From local favorites like Betty Brinn Children's Museum & the Milwaukee Public Museum, to the lesser known gems like the National Bobblehead Museum and the Spinning Top and Yo-Yo Museum in Burlington, southeastern Wisconsin is home to more than a dozen kid-friendly museums. Read on to find your next adventure!
1. Betty Brinn Children's Museum
929 E Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202
The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum inspires children to wonder and explore their world through play and innovative, hands-on learning experiences. Families can have fun learning together in the Museum’s interactive exhibits, including Home Town, Science CITY, Word Headquarters and Pocket Park for children age 4 and younger. Special programs, workshops and family events are offered throughout the year to spark exploration among children.
Pro Tip: The museum offers free admission for all on Neighborhood Night on the third Thursday of every month.
2. Milwaukee Public Museum
800 W Wells St., Milwaukee, WI 53233
The Milwaukee Public Museum welcomes more than half a million visitors annually. Located in downtown Milwaukee, the Museum currently houses more than 4 million objects in its collections. MPM has three floors of exhibits that encompass life-size dioramas, walk-through villages, world cultures, dinosaurs, a rainforest, and a live butterfly garden, as well as the Daniel M. Soref Dome Theater and Planetarium.
Pro Tip: To get the butterflies to land on you, wear red or orange!
Fun Fact: There are three hidden buttons in the museum. Can you find them all?
3. Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear
839 N. 11th St., Milwaukee, WI 53233
The Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear displays the late Avrum Chudnow’s (1913-2005) extensive and eclectic collection of early 20th Century Americana. The museum contains various shops and exhibits from his collection, from between the World Wars, chiefly the 1920's and 1930's era. Don't miss the ice cream parlor downstairs, and the movie theater upstairs!
4. Dinosaur Discovery Museum (Free!)
5608 Tenth Ave., Kenosha, WI
Tour the main gallery filled with impressive dinosaur skeletons that are casts of actual fossil bones. Head downstairs to dig for fossils, do dinosaur crafts, and peek into the on site laboratory. Admission is free! Check out our full review here.
5. Discovery World
500 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Discovery World offers 120,000 square feet of science and technology fun for the whole family, with interactive exhibits, the Reiman Aquarium, educational labs and programs, and learning experiences aboard Discovery World’s tall ship (and Wisconsin’s Flagship) the Sailing Vessel (S/V) Denis Sullivan.
6. Harley-Davidson Museum
400 W. Canal St., Milwaukee, WI 53201
Pose for a photo with the company founders, see the oldest known Harley Davidson motorcycle (knowns as "Serial Number One", rev up your engines in the engine room, rummage through discvoery drawers filled with vintage toys and trinkets, make your own custom creation at the build-a-bike station, and much more!
7. Milwaukee Art Museum
700 Art Museum Dr.
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Make the most of your next trip to the Art Museum with some tips from our post: "8 Special Things To Do With Kids At The Art Museum".
Fun Fact: The museum is *always* free for kids 12 and under.
Pro Tip: Check out an art pack to up-level your next visit!
8. Milwaukee County Historical Society
910 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53203
The Milwaukee County Historical Society was founded in 1935 and has become the place for people to learn about and to celebrate Milwaukee. Through education programs, exhibitions, the research library, and special events, MCHS offers Milwaukeeans and visitors to Milwaukee a chance to connect with the heritage of Milwaukee. The MCHS headquarters is located in a historic bank building along the Milwaukee River.
Fun Fact: More than one million documents and photographs and more than 60,000 artifacts are preserved by MCHS.
9. Milwaukee Fire Museum (Free!)
1615 W. Oklahoma Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53215
1st Sunday of each month (April - December, excluding holidays) 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM or by appointment
The Fire Museum features a vintage bunk room, alarm area and fire officers office. It is one of five fire stations of this style built in 1927. The museum houses the first department ambulance, a 1947 Cadillac, plus two trucks built in the Milwaukee Fire Department Shop during the 1920's and 30's. The building also has a dormitory style bunk-room, a vintage kitchen, locker room, and hose tower.
10. Mitchell Gallery of Flight (Free!)
5300 S. Howell Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53207
If you find yourself at the airport with some time to spend, stop by the Mitchell Gallery of Flight, where you'll find aviation models and memorabilia, as well as educational information about planes and pilots.
11. Model Railroad Club of Milwaukee Inc.
15 E. National Ave. (built into a Canadian Pacific Railway bridge that spans the street)
Hidden gem alert! Built in 1916 by the Milwaukee Road as a bridge station, the location was abandoned and converted into the club’s venue in 1936. It is the longest running model railroad club in the same location in the US. Many of the original features are still intact, including subway tile, tin ceiling panels, and some steam heat fixtures. The models inside are built to ¼-inch scale, some dating back to pre-WWII.
The club is open to visitors the last Sunday afternoon of each month, between about 1 pm and 3 pm. If that day falls on a holiday, or within a four day weekend, the club is not open, and it is not open during severe weather events in winter.
12. Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts
N50 W5050 Portland Rd, Cedarburg, WI 53012
The Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts is located just east of historic downtown Cedarburg, and is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of quilts and fiber arts. They offer family fun days throughout the year, as well as summer camp.
13. Museum of Wisconsin Art
205 Veterans Ave., West Bend, WI
The Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA) explores the art and culture of Wisconsin with over 5,000 works of contemporary and historic art by more than 350 artists. The 32,000 square foot modern facility is located along the river in downtown West Bend, and houses five permanent collection galleries, three temporary exhibition spaces, and two classrooms as well as visible art storage, a shop, and a large atrium for public events. Check online for family programming every weekend, including Studio Saturdays.
14. National Bobblehead Hall Of Fame & Museum
170 S. 1st St., 2nd Floor, Milwaukee, WI 53204
This one-of-a-kind museum houses the world's largest collection of bobbleheads from all genres and periods, plus dozens of exhibits related to the history of bobbleheads, the making of bobbleheads, and more.
15. North Point Lighthouse
2650 N Wahl Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53211
The North Point Lighthouse is home to a charming renovated museum, where you can learn about maritime history, see artifacts from ships that sailed Lake Michigan, and learn about the keepers who maintained the lighthouse (there are some real characters there!). Climb the 74-foot tall tower for a spectacular 360° view of Lake Park, Lake Michigan and downtown Milwaukee. Kids must be at least 38 inches tall to climb the tower. The museum is located between two ravines in Lake Park on a two-acre semi-wooded parcel, and is one of the oldest structures that stands in the now-urban area.
16. Pabst Mansion
2000 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53233
Visit the home of Captain Frederick and Maria Pabst, built in the 1890's for $254,000 as a testament to America's Gilded Age. The Pabsts became consummate art collectors, filling their mansion with priceless treasures, and they hosted many fine parties and receptions. Between 1908 and 1975, the mansion was the archbishop's resident and the center of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee. When it was sold in 1975, the mansion was nearly torn down to make way for a parking lot for a neighboring hotel. After a three-year crusade for its preservation, it was spared demolition and went on to become an award-winning house museum. The Mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 21, 1975. They offer guided tours every day of the week during their regular season. Check their website for the most updated information.
17. Spinning Top & Yo-Yo Museum
533 Milwaukee Ave., Burlington, WI 53105
Location in downtown Burlington, the Spinning Top and Yo-Yo Museum is a combination of a program, tour and hands-on games. You'll see more than 2,000 tops, yo-yos, and gyroscopes, ongoing videos, and I Spy Hunt, and a live presentation. You must call ahead to reserve a spot!
18. Waukesha County Historical Society & Museum
101 W. Main St., Waukesha, WI 53186
Founded in1914, the Waukesha County Historical Society & Museum in downtown Waukesha, tells the stories of earliest contact between Native Americans and European and American settlers, the rock and roll legacy of Les Paul, and more. They offer activities for kids & families throughout the year.
19. Wisconsin Automotive Museum
147 N. Rural St., Hartford, WI 53027
History comes alive at Wisconsin's largest auto museum, with an ever-changing display of classic and vintage autos and artifacts, and a striking art deco interior.