Legendary Lake Mills – City of the Pyramids

11-18-12 & 2-18-14 & 2-6-16

Lake Mills sign

We have made two visits to Lake Mills so far.  We returned on May 16, 2014 when the historic site Aztalan reopened for the summer season.  Lake Mills is so interesting, one visit is not enough.   It is a community of 5,708 in Jefferson county 25 miles east of Madison.

Recreation abounds in Lake Mills. The Glacial Drumlin Trail goes through the south end of town, right by the former depot.

Lake Mills WI Depot

Many former train routes were converted to recreation trails in Wisconsin, this being one of them.  Two years ago we rode our tandem bike on this trail.  You can buy trail passes at the depot when it is open.

Glacial Drumlin Trail

Here is a sign we saw on the trail. You could see a drumlin from a trail, formed when the glacier was here.

Drumlin sign


On this 2nd visit, we explored more of the downtown area.  In the Center of town is a triangle-shaped gathering place called Commons Park, complete with a large gazebo in the center.  Many festivals take place here.

Commons Park gazebo

We had missed the Knickerbocker Ice festival in the beginning of February. Part of the festival included ice carvings. They were still around almost three weeks later because it has been such a cold winter. This day though was the first of 3 days around 40 so they were melting now. Here is an ice flower.

Lake Mills Ice Flower

Many historic buildings surround  Commons park. The Greenwood State Bank building.

Greenwood State Bank in Lake Mills

The L.D.  Fargo building, now the city library.

The L.D. Fargo Library

The former Opera House, now the Opera Hall Antique Center.

Opera Hall Antique Center

The other side of the Commons has quite a colorful row of buildings.

Downtown Lake Mills

The third building on the left is Timber Creek Pizza Company. We had ice cream there  (made by Mullen’s in Watertown) after a burger at Sportsman’s Pub on the Park. Another popular restaurant is Carp’s Landing. It is now closed 11-12-17.

Timber Creek Pizza CompanySportsman's Pub on the Park


Carp's Landing

Lake Mills residents and visitors from miles around stop in town on Fridays only from May-Oct for the American Legion’s famous Slider Hamburgers.  We will try them for ourselves come this May when we return.

American Legion Slider Stand

Two buildings down from  Timber Creek is Ephraim Faience Pottery, a place to get upscale handmade pottery to decorate your home.

Ephraim Pottery

A new store just opened called Calamity Jane’s, just off the Commons. We have to check that out sometime.

Calamity Jane's in Lake Mills

Get great honey products here at the Lake Mills Farmers Market. Doug and Yvette Jenks are bee keepers that are happy to serve you!

Honey and Bees Wax Products 20160306_103418

Lake Mills is continuing to beautify their downtown, now adding murals.  This one was painted last year by Grant Mahr, then a student at Lake Mills High School.  Read more about it here. He did a great job, I hope he does more work like this in the future!

Lake Mills Mural 2013

A new Veteran’s Mural was painted in 2014 by artist Joe Kiefer. You can find it on the side of the Shopko Pharmacy building downtown.

New Lake Mills Veterans Mural painted in 2014

Now for the BIG reason why Lake Mills is legendary.  We stopped at Tyranena Park on the north end of Lake Mills, which goes right down to Rock Lake.  Tyranena means, “Sparkling Waters”.  The legend is, Native Americans that lived on the shore of Rock Lake suffered a terrible drought that dried up most of the lake.  It is said they built stone pyramids and offered sacrifices to them.  The rains returned, so much so that the they were submerged in the replenished lake.  They have never been found by divers YET, but the search continues to this day.

Tyranena Park entrance

Rock Lake ice shanties

At this time of year, it is frozen solid with ice fishing shanties dotting the surface.

Nearby the lake is the Motel Pyramid if you are staying longer than a day. It closed winter 2016. 

Motel Pyramid in Lake Mills

2017-Now a Culver’s stands in this spot.

Culver's in Lake Mills-used to be Pyramid Hotel IMG_3868


We loved our visits to Lake Mills and look forward to returning in the spring when it really gets busy here.

I Love Lake Mills

Related Articles and Sites

* Chamber of Commerce

* Lake Mills Main Street Program

* Aztalan Museum

* Pyramid Motel

* Scott Wolter Answers – America Unearthed: The Underwater Pyramids

4 thoughts on “Legendary Lake Mills – City of the Pyramids

  1. Pingback: Lake Mills in Spring | Adventures in Travel

  2. Pingback: Lake Mills Knickerbocker Ice Festival | Adventures in Travel

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