Summerfest with Kids
June 26 – July 7, 2019
Every year Milwaukeeans of all ages flock to the Henry Maier Festival Park for one of the longest running music festivals in the world – Summerfest. And although your memories of this cream city tradition may not be kid-friendly, the festival itself most certainly is. Here are some of the best things to do with kids:
The Elizabeth “Bo” Black family fountain: Hopping around in this iconic splash pad is the perfect way to keep cool on a hot summer day.
Children’s Theater & Playzone: Visit the daily lineup pages for information on daily, family-focused performers and show times.
Kohl’s Captivation Station: This area lives up to its name, captivating children of all ages with hands on art projects, live theater and family friendly performers. Families can meet new characters and puppets and enjoy wildlife adventures and songs in conservation-themed performances by Kohl’s Wild Theater, part of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee. You can also create a one-of-a-kind art project with Kohl’s Color Wheels, an extension of the Milwaukee Art Museum. For innovative design projects, stop by the Kohl’s Design it! Mobile Lab. You’ll learn techniques and methods from design professionals from Discovery World.
Ferris Wheel: The Summerfest “Wheel in the Sky” on the north end of the grounds offers spectacular views of Summerfest, Milwaukee’s downtown, and Lake Michigan. It operates from noon – 11:30 p.m. daily.
Paddleboat rides: Worried your kids’ little legs will get tired from walking around? Relax and take in views of the festival and downtown Milwaukee on a 30 minute paddleboat ride. Check it out from noon – 7:00 p.m. each day at the boat dock on the north end of the grounds. Boats can hold up to four people.
Skyglider: There’s nothing like your first ride on the sky glider. The gentle ride offers a scenic view of Henry Maier Festival Park, Lake Michigan, and the entertainment below.
Get in free: To save on admission and take advantage of food and beverage deals, check the schedule for Kohl’s Family Day and Children’s Fest Day.
-Be aware of the Lost Children’s Area near the Mid Gate for children who become separated from their parents. Children are brought to this secure area and checked in by a member of the Summerfest staff.
-Create an identification wristband for your child at any main gate.
-Nursing? No problem. Look for a Nursing Mothers Station in the Children’s Area and at the South Gate Information Booth. These pods provide a comfortable, private and convenient space for nursing moms.
Fireworks Kite Festival (Free!)
Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019
Veterans Park (1010 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., Milwaukee, WI 53202)
The Fireworks Kite Festival is a just-for-fun kite fly of which everyone is welcome to participate. A huge area of Veterans Park is set aside just for kite-fliers, and the kite-filled sky is an impressive sight to behold. Plus, it’s the perfect way to get the best seat in the house to the fireworks show along the lakefront.
Bristol Renaissance Faire
Saturdays, Sundays & Labor Day
July 6th – September 2nd, 2019
12550 120th Ave., Kenosha, WI 53142
Climb a castle wall, shoot bow and arrows, and throw an axe all in one day. If you love all things medieval, you should definitely step back in time to attend this festival spread across 30 acres and 20 stages. Medieval characters in full dress make for an authentic renaissance experience. Families can watch fully armored jousts, parades, and entertainers in the streets all day long. You’ll also find plenty of rides, games, arts and crafts, food, drink, and music. Plus, check their website for special KidQuests.
Bastille Days (Free!)
July 11 – 14, 2019
Cathedral Square Park (825 N. Jefferson St., Milwaukee, WI 53202)
Marked by the signature 43-foot Eiffel Tower replica and hourly light shows, Milwaukee hosts one of the nation’s largest French-themed celebrations each July. The international marketplace comes alive with the sizzling sights and smells of French and Cajun cuisine.
Pro tip: Kids’ and Family Day is usually Saturday, offering soccer and dance lessons, cooking demonstrations, and more.
CANCELLED FOR 2019 Top pick: Waterford Hot Air Balloon Festival (Free!)
817 W. Main St., Waterford, WI 53185
Top pick: Festa Italiana
July 19-21, 2019
Henry Maier Festival Park
639 E. Summerfest Pl., Milwaukee, WI 53202
For the littlest bambinos, Festa Italiana offers FREE carnival rides for the whole family all three days! Sponsored by Catholic Financial Life, rides include: Giant Slide, Go-Gator, Rio Grande Train, Merry Go Round, Tilt-a-Whirl, Paratrooper, Round Up and Sky Fighter. The Pinocchio Parade will wind its way through the festival Saturday and Sunday evening! Led by Pinocchio, Geppetto, the Blue Fairy and Topo Gigio, the beloved parade celebrates the music, culture and spirit of Italy – plus many surprises along the way! The annual Kids Pizza Making Contest is a fun way for children of all ages to create fresh, made-from-scratch pizza in front of the live Cucina Showcase audience. Winners for each age group will receive a commemorative t-shirt. Visit the Children’s Stage all three days for a variety family acts, including a magician, juggling act, ventriloquist and Children’s Italian Dance Group! Check out the schedule. Other family fun activities include the flag throwers, bocce ball, a splash zone and fireworks every night around 10:00 p.m. Families can also enjoy a gondola ride to view Festa from the water’s view. Tickets for Festa Italiana are now on sale. Purchase your advance ticket for $10 now through July 19 online. Tickets are $13 at the Gate. Children 12 and under free.
Get in free: Children under 12 are admitted free during the entire festival, and they typically offer free admission for all on Sunday.
Milwaukee Air & Water Show (Free!)
July 27 & 28, 2019
You won’t be able to miss it! Even if you want to :). Milwaukee’s lakefront roars with impressive military aircrafts like the Blue Angels during the Air & Water Show, and it’s free to watch from afar. You can also purchase tickets for front row center seats.
Washington County Fair
July 23 – 28, 2019
3000 Pleasant Valley Rd, West Bend, WI 53095
The Family Expo Center is the center of kid-friendly activities. Enjoy horse shows, the small animal tents, contests, 4-H performances, tractor pulls, and much more.
July 26-28, 2019
Henry Maier Festival Park (639 E. Summerfest Pl., Milwaukee, WI 53202)
The sounds of carousel organs and the smell of German cuisine – sausage, sauerkraut, and schnitzel – float through the festival grounds, bringing German culture to life. Families head there each year for the Dachsund Derby and costume contest, the Glockenspiel clock that comes to life every few hours, traditional “tracht” clothing, German dance performances, mascots, and parades.
Get in free: Kids under 12 are always free. Sunday is typically free during specified times for those who bring non-perishable food items. Check the website for updated information.
Brady Street Festival (Free!)
July 27th, 2019 from 11:00 a.m. to midnight
Head to funky Brady Street for live entertainment all day and night from local bands on four stages. Stunt bike and tumbling shows, arts and crafts, and a rock climbing wall make this a family-friendly event.
Art and Chalk Fest at MOWA (Free!)
July 27 & 28, 2019
Museum of Wisconsin Art (205 Veterans Ave, West Bend, WI 53095)
This free outdoor fine arts and crafts festival features artist booths as well as chalk artists, art activities for all ages, live entertainment and music, food vendors, a beer garden, and more.
Ozaukee County Fair (Free!)
July 31st – August 4, 2019
W67N866 Washington Ave., Cedarburg, WI 53012
Held each year in Cedarburg, the Ozaukee County Fair is one of the last free county fairs in Wisconsin. You’ll find games, rides, animals, fair food, truck pulls, demonstrations, and live music.