Just a short drive from Madison, Stoughton has all the traditions, charm and appeal of a small town, plus big-city perks. Rooted in a rich Norwegian history, which is still celebrated today, the city continues to grow and thrive, making it an ideal Wisconsin destination. Beautiful water and parks, a fantastic arts district, great local shops and restaurants, unique events – there’s a whole lot to love about Stoughton!
Here are 11 of our favorite things to do in Stoughton:
Experience the fun and festivities at Stoughton’s Syttende Mai Festival in May. The city-wide festival takes place on the weekend closest to Norway’s May 17th Constitution Day. For three days the streets of Stoughton come alive with parades, traditional foods, arts and music, athletic competitions and kids’ activities, all celebrating Norwegian culture.
Explore Stoughton’s history at the Norwegian Heritage Center, also known as Livsreise, which translates to “Life’s Journey.” Here visitors can learn about the journey that brought Norwegian immigrants to Stoughton through interactive and dynamic exhibits.
Grab a bite to eat at the Viking Brew Pub, Stoughton’s first brew pub. Family-owned and operated, this restaurant is a staple of downtown Stoughton’s Main Street. We highly recommend the Viking Burger, along with their many Nordic-style dishes. And for a special treat, ask to see Hilda blow smoke – she’s the dragon at the helm of the bar’s Viking Long Ship!
Check out Diakonos Designs, a treasure trove of a shop tucked away in an upstairs storefront in downtown Stoughton. This jewelry supplies store is like Pinterest come to life! Shop finished pieces, or get the supplies to make your own. They even hold small group classes, perfect for birthday parties, showers or ladies’ nights out.
Have a doughnut (or two or three) at Fosdal Home Bakery. Fosdal’s has been Stoughton’s beloved hometown bakery since 1907. While you can find delicious cookies, cakes, Kringle’s and pastries at Fosdal’s, any local will tell you, “You’ve gotta have a doughnut!” Of course, we did our research and can confirm – they’re incredible!
Go for a hike at the beautiful 342-acre Lake Kegonsa State Park. Along with lake access and great hiking trails, the park is also very dog friendly. In addition to designated trails for you and your best fur-friend, they also have a popular dog beach!
If you got little ones along for the ride, run don’t walk to Troll Beach. Essentially, it’s a small lake with playground equipment, giant floaties to climb on and slide down, water obstacle courses and more. We heard first-hand from kids that you’ll NEVER be bored at Troll Beach!
See a local production at the Stoughton Village Players Theater, a historic building on Main Street that started in the town as a silent movie house. The Stoughton Village Players stage several productions a year at the intimate theater, where’s there’s not a bad seat in the house. Madison has named them “Best of the Suburban Theaters” more than once.
Browse gorgeous artworks at the Abel Contemporary Gallery. The gallery, which houses a beautiful blend of fine art and fine craft, recently moved from Paoli to their new home in a beautifully restored tobacco warehouse on Stoughton’s Main Street.
Spend a summer night enjoying Gazebo Musikk at Rotary Park. With live music, local food vendors, and plenty of space for kids to run around and dance, there’s no better place to get together with friends and neighbors.
See a show at the beautiful, historic Stoughton Opera House. The crown jewel of the city, the Stoughton Opera House plays host to a wide variety of musical and theatrical performances throughout the season. It also has a rich, fascinating history worth learning about!