We rounded up a list of the BEST playgrounds in Metro Milwaukee. Let us know what you think!
1. A Playground at Malone
Malone Park, 16400 W. Stigler Parkway, New Berlin, WI
This playground is located in Malone Park, an 85-acre park with tons of amenities.
The 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, with plenty of room for kids of all ages to run around and explore to their heart’s content.
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 discover.
The park is also home to New Berlin’s bicentennial gazebo, which hosts summer concerts, movies in the park, and festivals. There’s a baseball diamond, soccer field, basketball court, hiking trails, volleyball courts, lighted tennis courts, picnic shelters, restrooms, and an ice skating rink in the winter!
2. Cathedral Square Park
20 E Wells St, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Playgrounds are few and far between in downtown Milwaukee. But one of its only playgrounds, located in Cathedral Square Park in the heart of downtown, recently received a renovation.
Now, families will find a relatively new play structure for kids ages 2-5 with climbing opportunities, stepping stones, a slide, a tunnel, and a bridge. There are two climbing structure for older kids, ages 5-12.
There is also a musical component to the playground, with a xylophone and drums that kids will love to explore.
The swing set has two toddler swings and two swings for older kids, and there are four new benches for parents and guardians to rest on or for snack breaks.
Parents (and kids who fall off the monkey bars) will appreciate the cushy rubber safety surfacing.
Surrounded by the sights and sounds of downtown, this playground in Cathedral Square Park is a lovely destination for a play date or morning outing.
Plus, it’s one of the stops on The Hop, Milwaukee’s streetcar. You can spend the morning hopping on and off the stops along the way, including the Milwaukee Public Market and Burns Commons.
3. Community Park
This entirely redeveloped entertainment space for families is located in Henry Maier Festival Park, and offers inclusive and accessible play for children ages 2 – 12 years of age.
4. Dream Park
2820 14th Ave, Kenosha, WI 53140
Dream Playground, located in Petzke Park at 31st Street & 14th Avenue, is Kenosha’s first fully accessible playground. It’s a one-of-a-kind 15,000 square foot space for children of all abilities to play side-by-side. It was built by a crew of more than 3,000 volunteers in 2015, and today it welcomes visitors of all ages to play, dream, and be inspired.
The playground has two distinct play areas. The Tot Lot is designed for children under the age of 5 and the other side is designed for older children.
Parents will appreciate that the playground has just one entrance and is surrounded by engraved pickets, making it easier to keep track of your kids.
Plus, it is surrounded by a smooth, rubber surface for safe and easy navigation. The ramping system throughout the playground guides kids through all of the fun.
One of the highlights is the Liberty Swing, a therapeutic, key-activated wheelchair swing. There are also high-back swings and a unique round swing.
You’ll also find a wheelchair accessible merry-go-round, monkey bars, climbing walls, non-electrostatic slides in varying heights and configurations, whimsical musical instruments, mosaic artwork, braille and sign language displays, and fun replicas of Kenosha icons including two lighthouses, a ship, streetcar and an AMC Rambler car.
The Kenosha Dream Playground Project kicked off in 2012, led by the efforts of Kenosha resident Tammy J. Conforti. Conforti and a team of volunteers partnered with the Kenosha Achievement Center to raise the necessary funds. Project organizers worked with the City of Kenosha to develop the playground at Petzke Park as part of the city’s master plan for that park.
Individuals and corporate sponsors raised more than $650,000, with the City providing an additional $350,000 for the playground alone. The City’s funds were received through an estate donation from Mr. Franklin Tess. Mr. Tess was a lifelong Kenoshan, who upon his death gifted the City of Kenosha funds for a children’s playground. The playground opened October 10, 2015.
Find out more about the park on the City of Kenosha Website.
5. Fort Cushing Play Structure
600 N Cushing Park Rd, Delafield, WI 53018
Fort Cushing Playground is located in an 8.8 acre park in Delafield called Cushing Memorial Park.
The play structure is a completely enclosed fort are with sandboxes, swings, slides, towers, ramps, and plenty of secret spaces to explore.
It’s set amid the natural beauty of the Bark River, adjacent wetlands, and mature trees for a picturesque backdrop to your play time. There are picnic areas and fishing areas nearby. There are also public restrooms, making it easier to extend your stay at the park.
Cushing Memorial Park is also one of the last stops of the Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Riverwalk, which winds along the Bark River for 3/4 mile between St. John’s Pond and Cushing Memorial Park. Along the way are nine separate war memorial sites, a bridge, the entry plaza, two ecological information areas, and a Peace Garden.
The park also connects to the Lake Country Recreational Trail and the new Cushing road bike path leading to Lapham Park.
6. Fox River Park
W264 S4500 River Rd., Waukesha, WI 53189
This award-winning natural playground is located in Waukesha’s Fox River Park between picnic areas 1 and 2. The standout feature is the 33-foot side-by-side slides build in the side of a hill.
The play area was designed and built 10 years ago by landscape architects at the Waukesha Parks and Recreation Department, who were inspired by Richard Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods”, a reflection on children’s weakening connection to nature in a modern world and the need for playgrounds that incorporate natural elements.
Kids will love the giant boulder to climb on and the spiral-designed sandbox. There’s also a play area for smaller kids (with a smaller slide, build into a smaller hill!).
Animal discovery is emphasized at the park with a natural rain garden and butterfly garden. Kids will find butterflies, insects, frogs, and more.
The play area is near picnic areas and bathrooms, as well as walking trails and open fields, so it’s a good location to spend an entire morning or afternoon.
It recently won the 2019 Excellence Award from the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Fox River Park is a 257-acre park located on the Fox River and is full of mature woodlands, wetlands, marsh, and many species of wild flowers, birds, and wildlife. There are 2.25 miles of paved trails and 4.3 miles of wooded trails for hiking, biking, and rollerblading.
Admission is $4.00 per car or you can use your Waukesha County Parks pass.
7. Harbor View Plaza
Great Lakes Research Facility, 600 E Greenfield Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53204
Harbor View Plaza is the first waterfront public park in the Harbor District, located at the east end of Greenfield Avenue along the waterfront of the inner harbor, in front of the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences. The Plaza opened in July 2019.
The plaza includes a play structure for children, a water play area and water feature, and a canoe/kayak launch and dock. The play structure is designed to look like the shipping containers synonymous with ports around the world.
The water play area allows children to explore water flow and cool off on hot days.
The canoe/kayak launch and dock allows visitors to get to the water’s edge and provides the only public canoe/kayak launch and docking south of the Milwaukee River in Milwaukee’s inner harbor.
It is the first major investment in what will eventually be a continuous network of Riverwalk and waterfront parks spanning much of the western shore of the Harbor District.
Harbor District, Inc. constructed the winning design from a public design competition. The concept was created by Ayres Associates and Quorum Architects.
Early in the Harbor District Water and Land Use Plan process, it was clear that new public space and access to the water were major points of interest and need for the residents that live in the area.
Today, Harbor View Plaza provides a space for families and children to recreate outdoors and experience the waterfront, a place for neighborhood workers to relax at lunch, and a destination for canoers and kayakers.
Harbor View Plaza was made possible thanks to the generous donations of Rockwell Automation, Inc., the City of Milwaukee, Brico Fund, and many other donors. The most significant contributions included a $600,000 donation from Rockwell Automation, Inc., $300,000 from the City of Milwaukee, and $260,000 from Brico Fund.
8. Hart Park
7300 W Chestnut St, Wauwatosa, WI 53213
This nature-themed playgrounds is located at 7300 Chestnut Street in Wauwatosa’s Hart Park, just a 15 minute drive from the city of Milwaukee.
It’s a beautiful 52-acre park set along the Menomonee River. In addition to the playground, there’s a splash pad, skate park, public track, soccer field, curling, a nature area with plenty of walking paths and open space, picnic areas, colorful public art, a concert stage, a Senior Center
It’s the host of many local events throughout the year.
Public restrooms and public parking are available. It’s open seven day a week from 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
9. Kayla’s Playground at Franklin Woods
Franklin Woods Nature Park, 3723 W. Puetz Rd., Franklin, WI
I had been hearing people sing the praises of the all-accessible Kayla’s Playground for many years, and had been wanting to see what all the excitement is about.
I finally set out with my three-year-old and one-year-old on a mini road trip to Franklin. We left our home in Glendale around 8:35, caught a little bit of traffic, and arrived by 9:05 or 9:10. The girls were starting to get crabby and whiny, and I thought I may have made a mistake.
That is, until we pulled up to our destination.
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 playground. And, by the way, this is the only entrance / exit. NICE.
From the central path, you can turn right for a playground designed for ages 5-12, or left for a playground meant for younger children.
In the older children’s playground, you’ll find wide, fully-accessible ramps, a ground-level merry-go-round that wheelchairs can fit on, a special needs swings, two huge stainless steels slides (facing north to keep them cool), a rope climb, a wiggly balance beam, two-height monkey bars, a climbing wall and much more.
In the younger children’s area, you’ll find double swings (perfect for my two daughters!), fiber glass mini-slides, a kid’s city hall, police station, and firehouse, a caterpillar tunnel, a registered Little Free Library and more.
Everywhere you turn there is something interesting and colorful to look at, like locally made tile mosaics.
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.
I would like to emphatically praise the designers and supporters of this playground. What an amazing place for children of all abilities. (I’m honestly tearing up!)
For the full list of features, click here.
10. Imagination Station
700 S. Main St, Oconomowoc, WI 53066
Imagination Station is located in Roosevelt Park in Oconomowoc, and is designed to be 100% accessible and safe for kids of nearly all ability levels. It is Waukesha County’s first fully inclusive playground.
Some of the features of the 13,000 square foot park include rubberized surfacing, recycled plastic composite ramping, therapeutic swings and swinging deck, slides, a climbing net, a sandbox, bridges, play rings, multi-sensory activity structures, climbing ladders, musical and educational components, all presented in a way that is accessible to wheelchairs.
The playground includes train, boat and castle structures, along with local landmark replicas.
Parents will appreciate that there is just one entrance and exit, and that the entire playground is fenced in, for added safety and ease of supervision.
The surrounding park is adjacent to the Lake Country Trail and offers plenty of bike trails and racks, picnic tables, restrooms, decorated benches, and plenty of parking.
The facility has served thousands of children, with and without disabilities throughout Waukesha County and beyond, and has become a regional attraction.
The efforts behind the creation of Imagination Station were led by the Oconomowoc Junior Woman’s Club. In early 2008, the social service club agreed to get behind the playground effort, donating $2,000 for initial design work.
The group hired Leathers and Associates, who specialize in planning building efforts that mobilize community volunteers en masse to assemble an entire playground in less than a week. They’ve helped plan more than 2,000 such playgrounds throughout the country in the past 30 years, including one in Manitowoc and Port Washington.
11. Lake Vista Park
4001 E Lakeside Ave., Oak Creek, WI 53154
This playground is located Lake Vista Park, right long the shores of Lake Michigan, and it offers new playground equipment for all ages – including a zipline! – plus a new picnic pavilion with restrooms, plenty of walking paths, and a peaceful setting on an open-air bluff.
There are swings, a small rock climbing area, slides, and more.
The land of this park has a long history of industrial activity, and it had to undergo extensive environmental remediation efforts in order to be developed as a community park.
Now it’s a place for the community to come together and connect.
12. Marty’s Playspace at Mequon Nature Preserve
8200 W County Line Rd, Mequon, WI 53097
There’s a brand new Natural Playspace at Mequon Nature Preserve! The play area is located behind the PieperPower Education Center, and all are welcome to play.
You can enter the play space through the custom wooden door structure, and your kids will find log balance beams, a 16 foot dragon toy, a turtle made from stones, log steps, a hammock station (you’ll need to bring your own), two small hurt, human-sized birds nests, a lost climbing beam, plenty of shaded areas, and rocks to climb and sit on.
Plus, a local Eagle Scout made two sensory boards to demonstrate the different textures that can be found in nature.
All of the materials in the play area are natural and locally sourced, including pressure treated lumber, green and white ash logs and European Alder harvested from MNP land restoration projects, ironwood logs from MNP wood lots, Lannon Stone from Halquist Stone in Sussex, and granite boulders from northern Wisconsin.
The playground was made possible by the generosity of one family who cares deeply for the natural world.
Mequon Nature Preserve is also home to a square mile of natural wetlands, prairie, and emerging forest.
To climb the observation tower, park in the parking lot on Swan Rd. and follow the trail around Pat’s Pond.
For good wildlife watching, park near the Pieper Power Education Center, and find the Observation Platform along the Streich Family Wetlands.
13. Possibility Playground
Upper Lake Park (Port Washington)
Possibility Playground is located in Upper Lake Park in Port Washington with a beautiful view of Lake Michigan and plenty of picnic space, about a 40 minute drive from the city of Milwaukee.
It’s a whimsical, universally-accessible, enclosed play area that was the first of its kind in metro Milwaukee when it was built in 2008. It was build entirely with donated funds, materials and labor. Since then, it was named on of the 10 best playgrounds in the country by USA Today, and has been used by thousands of children and parents.
The playground is about the size of a football field, and its thoughtful design integrates play experiences for children with and without disabilities.
Children with and without disabilities can play side by side on the castle themed play structure, a climbable pirate ship, a tot area especially for ages 5 and under, a moving walking bridge, a musical area with an alligator shaped drum, specially built monkey bars, colorful art, a choo choo train structure, multiple slides and swings, and a Pirate Ship complete with waves, a rain wheel and a motion platform.
The recycled tire ground cover softens any falls, and the spacious ramps are wide enough for wheelchairs.
The playground is fenced-in with only one entrance/exit, making it easier for parents to keep track of their children.
The poured in place soft and latex free surface allows children and their caregivers with mobility challenges to move around the playground easily. The double-wide ramping allows all children to get to all areas of the playground.
Make a day of it by exploring more of what charming downtown Port Washington has to offer. The marina is just a half mile away, packed with beautiful boats and a lighthouse. The main street located next to the marina offers boutique shops and restaurants to explore. There is another park and playground in Veterans Park nearby.
14. Richard E. Maslowski Community Park
2200 W. Bender Rd., Glendale, WI 53209
Glendale’s newest family park features a playground, community room, family restrooms, snack bar, amphitheater, War Memorial, and baseball fields.
The accessible playground is the largest in the North Shore area and accommodates children of all abilities.
You can purchase ice cream treats, hot dogs, and snacks, or enjoy an award-winning Sprecher Rootbeer or Craft Beer at the Sprecher Brewing Outdoor Oasis open throughout the summer, adjacent to the David Hobbs Honda for the People Community Room.
See the Orthopedic Hospital of Wisconsin War Memorial illuminate at night showcasing heroes from all branches.
Music concerts bring generations together at the Johnson Controls Community Amphitheatre.
Visitors can now take the Oak Leaf Trail to the park via the new Boardwalk Trailhead, located at the west-end of Bender Road.
15. The Grove at Village Park
W244 N6260 Weaver Drive, Susssex, WI 53089
Readers are raving about The Grove at Village Park in Sussex, about a 30 minute drive from the city of Milwaukee.
The 5,200-square-foot inclusive splash pad features three different areas of play: active, family and toddler. The family area contains a 20-foot-tall dumping feature, water arches, team sprays, and spiraling water feature. The active area has water cannons, fountains, additional water arches and team sprays. The toddler area has water jellies, water journey play, and a rotating spray feature.
The Splash pad is open the Friday before Memorial Day – Labor Day (weather permitting) from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. or dusk, whichever is earlier. Check the website before visiting for the most up-to-date information.
The 14,000-square-foot inclusive playground includes tall towers, climbing structures, slides, and opportunities for communal play. There is also a built-in four-foot hill that lends itself to sliding and hill play.
Other features include two 12-foot towers with climbing features and twisting, tunnel slides, a spinner, an accessible teeter-totter, accessible zip line, swing set, and a playhouse intended for 2–5 year olds.
There are also four pickleball courts, four half-court basketball courts, and a 5,000 square foot pavilion with shaded seating.
You should also check out…
Wind Leaves at Discovery World
500 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Created in 2006 by nature artist, Ned Kahn, Wind Leaves is a series of soaring aluminum columns that rotate with the wind.
Located right outside Discovery World, the Leaves are covered with thousands of stainless steel disks that swirl and ripple with the wind, creating a kaleidoscope of reflections from the lake, the sky, and the city.
The Wind Leaves are surrounded by musical benches that can be played like xylophones and a musical sculpture that you can play by dropping pebbles into it.
After you’re done exploring there, you can check out the nearby fountains and take a stroll through Lake Shore State Park.