What are the best things to do in Wisconsin with kids? Wisconsin is the quintessential Midwestern state with a boat load of variety to keep families entertained.
With shoreline on two of the Great Lakes, some pretty rocking metropolitan areas, a water park bonanza, and a legacy of farming and agriculture, Wisconsin offers a medley of attractions for families to enjoy. Gear up with your fishing pole and grab some cheese for a fantastic Wisconsin family vacation.
Things to do in Wisconsin with Kids
1. Become a Cheesehead on Your Wisconsin Family Vacation
Kids LOVE cheese. Wisconsin is America’s dairyland producing more than 30% of all of the cheese consumed in USA. Discover the art of cheese making with your family by heading to one of Wisconsin’s many cheese making factories.
Most cheese factories offer samples, retail stores, ice cream shops, and viewing windows for kid edu-tainment. The Union Star Cheese Factory in Fremont is a fourth generation operation where cheese is still made by hand with tours offered most mornings. Watch them make the curds and then sample the fresh cheese.
Kelley Country Creamery in Fond du Lac gem is known for having the best ice cream in the state. There are over 200 flavors to choose from! You can watch popular brick cheeses like cheddar being made from inside the Widmer’s Cheese Cellars retail store. Then shop ’til you drop for all your cheesy favorites.
Visiting in the fall? Here are the 15 best pumpkin patches in Wisconsin.
2. Visit Some Great Wisconsin Museums
Wisconsin has a ton of museums for you to scope out.
Are motorcycles your thing? Check out the Harley Davidson Museum where your child can gear up and sit on the real thing or design their own motorcycle.
Desire less vroom and more culture? Head for the child friendly Milwaukee Art Museum, a multicultural museum with a variety of art. They offer art packs that are designed for kids to further enhance their stay at the museum as well as classes and hands on areas.
The Madison Children’s Museum is often voted one of the best children’s museums in the country. It offers three floors of interactive exhibits ready to engage and delight your little learners. Two highlights: A global village called Wildernest for kids under five, and Possible-Opolis ™ a building learning lab for the older kids to create whatever they deem possible.
3. Explore Milwaukee
Milwaukee is a great metropolitan area for exploring with a family. A walking tour of the city allows for exploration of historic buildings, great restaurants, and grand views of Lake Michigan; you can find plenty of attractions in this vibrant and progressive city.
Discovery World boasts over 150 interactive exhibits that will certainly provide hours of hands on fun: storm creating lightning tracks, guitar equipment for sound investigation, an aquarium, and flight simulators round out the highlights.
If you are lucky enough to visit in the summer, check out Milwaukee’s famous 11-day Summerfest with music, entertainment, and local foods.
Don’t miss our full guide to the 10 Best Things to do in Milwaukee, WI with Kids!
4. Search for Rocks at Cave of the Mound
Visit theCave of the Mounds National Natural Landmark; the underground lighted caves boast remarkable crystal formations that are easily accessible year-round as it is always 50 degrees.
Kids will enjoy learning about spelunking, viewing stalactites and stalagmites, and pondering over the 400 million year old rock formations. Outside the caves there are trails, butterfly and rock gardens, and the Children’s Discovery center for more hands on exploration.
Visit the nearby House on the Rock where Alex Jordan built his summer home on shifting sandstone. The house is an architectural feat in itself, but Mr. Jordan’s absolutely AMAZING collections are also part of the display. They include a large carousel ridden by dolls, a roomful of Santa Claus objects, fabulous organs, and much more. This is a place that must be seen to be appreciated.
5. Join the Circus
Step right up to Circus World, the original training site for Ringling Brothers. Fifty acres of circus themed exhibits and exhibitions offer your family the chance to while away the day under the Big Top.
Take in circus displays, see circus acts, watch a sideshow, and catch a magic show where the audience can get in on the act. Kids can even learn some circus skills like hoola-hooping at the Kids World Interactive Circus to get ready for their own circus production. Make sure you take some pictures!
6. Feeling Superior on the Apostle Islands
Near the mainland shores of Lake Superior are a chain of 21 unspoiled islands known as the Apostle Islands. Not too long ago Americans called these islands home, working and raising their kids here. Today while hiking on the Apostle’s, you can find relics of this past.
In addition to hiking, the islands provide camping opportunities, sailing adventures, and tours and shuttles between the islands with theApostle Island Cruises.
Sea-kayaking is another terrific way to explore the islands with family-friendly Living Adventure Outfitters. If remote camping is not on your list, the cozy Midwestern town of nearby Bayfield has charming inns and cottages dotting the lake.
Book a room near the Apostle Islands.
7. Catch a Game
Wisconsin is home to some serious sports fans.
Miller Field is the home of the local MLB affiliate, Milwaukee Brewers. Public tours are available in season, or of course you can just take in a game.
Kids 14 and under can join the Brewers Kid’s Club to receive a cap and tickets. The mascot, Bernie Brewer, makes his way through the stands and on selected Sundays the five Famous Racing Sausages™ take to the field for some funny races.
As for you cheeseheads, you can visit with the Green Bay Packers NFL football team at famously frigid Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Diehard fans can brave the field’s notoriously chilly temperatures, and stadium tours are available for a more temperate visit to the field. Nearby, the Hall of Fame is full of memorabilia and hands-on activities.
8. Visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Pepin
From hills and lakes, to forests and prairies, Wisconsin has a variety of landscapes filled with history.
At Old World Wisconsin your family can discover the life of a late 19th century immigrant farmer. The facility holds barn dances, tours about life on the farm, and Laura Ingalls Wilder days which offer activities from her series of books and look alike character contests.
For more about Laura, head to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Pepin. It is the starting point of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historical Highway which links all of the important Ingalls Wilder stops across the Midwest. In Pepin there is even a reproduction of Ma and Pa’s house and an annual Laura Days Festival.
9. Attend a Fish Boil in Door County
Known as the Cape Cod of Midwest, Door County is a peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. The shoreline is scattered with quaint villages boasting shops, art galleries, museums, and restaurants necessary for the requisite fish boil. Try Pelletier’s, which lights up its fiery, fish boil spectacle nightly, rain or shine.
You can choose to slow down and relax here at the beach, or get active while fishing, biking, sailing, hiking, camping, and lighthouse spotting at one of the five state parks like Peninsula State Park.
With so many state parks, there is plenty for an active family to do. You can climb the 184 steps to Lookout Tower and see it all from above tree line! Rent a bicycle or kiddie Tag-A Long from Nor-Door Sport and Cyclery to enjoy one of the many bike paths.
From the water, kayak along the shores or head for a zip line from Gravity Trails. You will not be bored in Door County, unless of course you want to be!
10. Get Wet in the Dells
The Wisconsin Dells is the Waterpark Capital of the World™ as they boast more indoor and outdoor water parks than anywhere else!
In addition to these parks, there are plenty of other activities in the Dells- pottery shops, zip-lines, go-carts, and horseback riding – the list is endless! You can spend an entire week here at the Dells and always be busy. Read our full guide to visiting Wisconsin Dells with toddlers.
Book a room at a Wisconsin Dells hotel to extend your water park vacation.
Special thanks to Michelle Brennan who wrote first version of this article.
From coast to coast, we’re determining the Top 10 Things to do with Kids in each state of our great nation.