Guide to Milwaukee with kids, including the best family activities Milwaukee has to offer
That long-awaited vacation is becoming more needed by the day, the kids are getting excited and you really need to spend some special time with the family.
But where do you go? There are so many things to do in Milwaukee with kids that you need to consider booking right now!
Wondering what to do in Milwaukee with family? Well, don’t worry, in this guide, I’ll take you through many of the fun things to do in Milwaukee with kids when you travel to Wisconsin.
Read on to discover some of those great things to do with kids and then get planning that much-needed vacation!
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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
Where to Stay in Milwaukee
For Airbnb fans, this historic house is only a short walk from a scenic park.
1. Go hiking
Looking for great family-friendly outdoor activities in Milwaukee?
Then hiking in Milwaukee is a great activity the whole family can enjoy as there are many options in the city and surrounding area.
Wisconsin is a hiker’s paradise and if you are based in Milwaukee, the magnificent Scuppernong Trail System is located a mere 35 miles southwest of the city.
Located in the Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest near the sedate village of Eagle, the Scuppernong Trail System has some of the best Southern Wisconsin hiking trails.
In addition to the famed Ice Age Trail, there are a variety of other routes color-coded to indicate difficulty levels so that you’ll find something to suit all abilities.
Ranging from 2.5 up to 5 miles, you’ll discover the Red, Orange, Green and Observation Loops.
If you’re looking for places to vacation in Wisconsin outside of the city, this region also provides a fantastic selection of other outdoor activities to indulge in.
Hiking in Milwaukee is fun year-round, but this is one of my favorite things to do in Milwaukee in March and April to make the most of the springtime blossoms!
2. Go ice skating
As a year-round destination, there are lots of great kids’ things to do in Milwaukee in winter so don’t be put off by the cold, and it does get very cold!
As the region has some harsh winters to contend with, the locals are incredibly well-prepared and don’t let a bit of weather get in the way of their fun.
One of the great kids’ activities in Milwaukee is going ice skating at Red Arrow Park.
You don’t have to worry about equipment as you can rent ice skates, skater aides, and even ice sleds on which to take to the ice.
You’ll find Red Arrow Park located right in the heart of downtown, so you should have no problem locating it.
As it’s downtown, there’s a wide range of cafes and restaurants nearby in which to warm up and refuel after being out on the ice.
This is one of my favorite things to do in Milwaukee in December as the festive decorations make it extra fun and cozy.
Of course, if you miss the Christmas period, it’s still one of the top things to do in Milwaukee in January – the coldest month in Milwaukee – with the kids.
Thanks to fun activities like this, Milwaukee is one of the best year-round destinations for family vacations in Wisconsin.
3. Enjoy a day at the beach
While not always associated with beach vacations, Milwaukee actually has some of the most fun beaches in Wisconsin.
One of the great Milwaukee family activities is a day out at North Beach in Racine.
A mere 40-minute drive south of downtown, North Beach is rated as the best beach in Wisconsin and it’s easy to see why.
Nestling on the banks of the magnificent Lake Michigan, the powdery sand and calm waters provide a fantastic setting for a family day out.
For the kids, things to do in Milwaukee don’t come much more fun than spending a day playing beach volleyball, hitting the playground and indulging in all the other great activities available at North Beach.
There are many food concessions at the beach with a range of offerings to suit all the family, so you won’t have to take any consumables along with you.
4. Go out onto Lake Michigan
There are so many fantastic lakes in Wisconsin that choosing one to visit can be the tricky part.
However, if you are staying in Milwaukee then luck is on your side as the city is located on the magnificent Lake Michigan.
If you’re looking for unique Wisconsin vacation ideas, one of the most fun things to do with kids in Milwaukee is to take to the water and head out onto the lake for an entirely different perspective on the city.
Boat MKE offers an assortment of vessels including Retro Boats, Donut Boats and Classic Cruisers in which you and the family can take to the water.
If you are aged 34 then all you need is a driver’s license to captain the craft. Under 34s need to complete an online safety exam.
5. Visit an escape room
If you’re after family fun in Milwaukee, attempting to liberate yourself and your family from an escape room is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon.
There’s a selection of family-friendly rooms to choose from that the kids will love, including pretending to be Indian Jones or being a secret agent.
Once inside the room of your choice, the object is to then try and escape from it!
You’ll need to use puzzles and other elements within the room to try and free yourselves within the 60-minute timeframe.
To achieve this, it’s essential that you and your kids work as a team to solve the puzzles and find the clues that lead to freedom.
For kid activities Milwaukee has to offer, they don’t come much more fun than this. It’s also one of the most fun things to do in Milwaukee at night with kids.
6. Visit the Harley-Davidson Museum
Among the many amazing and unique things to do in Milwaukee with kids is a visit to the Harley-Davidson Museum.
Milwaukee is home to the iconic motorcycles and a visit to the museum allows you to delve into the history of these magnificent bikes through stories and interactive exhibits.
Set amongst a 20-acre, park-like campus right in the heart of downtown, the museum offers an unrivaled collection of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and memorabilia.
You can explore the museum by yourself or take one of the tours on offer here.
This fascinating museum is open daily from 10:00am–5:00pm daily and you’ll find it one of the most interesting things to do in Milwaukee with family, even if you’re not a motorcycle enthusiast.
General admission costs from $8 for a child (5 – 17) through to $22 for an adult.
7. See some sport
If you’re a sports lover, then don’t miss out on a trip to the magnificent American Family Field.
You can visit this amazing stadium to take in some live sport as it is home to the famous Milwaukee Brewers baseball team.
Named after the city’s association with the brewing industry, the Brewers compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) Central Division.
The team has a fiercely loyal local following and taking in a game here is a real experience to remember.
The team has even had some recent success, winning the NL Central Division in 2011, 2018 and 2021. The regular season this year (2022) is set to run from April 7 to October 5.
If you’re in Milwaukee outside of the season, you can do a tour of this impressive stadium for $15.
8. Go mountain biking
In this article, we’ve already covered the wonderful hiking options available in the Scuppernong Trail System.
Well, there’s more! This area of Southern Kettle Moraine is also home to many of the finest mountain bike trails in Wisconsin.
You’ll discover two primary trail systems here (the John Muir and Emma Carlin trail systems) with connector trails joining the two together at various points.
As with the hiking trails described earlier, you’ll find a variety of loop trails, color-coded to indicate difficulty levels.
The routes that form the Emma Carlin trail system are generally considered more difficult than those of the John Muir system so prepare accordingly.
The Scuppernong Trail System is located a mere 35 miles southwest of Milwaukee so you can even make a day trip of it.
With over 60 miles of purpose-built single-track mountain bike trails, this area is a paradise for those who are never happier than when on two wheels.
This is one of the more advanced Milwaukee bike trails, but there are plenty of options if you prefer a more relaxing biking experience.
9. Visit some movie locations
Milwaukee is a characterful, picturesque city and it is easy to see why it was chosen as the backdrop for many movies and TV series.
With its industrial heritage, historical architecture and the awe-inspiring Lake Michigan, the city serves as a movie maker’s dream location.
Some of the best movies set in Wisconsin include Bridesmaids, Love Actually and Wayne’s World.
TV series set in the city include That ’70s Show and Happy Days, among many others.
A quick Google search will show you the sheer volume of movies and TV shows set here.
One of the most fun things to do with kids in Milwaukee is to visit the locations where scenes from the many movies and TV series made in the city were filmed.
This is one of the best things for kids to do in Milwaukee as they will love identifying the sights they’ve previously seen on film.
Many film locations are downtown, so if you’re in Milwaukee with kids, this makes a fun way to spend a few hours.
10. Go to an amusement park
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Milwaukee for kids then less than an hour from the city’s borders, you’ll find the spectacular Six Flags Great America amusement park.
If it’s a hot day, you could also visit the Hurricane Harbor water park which is right next door.
There are lots of rides to choose from within the park, some of which are amongst the most popular, largest, or outright scariest in the entire country!
That’s why this is one of the most fun things to do in Milwaukee with kids.
But it’s not all hyper-scary thrills here, you’ll find rides to suit all ages.
This ensures that if you’re seeking things to do in Milwaukee with kids then it’s still a magnificent option, even for those with very young children.
Park hours vary depending on the time of the year so make sure to check ahead.
Day tickets start from $35 but the cheaper ones are hard to come by so plan on spending more.
11. Take a trip to Door County
Sensational Door County is one of Wisconsin’s must-see destinations and is only a two-and-a-half-hour drive north of downtown Milwaukee so can easily be taken in as a day trip.
Door County is the largest in the state of Wisconsin and forms the tip of the peninsula that protrudes into Lake Michigan and Green Bay.
Within this fascinating county you’ll discover bucolic locations such as Sturgeon Bay, Ephraim and Baileys Harbor.
There are so many kid-friendly activities and things to do in Door County that to try and cram them all into a day (or even a year!) would be an impossibility.
As a day trip, it’s best just to tour a few sites and take in the stunning scenery on offer.
Door County is famed for its cherries and if you go in season then kids will love the chance to pick them at the many farms allowing you to pick your own.
12. Spend Halloween in Milwaukee
If you’re planning on visiting in the fall then there are so many things to do in Milwaukee in October that you and the kids will never be short of options.
And kids love Halloween so try to ensure your vacation coincides with it because it’s one of the biggest Milwaukee kids’ events of the year!
Spending Halloween in Milwaukee is one of the most fun things to do in Milwaukee with kids.
There’s a whole range of special Halloween events that take place in the build up to the occasion, allowing you to discover Milwaukee’s haunted history.
Your kids definitely won’t be bored as there are many fantastic kid activities Milwaukee has to offer occurring throughout Halloween.
There are numerous spooky tours you can take to get into the Halloween spirit (or spirits, as the case may be) and scare yourself witless in the process.
Fall in Wisconsin is one of the most magical times to visit for families.
13. Take a day trip
There are countless great day trips from Milwaukee, but one of the finest you can take with kids is to Old World Wisconsin, an open-air museum located in Waukesha County, near the charming village of Eagle.
Old World Wisconsin consists of a collection of recreated buildings that depict what life and conditions were like for the pioneer-era settlers in this region.
To ramp-up the authenticity, staff in full period costume stage re-enactments of scenes from times gone by.
In the holiday periods, the museum puts on special Halloween and Christmas programs.
They also host dinner events that represent the traditional offerings that the original settlers from countries such as Germany, Norway, Finland, and Denmark would have fed on.
14. Visit the Milwaukee Public Museum
If it’s a rainy day and you’re seeking inspiration for things to do in Milwaukee with kids, then worry not, kids will love a visit to the Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM).
The MPM is a natural and human history museum right in the heart of Milwaukee.
The museum houses more than 4 million objects including a collection of kid-friendly exhibits such as the Streets of Old Milwaukee which replicates the city of a century ago.
There’s also an indoor butterfly room where kids can have the butterflies sit on them.
There are interactive exhibits where the kids will love getting involved. Whatever you do, don’t miss the dinosaurs!
These ferocious creatures move and roar; the T-Rex in particular looks likely to turn its attention to anything that looks like food. Children, for example!
Not only is MPM educational, it’s also one of the most fun kid things to do in Milwaukee.
15. Go to the Wisconsin State Fair
Every year in the month of August the Wisconsin State Fair is held at the expansive Wisconsin State Fair Park.
The fair is one of the most fantastic things to do in Milwaukee with kids!
The historic fair has been held on this site since 1892, having moved from its previous location in 1851.
The fair is based largely around agricultural exhibits but there’s plenty more on offer.
There are rides and attractions, and over 30 free stages highlighting offering a broad range of entertainment including music, comedy and interactive, educational shows for families.
Even if you’re not in Milwaukee during August, the fairgrounds at Wisconsin State Fair Park are open year-round, hosting a series of expeditions.
The site is also home to the famous Milwaukee Mile, the oldest continuously operating motor race track in the world. If you do nothing else, try and see a race here.
In this article, I’ve tried to provide as broad a range of options as possible so that if you’re visiting Milwaukee with kids, you’ll find something that fits you perfectly.
Whether you love all-action activities or cultural experiences, there are lots on offer for everyone.
As we’ve seen, if you’re visiting Milwaukee, kids’ events take place throughout the year so whenever you go, you’ll never be short of something to do.
The city is an amazing place to kick-back and enjoy yourself for a while.
If you want to stay at one of the best kid-friendly resorts in Wisconsin, know that you will find great accommodation options here.
Short FAQs about things to do in Milwaukee with kids
Is Milwaukee family-friendly?
Yes, Milwaukee is a very friend-family city and there are lots of fun things to do in Milwaukee with kids.
What are the best outdoor activities in Milwaukee for families?
Some of the best outdoor things to do in Milwaukee with kids include hiking, mountain biking, swimming at the beach, and ice skating.
What are the best things to do in Milwaukee with kids year-round?
Some of the best family-friendly year-round activities in Milwaukee include museums, escape rooms, hiking and visiting Lake Michigan.
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!