Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Bayside, Wisconsin: A Quick Guide (2021)

Just a short drive from downtown Milwaukee is a magnificent nature center along the shores of Lake Michigan, teeming with wildlife, miles of trails, and kid-friendly hikes. People of all ages will appreciate this local gem.

For the most recent COVID-19 updates at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, click here.

Here’s a quick low-down for busy parents:

General Information

Ages: Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (SANC) is truly for all ages. They offer family programming and environmental education led by professional naturalists for kids of all ages (including babies!).

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The nature center is packed with exhibits.

What: SANC covers 185 acres of woodlands, prairies, ponds, and wetlands along the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline. Stop by their nature center for hands-on activities, live critters, and a reading nook with wooden rocking chairs.

Each Saturday and Sunday afternoon (pre-COVID), you can see a bald eagle up close at their Word with a Bird program. They run special events throughout the year, too, such as their Fall Festival and Maple Sugaring Festival.

In addition, they run educational programs, field trips, and school visits throughout the year.

If you’re looking for a natural setting for your next events, they host private events like weddings in their outdoor pavilion, Hearth Room, and in the great hall of their main building, and business meetings in their conference room.

Where: SANC is located in Bayside, WI, about a 10 minute drive north of downtown Milwaukee.

When: Open seven days a week. Check their website for updated hours.

Kid-friendly hikes

Observation Tower: When it’s not rainy or snowy, you can walk a short quarter mile from the main building and climb the 60-ft Observation Tower for a spectacular view of the surrounding area including the lake.

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When the weather permits, you can climb the 60 foot observation tower for a magnificent view.

Mystery Lake: Just a half mile from the main building, this hike has a new boardwalk and is wheelchair and stroller accessible. Frogs, wild turkeys, turtles, and waterlilies abound on this route. Have caution around the lake because there are no railings!

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Mystery Lake is a great spot to find wildlife like frogs and turtles.

Lake Michigan Hike (For older children): For a beautiful walk along the Lake Michigan shoreline, take the paved path down to Lake Michigan and follow the sandy steps to the beach. Looks for gulls or ducks ont he water. Continue on the North Lake Terrace Trail, and make sure to stop by the Milner Lake Michigan Viewing Deck for a spectacular view. To return to the main building, head back up the wooded steps.

Check their Trail Map for more options:

What else?

For your safety:

  • Remain on designated trails and boardwalks.
  • No collecting, hunting or fishing. Please enjoy nature, but do not take it home.
  • Pack it in, pack it out.
  • No pets; leashed, carried, or otherwise.
  • No bikes on the trails.
  • No swimming. The shoreline beach is not tested for water quality, and swimming could be dangerous.

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