Racine County and all of the unique Things to Do in Racine, WI is conveniently located on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, just 25 miles south of Milwaukee and 65 miles north of Chicago. Racine WI offers a diverse selection of interesting, cultural, historical and entertaining attractions for the group traveler including a wide range of fine restaurants and affordable accommodations.
Enjoy unique Racine attractions such as the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright's largest commercial project, the SC Johnson Administration Building. Also designed by Wright is Wingspread, a former Johnson family home which is now used as a conference center but is open for tours when a conference is not in session. On the SC Johnson Wax campus is the Golden Rondelle Theatre, built for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, and Fortaleza Hall, which honors the spirit of adventure and highlights the landmark expeditions to Brazil by the late fourth-generation leader Sam Johnson and his father, H.F. Johnson Jr. The building offers visitors a chance to come together to learn more about the SC Johnson company and the company’s core values.
No trip is complete to Racine without a trip to a local bakery for the famous Danish pastry, kringle. Stop by one of the bakeries for a free tour and samples. Another highlight not to be missed is the majestic Wind Point Lighthouse, the oldest and tallest working lighthouse on Lake Michigan. Also CNH Co. (Formerly J.I. Case Co.) tours, an Underground Railroad Quilt Exhibit, State of the Art Fine Art Museum-R.A.M., and the Apple Holler Red Barn Dinner Theatre. Of course, we cannot forget Fred Hermes’ Basement Bijou-Wurlitzer Organ show, which features a 1926 five-manual organ, one of the largest organs created by Wurlitzer, and housed in the lower level of his home in a two-story, 150-seat balconied theater!
- Points of Interest
Case-New Holland Tractor Assembly Plant Tour
2701 Oakes Road, Sturtevant
CNH manufactures the Maxxum and Magnum farm tractors in Racine County. As you take this walking tour you will see tractors being manufactured from beginning to end, viewing each step of production. Watch transmissions moving down the assembly line, engines being painted by robots, windshields and tires being mounted on the tractors, to the final step of driving them off the line. Minimum age is 14. Time: 2 hours/free
Danish Bakeries for World-Famous Kringle
A kringle stop is a must on your itinerary to Racine County. You owe it to your travelers to treat them to taste one of life's delicious pleasures. Authentic Danish pastry kringle is made from many feather-light layers of pastry and butter, with a variety of homemade fruit or nut fillings. Various Racine bakeries offer free samples and coffee. Time: Maximum 45 minutes/free.
Wind Point Lighthouse
4725 Lighthouse Drive, Wind Point
Located on Racine's north side in the village of Wind Point, the Wind Point Lighthouse, built in 1880, is considered to be the oldest and tallest working lighthouse standing on Lake Michigan. In 1964 the Coast Guard automated the light, which casts a beam of 19 miles. It is also when the Village of Wind Point began leasing the Lighthouse buildings and grounds from the Coast Guard. Visitors are welcome to tour the grounds - a beautiful location for your groups to stroll the area, enjoy the incredible view and take some great photos of this majestic sight. Time: 30 minutes/free.
SC Johnson Administration Building & The Golden Rondelle Theater
1525 Howe Street
Racine The SC Johnson Administration Building, the largest commercial project designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, was completed in 1939. The Great Workroom of the building utilizes almost one-half acre of workable floor space and has a ceiling supported by huge golf-tee shaped columns that have been termed one of the most advanced structural supports in modern architecture. These columns soar 31 feet from floor to ceiling. The furniture was also designed by Frank Lloyd Wright to add efficiency and beauty.Time: 45 minutes/free.
The Golden Rondelle Theater was constructed for the SC Johnson Wax pavilion at the 1964/65 New York World's Fair. It was brought back to Racine and placed on a new base, which was designed by the Taliesin Associate Architects to complement the existing buildings of the SC Johnson corporate headquarters. The Theater is open on Fridays at noon showing the current movie "Carnauba, A Son's Memoir" Time: 55 minutes/free at noon. Also showing “To Be Alive" Time: 20 minutes/free at 1:15. Call for reservations.
Racine Art Museum
441 Main Street
Racine With its concentration in ceramics, fibers, glass, metals and wood, RAM houses one of the most significant collections of contemporary crafts of any North American museum. RAM's permanent collection of over 3,000 pieces features work by leaders in the field In addition to rotating exhibitions from its permanent collection, RAM also hosts exhibitions of works created specifically for the museum by major contemporary artists and brings important traveling art exhibitions to the Midwest. Wheelchair accessible. Time: Self Guided.
Roots of Freedom Underground Railroad History Tour
In-town walking and driving tours and an out of town driving tour with a route that passes by farms and houses that area abolitionists used to keep slaves safe from people searching for them. A new brochure has been established outlining over 25 locations within Racine County. Tour many of the places that Caroline Quarlls, Joshua Glover and other runaway slaves stayed. Also see homes where Burlington’s abolitionist’s lived. The Racine Heritage Museum is also on the tour and has a new exhibit detailing the information. Self guided/free.
- Fred Hermes' Basement Bijou
Ornate columns, chandeliers, lavishly detailed walls: it's old-time movie palace splendor. The lights dim. A gold curtain silently glides open, and, like Poseidon rising from the sea, up comes the star attraction: an elaborate theater organ console—five keyboards, and nearly countless pedals and switches. This 2,500-pipe Wurlitzer organ from 1926 is the largest five manual organ that the company ever made. It's the largest of the three of its kind still intact and in use.
The organ emerges from deep below stage level, a man seated with his back to us plays a majestic overture. This is Fred Hermes, who salvaged the once-neglected instrument from Detroit's 4,000-seat Michigan Theatre in 1956. Today, he invites groups to visit his "Mighty Wurlitzer," which, he says, "cost $75,000 new. Now, you couldn't get one like this built for $3 million." The organ can mimic the sounds of all the instruments in the orchestra, and then some. Some of the pipes are straight, some flared, some looped in the center. Some are metal, and some are wood.
There's also a full complement of real percussion instruments: cymbals, a marimba, a harp, a glockenspiel—all controlled from the keyboard console. Thirty-five hundred wires connect the organ console to its thousands of voices. A room-sized fifteen horsepower blower powers the organ's air supply. A separate two horsepower motor powers the current to the pipes and other instruments.
Hermes spent 46 years restoring this unique artifact of musical, cinematic, and technological history. His remarkable achievements have been recognized by the American Theatre Organ Society and other groups.
The 90-minute presentation includes a concert, demos, a talk with a question-and-answer period, a sing-along, and more. "School groups love it. I've had all kinds of groups come," he says. The extravaganza takes place in a 150-seat theater set with architectural artifacts from fifty (sadly destroyed) movie palaces throughout the Midwest. Incredibly, it's all installed in the two-story basement of the residential neighborhood dwelling where Hermes and his wife live, and his family was raised. "I built the house for the organ," he says.
BY VESNA VUYNOVICH KOVACH
Shows are presented to groups, and are by reservation only.
Call Eileen Arnold, 262-884-6407, to schedule a group.
- Performance Theaters
5006 S. Sylvania Ave., Sturtevant
Music and merriment are offered in the Red Barn Theater at Apple Holler Restaurant and Showplace. Offering professional musical comedy revues at lunch or dinner, your day can include: apple picking, hay wagon or sleigh rides through orchard, hearty American cuisine pies and baked goods, cider and Wisconsin cheeses and wines.
2519 Northwestern Ave., Racine
This award-winning theatre offers eight terrific plays and is the recipient of the Governor's Award in Support of the Arts. It is acclaimed from as far away as Japan, the former USSR, the Netherlands and England. The plays are performed on a full thrust stage in a beautiful, recently renovated auditorium that make the envy of many theatre patrons and performance groups worldwide. The Racine Theatre Guild is one the country's leading community theatres with a wonderful selection of plays that include musical, suspense and comedy.
- Arrange a Tour
To help you plan a fun group tour for your organization, contact Eileen Arnold at:
1-800-272-2463 or 262-884-6407
or email at [email protected] for suggestions and reservations.
Click below on the PDFs to learn of some suggested itineraries within Racine County and Southeastern Wisconsin.
To download a profile sheet, click here: Group Tours Profile.