50 *free* things to do this summer

It’s heeeerrrrreeeeee.

Summer has arrived, Milwaukeans. Okay, so it doesn’t officially start until June 20th or something, but I feel like Memorial Day weekend marks the start of something new.

Here’s my list of 100 things to do with your kids this summer that don’t cost a dime!

(Be on the lookout for another list of 100 things to do that might cost a little money, but are worth it.)

1. Take a guided family nature hike at Havenwoods State Forest.

2. Have a picnic at Lakeshore State Park, the only urban state park in Wisconsin.

3. Find the tiny doors (a.k.a. “fairy doors”) in Humboldt Park.

3. Watch volleyball at Bradford Beach. (And get some ice cream at North Point Custard. Yummmm.) Or, choose another beach from our Milwaukee County Beach Guide.

4. Watch the planes land and take off at the Mitchell International Airport Observatory. (Culver’s is right down the road, just sayin’.)

5. Splash in the Bayshore Splash Pad.

6. Attend a Fox & Branch family folk concert at a local library or Bastille Days.

7. Check out an Art Pack or stop by the Kohl’s Art Generation Studio for hands on fun at the Milwaukee Art Museum on the first free Thursday of each month.

8. Visit the Domes and find the tallest tree (hint: the Kapok tree in the tropical dome) on Monday mornings from 9:00 – 12:00 (Milwaukee residents only.)

9. Visit the gigantic, accessible-to-all Kayla’s Playground in Franklin, WI.

10. Day Trip: Enjoy the view of Lake Michigan while your kids play at Possibility Playground in Port Washington.

11. Day Trip: Head down to the Jelly Belly Factory for a free tour on a mini-train.

12. Be entertained for free at Kidzdays at the Marcus Center. It runs every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from June 18 through Aug. 15 from 10 to 11 a.m.. Programs are live, interactive, and completely free on their outdoor shaded stage. Partners include First Stage Theater, Rick Allen Magic Show, Milwaukee Public Library, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Trinity Irish Dancers, Milwaukee Ballet, Wehr Nature Center, and Lucky’s African Drumming.

13. Join your local library summer reading program. Check out the Super Reader program through Milwaukee Public Libraries.

14. Feed the animals at the Urban Ecology Center every Saturday at 1:00.

15. Find the A.W.E. Truck Studio in a nearby park. These bright mini-vans from Artists Working in Education are stocked with loads of art supplies and friendly artists who lead creative projects. The vans will be traveling around Milwaukee throughout the entire summer. Kids can drop-in to paint, create prints, and build sculptures.

16. Take a day trip to the free Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison. (Maybe a stop at Ella’s Deli on the way home?)

17. Find all of the geocaches in Visit Milwaukee’s neighborhood geocache tour.

18. See the Milwaukee skyline from far away atop the lookout tower in Lapham Peak State Forest. There are some short, flat kid-friendly hikes.

19. Cool off in the Streets of Old Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum on the first Thursday of the month.

20. Find worms in the soil during a tour of Growing Power, Milwaukee’s only urban farm.

21. Take a selfie with the Bronz Fonz.

22. Watch the boats and explore the local art on the Milwaukee Riverwalk.

23. Visit Gertie the Duck and her ducklings.

24. Find a book in a Little Free Library.

25. Bike or skate on the Oak Leaf Trail.

26. Sign up for Kids Bowl Free online and bowl for free at participating locations.

27. See the last covered bridge in Wisconsin in Covered Bridge Park in Cedarburg.

28. Catch a free family flick in Veteran’s Park or at Peck Flicks at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

29. Enjoy a kid-friendly concert in Lake Park on Wonderful Wednesdays.

30. Stroll along Historic Mitchell Street during the Sun Fair, June 2-4.

31. Be a part of the drum circle at Locust Festival of Music & Art on Sunday, June 17th.

32. Be Greek for a day at Greek Fest.

33. Climb the Adventure Rock Wall at the Summer Soulstice Festival Saturday, June 24th.

34. Enjoy strawberry shortcake at Strawberry Fest in Cedarburg June 24-25th.

35. Get in free to Summerfest on Kohl’s Family Day July 2nd. The first 2,500 patrons who donate 3 nutritious non-perishable food items will receive 1 FREE admission ticket, valid for the day and time of the promotion only. Suggested items include canned chicken or tuna, fruits canned in 100% juice and low sodium vegetables. All donations benefit Hunger Task Force.

36. Eat crepes, dance ballet, and play soccer at Bastille Days July 13-16th.

37. Fly a kite at the Fireworks Kite Festival.

38. Catch a glimpse of the blue angels at the Milwaukee Air and Water Show July 15-16th (or buy tickets for VIP seating).

39. Feel the fireworks show at South Shore Frolics July 14-16th.

40. Watch the vibrant colored dragon boats race at the Dragon Boat Festival August 12th.

41. Watch the Dachsund Derby Races at German Fest. Get in free to German Fest Sunday, July 30th with the donation of three non-perishable food items.

42. Get in free to Irish Fest on Sunday, August 20th with the donation of one non-perishable food item. Check out their family passport program, Leprochaun Village and more!

43. Take in Indian music, dance, and cuisine at IndiaFest in Humboldt Park August 29th.

44. Marvel at the chalk art at the Art & Chalk Fest at the Museum of Wisconsin Art July 29th and 30th.

45. Visit the Kohl’s Color Wheels Art Station at the Brady Street Festival July 29th.

46. Check out the colorful murals on a self-guided Hispanic Heritage Tour at the United Community Center.

47. Browse the gallery and make some art at the Walker’s Point Center for the Arts. (Stop across the street for some cheese at Clock Shadow Creamery on your way out!)

48. Visit the free Concord Zoo in Oconomowocto pet and feed the ponies, goats, pigs and more!

49. Enjoy a Sunday afternoon concert featuring Kids from Wisconsin, The Milwaukee Police Band,Milwaukee Festival Brass and Hartland Community Band as part of the Live at Peck Pavilion series.

50. Get a taste of the Florida Keys at the free Taste of the Island event at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. The event will feature live music, activities for kids, food, art, and island culture.

Do you know of any other free events? Leave a comment below!

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