Situated just northwest of Milwaukee lies Washington County–the perfect combination of friendly, small-town charm and nearby city amenities. Rich with history and culture, Washington County is home to 20 cities, towns and villages, including West Bend, Hartford, Richfield, and Germantown featured here. These neighboring communities each have their own unique flare, but share an overarching goal–to love and support Washington County. Come along as we dive into the cities of West Bend and Hartford, and the villages of Slinger, Richfield, and Germantown to learn about their fascinating history and profound impact upon Washington County today.
West Bend thrives off a community-centered foundation, promoting and establishing connection through local events, historical buildings, and impactful programs.
One of the most noteworthy events is the West Bend Farmer’s Market, which has been voted #1 in Wisconsin! Taking farmer’s markets to a whole new level, the West Bend Farmer’s Market is more than just food, it’s a social gathering for all ages. Open every Saturday from mid-May through October, all are welcome to connect with the local farmers and learn about the foods they produce and provide for the community. With over 100 vendors selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to meats and cheeses, there's food you’ll love and an educational opportunity you’ll enjoy.
West Bend provides a plethora of educational opportunities, especially for the youth. Home of the Washington County Historical Society, The Tower Heritage Center takes pride not only in the community, but also the county’s rich history. With a mission of fostering meaningful connections across generations, the center has established several educational programs, where kids can begin to understand the world around us and engage with many hands-on historical exhibits. In fact, the buildings themselves are historical artifacts. Built in 1889, the Courthouse Museum has served as a public monument, courthouse, government center, and is on the National Park Services National Register of Historic buildings. The 1886 Jail Museum served as both a jail and the Sheriff’s family residence until 1962. They both continue to serve as a place of connection, bridging the past to the present day.
Another historical gem is The Bend Theater, which first opened in 1929 as a vaudeville stage and later movie theater. Because of the Historic West Bend Theater group, it was restored to replicate its retro design. Today, it has multifaceted functions, from showing classic movies to theater and comedy show performances, and exciting concerts. The Bend is listed on both State and National Registers of Historic Places.
The excitement continues as we venture to the Volunteer Center of Washington County, where they have created many opportunities to empower people for social good. Teaming up with 50 local non profits, the center is dedicated to make an impact on the community. Check out The Hub gathering space and stop by Social Good Brews, a for-purpose coffee shop that funds the vital work of the volunteer center and fuels the missions of the local non-profits. There are other ways to make an impact, though, whether you join in on a Kindness Project, ride the Do Good Bus, or sign your kiddo up for Camp SuperHero. Click here to connect today.
To the City of Hartford and neighboring Village of Slinger we go, where we uncover the past and encounter more history in the making. From captivating museums, retro ice cream shops, and a world-class speedway, buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Our first stop is at the Wisconsin Automotive Museum that houses an incredible display of transportation history in our state and entire nation. First established in 1986, there are over 120 vintage automobiles to discover spread across two floors and over an acre of space. One of the most famous features is the Kissel car display, which was made right here in Hartford, Wisconsin from 1906 to 1931. Speaking of cars, the museum is also home to the Southeast Wisconsin Short Track Hall of Fame. But there’s a deeper meaning to the cars–the cars connect you to a cherished memory.
On the topic of memorabilia, let’s make a pitstop at Scoop DeVille–a classic retro ice cream shop. In house, they make 32 flavors from scratch! In addition to their indulgent ice cream, they serve soda in retro glass bottles, local white and chocolate milk, vintage candies, cinnamon roasted nuts, and even sandwiches.
Once you’ve grabbed a bite to eat, sweet or savory, it’s time to race to the finish line at Slinger Speedway–the world’s fastest quarter mile oval track. Starting up in 1948 as a dirt track and later paved in 1974, it quickly became the legendary hotspot for speed. The Slinger Nationals race attracts a sell-out crowd, and popular events include Go-Kart nights, Monster Truck Throwdown, and SlamFest.
From the Super Speedway to striking scenery, we’re going to Richfield, home to some of the most rural, and remarkable landscapes in all of Washington County.
Tucked away in the remote woods and valleys of Richfield lies Holy Hill Art Farm–a creative, inspirational gathering place in the Hubertus neighborhood. Since 1857, this fifth-generation family farm continues to make a mark on the community, supporting and creating a communal destination for all to enjoy. For 165 years, the farm has put on an array of activities for the community including markets, farm dinners, tribute concerts, wine walks, and even dog nights and parades!
Another secluded spot is Old Germantown–a 120 acre farmstead that was first settled in 1842! Known for their sausage making, brewery, and restaurant with gourmet wood-fired pizzas, Old Germantown is an impressive find. Part of its unique charm comes from the discovery. As you make your way down the long, rural road, the anticipation builds until finally you reach this amazing, and flavorful escape. Go back in time and remember your roots with a simple visit to the preserved farm. That’s all it will take to fall in love with the community.
Discover Washington County’s vibrant communities, each with a rich history and culture, along with endless recreational activities, an assortment of dining opportunities, and unrivaled picturesque views. West Bend, Hartford, Slinger, Richfield, and Germantown take pride in their preserved heritage and instill community ideals in all they do, loving one another as true neighbors.
See how these communities enrich the county’s quality of life by watching Discover Wisconsin’s episode ‘Washington County: Love Your Neighbor’ below:
Hailey Rose: Writer for Discover Mediaworks. A born & bred Wisconsinite with a love for fishing, hunting, and enjoying the great outdoors.