cow sculptures at Lynden Sculpture Garden in River Hills Wisconsin

25 Free Things To Do This Spring With Kids (2023)

Spring is a beautiful time of year in Milwaukee, with warmer temperatures, blooming flowers, and longer days.

It’s the perfect time to get out of the house with your kids and explore all that the city has to offer.

However, finding affordable activities that everyone will enjoy can be a challenge.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of 25 free things to do in spring around Milwaukee.

From free museums to natural playgrounds, easy hikes to streetcar rides, there’s something for everyone on this list. 

Let’s dive in!


1. Ride The Hop

Ready for an adventure in downtown Milwaukee?

The Hop streetcar is a fun and safe option for exploring the city, and it’s an experience both you and your kids can enjoy.

(And it’s free to ride!)

With its colorful and spacious cars, accessible platforms, and convenient stops, The Hop is designed to accommodate riders of all ages and abilities.

In fact, along the route, you’ll find a variety of engaging and family-friendly destinations that are sure to keep everyone entertained.

From cupcakes at Cathedral Square Park to City Hall and the Milwaukee Public Market, you’re in for an adventure!

See 10 Kid-Friendly Stop Along The Hop >>


2. Free Museums

Visiting Milwaukee museums is a great way to learn about the world around you with your kids, but it can be really expensive to purchase tickets for the whole family.

Firehouse

Here’s the good news!

You can easily explore Milwaukee on a budget with these free museums and free admission days.

From the Milwaukee Fire Museum to the Model Railroad Club of Milwaukee, there’s a museum that’s sure to interest you.

See all 15 free museums around Milwaukee >>


3. Best Hikes For Kids

It’s Springtime in Milwaukee, which means there’s plenty of sunshine, mud, and temperatures that are perfect for hiking.

fall wildflowers in autumn at Lakeshore State Park Milwaukee Wisconsin

But hiking with kids can be a challenge, especially if you aren’t sure how long they can last on their little legs, or if you have a stroller in tow.

We rounded up some Springtime hikes that are perfect for families.

They have mostly flat routes and are not too long, and many of them are stroller-friendly!

Best Milwaukee Hikes >>


4. Ride a Zip-line

Did you know there are two nearby playgrounds with zip lines?

Your kids will love flying through the fresh spring air!

First, The Grove at Village Park in Sussex is a must-visit playground for Milwaukee area families with young kids.

Located at W244 N6260 Weaver Drive in Sussex, it is about a 35 minute drive from Milwaukee.

You’ll find a well-kept inclusive playground with a zip line, an inclusive and interactive splash pad, sports courts, and a shaded pavilion.

Alternatively, Lake Vista Park in Oak Creek also has a zip-line.

It’s located on the shores of Lake Michigan and boasts plus beautiful walking trails, brand new playground equipment for all ages, and a new picnic pavilion with restrooms.

See more of our favorite Milwaukee playgrounds >>


5. Walk Through Black Cat Alley

The Black Cat Alley is an outdoor art gallery located in a private alley on the East Side.

This unique street art destination was developed by a group of community members and artists back in 2015, and it now contains 21 murals by 24 artists from Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Columbus and even Berlin.

You can enter the Alley from Prospect Avenue near the Axe Bar (AXE MKE) or from Ivanhoe near Milwaukee’s only cat café (Sip ‘n Purr).

Check out our list 10 Stunning Milwaukee Murals and make a day of it!


6. Hike Discovery Trail at Retzer Nature Center

Just a short 30-minute drive from Milwaukee is a beautiful nature center with a renovated nature space just for kids.

It’s one of our favorite easy hikes for kids around Milwaukee, and it’s free to park and walk around.

The new Discovery Trail includes a variety of “Exploration Stations” for outdoor education, sensory-based play experiences, and STEM activities for families and school groups.

Other additions include a gateway feature, a stone seat wall gathering space, nature exploration stations – including insect, wood, animal tracks, and a giant eagle’s nest – as well as a habitat free-play area, boulder scramble, and native plant observation areas.

Read more about Discovery Trail >>


7. Kohl’s Art Studio at the Milwaukee Art Museum

Did you know that kids 12 and under are always free at the Milwaukee Art Museum?

And the Kohl’s Art Studio is open Saturday–Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Milwaukee Art Museum Kohls Studio Wisconsin

Kids and families can explore different art materials and techniques used to create the art works in the museum’s collection.

Themes change monthly, so check their website for updated information.

Besides the Kohls Art Studio, there’s so much to do at the museum with kids!

From watching the wings open and close to checking out an Artpack, here are the 10 Best Things to do with Kids at the Art Museum >>


8. Take a Selfie with the Bronz Fonz

Just a .4 mile walk from City Hall is the famous Bronze Fonz statue, located on the famous Milwaukee River Walk.

This iconic statue of the Happy Days character, Arthur Fonzarelli, is a beloved landmark and a fun photo opportunity for kids and adults alike.

Located near the intersection of Wells and Water streets, the Bronze Fonz is easily accessible and makes for a great pit stop during a walk along the river.

Plus, it’s free!

Take a moment to admire the detailed sculpture and snap a photo with the “thumbs up” sign, just like the Fonz himself.

It’s a great way to pay homage to one of Milwaukee’s most famous TV characters and create a lasting memory with your family.

The Safehouse Spy Restaurant is right around the corner!

Here are 5 tips for exploring the Milwaukee Riverwalk with kids >>


9. Milwaukee Mural Tour

Of all the ways to experience a city, wandering the streets to discover its vibrant murals may just be the most colorful!

This city is home to some of the most stunning and creative murals around.

And what better way to explore them than with your kids in tow?

That’s why we’ve put together this Milwaukee Mural Tour, highlighting some of the best murals in the city that are sure to captivate the imaginations of both you and your little ones.

From towering masterpieces to hidden gems, get ready to discover the beauty and creativity that make Milwaukee’s street art scene so special!

See the full Milwaukee Mural Tour >>


10.  Big Truck Day in Red Arrow Park


Back this year and better than ever, Big Truck Day returns to Red Arrow Park Saturday, May 20th from 11:00 a.m. 2:00 p.m. in Red Arrow Park.

This free event features over a dozen big rigs from the Department of Public Works, Milwaukee Fire Department, and Milwaukee Police Department and offers children a unique opportunity to explore the various trucks and meet the people who operate them.

Read more about Big Truck Day >>


10. Visit the Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park

The Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park (1500 E. Riverside Pl., Milwaukee, WI 53211) is an absolute gem amid its urban surroundings.

You can spend an entire day here with your children exploring the building and the surrounding park.

There are live animals, public feedings, nature games and activities, hidden slides and more!

Outside, check out the Habitat Playgarden where your kids can climb a spider web, play in the Woodland Dune sandbox, and more.

Read more about the Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park >>


11. Go Airplane Spotting

Airplane Observation Area (1200 block of E. Layton Ave.)

If your kids love airplanes, the Airport Observation Area is sure-fire hit. Onlookers flock to this parking lot on the 1200 block of E. Layton Ave. to get an up-close look and hear the roar of the massive jet planes as they come and go.

Tune into 88.5 to hear aircraft communication. You can pick up some Culver’s custard down the road, sit out on the car hood, and make a night of it.


12. Get Muddy in Wehr’s Nature Play Space

9701 W. College Ave., Franklin, WI 53132

Nestled in beautiful Whitnall Park is Milwaukee County’s very own Wehr Nature Center. It’s the perfect destination for a family with young kids looking for easy hiking trails and accessible wildlife watching.

Start at the Visitor Center and drop a donation into the box near the parking lot.

You’ll see a Nature Play Space nearby overlooking Mallard Lake with climbing rocks, a native plant garden, a giant log, sand, rocks and stones for digging, Carol’s Cabin log cabin, and a low-height plant maze.

For kid-friendly hikes, walk down the short hill from the Visitor Center. Turn left for the Lake Loop / Waterfall and turn right for Family Friendly Trail.

Read more about Wehr Nature Center >>


13. Take advantage of Free Admission Days

Some of the area’s most popular attractions offer Free Admission Days for the community.

From the Betty Brin Children’s Museum to the Milwaukee Public Museum, keep track of the Free Admission Days happening this spring.


14. Swing & Slide at Kayla’s Playground

3667-3723 W. Puetz Rd, Franklin, WI 53132

Kayla’s Playground looks like a whimsical dream from the moment you catch sight of it, and it doesn’t disappoint.

You’ll pass through a colorful entrance sign to get into the fully enclosed, inclusive playground.

The play surface is cushioned, and the building materials are splinter-free. You’ll also find plenty of shaded seating areas for supervising your kids or nursing.

Outside of the play area there are several picnic tables and three large, clean bathrooms equipped with changing tables.

It’s the perfect place to spend a morning or afternoon!

Read more about Kayla’s Playground >>


15. Walk though Lynden Sculpture Garden

2145 W Brown Deer Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53217
lyndensculpturegarden.org

cow sculptures at Lynden Sculpture Garden in River Hills Wisconsin

The Lynden Sculpture Garden remains open for free admission from 10:00-5:00 (every day except Thursday, when they’re closed).

There are wide open spaces for running around, magical trees the kids can hide inside of, frogs and turtles all over the place, and colorful sculptures.

Don’t miss the bright polka dotted cows by the pond. (The official title is “Des Vaches: Mo, Ni, Que” by Swiss artist Samuel Buri.) Remind your kids not to climb on the sculptures.

Note: There are no paths. Bring suitable footwear.

Admission is free, but you can donate online.

Find more gorgeous hikes around Milwaukee >>


16. Best Libraries in Milwaukee

Spring is a great time to find your new favorite book and enjoy the public libraries.

From secret gardens to climbable lighthouses, there are some real gems in the Milwaukee Public Library system.

We highly recommend Central Library and Mitchell Street Library to get started.


17. See the Sculptures in O’Donnell Park

O’Donnell Park is dotted with fun sculpture your kids will love to explore. Pack and picnic and make a morning of it! You can also walk through nearby Lakeshore State Park.

Start with Di Suvero’s sculpture, “The Calling”. The orange-red, 40 feet tall steel statue is impossible to miss, and it resembles a rising sun.

From “The Calling”, head over to the quaint and cheery “Holiday Home”, also located in O’Donnell Park. British artist Richard Woods created the sculpture as a commentary on recent political and economic upheavals like Brexit.

Home can symbolize success and stabilities, but when the home is placed in unusual places, like in the middle of a downtown park, it reminds us of instability and dangers in the world.

Sculptures rotate regularly. See what you find when you visit!

Read more about Sculpture Milwaukee >>


18. Visit A Playground at Malone

16400 W. Al Stigler Pkwy., New Berlin, WI 53151

This inclusive playground is accessible to children of all abilities, and its design was a truly collaborative effort. Even the students at New Berlin schools got to submit their designs and ideas.

It was built during a Community Build Day by hundreds of volunteers. The design is whimsical and colorful. You’ll find an accessible merry-go-round, all-access swings, monkey bars at varying heights, interactive sound stations, plus tons of nooks and crannies to explore.

Here are our 27 favorite Milwaukee playgrounds >>


19. Hide Out at Fort Cushing Playground

600 N. Cushing Park Rd., Delafield, WI 53018


Photo Credit: Instagram, @amyarchwi

This inclusive playground in Cushing Memorial Park in Delafield is a completely enclosed fort with sandboxes, swings, slides, towers, ramps, and plenty of secret spaces to explore. Enjoy the surrounding park and nearby stream after you play.

Here are our 27 favorite Milwaukee playgrounds >>


20. Imagine Away at Imagination Station

700 S. Main St., Oconomowoc, WI 53066

This universally accessible playground in Oconomowoc is huge, fully enclosed, and packed with interesting, sensory-stimulating features and structures. It has rubberized surfacing, recycled plastic composite ramps, therapeutic swings, musical stations, and more.

Here are our 27 favorite Milwaukee playgrounds >>


21. Picnic & Play at Possibility Playground

Upper Lake Park, Port Washington

Possibility Playground was built with children of all types of physical abilities in mind. It sits in Upper Lake Park in Port Washington with a beautiful view of Lake Michigan. After you play, you can head down to the marina to admire the boats, visit the historic art deco lighthouse, and peruse the charming downtown area.

Here are our 27 favorite Milwaukee playgrounds >>


22. Climb the Tower at Lapham Peak

observation tower at Lapham Peak Unit in Kettle Moraine State Forest Delafield Wisconsin

If you’re looking for a family-friendly hiking destination in the Wisconsin State Parks system, Lapham Peak State Park in Delafield may be just the place for you.

With over 17 miles of trails that range from easy to moderate, there are plenty of options for hikers of all ages and abilities.

Whether you’re looking for a short, scenic walk or a longer, more challenging hike, the Kettle Moraine State Forest – Lapham Peak Unit has excellent hiking for everyone.

The park also offers several amenities that make it a great destination for families, including picnic areas, a nature center, and even a tower with panoramic views of the surrounding area.

Read more about Hiking Lapham Peak >>


23. Free Kids Workshops at Home Depot

homedepot.com/workshops

Home Depot kids workshops are back! They happen once a month and our readers have give great reviews of them.

We recommend that you call your local Home Depot store before heading out to find out if they have the kits in-stock and to see how and when you can grab one.


24. Dig For Fossils at the Dinsosaur Discovery Museum in Kenosha

5608 10th Ave, Kenosha, WI 53140


Photo Credit: Instagram, @kenoshamuseums

Just a few blocks from Lake Michigan in downtown Kenosha, and about a 45 minute drive from downtown Milwaukee, you’ll find the free Dinosaur Discovery Museum. The museum is small, but it’s worth a stop on a day trip to Kenosha or if you happen to be in the area.

The main gallery is filled with casts of actual dinosaur fossil bones, and each one is labeled with information. Kids can learn how we know dinosaurs existed, what they looked like, how they behaved, and what happened to them. You can also listen to environmental and animal sounds of the Mesozoic era.

Before you leave, head downstairs for dinosaur themed crafts, floor puzzles, and activities. You’ll even find a place where young children can dig for pretend fossils.

Catch a peek into an on-site laboratory which runs in association with the Carthage Institute of Paleontology!

Read more about the Dinosaur Discovery Museum >>


25. Climb the Tower at Holy Hill

Holy Hill is a special place that you need to visit if you live in southeastern Wisconsin.

Just a short drive from Milwaukee, more than 500,000 people from all over the world visit the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary at Holy Hill each year.

You can admire the beautiful architecture of the neo-Romanesque church built in 1926, enjoy the peaceful environment and expansive views, and even climb the scenic tower. ⠀

It’s one of our favorite easy hikes with kids around Milwaukee, but it’s definitely one of the more challenging ones on the list.

Read more about hiking Holy Hill >>


26. Check Out the Natural Playground at Mequon Nature Preserve

8200 W. County Line Rd., Mequon, WI 53097

You’ll find this brand new natural playground right next to the Education Center at the County Line entrance.

There is a wooden seesaw, log balance beam, large observation deck, and more.

If you have some extra energy, you can make the short uphill hike to the 40 foot observation tower.

Climb up to see the surrounding landscape (referred to by geologists as the Eastern Uplands of Wisconsin) through free telescopes.

See all of our  favorite Milwaukee playgrounds >>


Milwaukee has a lot to offer in the spring, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to enjoy it all.

From free museums to natural playgrounds, hikes to streetcar rides, there are plenty of budget-friendly options for families with young kids to explore. W

e hope this list of 25 free things to do in spring around Milwaukee will inspire you to get out and enjoy the season with your family.

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