Sometimes you just have to get out of town, if only for a day. These winter day trips are fully outdoors, and within a 90-minute drive of Milwaukee.
1. Lake Geneva Ice Castles
Opening in mid-January, the popular ice castles are back in Wisconsin! Ice Castles is an award-winning frozen attraction located in four cities across North America. The experience is built using hundreds of thousands of icicles hand-placed by professional ice artists. The castles include breathtaking LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, fountains and more.
2. Imagination Station (Free!)
100 E Forest St, Oconomowoc, WI 53066
Imagination Station is huge, universally accessible playground in Oconomowoc. It is located in Roosevelt Park and features rubberized surfacing, therapeutic swings, multi-sensory activity structures, musical components, one entrance and exit for added safety, and more!
3. Shalom Wildlife Zoo
1901 Shalom Drive in West Bend, WI 53090
Shalom Wildlife Zoo is a working farm that is also a licensed zoo. You can walk or drive or ride a through a three-mile loop of wooded land. You'll see elk, sheep, camels, ostriches, bears (yes, bears), zebra, and dozens of other types of animals. Plan for a 40 minute drive from Milwaukee. Screenshot the directions in case your signal goes out!
4. Tubing at Sunburst
8355 Prospect Dr., Kewaskum, WI 53040
Just 30 minutes northwest of Milwaukee, Sunburst offers skiing, snowboarding, and tubing in three terrain parks. Their claim to fame is that it is the world’s largest tubing park with over 45 lanes. It was even recognized by USA Today as one of the top ten tubing parks in the entire country.
After a long day on the slopes, you’ll appreciate their fresh food cafe serving up artisan sandwiches and salads, plus Starbuck’s coffee and espresso drinks to help you warm up.
5. Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary (Free!)
The Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in Green Bay is open every day for hiking and wildlife viewing - and it's free! If you're in the Green Bay area, you can also check out Wequiock Falls, a waterfall that actually freezes in the winter!
6. Possibility Playground (Free!)
554 N Lake St Port, Port Washington, WI 53074
Possibility Playground is a huge playground that blends the line between learning, therapy and playtime. It sits in Upper Lake Park in Port Washington with a beautiful view of Lake Michigan. You can enjoy the charming downtown of Port Washington and visit the marina or lighthouse while you're there.
7. Henry Vilas Zoo (Free!)
702 S. Randall Ave., Madison, WI 53715
This is a 28-acre free public zoo in Madison, Wisconsin. Owned by the city of Madison, the zoo charges no admission or parking fees. It receives over 750,000 visitors annually. The zoo houses an African lion, chimpanzees, a red panda and more!
8. Dream Park in Kenosha (Free!)
3100 14th Ave. - Kenosha, WI 53140
Bundle up and head to the 15,000- square-foot Dream Playground, Kenosha's first fully accessible playground. More than 3,000 volunteers worked to raise support and construct this amazing playground. It's fun in all seasons!
9. Tubing at Wilmot Mountain
11931 Fox River Rd, Wilmot, WI 53192
No need for lessons. Just grab a tube, sit on it, and head down the hill! Wilmot Mountain has 22 lanes covering 1,000 feet and two conveyor lifts. Hats and goggles/sunglasses are recommended. The Snow Tubing Area is located half a mile south of the main ski and snowboard entrance,at the intersection of County Hwy CK and Hwy W.
10. Paradise Springs
W374 S8640, County Rd N, Eagle, WI 53119
Paradise Springs is a magical place, and you've never seen a more stunning freshwater spring in Wisconsin. The paths are paved, and the hike is less than a mile. There's also an observation deck and waterfall!
It used to be a resort for Milwaukee's wealthiest folks. There was a horse track and shuffleboard court, and a spring water bottling plant (sold under the name "Lullaby Baby Drinking Water").
The Springhouse was built by Louis Petit, who was dubbed the "Salt King" because he became wealthy in the salt mining business. (His grandson is August Pabst, who became a beer executive and inherited this property.)
Caution! Paradise Springs is about a 50 minute drive away from Milwaukee, and you'll probably only spend about 30 minutes there. It's a short but beautiful hike. You can pair up your visit with a trip to Fox River Park in Waukesha, just 20 minutes away from Paradise Springs. Fox River Park has a nature playground with a 30 foot slide built into the side of a hill!
Pro-Tip: The Culver's on Rochester St. in Mukwonago is between the two destinations, if you need a sweet treat.