Sometimes you just have to get out of the house, even when it’s wintry and cold. Here are 11 day trip ideas to help cure your cabin fever. They are all kid-friendly and within a 1-3 hour drive of Milwaukee.
1. FARM WISCONSIN DISCOVERY CENTER
7001 Gass Lake Rd, Manitowoc, WI 54220
Driving time from downtown Milwaukee: 1 hr, 7 mn
The Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center in Manitowoc is an interactive, immersive look into Wisconsin’s agriculture industry, perfect for kids of all ages. ⠀Upstairs, you’ll find hands-on exhibits like a tractor simulator the kids can drive, kinetic sand for learning about soil, bison, sheep, and mink fur, a butter churner, a magnetic word wall, and more!
Don’t miss the birthing barn, where there are 1-2 cows each day in active labor. You can actually see a calf being born.⠀⠀And, take a bus tour to a nearby dairy farm to see thousands and thousands of cows, and learn how a huge dairy farm operates.⠀
2. EAA AVIATION MUSEUM
3000 Poberezny Rd, Oshkosh, WI 54902
Driving time from downtown Milwaukee: 1 hr, 20 mn
Your kids will love the historic aircrafts and memorabilia on display and the giant Eagle hangar. Upstairs, the KidVenture Gallery is packed with exciting opportunities to learn about aviation, like flight simulators, an observation deck, and a cockpit experience. Don’t miss the space section on the second floor where you’ll see a real meteorite and rocket launcher. ????⠀
3. LAKE GENEVA ICE CASTLES
Geneva National Resort & Club, 1091 Hidden Cottage Cir, Lake Geneva, WI 53147
Driving time from downtown Milwaukee: 54 minutes
Photo from visitlakegeneva.com
Explore majestic ice canyons, climb through ice tunnels, slide on an ice slide, walk through grand ice archways and canyons, meet snow princesses, see fire shows, and more.
Metered parking and parking lots are free from November 15 – February. Additional free parking is located several blocks in on smaller side streets.
-Buy tickets online before you go. Standby tickets are not guaranteed
-Check their website for weather conditions before you head out!
-Bring a sled instead of a stroller to navigate through the ice castles.
While you’re in Lake Geneva, check out Lake Geneva Canopy Tours. See Lake Geneva in a whole new way, from atop a nine-line zipline course! (Kids have to weigh at least 70 lbs. to participate.)
4. JELLY BELLY VISITOR CENTER (FREE!)
10100 Jelly Belly Ln., Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158
Drive time from downtown Milwaukee: 44 minutes
Photo credit: Pamela Scholz
If you haven’t been to the Jelly Belly Visitor Center yet, it’s time to go. Don’t miss their free daily tours on a real mini choo-choo train. The tour includes an educational ride through the warehouse and free candy. Plus, there’s an all-new interactive area with games.
5. LEGOLAND DISCOVERY CENTER
Streets of Woodfield, 601 N. Martingale Rd. , Schaumburg, IL 60173
Drive time from downtown Milwaukee: 1 hr, 35 mn
Legoland is packed with incredible lego sculptures from master model builders, amusement park-style rides, a 4D cinema experience, and plenty of space to build your own LEGO creations.
6. MUSEUM OF WISCONSIN ART
205 Veterans Ave, West Bend, WI 53095
Drive time from downtown Milwaukee: 46 minutes
A 45 minutes drive from Milwaukee, the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend is a modern museum housing only art by Wisconsin artists.
Every weekend, they hold Studio Saturday, offering creative themed art activities for all ages in their studio space. Walk-ins are welcome.
Their current exhibit “Fore and Aft: A Vitreous View of Time“ highlights three Wisconsin artists who create intricate glass sculptures.
Be sure to say hello to the big tall bear in the back corner of the museum.
7. SPINNING TOP & YOYO MUSEUM
533 Milwaukee Ave, Burlington, WI 53105
Driving time from downtown Milwaukee: 45 minutes
.See the 2,000 item exhibition of antique & modern spinning tops, yo-yos, patches, and more. You can also view videos about spin tops and learn about the science behind spinners. Kids will have the chance to play and experiment with toy tops and spinning top games, plus enjoy a live presentation by Judith Schulz, toy top collector. You should allow three hours for your visit, and you must arrange your visit ahead of time.
8. KENOSHA AREA
Drive time from downtown Milwaukee: 48 minutes
Learn all about dinosaurs at the Dinosaur Discovery Museum, where you’ll see dinosaur skeletons in the main gallery that are casts of actual dinosaur fossil bones, and listen to the environmental and animal sounds in the exhibit gallery. Don’t miss the hands-on activities and real live laboratory in the downstairs level. Read more about our visit to the Dinosaur Discovery Museum here.
Stop for a bit to eat at the Mars Cheese Castle, and then head to the Kenosha Public Museum, a natural sciences and arts museum with exhibits featuring mammoths, world cultures, Native Americans, zoology, geology, fossils, and fine and decorative arts. The Field Station section offers hands-on activities especially for kids. Take a closer look at insects, fossils, and shells and identify the neighborhood birds.
9. SHEBOYGAN AREA
Drive time from downtown Milwaukee: 56 minutes
Photo from blueharborresort.com
Enjoy almost 10,000 square feet of exhibit space on four floors at the Above and Beyond Children’s Museum, including a life-size Giant Pin Screen, the USS Efroymson Ship, and a 1900’s schoolhouse.
Then, visit the Kohler Arts Center, offering free admission, free parking, and plenty for the kids to explore. There is an art space just for kids, an outdoor garden (in the warm months), and ever-changing exhibits. One of the highlights of your visit might actually be a trip to the restrooms. Colorful tiles and whimsical designs fill the bathrooms so there’s never a dull moment.
The 54,000 square foot Breaker Bay Water Park at Blue Harbor Resort is open to the public. It’s always 84 degrees, and it’s home to the only double surf simulator in eastern Wisconsin.
10. MADISON CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
100 N Hamilton St., Madison, WI 53703
Drive time from downtown Milwaukee: 1 hr, 22 mn
Get ready to explore and discover fun meant especially for kids ages 0-12 at the award-winning Madison Children’s Museum. The museum contains three exhibit floors including a rooftop garden and authentic log cabin. It’s located just off of downtown Madison’s Capital Square. Download and print their Visitor Guide to help you plan your day.
11. SPRINGS WATER PARK
2810 Golf Rd, Pewaukee, WI 53072
Driving time from downtown Milwaukee: 28 minutes
Just 30 minutes from downtown Milwaukee, Springs Water Park is the closest you’ll get to a tropical climate during a Milwaukee winter, outside of the Domes. There are tube and body slides, a meandering lazy river, an activity pool, and indoor/outdoor hot tub, and a zero depth pool.