From local favorites like Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and the Milwaukee Public Museum, to lesser-known gems like the National Bobblehead Museum and the Spinning Top and Yo-Yo Museum in Burlington, southeastern Wisconsin is home to more than a dozen kid-friendly museums.
Read on to find your next adventure!
1. Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
929 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202
The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum inspires children to wonder and explore their world through play and innovative, hands-on learning experiences. Families can have fun learning together in the museum’s interactive exhibits, including Home Sweet Home, Let’s Play Railway, Science CITY and Pocket Park (for children age 4 and younger). Stop by the Be A Maker space for hands-on creative activities and collaborative projects. Special programs, sensory friendly sessions, workshops and events are offered throughout the year to spark exploration among children.
Pro Tip: The museum offers free admission for all on Community Access Days, which take place on the third Thursday of every month. (Advanced registration required; some restrictions apply.)
2. Milwaukee Public Museum
800 W. Wells St., Milwaukee, WI 53233
The Milwaukee Public Museum welcomes more than half a million visitors annually. Located in downtown Milwaukee, the Museum currently houses more than 4 million objects in its collections. MPM has three floors of exhibits that encompass life-size dioramas, walk-through villages, world cultures, dinosaurs, a rainforest, and a live butterfly garden, as well as the Daniel M. Soref Dome Theater and Planetarium. This spring, dinosaur lovers will be thrilled by a limited engagement exhibit entitled Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family (opens Feb. 18, 2022).
Pro Tip: To get the butterflies to land on you in the Butterfly Wing, wear red or orange!
Fun Fact: There are three hidden buttons in the museum. Can you find them all?
3. Cedarburg History Museum (FREE)
N58W6194 Columbia Rd, Cedarburg, WI 53012
Located in the historic Hilgen & Schroeder Mill Store, the Cedarburg History Museum features permanent installments like the General Store Museum, rotating exhibits, and interactive technology. Current exhibits include the General Store Museum and Cedarburg’s Train Station (through March 31). Admission is FREE (donations are appreciated).
4. Dinosaur Discovery Museum (FREE)
5608 Tenth Ave., Kenosha, WI 53140
The Dinosaur Discovery Museum in Kenosha is the only museum to focus on the link between meat-eating dinosaurs and birds. Tour the main gallery filled with impressive dinosaur skeletons that are casts of actual fossil bones. Head downstairs to dig for fossils, do dinosaur crafts, and peek into the on-site laboratory. Admission is free (suggested donation of $3 per person. Check out our full review here.
5. Discovery World
500 N. Harbor Dr., Milwaukee, WI 53202
Discovery World offers 120,000 square feet of science and technology fun for the whole family, with interactive exhibits, the Reiman Aquarium, educational labs and programs, and learning experiences aboard Discovery World’s tall ship (and Wisconsin’s Flagship) the Sailing Vessel (S/V) Denis Sullivan. The newest attraction is All Aboard!, a model railroading exhibit.
6. Harley-Davidson Museum
400 W. Canal St., Milwaukee, WI 53203
Pose for a photo with the company founders, see the oldest known Harley-Davidson motorcycle (also known as “Serial Number One”), rev up your engines in the engine room, rummage through discovery drawers filled with vintage toys and trinkets, make your own custom creation at the build-a-bike station, and much more!
7. Latino Arts, Inc.
1028 S. 9th St., Milwaukee, WI 53204
Latino Arts, Inc., located in the heart of Walker’s Point, is dedicated to bringing cultural awareness, artistic educational experiences, and high quality, family-friendly programming to the Greater Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin community, as well as to a global audience through virtual programming featuring Hispanic artists from throughout the world.
As the only Wisconsin fine arts institution dedicated exclusively to showcasing the works of Hispanic and Latinx artists, Latino Arts, Inc. provides high-quality low-cost arts programming. Latino Arts is committed to reaching beyond its south side Milwaukee neighborhood to share the rich cultural heritage of the Hispanic community with a diverse, global audience.
8. Milwaukee Art Museum
700 N. Art Museum Dr. Milwaukee, WI 53202
Make the most of your next trip to the Art Museum with some tips from our post: “8 Special Things To Do With Kids At The Art Museum“.
Fun Fact: The museum is *always* free for kids 12 and under.
Pro Tip: Don’t miss the Kohl’s Art Studio. Drop-in activities and hands-on art projects are available every day!
9. Milwaukee County Historical Society
910 N. Old World 3rd St., Milwaukee, WI 53203
The Milwaukee County Historical Society was founded in 1935 and has become the place for people to learn about and celebrate Milwaukee. Through education programs, exhibitions, the research library, and special events, MCHS offers Milwaukeeans and visitors to Milwaukee a chance to connect with the heritage of Milwaukee. The MCHS headquarters is located in a historic bank building along the Milwaukee River, right next to Pere Marquette Park.
Fun Fact: More than one million documents and photographs and more than 60,000 artifacts are preserved by MCHS.
10. Milwaukee Fire Museum (FREE)
1615 W. Oklahoma Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53215
Only open on the first Sunday of each month (April – December, excluding holidays) from noon to 4 p.m., the Fire Museum features a dormitory-style bunk room, an alarm area and a fire officer’s office. It is one of five fire stations of this style built in 1927. The museum houses the first department ambulance, a 1947 Cadillac, plus two trucks built in the Milwaukee Fire Department Shop during the 1920’s and 30’s. The building also has a vintage kitchen, locker room, and hose tower.
11. Mitchell Gallery of Flight (FREE)
5300 S. Howell Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53207
If you find yourself at the airport with some time to spend, stop by the Mitchell Gallery of Flight, where you’ll find aviation models and memorabilia, as well as educational information about planes and pilots.
12. Model Railroad Club of Milwaukee Inc.
215 E. National Ave. (built into a Canadian Pacific Railway bridge that spans the street)
Hidden gem alert! Built in 1916 by the Milwaukee Road as a bridge station, the location was abandoned and converted into the club’s venue in 1936. It is the longest running model railroad club in the same location in the US. Many of the original features are still intact, including subway tile, tin ceiling panels, and some steam heat fixtures. The models inside are built to ¼-inch scale, some dating back to pre-WWII.
The club is open to visitors the last Sunday afternoon of each month, between about 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. If that day falls on a holiday, or within a four-day weekend, the club is not open, and it is not open during severe weather events in winter. Call ahead to confirm hours.
13. Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts
N50 W5050 Portland Rd, Cedarburg, WI 53012
The Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts is located just east of historic downtown Cedarburg, and is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of quilts and fiber arts. They offer family fun days throughout the year, as well as summer camp.
14. Museum of Wisconsin Art
205 Veterans Ave., West Bend, WI 53095
The Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA) explores the art and culture of Wisconsin with over 5,000 works of contemporary and historic art by more than 350 artists. The 32,000-square-foot modern facility is located along the river in downtown West Bend, and houses five permanent collection galleries, three temporary exhibition spaces, and two classrooms, as well as visible art storage, a shop, and a large atrium for public events. Check online for family programming, including Studio Saturdays + Monthly Maker Kits.
15. National Bobblehead Hall Of Fame & Museum
170 S. 1st St., 2nd Floor, Milwaukee, WI 53204
This one-of-a-kind museum houses the world’s largest collection of bobbleheads from all genres and periods, plus dozens of exhibits related to the history of bobbleheads, the making of bobbleheads, and more.
16. North Point Lighthouse
2650 N. Wahl Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53211
The North Point Lighthouse is home to a charming, recently renovated museum, where you can learn about maritime history, see artifacts from ships that sailed Lake Michigan, and learn about the keepers who maintained the lighthouse (there are some real characters there!). Climb the 74-foot tall tower for a spectacular 360° view of Lake Park, Lake Michigan and downtown Milwaukee. Kids must be at least 38 inches tall to climb the tower. The museum is located between two ravines in Lake Park on a two-acre semi-wooded parcel, and is one of the oldest structures that stands in the now-urban area. Open Saturdays and Sundays year-round from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
17. Pabst Mansion
2000 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53233
Visit the home of Captain Frederick and Maria Pabst, built in the 1890s for $254,000 as a testament to America’s Gilded Age. The Pabsts became consummate art collectors, filling their mansion with priceless treasures, and they hosted many fine parties and receptions. Between 1908 and 1975, the mansion was the archbishop’s resident and the center of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee. When it was sold in 1975, the mansion was nearly torn down to make way for a parking lot for a neighboring hotel. After a three-year crusade for its preservation, it was spared demolition and went on to become an award-winning house museum. The Mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 21, 1975. On Saturday mornings, you can opt for a family-friendly guided tour, abbreviated half-hour tour designed for families with young children (kids get in free!).
18. Spinning Top & Yo-Yo Museum
533 Milwaukee Ave., Burlington, WI 53105
***The museum is temporarily closed for remodeling, but the toy shop is open.***
Located in downtown Burlington, the Spinning Top and Yo-Yo Museum is a combination of a program, tour and hands-on games. You’ll see more than 2,000 tops, yo-yos, and gyroscopes, ongoing videos, and I Spy Hunt, and a live presentation. You must call ahead to reserve a spot!
19. Waukesha County Historical Society & Museum
101 W. Main St., Waukesha, WI 53186
Founded in1914, the Waukesha County Historical Society & Museum in downtown Waukesha, tells the stories of earliest contact between Native Americans and European and American settlers, the rock and roll legacy of Les Paul, and more. They offer activities for kids & families throughout the year.
20. Wisconsin Automotive Museum
147 N. Rural St., Hartford, WI 53027
History comes alive at Wisconsin’s largest auto museum, with an ever-changing display of classic and vintage autos and artifacts, and a striking art deco interior. The museum is also home to the 1913 #1003 Soo Line steam locomotive, along with other railroad artifacts.
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Check out “101 Best Things to do in Milwaukee With Kids“.