Looking for plenty of easy, affordable, family-friendly fun? Look no further. Rated as the Top Destination for Family Tavel in 2014 by ABC Travel Guide for Kids, Milwaukee is the perfect choice for your family getaway!
PLAY – MUSEMS & ATTRACTIONS
The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum is where children ages 10 and under can have a blast exploring hands-on exhibits that make learning fun. Whether it’s planning a news broadcast in a pretend studio, finding out how far a sneeze travels or imagining what it’s like to power a riverboat down the Mississippi, the Museum offers hours of imaginative play.
See the king of the jungle and slithering, swimming and swinging creatures at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Take a ride on the steam-powered Safari Train, get a bird’s eye view on the Sky Trail zip line, ropes course and climbing wall or enjoy the colorful menagerie on the Zoo’s carousel. Get face-to- face with the tallest animals in the Zoo at the Giraffe Experience exhibit with an elevated deck. Want to get even closer? Reserve a time to help feed the giraffes at the Flamingo Gift Shop!
Discovery World connects innovation, science and technology with the environment and our Great Lakes freshwater resources. The museum features interactive exhibits, fresh and saltwater aquariums, touch tanks, digital theaters and labs. During the summer, the inner harbor is home to Wisconsin's Flagship, the S/V Denis Sullivan, a 137-foot re-creation of a three-masted Great Lakes schooner and floating classroom. Visitors can come aboard for a short sail or an actual voyage to learn how to survive on the Great Lakes, the Atlantic and the Caribbean.
At the world’s only Harley-Davidson Museum, kids of all ages have a blast testing out motorcycles from the company’s archives, using touch-screen technology to hear the signature sound of Harley-Davidson engines or visiting the Imagination Station Kids Area – complete with a coloring table, motorcycle-themed books and dress-up biker clothes.
While an art museum may not seem like the most kid-friendly field trip, the Milwaukee Art Museum allows for children to partake in the fun with the Kohl’s Art Generation, which is a collaborative program encouraging creative expression for kids by including them in exciting art projects.
Checking out the only 85-foot-high, three glass-domed conservatories in the world is an experience in itself, but once you get inside – the adventure starts blooming! Visit the jungle, the desert and other habitats, at the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, known by locals as the Milwaukee Domes.
Explore the Milwaukee Public Museum, ranked one of the country’s best natural history museums. Travel the globe at exhibits from Asia, Africa, the Arctic, South and Middle America and the Costa Rican Rainforest! See the world’s largest-known dinosaur skull, stroll among free-flying butterflies from around the world or transport yourself to the 1880s in the Streets of Old Milwaukee exhibit. The museum complex also houses an IMAX Theater and the Daniel M. Soref Planetarium.
PLAY – THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Enjoy the outdoors with views of Lake Michigan and the downtown skyline from Veterans Park, part of Milwaukee’s award-winning County Parks System. Rent a paddleboat or a few hydro-bikes from Wheel Fun Rentals.
Gift of Wings offers high-flying fun for the entire family. Situated in the heart of Veterans Park, the store has a wide array of kites on sale and for rent, and the friendly staff is happy to provide free kite lessons. Gift of Wings also hosts kite festivals throughout the year that turn the lakefront sky to a sea of colorful creatures.
The Urban Ecology Center offers canoe trips for adults and children that provide a riverside look at downtown and the architectural and ecological features of urban Milwaukee.
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is located just 15 minutes from downtown. Open year-round, it is a great place to explore 185 acres of untouched natural beauty, and the center’s soaring 60-foot observation tower offers a brilliant display you need to see to believe.
Sea Dog Sailing provides a comfortable and relaxing journey aboard “Blue Chip,” a Catalina 34’ sailing yacht. See Milwaukee’s scenic shoreline from Lake Michigan while you enjoy a sailing excursion in the Milwaukee Harbor during the day or at sunset.
Milwaukee Boat Line gives families the opportunity to enjoy the skyline from Lake Michigan. The boats offer regular cruises down the Milwaukee River and out into the harbor and Lake Michigan.
Looking for a fun way to get the entire family out on the water? New to Milwaukee in 2013, Milwaukee Kayak Company rents kayaks (tandem and single), canoes and stand up paddle boards to families with children ages five and older. This fabulous outdoor adventure takes families through the heart of downtown Milwaukee, the industrial district and more, all depending on which river you choose!
First Stage Children’s Theatre is renowned as the premier children’s theater in southeastern Wisconsin. Since 1987, First Stage has been entertaining families with more than 300 performances every year. It is the second largest theatre company in Milwaukee and draws annual audiences of more than 145,000 people.
Rediscover the character of America less than an hour from downtown at Old World Wisconsin, a premier outdoor museum of immigrant farm and rural life. Its historic farmsteads and ethnic settlements, nestled among 600 acres of rolling, wooded countryside, reflect the melting pot tradition that built the Midwest. Costumed interpreters interact with visitors as they tell the story of Wisconsin’s immigrant pioneers.
Who doesn’t love a good jelly bean? Located just 30 minutes south of Milwaukee, the Jelly Belly Visitor Center allows families to take tours of the warehouse and taste the magic of the original gourmet Jelly Belly jelly bean. Kids love hopping aboard the FREE Jelly Belly Express Train, which makes stops at a variety of stations showing the company’s century of candy making.
We know how hard it can be to accommodate everyone’s unique taste in food, so here are some kid-friendly menus that will make the entire family smile!
A must for any pizza lover is a stop at Palermo’s Pizza. Just relax and enjoy the authentic tastes of Italy or take a tour of the factory to find out how the first pizzeria-style pizza with a crust that rises as it bakes in your oven is made. Either way, you’ll quickly discover how Papa Palermo came up with the slogan “Dat’s Da Best”™!
Families looking to combine their dinner with an exciting Milwaukee hotspot should look no further than Evolution Gastro Pong, a social restaurant in the hub of Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward. The menu is jam-packed with tasty burgers and interesting appetizers, and the venue’s 12 table-tennis courts ensure a night of unmatched fun.
After a long day of fun in the sun at Bradford Beach, kids will go crazy for a stop at Northpoint Custard. Boasting a menu that features Milwaukee favorites such as char-grilled burgers, Italian sausage and white cheddar cheese curds, Northpoint’s claim to fame is its old-fashioned creamy, frozen custard.
One of Milwaukee’s best-kept secrets – literally – is the Safe House, perfect for those seeking an exciting dinner unlike any other. This spy-themed restaurant begs to be explored, with a truly unique ambiance and cool spy props. Kids have their own menu, while parents can enjoy the full-service bar.
If you are looking for a more relaxed and low-key dining experience, why not try out the incredibly affordable Pizzeria Piccola? This quaint little wood-oven pizzeria features personal-size pies that the entire family can enjoy. Located in the heart of downtown Wauwatosa, a quick 10-minute drive from the city, families should make sure to walk a block to Yo Mama! for a bite of frozen yogurt after pizza.
Not quite feeling pizza? Hot dogs more your style? Make a pit stop to Dogg Haus. Continually voted the best hot dog in Milwaukee, Dogg Haus now has more than five locations to choose from, each with menu items like the Atlantic City dog and the Tijuana.