"
in 3 reviews
"explained everything"
in 4 reviews
"wealth of knowledge"
in 3 reviews
"an amazing experience"
in 6 reviews
"beautiful building and grounds"
in 3 reviews
"learn something"
in 4 reviews
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1 - 10 of 265 reviews

Reviewed 2 weeks ago

If you're interested in architecture, this is a must-see. If you're interested in history, this is a must-see. If you're interested in astronomy or astrophysics, this is a must-see. Our tour guide said he was the B-team as he was filling in for someone else,...More

Thank SteveMirn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

My familiy and I went to Yerkes Observatory for a weekday tour. We were the only ones that arrived. The tour guide was very nice and very knowledgeable which is why I gave this review 2 stars instead of 1. The building is amazing especially...More

Thank artteach17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dan K, Manager at Yerkes Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 1 week ago

Thank you for taking the time to let us know about your tour experience at Yerkes. I appreciate your comments and wish to apologize for disappointing you. I hope that you'll be able to return to Yerkes in the near future so we can provide...More

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

The Yerkes Observatory is a fascinating place. In its day the largest telescope in the world, it still inspires the wonder of discovery. The buildings and domes are architecturally rich, and the mechanisms for elevating the enormous floor beneath the telescope, and opening the dome,...More

Thank jheidekat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Yerkes Observatory is located in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, and is considered to be the birthplace of modern astrophysics. It is home to the world’s largest refracting telescope. My friend and I made reservations to attend an evening presentation at the observatory, and were not disappointed....More

Thank Dare2BGroovy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

Go today!! The tour of the Yerkes was informative and interesting. All the other special events they have this weekend are amazing! The tour is discounted and the presentations are all free! Rocket and drone demonstrations, Mr. Freeze and many educational presentations make it fun...More

Thank TL_Q_2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

We were so glad we stopped in to get a tour and really just listen to our guide talk about the observatory. There was some great history to be learned about the observatory and the people who built it and to just witness the history....More

Thank Areen N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 5 weeks ago

The tour gives not only a look at the 40 inch telescope but also the history of the facility and a peek into the lives of those who built it. It is being threatened for funding and it is not clear how long it will...More

Thank pczar3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 20, 2018 via mobile

This place was so much fun! The tour was about an hour and covered history, construction, and the techology used. We had a little extra time so we even got to see the floor rise and the telescope move. Very fun. There is a small...More

Thank mckenzierichardson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 13, 2018 via mobile

We popped in here and managed to catch the last half of the tour that was happening. The tour guide was knowledgeable and clearly passionate about sharing his knowledge. I really enjoyed the little piece of history of the Yerkes observatory. The architecture is beautiful....More

Thank weyes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2018 via mobile

What a wonderful experience to be able to look through the same telescope that has been so instrumental in the pioneering of modern Astronomy. Our host and guide Dan Koehler was so incredibly informative and helpful. An amazing experience that I will cherish forever.

Thank shutterbug5300
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Ask a question
Questions & Answers
Mary D
August 22, 2017|
AnswerShow all 4 answers
Response from SteveT6029677454 | Reviewed this property |
Thanks for your comment Mary. Important for other folks to know.
1
Vote
Bridget G
June 27, 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
0
Votes
GOOSER23
August 26, 2015|
Answer
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
0
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