7 Fun Ways to Enjoy the Sunshine With Kids

After a long, wintry Spring, we’ve all been extra grateful for the warm sunshine.

Here are seven fun ways to enjoy the good weather with your kids:

1. Climb the North Point Lighthouse.

North Point Lighthouse Milwaukee Wisconsin
Kids over five can climb the tower at the the North Point Lighthouse in Lake Park.

Milwaukee’s history is deeply rooted in commercial traffic on the Great Lakes. Back in their heyday, Wisconsin lighthouses served a vital purpose, their beacons protecting and guiding ships along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Today, most of these lighthouse structures are historic places of interest in the badger state. You only need to stand in their shadows to feel like you’ve been instantly transported back to another time.

Built in 1855, the North Point light station can be found in Lake Park and is one of the oldest standing structures in Milwaukee. This historic site has been open for public tours and visits since being restored in 2007.

Climb the 74-foot lighthouse tower for 360-degreTe views of Lake Park, Lake Michigan and downtown Milwaukee, or tour the Queen Anne-style, wheelchair-accessible museum to view maritime industry artifacts and exhibits.

Children must be at least 5 years old and at least 38 inches tall to climb the tower. There are 84 steps and a ladder to reach the lantern room at the top.

There are guided and self-guided tours, plus a Lunch & Tour option available for larger groups Monday-Thursday.

2. Cheers the Sunshine at a Family-Friendly Beer Garden

The Landing beer garden at Hoyt Park Wauwatosa Wisconsin
The Landing in Hoyt Park is located near a public swimming pool.

By definition, a biergarten is simply an open-air space where beer and food are served. But in reality, beer gardens are so much more than that. They’re a good time for the whole family!

Popular in Bavaria and Germany, beer gardens are a festive place for people to get together and delight in good food, drink beer responsibly, and enjoy the outdoors.

Many have popped up over the years around Milwaukee, and they are definitely family-friendly. Most feature concessions, often in the form of a food truck or two. They also offer soft drinks for younger, non-beer-drinking patrons.

Here are our 9 favorite beer gardens for families to visit.

3. Pet the Animals at a Petting Zoo

girl holding lemur at Bear Den Zoo & Petting Farm Waterford Wisconsin

Are there any animal lovers in your family? There are several zoos and petting farms around Southeastern Wisconsin that the whole family will love.

Green Meadows is a reader favorite, and it offers a hands-on, interactive learning experience that can last the whole day.

Kids can pet, feed, and in some cases even hold the farm animals, including baby chicks, bunnies, and goats. They can also milk a cow if they’re up for it! Don’t miss the kitten barn, filled with sweet, soft kittens for petting and cuddling. There are also pony, wagon, and hay rides.

4. Visit Port Washington, WI

Possibility Playground in Port Washington overlooks Lake Michigan.

Just a 30 minute drive from downtown Milwaukee and perched on the shores of Lake Michigan, Port Washington is the ultimate day trip destination for families.

You can visit the massive Possibility Playground in Upper Lake Park, hit up the Farmer’s Market overlooking the lake, get ice cream and mini-donuts out of a 1969 Airstream Safari, visit the lighthouse, learn about maritime history at the Port Exploreum, and more!

Here are the 10 Best Things to do With Kids in Port Washington.

And here are the 101 Best Day Trips From Milwaukee.

5. Ride the East Troy Electric Railroad

Riding the old-fashioned electric rail cars on the East Troy Railroad is like taking a giant step back in time with your kids. It’s charming and warm, and it’s fun to imagine what life would have been like as a family in the 1920’s. The trains currently operate Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. (See schedule.) 

Read about our Editor’s experience riding the train here.

6. Visit a Nearby State Park

butterfly on coneflower in Lapham Peak Unit garden in Kettle Moraine State Park Wisconsin
There’s a butterfly garden at Lapham Peak State Park in Delafield.

Ready for a break from city (or suburban) life? Wisconsin’s state parks are the perfect places to disconnect from the daily hustle and reconnect with nature! Whether you and the kiddos are looking to hike, swim, canoe, have a picnic or just take in some fresh air, state parks offer all that and more in a no-frills format. Here are 14 that are within an hour’s drive of Milwaukee.

A reader favorite is Lapham Peak State Park. You’ll find kid-friendly trails all over, and you’re sure to stumble upon a lovely surprise such as a prairie restoration or a butterfly garden.

Start your trip at the Hausmann Nature Center, where you’ll find a children’s interactive area, great views of the forest, and nature exhibits. From there, it’s a relatively easy hike to the 45-foot observation tower that sits atop the highest point in Waukesha County (1,233 feet above sea level). You’ll see lake country for miles.

Another stroller- (and wheelchair-) friendly area is the Plantation Path trail. It offers almost 2 miles of paved trail through a prairie and wooded area.

7. Find a New Playground

The Northwestern Mutual Community Park is one of the best playgrounds in the city.

We rounded up a list of the best playgrounds in Metro Milwaukee. If you’re looking for play structures that everyone will love (and plentiful green spaces for the kiddos to explore), then head to one of these great spots.

Families love Community Park at Summerfest. You’ll find all new enhanced age-appropriate playground equipment on a soft surface, interactive musical play pieces, and ramps allowing for wheelchair access. Parents will love the shaded seating within the playground area, perfect for supervising from afar and snack breaks.

The indoor structure adjacent to the playground offers permanent family restrooms equipped with changing tables for babies, children, and adults requiring an assistant. There are also Nursing Mothers Stations in this facility for mothers seeking a quiet space to nurse, and sensory rooms that are air-conditioned and meant to create a calm environment for kids that may be overstimulated by the noise, environment, or experience.

Near the large playground, there is shaded toddler play area called “Giggle Grounds” for ages 6 months to 2 years, with age-appropriate activities and play equipment.

The new, permanent stage structure offers accessible seating and a viewing area for more than 500 people. This space will be utilized during summer festivals and more.

From the Henry W. Maier Festival grounds, visitors can access Lakeshore State Park trails along Lake Michigan, a small beach and accessible paved trails that link to Milwaukee’s other lakefront parks and the Hank Aaron State Trail.

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