Winter in Wisconsin can be magical, with snow-covered landscapes and fun activities for the whole family to enjoy.
But as any parent knows, it can also be a challenge to keep kids entertained and active during the colder months.
If you’re looking for ideas for family-friendly day trips from Milwaukee this winter, you’re in luck.
We’ve done the research and compiled a list of exciting and affordable options to help you and your family make the most of the season.
From ice castles to tubing adventures, there’s something for everyone on our list.
So bundle up, pack some snacks, and let’s dive in!
Winter Day Trip Ideas for Kids & Families
Outdoor Day Trips
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.
Pro Tip: 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!)
Photo Credit: Instagram, @tacoflavrdkees
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!
Photo Credit: IG, @stephhermans500
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.
Indoor Day Trips
11. Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center
7001 Gass Lake Rd, Manitowoc, WI 54220
Driving time from downtown Milwaukee: 1 hr, 7 mn
The Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center in Manitowoc is an interactive, immersive look into Wisconsin’s agriculture industry, perfect for kids of all ages. ⠀Upstairs, you’ll find hands-on exhibits like a tractor simulator the kids can drive, kinetic sand for learning about soil, bison, sheep, and mink fur, a butter churner, a magnetic word wall, and more!
Don’t miss the birthing barn, where there are 1-2 cows each day in active labor. You can actually see a calf being born.⠀⠀And, take a bus tour to a nearby dairy farm to see thousands and thousands of cows, and learn how a huge dairy farm operates.⠀
12. EAA Aviation Museum
3000 Poberezny Rd, Oshkosh, WI 54902
Driving time from downtown Milwaukee: 1 hr, 20 mn
Your kids will love the historic aircrafts and memorabilia on display and the giant Eagle hangar. Upstairs, the KidVenture Gallery is packed with exciting opportunities to learn about aviation, like flight simulators, an observation deck, and a cockpit experience. Don’t miss the space section on the second floor where you’ll see a real meteorite and rocket launcher.
13. Legoland Discovery Center
Streets of Woodfield, 601 N. Martingale Rd. , Schaumburg, IL 60173
Drive time from downtown Milwaukee: 1 hr, 35 mn
Legoland is packed with incredible lego sculptures from master model builders, amusement park-style rides, a 4D cinema experience, and plenty of space to build your own LEGO creations.
14. Museum of Wisconsin Art
205 Veterans Ave, West Bend, WI 53095
Drive time from downtown Milwaukee: 46 minutes
A 45 minutes drive from Milwaukee, the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend is a modern museum housing only art by Wisconsin artists.
Every weekend, they hold Studio Saturday, offering creative themed art activities for all ages in their studio space. Walk-ins are welcome.
Be sure to say hello to the big tall bear in the back corner of the museum.
15. Kenosha Area
Drive time from downtown Milwaukee: 48 minutes
Learn all about dinosaurs at the Dinosaur Discovery Museum, where you’ll see dinosaur skeletons in the main gallery that are casts of actual dinosaur fossil bones, and listen to the environmental and animal sounds in the exhibit gallery. Don’t miss the hands-on activities and real live laboratory in the downstairs level. Read more about our visit to the Dinosaur Discovery Museum here.
Stop for a bit to eat at the Mars Cheese Castle, and then head to the Kenosha Public Museum, a natural sciences and arts museum with exhibits featuring mammoths, world cultures, Native Americans, zoology, geology, fossils, and fine and decorative arts. The Field Station section offers hands-on activities especially for kids. Take a closer look at insects, fossils, and shells and identify the neighborhood birds.
16. Sheboygan Area
Drive time from downtown Milwaukee: 56 minutes
Photo from blueharborresort.com
Enjoy almost 10,000 square feet of exhibit space on four floors at the Above and Beyond Children’s Museum, including a life-size Giant Pin Screen, the USS Efroymson Ship, and a 1900’s schoolhouse.
Then, visit the Kohler Arts Center, offering free admission, free parking, and plenty for the kids to explore. There is an art space just for kids, an outdoor garden (in the warm months), and ever-changing exhibits. One of the highlights of your visit might actually be a trip to the restrooms. Colorful tiles and whimsical designs fill the bathrooms so there’s never a dull moment.
The 54,000 square foot Breaker Bay Water Park at Blue Harbor Resort is open to the public. It’s always 84 degrees, and it’s home to the only double surf simulator in eastern Wisconsin.
17. Madison Children’s Museum
100 N Hamilton St., Madison, WI 53703
Drive time from downtown Milwaukee: 1 hr, 22 mn
Get ready to explore and discover fun meant especially for kids ages 0-12 at the award-winning Madison Children’s Museum. The museum contains three exhibit floors including a rooftop garden and authentic log cabin. It’s located just off of downtown Madison’s Capital Square. Download and print their Visitor Guide to help you plan your day.
18. Springs Water Park
2810 Golf Rd, Pewaukee, WI 53072
Driving time from downtown Milwaukee: 28 minutes
Just 30 minutes from downtown Milwaukee, Springs Water Park is the closest you’ll get to a tropical climate during a Milwaukee winter, outside of the Domes. There are tube and body slides, a meandering lazy river, an activity pool, and indoor/outdoor hot tub, and a zero depth pool.