Traveling may not be in your future this Spring Break, but an epic staycation can be. Here are 100 ideas to make your family’s vacation at home memorable.
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Indoor Water Parks
Easy Day Trips
Nearby State Parks
Museums You’ll Love
INDOOR WATER PARKS
Southeastern Wisconsin is home to four indoor water parks that are always 80 degrees and gloriously humid. From Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan to Springs Water Park in Pewaukee, find an indoor water park that’s close to home in our feature “4 Indoor Water Parks Within One Hour of Milwaukee“.
Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan
Springs Water Park in Pewaukee
Timber Ridge Lodge in Lake Geneva
Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee, IL
EASY DAY TRIPS
The Dinosaur Discovery Museum in Kenosha. Instagram, @muahaashley_69
You don’t have to travel far for a family-friendly adventure. The day trips featured here are closely, inexpensive, and fun for the whole family.
Located just 22 miles north of Milwaukee, historic Cedarburg offers fun for the whole family. Browse through the shops in the Cedar Creek Settlement, check out the General Store Museum see one of the last covered bridge in Wisconsin in Covered Bridge Park, and take a stroll through beautiful Cedar Creek Park. There’s a nice playground along the river next to Cedar Creek Brewery.
Just minutes from Milwaukee, West Bend is your easy-on-gasoline getaway. This charming community is nestled in the rolling hills of the Kettle Moraine. West Bend offers four museums, including the Museum of Wisconsin Art, which often has kid-friendly activities and classes.
Shalom Wildlife Zoo is another must-visit destination. Experience nature at its best on foot or rent a golf cart. Explore over three miles of gravel road on foot or in a golf cart and spot bison, deer, elk, wild sheep, along with wolves, cougar, bear, zebra, camel and much more in large natural environments. There are learning centers and educational signage posted along the way.
Stroll down State Street, marvel at the Wisconsin State Capitol (tours have been canceled), pop into the Madison Children’s Museum, and visit the Henry Vilas Zoo, a 28-acre free public zoo that is home to an African lion, chimpanzees, a red panda and more! The Children’s Zoo featured gibbons, red pandas, goats, meerkats, and more. There is also a carousel, Chocolate Shoppe ice cream, a train and a playground. (The train and playground are currently closed.)
Tours of the Capitol have been canceled, but the outside sure is beautiful! (Instagram, @jpcardona_photo)
Step back into pre-historic times at the Dinosaur Discovery Museum just blocks from Lake Michigan, the Kenosha Public Museum, play laser tag and ride bumper cars at America’s Action Territory Family Fun Park, grab lunch at Mars Cheese Castle, and Kenosha’s crown jewel playground, Dream Playground at Peztke Park.
Cave of the Mounds National Natural Landmark
Visit the premier cave in the upper Midwest and the jewel box of America’s major show caves. Guided tours of this geologic wonder follow paved, lighted walkways departing regularly every day of the year. Tours pass a stunning array of colorful crystal formations on paved lighted walkways. Visitors also enjoy a gemstone mine, fossil dig, butterfly gardens, hiking trails, snack bar and picnic area. Cave of the Mounds National Natural Landmark is located in southwest Wisconsin just 20 minutes west of Madison, off U.S. Highways 18/151. Visit their website for more information.
House on the Rock
Marvel at the House On the Rock, an engineering and artistic masterpiece, and check out the eclectic, exotic and whimsical collections and displays. On your self-guided tour you will explore The Infinity Room, extending an unsupported length of 218 feet and soaring 156 above the valley floor, The World’s Largest Carousel featuring 269 handcrafted animals, 20,000 lights and 182 chandeliers, an enormous sea creature longer than the Statue of Liberty is tall, and a Japanese Garden including 14 foot quadruple waterfalls cascading into a garden pond.
Just a hop, skip, and a jump north of Milwaukee is Sheboygan, home to Above & Beyond Children’s Museum. Explore almost 10,000 square feet of exhibit space on three floors. You’ll find a giant pin screen, a community art wall, a sky crawl, a bee hive exhibit, a kid-sized lighthouse, and more. You’ll also want to visit the Kohler Arts Center. Admission and parking are free, and there is an art space just for kids, an outdoor garden, and ever-changing exhibits. One of the highlights of your visit might actually be a trip to the restrooms. Colorful tiles and whimsical designs fill the bathrooms so there’s never a dull moment.
Stroll through the historic and charming shops and restaurants, walk along the shore path, and relax on the beautiful shores of Lake Geneva. Dan Patch Stables is located at the entrance of the Grand Geneva, and offers pony rides, a free petting farm and trail rides. Trail rides are available 7 days a week by reservation. Trail guides and gentle horses will allow you to see the beauty of nature in a whole new way. Older kids may be ready for a zip line adventure with Lake Geneva Ziplines.
Check out the beautiful Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, a 600 acre urban wildlife refuge featuring live animal exhibits, educational displays, waterfalls and boardwalk area, miles of hiking/skiing trails and various wildlife viewing opportunities. For sports fans, take an up-close tour of Lambeau Field!
Where to even begin exploring this water park and family fun haven? Try WisDells.com to start exploring and planning your trip.
EAA Airventure Museum
Your kids will love the historic aircrafts and memorabilia on display and the giant Eagle hangar at the EAA Airventure Museum in Oshkosh. Upstairs, the KidVenture Gallery is packed with exciting opportunities to learn about aviation, like flight simulators, an observation deck, and a cockpit experience. Don’t miss the space section on the second floor where you’ll see a real meteorite and rocket launcher. Find out more at their website.
The small, charming Racine Zoo is home to a hundred different species of animals, and it’s perfect for young children who are having a first-time zoo experience. Don’t miss their Eggstravaganza Event in early Apri, when you can collect candy throughout the zoo and do fun Easter-themed crafts.
The Racine Zoo is holding their annual Eggstravaganza event in early April. (Photo: @@nbj914)
Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center
The Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center in Manitowoc is a pretty epic experience. Head to the Land O’ Lakes Birthing Barn to see a calf being born, and explore interactive exhibits that help teach about Wisconsin agriculture including a tractor simulator the kids can drive, kinetic sand for learning about soil, bison, sheep, and mink fur, a butter churner, and a magnetic word wall.
Legoland Discovery Center
Visit LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago at Streets of Woodfield, Schaumburg. Inside the Center you can let your imagination run wild as you learn top tips from their Master Model Builder, join your favorite LEGO characters in our 4D cinema experiences, pedal fast on their Technicycle Ride and find plenty of places to build amazing LEGO creations.
STATE PARKS NEAR MILWAUKEE
From the ancient ruins of Aztalan State Park in Lake Mills to the shores of Lake Michigan in Kohler Andrae State Park, we’re highlighting 13 State Parks Within One Hour Of Milwaukee. And two of them are right in our own backyard!
Did you know?
The Wisconsin Explorer Program (ages 3-12) makes it easy and fun to explore the outdoors with your kids. Make tracks to the nearest state park, forest, trail, or recreation area and ask for a free Wisconsin Explorer booklet(You can also download it for free). Inside you’ll find nature activities, scavenger hunts, games, hikes, and crafts to help you explore Wisconsin’s great outdoors together. Kids who complete the requirements will earn collectable state symbol patches. Visit www.dnr.wi.gov to get started.
MUSEUMS THAT ARE OPEN
Milwaukee museums have reopened with safety protocols in place. Stroll the Streets of Old Milwaukee and the European Village at the Milwaukee Public Museum, get inspired in the art galleries at the Milwaukee Art Museum, learn about motorcycles at the Harley Davidson Museum and walk around the urban campus, explore the interactive exhibits at Discovery World (re-opening March 27th), take in the beauty of the Milwaukee County Historical Society‘s downtown building , and stay warm inside The Domes in Mitchell Park.
15 BEST PLAYGROUNDS
Possibility Playground in Upper Lake Park, Port Washington, WI
Southeastern Wisconsin is home to some epic playgrounds that just rise above the rest. One of our favorites is Possibility Playground in Port Washington, pictured above. It’s right along the shores of Lake Michigan, and it’s a massive, whimsical, fully fenced-in accessible playground. To see all of our favorite playgrounds, check out “15 Best Playgrounds In Metro Milwaukee.”
BEST SPRING HIKES
Mystery Lake comes alive in Spring at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
The snow is melting and it’s time for some muddy hikes with the family. Our 5 favorite Spring hikes for kids and families are:
1. Mystery Lake at Shlitz Audubon Nature Center
2. Family Friendly Trail at Wehr Nature Center
3. Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park
4. Nature Trail Loops at Retzer Nature Center
5. Hawthorn Glen Loop
Click here for all the details!
Black Cat Alley is Milwaukee’s hottest spot for murals and street art.
You don’t have to break the bank for a fun staycation. We rounded up “25 Free Things To Do In Spring“, including:
Say hi to the Bronze Fonz on the Riverwalk
Visit the Massimals in Cathedral Square Park
Take a stroll through Lynden Sculpture Garden
Explore Black Cat Alley
…and much more!
- Get the movie theatre all to yourselves with Marcus Private Cinema.
- Stay in and snuggle with one of our Top 25 Best Family Movies.
- Say hi to the red panda at the Milwaukee County Zoo
- Do The Ninja Course at Sky Zone Greenfield
- Bronzeville Boheme: You’re Invited! MKE With Kids & the Florentine Opera are hosting a live Meet The Artist event for kids and families. Reserve your spot >>
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