I am so excited because next week, I’ve got my two youngest girls home with me, and it will be the Week of Adventures. We will hit up some old favorites, but here are some things on my bucket list this summer:
1. The Kiltie
N48W36154 E Wisconsin Ave, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
What’s better than a burger and ice cream on a warm summer night at a drive-in? I can’t wait to trek out to Hartland to visit the Kiltie. This kid-friendly place serves soft-serve frozen custard, burgers, fries, onion rings, chicken sandwiches, and more.
2. Swing Park
1737 N Water St., Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
Swing Park started as a few “guerilla” artists and engineers hanging swings under the Marsupial bridge at night, without city approval. The project gradually progressed as more and more people visited and fell in love with the space. It has since been taken over by the city of Milwaukee, and the urban public space remains there today, offering swings for all who love to swing – and who doesn’t?
*Note – A few readers notified us that this park has experienced some recent crime and advised that you go during the day. You can also read through people’s experiences on the Facebook page to get a better sense of the place.
3. Lynden Sculpture Garden
2145 W Brown Deer Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53217
Lynden Sculpture Garden offers a unique experience of art in nature through its collection of more than 50 monumental sculptures across 40 acres of park, lake and woodland. They offer a monthly Tuesday in the Garden program for small children and weekly art drop-in programs for older kids. These programs fill up fast, so you must pre-register.
During your visit, you can check out a Plein Air kit for outdoor watercolor painting. Family Kits are available at the front desk and are included with the price of admission. They include a sculpture scavenger hunt, nature activities to complete on the grounds, magnifying glasses, and more. The grounds provide a perfect spot for a picnic during warm months. Don’t miss the whimsical and colorful cow sculpture (actually called Des Vaches: Mo, Ni, Que by Swiss artist Samuel Buri.)
4. Wind Leaves at Discovery World
500 N. Harbor Dr., Milwaukee, WI 53202
Discovery World has an admission fee, but you can explore the wind leaves right outside of the main building for free. These tall aluminum columns are made of thousands of stainless steels disks, and they rotate with the wind. The material reflects light beautifully. You can also play on the musical benches surrounding the columns. Across the street is an interesting water fountain that captures the imagination.
5. Sculpture Milwaukee
Full disclosure, I already crossed this one off my bucket list. Sculpture Milwaukee is back again this year starting at O’Donnell Park downtown and heading west towards 6th and Wisconsin. You can start at the “LOVE” sculpture and hang out at the small park there. Then head west and every block or so you’ll see an interesting, colorful sculpture by a renowned artist.
Note: Wisconsin Avenue is very busy during the week, and the sculptures are close to the street. It’s best for young kids to view the sculpture from a stroller, in a carrier, or from the streetcar (when it’s ready).
6. Alice’s Garden
2136 N. 21st St, Milwaukee, WI 53205
Alice’s Garden is a two-acre urban garden that is committed to wellness and community. You can check their website for upcoming events such as yoga classes and movie nights, or you can drop by with your children and take a walk in the labyrinth. This space is peaceful, relaxing, and really special. They also offer free movies for kids and families in the summer – check their Facebook page (or our Calendar) for dates and times!
Did you know that the Riverwalk in Milwaukee is actually an outdoor art gallery? It’s called RiverSculpture, and it includes a mixture of permanent pieces and temporary installations. You’ll find polka dot stone benches, a whimsical and colorful statue called “Cow and Ballerina,” and many more eye-catching sculptures.
8. Waterford Hot Air Balloon Festival
817 W. Main St., Waterford, WI 53185
This unique event takes place on the school grounds of Evergreen Elementary in Waterford, WI. The sky is cheerfully dotted with the bright colors of hot air balloons., You’ll get to see hot air balloon competitions, live launches, outdoor music, live music, games & crafts for kids, and tethered rides for families.
9. Kohler Arts Center / Jon Peterson Garden
608 New York Ave., Sheboygan, WI 53081
The Kohler Arts Center is an art museum offering free admission, free parking, and plenty for the kids to explore. There is an art space just for kids, an outdoor garden, and ever-changing art exhibits. Don’t miss the Carl Peterson garden, a wonderful fantasy land of animals, fountains, and birdbaths. Peterson modeled his garden after Swedish architectural styles and formal gardens, designing towers, light fixtures, and flagpoles topped with egg-like spheres. Using concrete and pebbles, he constructed a romantic miniature village, castles, and elaborate villas. Amidst these structures he added an array of animals including a lion, tiger, penguin, alligator, deer, bears, eagles, and songbirds.
See Also: The James Tellen Woodland Sculpture Garden is nestled in the Town of Wilson woods just south of Sheboygan. This site, cared for by the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, is dotted with sculptures loosely connected by a woodland path. Today the site is free and open to the public, and the log home often hosts visiting artists during their stays. The garden is located at 5634 Evergreen Drive, Town of Wilson, WI 53081 during daylight hours.
10. Hispanic Heritage Mural Walk
United Community Center, 1028 S. 9th St., Milwaukee, WI
Learn all about the colorful outdoor murals that pay homage to Hispanic heritage. On their self-guided walk, you’ll see and learn about “Wonder of Latin America Mural”, “Hispanic Literary Figures Mural”, the “History of Latinos in Milwaukee Mural”, and more. You can end your tour in the Gallery at the Latino Arts Center.
11. Stargazing at the UWM Manfred Olson Planetarium
1900 E. Kenwood Blvd., Milwaukee, WI 53211
The Manfred Olson Planetarium, located on the UWM campus, boasts an optomechanical projector, LED cove lights, constellation projectors, and four digital projectors that project the galaxy, the Milky Way, and more in the Planetarium’s 30-foot dome.
Families can take advantage of affordable Friday Night Movies, free AstroBreak shows on Wednesdays, and free stargazing on the roof, complete with telescopes and hot cocoa.