Plan Your Visit

How to make your visit a

cosmic experience.

Welcome to Yerkes Observatory

We offer a variety of tours of this architectural and engineering masterpiece. We have an Olmsted Landscape tour debuting in late spring of 2023. All tour tickets must be reserved in advance right here on our website. Space & Spaces tours take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. Hidden Spaces takes about 2 hours. Comfortable shoes are recommended. For outside tours on our fifty acres of botanical splendor, you may prefer hiking shoes but they are not a must. All tours require a significant amount of walking. Interior tours require climbing stairs and sometimes maneuvering through small spaces.

The ticket prices can be found by clicking the Schedule button below. There is no cost for exploring the exterior of the campus unless you purchase the upcoming, guided Olmsted Landscape tour. You can walk the outdoor trails as you please. Non-ticketed visitors who are visiting solely for the grounds are asked to park in the grassy, shaded lot on the southeast side of our campus adjacent to the paved lot. The parking sign reads Grounds Visitors.


Yerkes Observatory is a building constructed between 1895 and 1897. We are working every day to make this historic landmark accessible for all to enjoy. As part of our extensive renovations, an accessible lift taking guests up to our central floor was completed in March 2023. We have also finished construction on our wheelchair-friendly washrooms. We do not have wheelchair accessibility to our Great Refractor Dome yet, though it is certainly one of our goals. We are working with Parkitecture, a Wisconsin-based landscape design firm, to create wheelchair-accessible trails on our grounds.

With advance notice, we can schedule an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter for our tours.

Accessible parking spots are located in the southwest corner of our new lot next to the lighted pathway leading to our accessibility entrance and our main entrance. If you have additional questions or recommendations on how we could improve your experience, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Guest and staff safety are very important to us. Yerkes Observatory follows federal, state, and local laws regarding COVID-19 mask use and safety. When a mandate or ordinance has been updated, we will update our policy accordingly. We currently do not require the wearing of masks, but we certainly never discourage that practice.

Parking is available in our new lot on the southeast side of the Observatory. When you enter our campus from Geneva Street, continue south past Observatory Place and through our entry gate. Veer left into the Olmsted Ellipse. At the next junction, veer left again. Keeping our scientist / artist-in-residence yellow home directly on your left, enter our 50-space lot just beyond the home. Accessible spots are located in the southwest corner of the lot next to the lighted pathway leading to our southside building entrance. Weather permitting from May to October, grounds-only visitors should park in the shaded, grassy lot left of the paved lot which is reserved for ticketed visitors and private guests of Yerkes during our warm-weather months.

Since we are a working, science institution and not a museum, the Observatory’s interior is only open to the public for reserved tours and scheduled events. Our grounds are always open unless there is a private event. If you see the Private Event sign at the top of our driveway or in our parking lot, please visit us another time out of respect for the guests who have rented our campus. Thanks! Prior to planning your visit, please click here to see our public tour and event schedule.

Book a Tour

Check our event schedule and social media pages for information on star party evenings, speakers, festivals, and more. Yerkes Observatory is a happening place and we’re just getting started, said the 125 year old observatory.

View Events

Take a field trip to space! Yerkes Observatory welcomes school classes, scouting troops, community organizations, and summer camps. See our School Visits page for more information. If you’re looking for an outing that’s educational, entertaining, and experiential, the stars align at Yerkes! Contact us for reservations.

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Make your wedding, business meeting, or family reunion truly memorable. Yerkes is as unique an event venue as you’ll find. Offering a magnificent backdrop would be enough, but our event planners go the extra mile to help you imagine and execute the perfect gathering.


We do small weddings of up to sixty people inside. Our larger weddings happen on the restored South Lawn with the Observatory itself serving as the northern backdrop and the woods of Barnard’s Bluff and the Struve Home as your southern one. We are a science and arts institution rather than a traditional wedding venue, so couples create a mosaic of their own at our site. Our weddings are coordinated by Graceful Events, the premier wedding specialists in Wisconsin.

Meetings and Business Events

Yerkes offers an impressive setting to welcome staff and guests. Flexible spaces indoors and outdoors can accommodate any kind of program. Food and beverage services can be arranged with the caterer and bar service of your choice.

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