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2015 Winter must-dos


One week ago today, I was building sand castles and splashing in the Atlantic Ocean in 80 degree weather. I was lathering on sunscreen and wearing bright-colored tank tops. I was warm.

Now I'm cold. And there's snow. Lots of it. So yeah. I need something to look forward to.

Luckily, I've been reading about some really cool family-friendly activities happening this Winter, so I decided to make a list of this year's must-dos for families.

1. Go on a Dog Sled Ride - How did I not know about this?! The Door County Sled Dogs provide weekly dog sled rides at Milwaukee’s Whitnall Park (5879 S. 92nd St. in Franklin). The rides are every Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. All rides are on a first-come first-served basis and are for all ages. The experience includes visiting with the dogs, question and answer time with the mushers, picture-taking time and an actual dog sled ride around the trail. The trail is about the size of a football field. Rides are $15 for all ages. They recommend calling beforehand to verify the location and check trail conditions. I can't wait to try this!

2. Join "Snow and Go" - The Urban Ecology Center has organized a "Snow and Go" email list to notify you about spontaneous winter adventures! "When snow conditions are too perfect to stay indoors, you will receive an email notifying you of a spontaneous winter recreation program — sledding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, making snow angels — whatever the snow calls for! Programs will be on a 48 hour notice and details for place, activity and payment information will be contained in the email. All recreational equipment can be provided or bring your own." To get on the Snow and Go Group list, just send an email with “Snow and Go” in the subject line to mziegler@urbanecologycenter.org.

3. Start the Wisconsin Explorer Program - If you're up for braving the cold, ask for a free Wisconsin Explorer booklet at the nearest state park, forest, trail or recreation area. Inside there are nature activities, scavenger hunts, games, hikes and crafts to help you explore the outdoors together. There are three age levels, and kids who complete the requirements will earn collectable state symbol patches. You an find out more and download previews of the booklets here.

4. Attend a Free Family Art Workshop. - I'm always looking for fun free activities. So I was super excited to see that the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts in Brookfield offers Free Family Art Workshops. They are offered the second Saturday of each month beginning February 14. Each month will feature a different instructor and a different hands-on art project that the whole family can create together. All ages and skill levels are welcome.

If you're interested in family art classes, they offer family pottery, Mr. Roboto-themed classes, and so much more.

5. Visit the Spinning Top and Yo-Yo Museum. - You read that right! Apparently, there's a Spinning Top and Yo-Yo Museum in Burlington and well, I have to go. The reviews on Yelp are mixed, but I definitely want to check it out. You cant ry 40+ hands-on spinning tops & hands-on action top games, see the main exhibit of 2,000 tops & yo-yos & gyroscopes, view top spinning videos, try the I Spy Hunt, and enjoy a live presentation by The Top Lady, Judith Schulz. This museum is more of a guided personal tour with hands-on tops. There is also a Logic Puzzle Museum inside. Play & think with more than 60 different hands-on brain twisters, mechanical & 3-D logic puzzles.1.5 hour (90 minutes) session/visit of hands-on, intergenerational fun.Make a set of 2 puzzles to keep, included in your visit! View exhibit of vintage and Unusual Puzzles. Ages 5-105, though not younger.

For a list of family-friendly museums in the Milwaukee area, click here.

6. Warm up in the Domes - for free! - Stay warm at the Domes, the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and Betty Brinn Children's Museum, and get in for free on their designated days! In addition, the Milwaukee County Zoo is offering free admission February 7th and March 7th.

Betty Brinn Children’s Museum: Third Thursday of every month from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.

The Domes: Free on Mondays from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. with proof of county residency (excluding major holidays).

Harley-Davidson Museum: Children under 5 always free.

Milwaukee Art Museum: Free admission first Thursday of each month. (Children 12 and under always free.)

Milwaukee Public Museum: Free general admission on Thursdays.

7. Work out with MommyFit Milwaukee. - MommyFit is a free exercise class for moms to do with their kids in a stroller. They meet Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9:15 a.m. at Bayshore Mall. They post the details the night before via the Facebook Page Facebook.com/mommyfitmilwaukee.

For a list of other mom groups, visit our Mom Groups page.

8. Go ice skating somewhere new. - Duh! We put together a list of some ice skating options here.

9. Go tubing at Sunburst. It's kind of a long drive (Sunburst is located in Kewaskum), but you can ski, snowboard and tube on 42 lanes of quarter mile runs.

10. Candlelight events in Wisconsin parks and forests. - What's better than snowshoeing, skiing and hiking in Wisconsin's beautiful outdoors? Doing it by candelight! "Skiing, snowshoeing and hiking by candlelight have become some of the most popular winter events at state park properties, with some events attracting more than a thousand visitors. Some properties offer skiing, snowshoeing and hiking, while others are just skiing or just snowshoeing and hiking. Most events begin around sunset and run until 8:30 or 9 p.m. Candlelight events kick of Jan. 3, 2015 with ski, hikes or snowshoes scheduled for Blue Mound and Mirror Lake state parks. Both parks plan to hold hikes if there is not snow for skiing or snowshoeing. Events run through mid-February."

Find out more about outdoor candlelight events here.

Bonus: Go on a date night. - Although I know in my head that date nights are important, I was inspired by a friend to actually schedule one with my husband last month. We had such an amazing GROWN-UP night at the Milwaukee Art Museum After Dark event. We're going to try to do date nights a little more often in 2015. Here are some ideas for a uniquely Milwaukee date night.


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