After two summers of canceled festivals and postponed fireworks, the summer of 2022 is shaping up to look pretty darn back-to-normal.
Here are 50 new things to do with your kids this summer, and a few old favorites that are back again this year!
1. Visit the Giannis Mural.
There’s a brand new mural in town of local legend Giannis Antetokounmpo. You’ll find it on Wisconsin Avenue on the east-facing wall of the 600 East building. It’s three stories high and shows Antetokounmpo’s back in a Milwaukee Bucks jersey with his hands on his hips.
2. Attend a Sunday Family Fun Day at Northwest Mutual Community Park.
Five Sunday Family Fun Days will take place June 19, July 17, August 7, September 18 and October 9, 2022 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Northwestern Mutual Community Park.
The events are free and will feature a full day of family-friendly programming on the Northwestern Mutual Community Park stage, featuring local arts and community groups including Danceworks, First Stage, and Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, among others. Other activities include balloon artists, face painters, exhibitors, food trucks and more.
Free parking will also be offered during Sunday Family Fun Days in designated lots.
Find out more.
3. Track down the Wonder Wagon.
The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum recently unveiled the Wonder Wagon, a mobile museum that brings hands-on activities and collaborative projects into the community.
The Wonder Wagon will launch this summer visiting parks, community centers, schools, partner sites, special events and private functions:
Juneteenth Weekend Kick-Off
June 17, 12-4 p.m. @ Marquette University Olin Engineering Center
Sculpture MKE Summer Exhibit Launch
June 18, 11 a.m.-3 p.m @ 3rd Street Market Hall
Chill on the Hill
June 21, 6:30-8:30 p.m. @ Humboldt Park
Bayshore Family Flicks: The Lego Movie
June 29, 5-7 p.m. @ The Yard at Bayshore
4. Catch a Family Flick at Bayshore.
The Family Flicks movie series at Bayshore runs Wednesday evenings through September 25th, with a new family movie each week.
Check our Events Calendar for other outdoor movies in communities like Elm Grove, Greenfield, and more.
5. Watch the fireworks at the lakefront.
The fireworks show on the lakefront is back after a two year hiatus. The 45 minute show is best viewed from Veterans Park.
6. Head to Dragon Kingdom at the Milwaukee County Zoo.
The Zoo’s 2022 summer exhibit, Dragon Kingdom, runs May 28-Sept. 5, 2022, and is sponsored by Sendik’s Food Market.
Dragon Kingdom is open daily, located outside behind the Small Mammals building. The cost is $3.00
Families will encounter more than 15 impressive animatronic creatures found in cultures throughout the world.
7. Visit the new playground in the Third Ward.
Gas Light Park opened last August in the Third Ward and is located at 111 N Jefferson St. It’s a triangular shaped park with a small playground a series of signs called “Born Learning Trail.”
8. Climb the North Point Lighthouse tower.
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-degree 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.
9. Snap a selfie at the Eiffel Tower.
Bastille Days is back after a two year hiatus, and it’s one of the nation’s largest French-themed celebrations. Held in Milwaukee’s Cathedral Square Park, visitors can enjoy live music, an international marketplace, French and Cajun cuisine, and roaming busker entertainment.
Kids will love the miniature Eiffel Tower at the center of the festival.
10. See the Blue Angels at the Milwaukee Air & Water Show.
The Milwaukee Air & Water Show is also back in 2022, coming to the Lake Michigan shoreline July 23rd and 24th. The Blue Angels will headline the event.
11. Hike to the waterfall at Wehr Nature Center.
Nestled in beautiful Whitnall Park is Milwaukee County’s very own Wehr Nature Center. It’s the perfect destination for a family with young kids looking for easy hiking trails and accessible wildlife watching.
Start at the Visitor Center and drop a donation into the box near the parking lot. Stop in the nature center and the neighboring Nature Play Space overlooking Mallard Lake.
Follow the path along Mallard Lake and look for frogs and turtles in the clearings. It’s frog mating season right now so you’ll hear them croaking throughout the hike. Less than a half a mile into your walk, you’ll stumble upon the waterfall into the Root River. It’s a great place to stop for a snack.
If your kids are up for it, you can do the entire loop around the lake (1.5 miles), or just turn around and head back to the Visitor Center.
We recommend carrying your non-walkers since the path is not stroller-friendly. Bring masks because it’s hard to distance when you pass others on the trail.⠀
12. Eat strawberry shortcake at the Cedarburg Strawberry Festival.
Cedarburg Strawberry Festival is another event that’s back this year after a two-year hiatus. It will take place June 25th and 26th, and visitors will find unique shopping in downtown Cedarburg, strawberry treats, children’s activities, live music, demonstrations, and more.
13. Slide down the Giant Slide at the Wisconsin State Fair.
The Giant Slide at the Wisconsin State Fair is a must-stop for kids. It only lasts a few moments, but the memories last a lifetime.
14. Visit Leprechaun Village at Irish Fest.
Irish Fest has it all: Irish music, dance, sporting demonstrations, family activities, Irish cuisine and more.
Search for gold in the tiny Leprechaun Village, complete with a bank vault, pub, performance stage, workshop, and other tiny structures. You can even join a special “Leprechaun Kids Club” for fun prizes.
15. Watch the daredevils at the Red Bull Flugtag.
The Red Bull Flugtag is coming to Veteran Park on July 16, 2022. Flugtag challenges wacky engineers and fearless pilots to fulfill their dream of flying. First, they construct their flying machine. Then, they take a leap of faith. Or, as is more often the case, plunge into the waters below.
16. Camp out at American Family Field.
Brewers fans of all ages are invited to the 13th annual slumber party at American Family Field, Field of Sweet Dreams. Bring your camping gear and spend the night under the stars on the outfield! There will be no shortage of activities throughout the evening, as the entire Field Level becomes an overnight playground.
17. Go to Children’s Fest Day at Summerfest.
Made possible through the support of Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, ALL patrons arriving between 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. on June 24 will be admitted to Summerfest for FREE! Spend a fun-filled day with the family enjoying Children’s Fest activities, including the Lou Malnati’s Map of Fun and the Family Fun Package drawing. Select food vendors will offer discounts on food and beverage items.
18. Chill on the Hill in Humboldt Park.
Chill on the Hill is a weekly free summer concert event in Bay View’s beautiful Humboldt Park, with live local music, food trucks, and fun for the whole family. The event happens Tuesday evenings in the summer. Carry-ins are allowed, and many families bring blankets and chairs to sit on during the event. You can grab dinner from food vendors, who start arriving at 5:00 p.m. Music begins at 6:30.
19. Run the bases at a Lakeshore Chinooks game.
For Milwaukee area families who are looking for affordable and quality family fun, a Lakeshore Chinooks game fits the bill.
The Lakeshore Chinooks Baseball Club are a summer collegiate baseball team, and their games are packed with good old-fashioned family fun.
The 2022 season is already underway and runs through August 13th.
They play all of their games at Kapco Park, located on the campus of Concordia University. The stadium sits on the shores of Lake Michigan, so fans can get a beautiful view of the lake on warm summer nights.
Kids can get player autographs, meet the mascot, play in the Kids Zone, run the bases, and more!
20. See a movie at the drive-in.
The Milky Way Drive-in in Franklin is a great place to catch a family movie. You can also check our Events Calendar for free outdoor movies in parks all over town.
21. Get a Root Beer Float at Root Beer Bash.
Root Beer Bash will be taking place Saturday, August 6th, 2022 at Bayshore Town Center. It’s free to attend! Families can enjoy a Root Beer Float Giveaway, a Kids Dance Party, Balloon Artist, Face Painting, a Petting Zoo, a Tie-Dye tent, food trucks, and more.
Come say hello at the MKE With Kids booth. We’ll have bubbles, lollipops, and more!
22. Try a new flavor at Pete’s Pops.
Pete’s Pops and their rainbow umbrella brightens up Milwaukee all summer long. You can try flavors like Blue Moon, Fudgesicle, Strawberry Lemonade, Key Lime Pie, Horchata, and more.
Catch them at their permanent locations in Milwaukee, Bay View, and West Allis, or follow them on social media to keep up with their pop-up locations.
23. Cool off at Sussex Village Park.
Our readers rave 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 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’s also a 5,200-square-foot inclusive splash pad that 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 through Labor Day (weather permitting), from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. or dusk, whichever is earlier. Check the website before visiting for the most up-to-date information.
24. Get you summer reading done.
Milwaukee Public Libraries offer free programming throughout the summer for families, and you can visit local children’s bookstores like Rainbow Booksellers on Vliet St. and Rooted MKE, a BIPOC Children’s Bookstore offering creative play sessions.
25. Get a craft soda at the beer garden.
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.
26. Visit the farmer’s market.
There are dozens of local farmer’s markets around southeastern Wisconsin. Our favorites include the farmer’s market at South Shore Park, Thiensville Village Park, and Wauwatosa.
27. Take a day trip to Port Washington.
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.
From Possibility Playground to Frankie’s ice cream, there is plenty for families to do all summer long.
28. Get lost in a sunflower maze.
There’s just something about sunflowers that makes us smile. Kids and adults alike are enchanted by their sheer size and beauty. Sunflowers can grow 5-10 feet tall, and they provide the perfect photo op. Plus, most farms will let you cut a few stems to take home and use to decorate your front porch.
Here are 9 sunflower farms to check out this summer.
29. Watch the Milwaukee Milkmen play baseball.
The Milwaukee Milkmen are a pro baseball team in Franklin. You can park for free at Franklin Field and get affordable tickets online or in person. Hang out with their mascot, Bo Vine, and enjoy family entertainment including stunts, games, and promotions.
30. Climb to the top of the observation tower at Lapham Peak.
A must-visit state park 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.
31. Check out Sculpture Milwaukee.
32. Switch up your beach day.
From Doctor’s Park to Bender Park, we’ve got all of the beaches in Milwaukee County in one place for you. There are no lifeguards on duty this summer.
33. Walk the labyrinth in Wauwatosa.
The labyrinth at Hartung Park in Tosa is a fun adventure for the whole family. It’s just a short walk from the playground, behind the hill, surrounded by wildflowers. Younger kids will love running the paths, and older kids and adults can walk the whole thing.
34. Visit the Puppy Pals at Bayshore.
Bayshore is hosting Puppy Pals Live! as seen on America’s Got Talent! It’s a free family fun action-packed show where adopted and rescued dogs perform spectacular stunts and breathtaking feats.
Watch as they lead the puppies and audience through challenging and comical tricks. Full of surprises and laugh-out-loud canine comedy, these shows are for children of all ages.
35. Ride the East Troy 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.
36. Summer Kids Dream Family Film Series.
THE FILM SERIES LINEUP:
- Minions – June 5-6, 8-9: Tickets
- Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway – June 12-13, 15-16: Tickets
- Trolls World Tour – June 19-20, 22-23: Tickets
- Paw Patrol: The Movie – June 26-27, 29-30: Tickets
- Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs – July 3-4, 6-7: Tickets
- Tom & Jerry – July 10-11, 13-14: Tickets
- Sing 2 – July 17-18, 20-21: Tickets
- Clifford the Big Red Dog – July 24-25, 27-28: Tickets
- The Croods: A New Age – July 31-August 1, 3-4: Tickets
- The Angry Birds Movie 2 – August 7-8, 10-11: Tickets
- Scoob! – August 14-15, 17-18: Tickets
- Puss in Boots – August 21-22, 24-25: Tickets
- Kung Fu Panda – August 28-29, August 31-September 1: Tickets
37. Visit a new petting zoo.
There are several zoos and petting farms around Southeastern Wisconsin that the whole family will love. Here are some local places where you can get up close with live animals.
38. Pick strawberries at a local farm.
In southeastern Wisconsin, beautiful strawberries and sugar snap peas are usually ready for picking by the middle of June. Cherries come next in early July, followed by raspberries and blackberries.
You and the kiddos can have a great time in the strawberry patches, picking your own berries, making some memories and taking photos of red-stained smiles. It’s a great experience for the whole family, and way better than buying them in the grocery store.
Always be sure to call ahead for hours and the daily update. Picking times and dates depend on weather and availability, and it’s always changing.
39. Enjoy Greek Fest.
Be entertained by traditional Greek music and dancing, along with a Greek Market full of imported goods and artifacts. Taste fresh, authentic Greek food including gyros, Greek chicken (also available via drive-thru), lamb, saganaki (fried cheese), souvlaki (skewers), baklava (sweet dessert made with phyllo dough) and loukoumades (fried dough).
Games and rides for children of all ages are available. Admission is free, but you’ll have to pay $10 for parking.
40. Watch the Dachshund Derby at German Fest.
July 29-31, 2022
Henry Maier Festival Park
639 E. Summerfest Pl., Milwaukee, WI 53202
The sounds of carousel organs and the smell of German cuisine – sausage, sauerkraut, and schnitzel – float through the festival grounds, bringing German culture to life. Families head here each year for the Dachshund Derby and costume contest, the Glockenspiel clock that comes to life every few hours, traditional “tracht” clothing, German dance performances, a Children’s Activity Area with German crafts and language games, plus mascots, parades and more.
41. Visit the free Ozaukee County Fair.
Held each year in Cedarburg, the Ozaukee County Fair is one of the last free county fairs in Wisconsin. You’ll find games, rides, animals, fair food, truck pulls, demonstrations, and live music. (Admission fees apply for the Truck & Tractor Pull and Demolition Derby.)
42. Make some chalk art at the MOWA Art & Chalk Fest
This free outdoor fine arts and crafts festival features artist booths as well as chalk artists, art activities for all ages, live entertainment and music, food trucks, a beer garden, and more.
Located on the museum’s four-acre campus, this event features artists from the Wisconsin arts community. Experience live art demonstrations from artists who specialize in glass blowing, pottery and ceramics, plein air painting, and, of course, chalk art.
Watch artists demo their craft right before your eyes, or walk away with a henna tattoo, caricature drawing, tintype portrait, or flower crown. Perhaps encounter a live poetry reading. Kids will flock to the balloon artist and kids activity area.
43. Smell the roses at Boerner Botanical Gardens.
Boerner opened for the season on May 1, and its formal gardens feature a rose garden and a peony garden, as well as variety of annuals and perennials. Plus, there’s a fragrant herb garden, a daylily path, and a serene rock garden with trickling streams and waterfalls.
Rest in the shade or have a snack inside the elegant gazebo, and don’t miss the regal shrub mall, historic garden house, and expansive arboretum. Kids will also love the stroller-friendly bog garden walk in the northeast corner of the property.
Ways to save: If you’re a resident of Milwaukee County, you’ll save $1 per ticket. The Gardens typically offer free admission to Milwaukee County residents with proof of residency on the first Tuesday of each month, May through September. Check their website for the most updated information.
44. Take in the view on the Grohmann Rooftop Garden.
1000 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Located on the Grohmann Museum on the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) campus, this rooftop garden features a dozen large, bronze statues of men at work – toiling in the field and foundry, heaving hammers or pinching molten metal with hot tongs. Each sculpture is about 9 feet tall and weighs a thousand pounds. From their perch along the roofline, they have a commanding view of the city that was built on the hard work they depict.
The Grohmann Museum is home to the world’s most comprehensive art collection dedicated to the evolution of human work. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children under 12.
45. Visit the polka dotted cows at Lynden Sculpture Garden.
2145 W. Brown Deer Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53217
Admission is free at this garden that has wide open spaces for running around, magical trees the kids can hide inside of, frogs and turtles all over the place, and colorful sculptures. Don’t miss the bright polka dotted cows by the pond. Please remind your kids not to climb on the sculptures. Note: There are no paths. Bring suitable footwear. Donations encouraged.
46. Explore Children’s Literature at Bookworm Gardens.
Trust us when we say this one is worth the drive!
Bookworm Gardens is an absolute must-visit, whimsical botanic garden based completely on children’s literature.
The seven-acre garden offers the young and young-at-heart the opportunity for unstructured play in a beautiful and secure environment.
Admission rates to the Gardens can be found online here.
Special elements of Bookworm include 75 garden spaces inspired by children’s books, gorgeous seasonal blooms, and interactive elements for learners of all ages. Reading nooks and crannies are plentiful, as are benches for resting and chatting.
47. Make a splash at Schulz Aquatic at Lincoln Park.
Lincoln Park, 1301 W. Hampton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53209
Milwaukee County faces a steep lifeguard shortage this summer, but Schultz Aquatic Center is one of the water parks in town that will be open.
Race down the tube and body waterslides, float along in the lazy river, or swim in the heated pool. There are spray jets, water troughs, and a bucket dump for the kids, plus a concession stand once everyone gets hungry.
48. Visit Milwaukee Recreation’s free summer playgrounds.
Milwaukee Recreation’s free Summer Playgrounds will open on June 21 and feature enrichment activities, play opportunities, free meals, and much more.
The sites will feature visits from the Wacky Wheels Skate Van, the Video Game Van and partnerships with Artists Working in Education (AWE), the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, and the Milwaukee Public Library.
Wading pools and splash pads will also be open to the public. All playground sites are supervised by playleaders and offer a safe place for youth to go during the day to enjoy fun and exciting activities.
For details about the playground program visit mkerec.net/playgrounds.
49. Ride a swan boat at Veterans Park.
You’ve probably seen the iconic swan boats driving or walking past Veterans Park. You can rent them through Wheel Fun Rentals.
Each swan boat seats up to five people. You can even go at night on an illuminated LED swan boat.
They are located on the northeast end of Veterans Park, near plenty of parking, as well as restrooms.
50. Visit the Faerie Show at the Domes
The Mitchell Park Domes ‘Faerie Gardens’ summer floral show opened to the public June 11.
It is inspired by the storytelling traditions from when human beings lived in a world that was directly connected to the Earth itself and the nature within.
Miniature fairy gardens will be surrounded by a colorful floral display, including ‘dragon wing pink’ begonias, ‘gnome mix’ gomphrena, ‘fairy queen’ salvia, lavender, impatiens, snapdragons and more.