Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. However, all opinions are my own.
Southern Wisconsin is full of fun adventures. Like the rest of the state, you’ll find delicious Midwestern dining, rich local history and passionate locals in this region. But this area has a local flavor all its own.
Whether you’re sampling dozens of chilis at Edgerton’s annual Chilimania festival or discovering the history of the Underground Railroad first hand at the Milton House Museum, there’s lots to explore here. In easy driving distance from Janesville, both Edgerton and Milton are smaller communities that are perfect for a Wisconsin day trip.
In these small towns you’ll find history galore, plenty of places to eat and downtowns teeming with local boutiques and hidden gems. The next time you’re in the area, be sure to check out a few of these things to do in Edgerton and Milton, Wisconsin.
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Things to Do in Edgerton, Wisconsin
If you’re looking to visit Edgerton for a special event, you’ll want to put Chilimania on your calendar now. Held annually the Saturday after Labor Day, this weekend-long event is a delicious display of live music, local fundraising and, of course, chili.
Each Saturday of this annual event, dozens of competitors take to the streets to cook up their signature chili for the masses. Salsa and Best Bloody Mary contests early in the day tide festival-goers over while the chili simmers. But the main event takes place later in the day.
If you plan to attend, be sure to get there in the early afternoon while the chili is still simmering. The tasting period is a fast and furious time that you won’t want to miss. Once the tasting begins, you’ll have an hour or so to sample the dozens of entries and vote for your favorite for the People’s Choice Award. The competition also includes formal judging since Chilimania is certified by CASI (that’s the Chili Appreciation Society International).
We had a blast sampling more chilis than we ever thought possible and deliberating between our favorites. It was also fun to see the themes the different teams chose and how they went all in on their concept.
After all the chili has been sampled, the event goes late into night with live music, signature drinks, more food and a whole lot of fun. If you have the chance, I definitely recommend planning your visit to Edgerton around Chilimania.
Fuel up at The Coffee Depot
Grab some caffeine and fuel up for a day of adventure at The Coffee Depot in downtown Edgerton. This charming spot serves up a variety of drinks and snacks in a historic trackside setting.
Coffee Depot, 20 S. Main Street in Edgerton, Wisconsin
Stop by The Fulton Store
Part grocery store, part local diner, The Fulton Store is a rustic spot that’s definitely worth the trip. Here you’ll find a variety of essentials as well as some hearty breakfast options, sandwiches and more in a warm, inviting atmosphere.
The Fulton Store is also a popular destination because of its giant, flavored cinnamon rolls. During our visit we opted for a traditional roll as well as one with raspberry filling. Both were smothered in rich frosting and were absolutely delicious.
The Fulton Store, 9413 N. Co Rd H in Edgerton, Wisconsin
Things to Do in Milton, Wisconsin
Explore Milton’s Two Downtowns
One of the more unique aspects of Milton’s downtown is that there are actually two downtown areas. Located about a mile away from each other, this small community’s business districts have a lot to offer. Spend some time wandering Milton’s two downtowns and be sure to check out some of the area’s great local shops, including:
- 2nd Time Around Resale Shoppe (34 Merchant Row in Milton, Wisconsin): If you’re looking for unique antiques at a super affordable price, look no further than 2nd Time Around. This sprawling shop has a little bit of everything with exciting finds galore.
- Goodrich Antiques (742 East Madison Avenue in Milton, Wisconsin): Located in the former home of Ezra Goodrich, this cozy antique shop is full of hidden gems. Wander a great selection of furniture and housewares downstairs before heading upstairs to shop a curated array of vintage clothing.
- Hattie & Elsie (650 College Street in Milton, Wisconsin): Pop into this trendy home boutique for darling seasonal decor, thoughtful gifts and more. Hattie & Elsie is the perfect spot for lovers of handmade goods and holiday-centered home goods.
Sample Some Local Wineries
Sip on some locally produced wine at one of Milton’s wonderful wineries. Head next door from the Milton House Museum to Northleaf Winery where you’ll discover delicious wine and chocolate pairings in a historic former wheat warehouse.
Or head down the road to Timber Hill Winery. This family-run winery has a great tasting room with more than 20 unique varieties to choose from. Opt something tried and true with the award-winning Marquette Red or go bold with a glass of Timber Hill’s spicy jalapeno wine. If you can’t decide, the winery also offers wine flights as well as locally-made cheesecake flights and other more savory food options.
Northleaf Winery, 232 S. Janesville Street in Milton, Wisconsin
Timber Hill Winery, 1223 E. Storrs Lake Road in Milton, Wisconsin
Tour the Milton House Museum
Built in 1845, this three-story hexagonal building was once a bustling stagecoach inn. But the Milton House Hotel’s influence extends far beyond its walls.
Over the years, the hotel has welcomed hundreds of guests, many passing through the area on their way from Chicago to Madison. But the hotel also served a different clientele. For many years, the hotel’s founder Joseph Goodrich made helping fugitive slaves escape to Canada on the Underground Railroad an essential part of his work.
Today you can experience the area’s abolitionist history with a visit to the Milton House Museum, which is also the last certified Underground Railroad station in Wisconsin.
Share Your Thoughts
I would love to hear from you! Have you explored this part of the state? What are your favorite things to do in Edgerton and Milton, Wisconsin?