Guide to the best destinations for family getaways in Wisconsin
As one of the largest Midwestern states, there are many options for family vacations in Wisconsin that can cater to any tastes.
When you travel Wisconsin with kids, you will need to plan your activities carefully so they have a vacation that they will never forget.
My list of the best family getaways in Wisconsin will help you to get started, and I have included somewhere to stay with your family in each one.
Psssst…!!?? You can’t get enough of Wisconsin? Have a look at my other posts:
- Great Wisconsin Lake Resorts for Families
- Best Family Cabins in Wisconsin
- Getaways & Places to Vacation in Wisconsin
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Table of Contents
Top resources to travel Wisconsin
✈ Find the best hotel deals in Wisconsin with Trivago
➳ Book vacation rentals in Wisconsin with VRBO
✔ Book tours in Wisconsin with Viator
☘ Get the best discounted outdoor gear (outlet) at REI.com
$ Get Wisconsin hiking guides and maps at REI.com
Overview: Top 5 Family Vacations in Wisconsin
- Bayfield & the Apostle Islands
- Eau Claire
- Door County
- Wisconsin Dells
1. Eau Claire
Where to stay for families: GrandStay Residential Suites – Eau Claire
Eau Claire is where you can find the most charming family vacations Wisconsin can offer. It is perfect for families seeking the outdoors, with plenty of places to enjoy fishing and hiking.
You can even relax on a sandy beach at Big Falls Country Park, one of the top things to do in Eau Claire.
However, there are also options if you are looking for the best vacation spots in Wisconsin for families that are indoors.
The Children’s Museum of Eau Claire and Chippewa Valley Museum are educational, fun, and interactive. They are perfect for Wisconsin fall getaways when the weather is starting to get cooler.
Finally, Eau Claire is also a strong option for urban Wisconsin vacations for families.
The historic downtown is full of excellent cafes, shops, and restaurants, and a summer walk along the river in Phoenix Park is beautiful and relaxing.
2. Lake Namakagon
Where to stay for families: Lakewoods Resort
The perfect place to go for a luxury family vacation is Lake Namakagon, a 3,400-acre scenic site known for its luxurious cabins, apartments, lodges, homes, and villas.
These excellent accommodations are charming and rustic in equal parts. There is plenty to do at Lake Namakagon when you are not relaxing in your cabin.
If you can get an afternoon away from the kids, the fairways of Forest Ridges Golf Course are brilliantly kept and will ensure a fantastic round of golf.
Meanwhile, the 850,000-acre Chequamegon National Forest is one of the state’s best natural areas and well worth exploring.
3. La Crosse
Where to stay for families: Gundersen Hotel & Suites
Due to the huge amount of outdoor adventures available, La Crosse is perfect for kid-friendly vacations in Wisconsin.
Positioned on the Mississippi River, scores of families flock there to try paddling, kayaking, and canoeing.
Hiking is another one of the best things to do in La Crosse, making it also unmissable if you are looking for hiking Wisconsin family vacations.
Incredible views will surround you if you hike at Grandad Bluff Park, Mississippi Valley Conservancy, or Perrot State Park to the north of the city.
This city also has some great restaurants to keep you fueled during your Wisconsin family getaways. A popular option is the supper club Digger’s Sting Restaurant.
4. Lake Geneva
Where to stay for families: Abbey Resort and Avani Spa
You will struggle to find more spectacular scenery in Wisconsin than the stunning Lake Geneva, a perfect city for family vacations in Wisconsin if you like to pause to enjoy the view.
The city on the lake is known throughout the Midwest for its Victorian architecture and elegant downtown area.
Here, you can enjoy luxury restaurants and accommodation if you think your family deserves a treat.
Meanwhile, there are endless adventures on the lake and things to do in Lake Geneva if you are aiming for fun family vacations in Wisconsin.
There are four beaches to choose from, giving you access to plenty of boating and swimming options.
To travel further afield on the lake, you need to get on board the Lake Geneva Cruise Line.
5. Bayfield & the Apostle Islands
Where to stay for families: Lucy’s Place
Bayfield and the Apostle Islands are located on America’s biggest lake and visiting is one of the top things to do in Northern Wisconsin.
Bayfield itself is a charming small city that makes for incredible family vacations in Wisconsin.
You can choose to stay in the city, enjoying the Bayfield Maritime Museum, Victorian-style museums, and other coastal attractions, or you can use the city as a launching point to explore Lake Superior.
For adventurous family trips in Wisconsin, you should take your children on a ferry to Madeline Island, one of the best things to do in Apostle Islands.
This is a popular destination for hiking and biking on the land or kayaking, canoeing, and swimming on the lake.
Where to stay for families: The Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club
As Wisconsin’s second city, many people travel through the city during their family vacations in Wisconsin but fail to spend long enough there to properly enjoy the city.
However, Madison is a fantastic city, and there are great things to do in Wisconsin for kids, whatever their age.
Some great options for things to do in Madison, WI, will help your kids to get close to animals and nature.
This includes Henry Vilas Zoo, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Vilas Park, and UW-Madison Arboretum. You’ll also find great hiking in Madison, WI around the Arboretum.
After a long day exploring these sites, there are great evening entertainment venues like Capital Brewing and Wisconsin Brewing Company, where you can catch live music.
7. Wisconsin Dells
Where to stay for families: Aloha Beach Resort
No trip to Wisconsin with your loved ones is complete without a family vacation in Wisconsin Dells.
This city is known as the waterpark capital of the world, and it certainly lives up to the title with over 20 indoor and outdoor waterparks.
One of the best is Noah’s Ark Waterpark, which is the largest in the US, and easily one of the best things to do in Wisconsin Dells.
They have attractions for the most thrill-seeking youngsters, including Black Anaconda, but there are also fun pools for younger kids, like the lazy river and the Safari Jungle Area.
As one of the state’s most popular attractions, there is a great range of places to stay in Wisconsin Dells, including budget hotels if you want cheap family vacations in Wisconsin.
8. Port Washington
Where to stay for families: The Harborview, Ascend Hotel Collection
At the other end of the spectrum for family vacations in Wisconsin is Port Washington, known for its slower pace of life.
Here, you can enjoy fishing, swimming, boating, and visiting one of the best lighthouses of Wisconsin.
Port Washington has been put on the map for its fishing, and going for a fishing trip is a great way to bond with your teenage children during family weekend getaways in Wisconsin.
You can charter a boat for salmon or trout fishing with Nicky Boy Charters, or you can find a great spot to cast a line at Harrington Beach State Park.
Meanwhile, younger children will love a visit to the Possibility Playground, which is one of the most inclusive Wisconsin attractions for families.
This playpark has been designed with children with physical, cognitive, and developmental disabilities in mind.
9. Door County
Where to stay for families: Westwood Shores Waterfront Resort
Door County is a unique location for family vacations in Wisconsin as a peninsula in Lake Michigan North of Green Bay.
There is a lot to see and do with fantastic small towns like Egg Harbor, Sister Bay, and Gibraltar to explore.
Here, you can connect to the lakeside life that Door County’s residents have enjoyed for generations.
The county also has abundant wildlife and nature hikes to enjoy, so you’ll never run out of things to do in Door County.
Getting a ferry to Washington Island is very popular, with lots of visitors enjoying the sights and smells of the lavender fields there.
Where to stay for families: Residence Inn Milwaukee Downtown by Marriot
There are lots of fun things to do in Milwaukee with kids. As the capital of Wisconsin, you can find endless historical landmarks and cultural attractions, so the trip can be very educational.
The best museums for kids include Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Discovery World, Milwaukee Public Museum, and The Mitchell Park Horticulture Conservatory.
As Wisconsin’s primary city, they get lots of theater shows coming through, which are certainly worth adding to the itinerary of your family vacations in Wisconsin.
The best ones for families are put on by the First Stage Children’s Theater.
Where to stay for families: Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center
Sheboygan is essential for all the best family vacations in Wisconsin because it offers the best views of Lake Michigan, which can be enjoyed from its large, sandy beaches.
The highest-quality beaches are Deland Park and King Park, both of which have Sheboygan’s characteristic white sand.
Sheboygan also offers camping adventures if you are visiting in the summer.
The best family-friendly campground vacations Wisconsin can offer are found in Kohler Andrae State Park, a few miles south of town.
12. Great River Road
Where to stay for families: AmericInn by Wyndham Lake City
As a state with lots of open space, all the best family-friendly vacations Wisconsin can offer incorporate a road trip.
The most spectacular scenic drive is the 250-mile Great River Road, which follows the Mississippi River through brilliant forests and lakes.
Alongside the scenery, there are also plenty of charming and family-friendly towns to enjoy for a break from the road.
La Crosse, Prescott, and Stockholm are all unmissable. Meanwhile, kids who love animals will surely enjoy a break at the National Eagle Center or Perrot State Park.
Where to stay for families: Hampton Inn Appleton-Fox River Mall Area
The most unique family vacation ideas Wisconsin offers can be found in Appleton, known for its unusual attractions that you won’t find anywhere else.
Kids who love magic will enjoy a trip to History Museums at the Castle. This venue features a range of exhibits carefully curated by Houdini himself.
There is also something for astronomy lovers. Barlow Planetarium runs incredible star shows throughout the year that will get your kids fascinated by science and the universe.
Meanwhile, young kids will enjoy the interactive and play-based exhibits at Building for Kids.
Whatever your family enjoys doing, a stop at Downtown Appleton is essential. In this area, you can find 50 restaurants serving every cuisine you can think of.
Where to stay for families: Quality Inn & Suites
Lots of the spots for Wisconsin weekend getaways for families are based in cities, but you can get away from the hustle and bustle by visiting Lodi.
With plenty of outdoor activities, like rock climbing and swimming, your kids will never get bored. Furthermore, there are plenty of things that you can do together as a family, like mini-golfing.
If your family wants to get connected to nature, it might be best to camp rather than stay in a hotel. Smokey Hollow Campgrounds is perfect for families with lots of space to run around.
Where to stay for families: Quality Inn & Suites
Wisconsin kid-friendly vacations are also great in winter when the state becomes covered with a thick coating of crisp, white snow.
The village of Kewaskum is tremendous for winter activities because it is home to the Sunburst Winter Sports Park.
This top-quality winter wonderland has some of the state’s best facilities for skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing.
The village itself is also a lovely place to spend time after skiing.
The local people are known for being lively and friendly, so you will always feel welcome, and there are options for bars, cafes, and restaurants after you have finished skiing or snowboarding.
As you will have seen from this list of great family vacations in Wisconsin, there are countless options to choose from in the state, no to mention you’ll find the best large cabin rentals in Wisconsin.
There is truly something for everyone. While thrill-seekers will love Wisconsin Dells or the slopes of Kewaskum, Appleton might be better for kids who prefer a more relaxed experience.
When you plan your trip, make sure that you consult my list of Wisconsin vacation ideas and this family-focused list so that you can plan a trip that your family will never forget.
FAQs About Family Vacations in Wisconsin
Where are the best places to travel with family in Wisconsin?
There are so many amazing places for family vacations in Wisconsin, but my favorite places are Bayfield & the Apostle Islands, Milwaukee, Eau Claire, Door County, and Wisconsin Dells.
Are there any cheap family vacations in Wisconsin?
There are usually budget options in most places. Wisconsin Dells has a lot of great budget options. Some of the most affordable places to visit with family are Kewaskum or Sheboygan.
Is Wisconsin a good place to visit with kids?
Absolutely! There are so many fun kid-friendly activities and events in Wisconsin throughout the year you’ll never run out of things to do whenever you visit.
Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip
- You’ll snap tons of photos and I love to take my GoPro in order to shoot even in extreme situations.
- Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and hiking sandals when traveling to warm countries. Consider trying some of these eco-friendly vegan hiking boots.
- Sunscreen is key! I always take with me my eco-friendly sunscreen by Thinksport.
- I always carry a light rain jacket, just in case. Pack smart with these organic cotton clothing companies.
- Be environmentally friendly and get one of these awesome backpacks made from recycled materials.
- Get in the mindset with these amazing wilderness survival books.
- Travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel is protected against all odds with HeyMondo.
Hola! I am Paulina, a fervent travelette who crossed the Atlantic Ocean by Boat HitchHiking. On my blog, I help you to make the most of your holiday. Get ready to enjoy outdoor and sustainable travel like hiking, cycling or sailing. Let’s hit the road!