Are you a Milwaukee parent in search of a solution to the never-ending quest to keep your kids entertained?
Look no further than the playgrounds around the city!
We know the struggle of finding a fun and safe place for your kids to play, so we’ve compiled a list of the best playgrounds in the greater Milwaukee area.
From massive play structures to slides built into the side of a hill, these playgrounds are sure to cure your boredom blues and give your little ones the playtime they deserve.
So, grab some snacks and get ready to explore the playgrounds of Milwaukee!
Henry Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Dr., Milwaukee, WI 53202
This entirely redeveloped entertainment space for families is located in the middle of the Summerfest grounds at Henry Maier Festival Park, and it offers inclusive and accessible play for children ages 2-12 years of age.
For open hours, check their website.
Families will 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.
Franklin Woods Nature Park, 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 playground. The one entrance and exit makes it easier to keep track of your kids.
From wide, fully-accessible ramps, two huge stainless steel slides, a rope climb, a robust area for young children, a wheelchair accessible merry-go-round, and a wheelchair swing, this playground has something for everyone.
The slides are stainless steels so that people with cochlear implants can use them without the risk of damaging their transmitters.
Upper Lake Park, 554 N. Lake St., Port Washington, WI 53074
Possibility Playground is located in Upper Lake Park in Port Washington, about a 40-minute drive from the city of Milwaukee. It offers a beautiful view of Lake Michigan and plenty of picnic space.
This whimsical, universally-accessible, enclosed play area was the first of its kind in metro Milwaukee when it was built in 2008. It was built entirely with donated funds, materials and labor.
Since then, it was named one of the 10 best playgrounds in the country by USA Today, and has been used by thousands of children and parents.
W244 N6260 Weaver Dr., 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 14,000-square-foot inclusive playground includes a zip line, tall towers, climbing structures, slides, and more.
There’s also a 5,200-square-foot inclusive splash pad that features three different areas of play: active, family and toddler.
S14 W28167 Madison St, Waukesha, WI 53188
Just a short 30-minute drive from Milwaukee is a beautiful nature center with a renovated nature play space just for kids.
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.
N87W16749 Garfield Dr, Menomonee Falls, WI 53051
Village Park in Menomonee Falls is an inclusive destination play area built in 2022 for kids of all ages and abilities.
There’s also a splash pad designed with festive LED lighting, and new pickleball and tennis courts!
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 built into the side of a hill.
The play area was designed and built in 2008 by landscape architects at the Waukesha Parks and Recreation Department. They 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.
The playground 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. Smaland at IKEA
7500 S Ikea Way, Oak Creek, WI 53154
Smaland is back open at IKEA as of April of 2023. Customers are welcome to swing by to simply check out the Småland facility or they may sign up their child(ren) for a one-hour maximum play time
session while they shop. IKEA Family members receive an additional thirty minutes of play time.
Plus, there’s a brand new play area as of 2023. Here’s a photo from one of our Instagram followers:
Plus, here’s a reader review from 2023:
7. Newly Renovated Playfields in Milwaukee
Milwaukee Recreation is on a mission to revitalize 52 Milwaukee play spaces in its “Dream, Build, Play” playfield renovation project. Based on the work completed via the Equity Prioritization Model, a series of projects are already complete. Here are the department’s completed projects thus far:
Franklin Square Playfield (2021) – 2643 N. 13th St.
Clovernook Playfield (2020) – 6594 N. Landers St.
Southgate Playfield (2020) – 3350 S. 25th St.
Ohio Playfield (2020) – 974 W. Holt Ave.
Custer Playfield (2019) – 4001 W. Custer Ave.
Columbia Playfield (2019) – 1345 W. Columbia St.
8. Dream Playground
2820 14th Ave., Kenosha, WI 53140
Dream Playground, located in Petzke Park at 31st Street and 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 ramp 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, a streetcar and an AMC Rambler car.
Find out more about the park on the City of Kenosha website.
9. 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 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.
10. Harbor View Plaza
Great Lakes Research Facility, 600 E. Greenfield Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53204
When Harbor View Plaza opened in July 2019, it was the first waterfront public park in the Harbor District. It’s 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 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.
11. Hart Park
7300 W. Chestnut St., Wauwatosa, WI 53213
This nature-themed playground is located in Wauwatosa’s Hart Park, just a 15-minute drive from the city of Milwaukee. This beautiful, 52-acre park is set along the Menomonee River and hosts many local events throughout the year.
Parts of the play structure look like they are carved from real trees that kids can climb on. There are also ramps to allow for accessibility.
A splash pad right next to the playground gives kids a great way to cool off on a hot summer day, so don’t forget to bring water shoes and towels.
A small picnic shelter provides shade, restrooms and a place to enjoy a snack or picnic lunch.
For train lovers, a favorite feature of the park is a train track that runs right alongside it, safely separated from the playground by a fence. There’s a good chance you’ll see a train pass by while you’re there!
In addition to the playground, there’s a 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, and a Senior Center.
Public restrooms and public parking are available. It’s open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
12. Imagination Station
700 S. Main St., Oconomowoc, WI 53066
Imagination Station is located in Roosevelt Park in Oconomowoc, and it’s 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.
13. Lake Vista Park
4001 E. Lakeside Ave., Oak Creek, WI 53154
This playground is located in Lake Vista Park, right long the shores of Lake Michigan. 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.
14. Marty’s Playspace at Mequon Nature Preserve
8200 W. County Line Rd., Mequon, WI 53097
This natural playspace at Mequon Nature Preserve 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), 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.
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.
15. Malone Park
16400 W. Stigler Parkway, New Berlin, WI 53151
An 85-acre park with tons of amenities, Malone Park is home to an all-inclusive playground that’s accessible to children of all abilities. Its whimsical and colorful design was a truly collaborative effort; even the students at New Berlin schools got to submit their ideas for consideration. It was built during a Community Build Day by hundreds of volunteers.
The playground has 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 learning stations (even a Braille alphabet board!), 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 hiking trails, baseball diamonds, a soccer field, basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, lighted tennis courts, and a large picnic shelter with restrooms.
16. 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 root beer or craft beer at the Sprecher Brewing Outdoor Oasis, open throughout the summer. It’s adjacent to the David Hobbs Honda for the People Community Room.
See the Orthopedic Hospital of Wisconsin War Memorial illuminated 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.
17. Frame Park
Revamped in 2019, the playground at Frame Park offers an inclusive and accessible play place in a serene nature setting.
There is an abundance of slides, climbing apparatuses (including fake tall trees to scale) and interactive elements that encourage imaginative play, like a large boat that seats six and rocks back and forth to simulate waves. There’s also adult fitness equipment on site.
Those with curious toddlers will appreciate the fence around the Fox River side of the playground.
When you and the kiddos are up for exploring, try a bike ride or a hike along river, or visit the formal garden nearby.
From Memorial Day Weekend through mid-October, you can rent a variety of specialty bikes, paddle boats, character floats, canoes and kayaks from High Roller Fun Rentals (children under 5 ride free with a paid adult).
Don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch; it’s easy to spend most of the day here!
18. Willowbrooke Community Playground
N97W6375 Lexington St., Cedarburg, WI 53012
This all-inclusive, accessible playground was built in 2019, replacing old play equipment that was deemed to be unsafe the year before. Led by a group of local moms, the community came together to raise funds and build a unique, safe and welcoming playground.
There are play areas for all ages, a wheelchair-accessible merry-go-round, an orbit swing, sensory touchpoints, and plenty of slides, all surrounded by a pour-in-place rubber surface.
19. All My Friends Playground
Centennial Park, 1370 17th Ave., Grafton, WI 53024
Slides, swings, accessibility and a huge, rainbow butterfly shade structure are just a few of the things you’ll find at this colorful all-inclusive playground.
The construction of All My Friends Playground was spearheaded by the founder of the non-profit organization Living Life With Autism (now All My Friends, Inc.).
The mother of a girl who had been diagnosed with autism as a 4-year-old sought to create a place where her daughter could socialize and recreate with kids of all abilities.
20. Kids Connection
9700 Northwestern Ave, Franksville, WI 53126
Designed by kids and built by the community, this 20,000-square-foot fenced-in playground is located in the Caledonia – Mount Pleasant Memorial Park in Franksville.
It features multi-level wood construction, slides, swings, and built-in benches. Imagination reigns supreme in fort-like towers connected by bridges and tunnels. There’s also a separate play area for tots.
4930 W. Loomis Rd., Greenfield, WI 53220
Our readers highly recommend the 2,000-square-foot playground on the grounds of Blum Coffee Garden in Greenfield.
It’s entirely fenced in, so you can recharge with a great cup of coffee and browse plants while your kids get their wiggles out!
22. Cathedral Square Park
520 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 structures for older kids (ages 5-12).
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. There is also a musical component to the playground, with a xylophone and drums that kids will love to explore.
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.
23. Gas Light Park
111 N. Jefferson St., Milwaukee, WI 53202
Recognizing a growing need for a play space for young children, the Historic Third Ward Association developed Gas Light Park at the corner of Jefferson and Erie Streets in 2021. The multi-activity playground is located in the center of a grass-covered 9,466-square-foot lot owned by We Energies‘ Wisconsin Gas LLC affiliate. There are mature trees around the park’s perimeter.
The park also includes a United Way Born Learning Trail, which provides fun and educational interactive activities for young children and their caregivers. The trail is part of a United Way nationwide effort.
The name of the park is a nod to Milwaukee Gas Light Co., a We Energies predecessor which once had a large gas plant at the south end of the neighborhood.
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.
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In 2013, Calie Herbst, a former teacher with three little ones, saw a need for a “One Stop Shop” for family fun in Milwaukee. So she founded Milwaukee With Kids. Her goal was to find the best this city has to offer families and share it with other parents. In one place.
In 2019, she published “Exploring Milwaukee WIth Kids”, a comprehensive Milwaukee travel guide for families and kids.
She appears regularly on WISN News, Fox 6’s ‘Real Milwaukee’, B93.3, and Wisconsin Morning News. She has been featured in Medium, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NPR, the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, and on CBS 58 News.
Calie is available for hosting, moderating and media appearances.