Milwaukee may mostly be known for their fests, brats, and beer, so why would we – a family of four with two toddlers – want to visit the largest city in Wisconsin in the dead of winter? Well, for one, the Brew city offers more than just brews (though my husband didn’t seem to mind), including a plethora of indoor museums, kid-friendly restaurants, and the perfect home away from home. Visiting Milwaukee with kids for a winter getaway couldn’t have been more suited for our family!
Visiting Milwaukee with Kids: Indoor Winter Adventures
Harley-Davidson is Milwaukee born and bred, so it makes perfect sense that the world’s only Harley-Davidson Museum resides here. And the best part is that kids and parents do not need to be motorcycle enthusiasts to enjoy over 500 motorcycles. While adults peruse the beauties, kids can don Harley gear, sit on and “rev” up a bike, design their own bike, or participate in a scavenger hunt. At the end, both kids and parents can go hog-wild by sitting on their choice of motorcycle and pretend to ride off into the sunset. No helmets required!
Do the kids have pent-up energy? Head to the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, rated “one of the top 10 best children’s museums” by Parents Magazine, where kids can let loose. Older children will shriek with excitement at the three-story play structure, while the youngest visitors will enjoy their own play area complete with a tree house slide, sand area, and water play. On our visit, they were busy getting ready for their Mr. Potato Head exhibit, plus additions featuring a motorcycle dealership and a bakery. Stay tuned – there are lots of exciting changes coming! Head across the street to Discovery World for more hands on learning. Here science, technology, innovation, and environmental science meet. You won’t want to miss their aquarium or their 1900s recreated schooner.
Ahoy matey! Do you have a pirate fan? Even if you don’t (we didn’t), you must stop by The Milwaukee Public Museum and check out their newest exhibit Real Pirates. This fascinating exhibit uncovers the story of a real pirate ship found off the East Coast. Activities include walking the plank of the recreated ship, hoisting a flag, conversing with people from that era, and seeing (and touching) real pirate’s treasure. You’ll come out learning more than you ever thought you wanted about pirates. Make sure to save time for the museum’s butterfly exhibit (they’ll be flying all around you) or for a stroll through Milwaukee’s streets of yesteryear.
Are you craving more pirate themed fun? Explore pirate-themed fun across the US
To truly escape the winter’s single digit temps, a visit to the Mitchell Park Conservatory, or the Domes as it’s known by the locals, is a must. A desert oasis awaits you in their Arid Dome where you’ll come face-to-face with cacti at every turn. You’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to the rainforest once the humidity envelopes you and you hear the birds chirping and the sounds of the waterfall. Their third dome, the Show Dome, highlights a special exhibit amongst beautiful floral displays. Luckily for my train fanatic, it happened to be their annual garden train. Stop by and check it out for yourself before it ends on March 10th.
Eat your Way Around Town
When we weren’t busy exploring the city or hanging out in our hotel room, you could find us stuffing our face with food. And guess what? There’s more than just beer and brats!
If you’ve got picky eaters in the family, the Milwaukee Public Market is perfect for you. From ethnic foods to ice cream to oysters, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something you don’t like. At Green Kitchen, healthy food is the name of the game. Take home something to remember Milwaukee by at Brew City Brand Apparel or taste different cheeses at West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe. With 16 vendors that focus on Wisconsin products, you’ll have no troubles finding something to eat.
One of the reoccurring themes we saw throughout Milwaukee was the friendliness shown by everyone but no other restaurant oozed as much friendliness as Blue’s Egg. Combining Old World ingredients with fresh concepts, Blue’s Egg is not your typical breakfast joint. Not only is the atmosphere family friendly and the food to die for, but also you’ll appreciate how they try to stay true to their name (EGG is an acronym for Everyone’s Good Graces) by giving back to the community.
For something a little more unique, eat AND play at the trendy hot spot SPiN Milwaukee. Families can munch on delicious food (a must try is the Mac and Cheese truffle burger!), while challenging each other with a round of ping-pong.
Kid Friendly Milwaukee Lodging
Parents looking for a family friendly (and pet-friendly) hotel with a great location should look no further than the Hilton Milwaukee City Center. As their name implies, the Hilton is located smack dab center in Milwaukee’s downtown, which was convenient as we were no more than a few minutes away from any of our destinations.
Read kid-friendly reviews of the Hilton Milwaukee City Center.
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Disclosure: A special thanks to VISIT Milwaukee for hosting our family ‘s winter getaway. As always, the opinions expressed are my own.