Evansville is a Choice Destination, so named by Discover Wisconsin, the nation’s longest running television tourism program. What makes Evansville special? This friendly community has a rich history evident in its architecture, entrepreneurial spirit, arts, recreation and natural beauty.
The Wisconsin Historical Society has stated that Evansville is home to “the finest collection of 1840s to 1915 architecture of any small town in Wisconsin.” More than 300 properties are listed as historic places, and a good share of them are in a highly walkable 5-block district. A key feature is Main Street, lined with reclaimed brick pavers. Several retail buildings facing Main Street have intricate, carved details. Continue on Main Street into the residential district to see stately Queen Anne, Gothic Revival, Prairie School, Bungalow and other styles of homes. Free guidebooks are available and have descriptions and maps for easy, self-guided walking tours.
Evansville has a thriving arts culture. Anchoring one end of the historic downtown district is Allen Creek Gallery, a regionally renowned art gallery representing award-winning pottery, plus textiles, paintings, garden sculptures and other fine art. Plus, more than 80 barn quilts—the popular folk art phenomenon—are concentrated in and around Evansville. A handy pamphlet has maps and a list of the local barn quilts.
Evansville’s most well-known park is Leonard-Leota Park, listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its 1930s-era designed landscape. Established in 1883 and later expanded, the park’s significant landmark is the 28-acre stream-fed Lake Leota, a popular place for birders, anglers, kayakers and more. Other park amenities include a popular 9-hole disc golf course, an outdoor public swimming pool, picnic areas, playgrounds, huge trees, and a photogenic covered bridge that straddles a stream. Near Evansville are Magnolia Bluff and Gibbs Lake, both county parks with scenic views, picnic and wildlife areas, and trails for hiking, cross-country skiing and horseback riding. Gibbs Lake also has a boat landing.
Another beautiful place, known for its geologically significant terrain, is the Evansville Golf Club, one of the finest public golf courses in southern Wisconsin. The 18-hole, par 72 golf course has a driving range, pro shop and restaurant.
The shopping experience in Evansville is enticing. Boutique shops offer vintage and new home furnishings, décor, art, antiques, handcrafted gift items, clothing and even pet-friendly cookies. Friendly, locally owned restaurants satisfy a variety of appetites, whether it is a sandwich for a picnic lunch, or a Friday fish fry, or a family-style dinner.
Overnight guests are welcome at the local Boarders Inn & Suites, which is conveniently located right off Highway 14 on the east end of Evansville.
Groups are welcome at the crafters’ retreat center, The Grove Retreat, where you will find a creativity room perfect for quilting, scrapbooking and other projects requiring tables and good lighting.
With a population exceeding 5,000, Evansville cherishes its strong sense of community and small town charm. Residents enjoy concerts, sports, festivals and celebrations, whether it comes from the well-regarded public school district here or from the good will of volunteers who just want to share a fun time. One of the newest community collaborations is Creekside Cruise Night, hosted the first Thursday evening of the month from May through September.