Top 10 Wisconsin Weekend Getaways For Families (2024)

Are you dreaming of the perfect family getaway right here in Wisconsin?

We’ve got you covered!

Combining our own travel expertise with the collective wisdom of our vibrant Instagram community, we’ve crafted a list of the top 10 family-friendly weekend destinations in our picturesque state.

Here’s where everyone agrees you should be heading:

  • Wisconsin Dells: The waterpark capital with endless family entertainment and adventures.
  • Elkhart Lake: A tranquil lakeside village offering a mix of leisure, nature, and motorsport excitement.
  • Cedarburg: Historic small town charm combined with unique cultural experiences.
  • Lake Geneva: Serene lakeside magic perfect for families.
  • Door County: An outdoor enthusiast’s dream with stunning natural beauty.
  • Bayfield: Breathtaking scenery and a gateway to the Apostle Islands.
  • Madison: A bustling cityscape brimming with child-friendly cultural spots.
  • Sheboygan: A beach-lover’s paradise with fun for all ages.
  • Green Bay: Sports, history, and family fun rolled into one.
  • Port Washington: Coastal town charm with a mix of art and lakeside fun.

Each of these destinations promises unique experiences tailor-made for families, offering everything from outdoor adventures to cultural discoveries and relaxing escapes.

Let’s dive into what makes these Wisconsin gems the best weekend getaways for your next family adventure.


1. Wisconsin Dells: More Than Just a Splash of Fun

Quick Highlights:

  • Indoor Amusement Galore: Ferris wheels, go-karts, high ropes courses, laser tag, and more – all indoors!
  • Water Park Escapades: It’s the waterpark capital of the world, after all.
  • Boat Tours with a Twist: Nature’s own drama, no special effects needed.
Dells boat tour

Overview

Think Wisconsin Dells, think water parks, right?

Plot twist: there’s a whole world of fun beyond the wave pools. Indoor amusement parks that defy gravity (and occasionally, sanity), hotels where water slides are just an elevator ride away, and boat tours that offer a masterclass in nature’s artistry.

Indoor Theme Parks

From roller coasters and bumper cars to ropes courses and arcade games, these parks are a great place for endless fun for the whole family, regardless of the weather:

  1. Tom Foolerys Adventure Park – The largest in the Dells with over 100,000 square feet of attractions.
  2. Knucklehead Trampoline Park – A massive trampoline park with a range of exciting activities.
  3. Mt. Olympus Indoor Theme Park – Packed with a variety of rides and attractions for all ages.
  4. Wilderness Resort – Home to Dodge ‘Em City and a range of family-friendly activities.
  5. Great Wolf Lodge – Famous for its water park but also offering a variety of indoor attractions.

Get more details on these top Wisconsin Dells Indoor Amusement Parks.

Splashy Adventures Indoors

Why let winter spoil the water fun? The Dells’ hotels bring the water park joy indoors. Here’s a snapshot of the best Wisconsin Dells hotels with indoor water parks:

  1. Kalahari Resorts & Conventions – Experience African-themed water fun with extensive indoor water attractions.
  2. Great Wolf Lodge – Perfect for family-friendly adventures with a wide range of water activities.
  3. Chula Vista Resort – Offers a unique blend of thrilling water rides and relaxing spa options.
  4. Wilderness ResortRecently renovated, and known for its vast indoor water park and variety of family attractions.
  5. Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park Resort – Combines water fun with exciting theme park thrills.

Get more details on these indoor water parks.

Boat Tours with Oohs and Aahs

Set sail with Dells Boat Tours to explore the dramatic cliffs and rock formations of the Upper and Lower Dells.

Exclusive stops at Witches Gulch and Stand Rock offer hidden paths and tales as old as time.

And for the romantics, the Sunset Cruise is like a date night directed by Mother Nature.


2. Elkhart Lake: Where Relaxation and Adventure High-Five

Quick Highlights:

  • Gessert Ice Cream: Tasty desserts & charming antiques in one fell swoop.
  • Road America: Where cars go vroom and hearts go boom.
  • Nature’s Instagram: Stunning beaches, parks, and miles of trails that’ll make your camera swoon.
  • Aqua Adventures: Because what’s a lakeside retreat without a bit of splish-splash?

Overview

Just a hop and a skip (okay, an hour’s drive) north of Milwaukee, Elkhart Lake is the poster child for picturesque getaways.

Its blue-green waters are like a siren call for relaxation and a whole lot of family fun. Here, you can swap your daily grind for sandy beaches, outdoor escapades, and a side of lively entertainment.

Splashing Around

Dive into the lake for a swim, try your hand at boating, or catch ‘the big one’ while fishing. If you’re into paddlesports and outdoor activities, the lake’s your oyster. And with pontoon rentals readily available, your family’s getaway just got very memorable.

Green and Serene

Enjoy golf course views that distract from your score, or hike trails where trees do all the talking.  trails where trees do all the talking.

Enjoy the lake scenery from Fireman’s Park, one of the best places to grill out with family. It has a sand beach, concession stand, picnic areas, grills and sand volleyball court for rent and restroom facilities. 

Food & Drink

The outdoor dining scene is like a foodie’s paradise with a view.

Got a sweet tooth? The historic Gessert’s Ice Cream is the perfect place for you, with delicious ice cream and charming antiques throughout the store. It’s just a short walk from the Osthoff Resort.

Fast and Furious

Road America isn’t just a racetrack; it’s an adrenaline-pumping, heart-racing adventure land. Sunset cruises for the chill crowd, pace car hot laps for the thrill crowd.

Dreamy Resorts

Choose from the crème de la crème of resorts like The Osthoff, Siebkens, and The Shore Club. They’re not just places to stay; they’re experiences wrapped in luxury.


3. Cedarburg: Historic Charm Meets Modern Family Fun

Quick Highlights:

  • Historic Charm: Wander around Cedar Creek Settlement – no time machine needed.
  • Art of Joy: A social mercantile, because who doesn’t want a side of creativity with their fun?
  • Festival Fever: Strawberry Festival and Oktoberfest, where the fun is as ripe as the fruit and as rich as the brew.
  • Cedar Creek Park: Nature’s haven along the river.
  • Bed & Breakfasts: Washington House Inn & Stagecoach Inn for those fancy Zzzs.

Overview

Cedarburg, a quaint and picturesque town in Wisconsin, is just a short drive from Milwaukee. It’s a very walkable community, and most of the fun is located along Washington Ave, the main drag.

Cedar Creek Settlement

Originally constructed in 1864 by visionary German entrepreneurs, the Wittenberg Woolen Mill has been lovingly transformed into The Shops of Cedar Creek Settlement, offering visitors a unique glimpse into an era gone by.

While you shop and dine, you can marvel at the mill’s original beams, floors, and authentic equipment that have been meticulously preserved for over a century.

And no visit to Cedar Creek Settlement is complete without a stop at the renowned Cedar Creek Winery. Here, you can sample some of the finest wines the region has to offer, a perfect end to a day spent exploring the rich history and culture of Cedarburg.

Art of Joy

Part social house, part mercantile, Art of Joy offers whimsical Zero-proof cocktails for the adults (and the kids!), live music to wiggle to, a beautiful patio space, and a charming kids’ area your kids will never want to leave.

Party Time, Cedarburg Style

Cedarburg knows how to party. Strawberry Festival for the sweet tooths, Oktoberfest for the suds lovers, and more festivals all year round. Everyone’s invited!

Get Your Green On

Chill Out at Cedar Creek Park, within walking distance of popular shops and restaurants. You can let the kids loose in a playground while you take in the beauty along the river.

Three miles north, you can discover the charm and history of Covered Bridge Park, a treasured landmark. This scenic park is home to Wisconsin’s last standing covered bridge, the Cedarburg Bridge, historically known as the ‘Red Bridge.’

Situated at the junction of Highways 60 and 143 on Covered Bridge Road, it represents a fascinating piece of Wisconsin’s rural heritage. It’s like walking into a postcard (but without the postage).

Dreamy Sleepovers

In this Hallmark town, you’ll find charming bed and breakfast options.

The Washington House Inn offers a touch of elegance, while the Stagecoach Inn gives that that cozy, ‘I’m-in-a-novel’ feel.


4. Door County: Where Nature Shows Off

Quick Highlights:

  • Eye-Popping Scenery: Seriously, the views are like nature’s own Instagram feed.
  • Adventure Playground: Hiking, biking, and kayaks.
  • Cherry on Top: Literally. The cherries here are the stars of the culinary show.
An aerial shot of Eagle Bluff lighthouse located in Peninsula State Park. Photo Credit: Doorcounty.com

Overview

Ever wonder if Mother Nature has a favorite child? Well, meet Door County, the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.” With shoreline for miles and postcard-worthy landscapes, this peninsula is Wisconsin’s not-so-hidden gem.

It’s a mix of outdoor fun, cultural quirks, and enough local cherries to keep your taste buds dancing.

Outdoor Fun (or How to Tire Out the Kids)

Pack your adventure spirit (and maybe some Band-Aids). Door County’s state parks are like nature’s theme parks minus the long lines.

From the rugged cliffs of Peninsula State Park to the serene shores of Whitefish Dunes, these parks offer miles of shoreline and a plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures.

Hike, bike, or kayak – but remember, what goes down a hill must walk back up.

Photo Credit: Doorcounty.com

Culture and History: Not Just for School Trips

Visit unique art galleries where the art’s as fresh as the air and lighthouses that have seen more ships than a seasoned sailor. Each historic lighthouse has a story, and let’s be honest, probably a ghost or two.

Don’t miss the charm of Egg Harbor, a picturesque village known for its quaint harbor, delightful shops, and vibrant arts scene.

The Cherry Capital

Door County cherries are the divas of the fruit world here. Pick them, eat them, love them.

But that not all, from fresh seafood to drool-worthy cheese, every meal is an opportunity to dive deeper into the cuisine scene.


5. Bayfield: Nature’s Own Masterpiece

Quick Highlights:

  • Lake Superior Scenery: The world’s largest freshwater lake shows off its blue hues.
  • Outdoor Adventures Galore: Hiking, kayaking, and pretending you’re a nature photographer.
  • Gateway to the Apostle Islands: Jump-off point to a world of island exploration.
  • Charming Small Town Vibes: Cozy streets that whisper tales of maritime history.
Photo courtesy of iStock / Melissa Kopka

Bayfield Overview

Nestled on the shores of Lake Superior, Bayfield is painted in the most vibrant of colors. It was even voted one of the 10 best coastal small towns across the United States by USA Today.

It’s not just a town; it’s a jump-off point to the Apostle Islands, where each island plays a game of ‘who’s more stunning.’

Whether you’re kayaking through sea caves, strolling along quaint streets, or just sipping coffee with a view, Bayfield is a postcard come to life.

Natural Splendor

Lake Superior isn’t just superior by name. Hiking trails offer Instagram-worthy scenes of the world’s largest freshwater lake, and the kayaking here is less of a sport and more of an art form.

Apostle Islands Awaits

The Apostle Islands are nature’s theme park. Sea caves, historic lighthouses, and untouched beaches – You’ll feel like you stepped into a nature documentary!

Small Town, Big Heart

Bayfield’s streets are lined with local shops, cozy eateries, and stories of maritime days gone by.


6. Madison: Quirky Meets Classic

Quick Highlights:

  • Capitol Wonders: Free tours at the Wisconsin State Capitol, because who doesn’t love freebies?
  • Fresh and Tasty: Dane County Farmer’s Market, where your shopping bag fills with joy (and cheese).
  • Playful Learning: Madison Children’s Museum, where kids rule and adults… also have fun.
  • Zoo Adventures: Lions, red pandas, and chimps, oh my! All at Henry Vilas Zoo.
  • Garden Galore: Olbrich Botanical Gardens, where plants are more popular than celebrities.

Overview

Just over an hour from Milwaukee, Madison is Wisconsin’s state capital. It is a cocktail of the arts, nature, and some seriously photo-worthy spots. From zoo escapades to strolling among giants (sunflowers, not trolls), it’s like the city decided to throw a party and invited every cool attraction.

Free & Fun

The State Capitol is a monument to ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs.’ Free tours because the best things in life (and Madison) are free.

Plus, the Henry Vilas Zoo is where animals are stars, and admission is as free as the birds. Come for the lions, stay for the red pandas.

Play, Learn, Repeat

The Madison Children’s Museum is where kids can be bosses and adults can rediscover play. Don’t miss the rooftop view; it’s like Madison put on a show just for you.

Farmer’s Market Delights

The Dane County Farmer’s Market is where your taste buds go on a field trip. Fresh produce, cheesy bread, and doughnuts that deserve their own fan club.

Botanical Beauty

Olbrich Botanical Gardens is a plant lover’s paradise. With 16 acres of outdoor gardens and a tropical conservatory, it’s greenery with a side of wow.

Badger Game

For families who bleed red and white, a University of Wisconsin Badger Game is an absolute must! It’s not just about football; it’s an experience that bonds families with the spirit of Wisconsin.

From the electrifying atmosphere at Camp Randall Stadium to the traditions that make each game memorable, attending a Badger game is like stepping into a world of collegiate excitement and pride.

Here are 10 Tips For Your Next Badger Game With Kids.

Cave of Marvels

Just a short ride from Madison, Cave of the Mounds isn’t your average cave; it’s a subterranean wonderland. Plus, there’s a gemstone mine – because who doesn’t want to find treasure?

House of Quirks

Also a short ride from the hustle and bustle of the city, The House on the Rock is where normalcy goes to retire. Infinity rooms, giant sea creatures, and a carousel that might just be from a fantasy novel.

Flower Power

Sunflower Days at Pope Farm Conservancy is your ticket to a golden sea of sunflowers. Bring a camera; the views demand it.

Troll Around

In Mt. Horeb, trolls aren’t just under bridges. They’re everywhere, guiding you through a town that’s proudly offbeat.


7. Lake Geneva: Where Fun and Fancy Collide

Quick Highlights:

  • Charming Downtown: Stroll, shop, eat, repeat – it’s like a mini vacation in itself.
  • Black Point Estate: Victorian vibes meet boat rides.
  • Dan Patch Stables: Horseback riding, ponies, and the joy of trail rides.
  • Animal Gardens Petting Zoo: Where animals are stars, and you’re the paparazzi.
  • Big Foot Beach State Park: Beach fun and hiking trails that might just lead to Bigfoot (but probably not).
  • Ziplines & Adventures: Because why walk when you can zip through the trees?

Overview

Sip coffee by the lake, then scream your lungs out on a zipline! Lake Geneva has it all. It’s where history gets a fresh coat of fun, and the lakeside vibes are spot on. It’s the perfect spot for those who like their relaxation with a side of adventure.

Downtown Delights

The downtown area is a blend of historic charm and modern fun. Shop till you drop, eat till you’re stuffed, and walk along the shore path to digest (both food and experiences).

Black Point Estate

Accessible by a scenic boat ride, this estate lets you peek into the Victorian era. Explore the mansion, wander the gardens, and feel fancy without wearing a corset.

Photo Credit: Lake Geneva Cruise Line

Horse Around at Dan Patch Stables

Located at the Grand Geneva entrance, it’s where you can make friends with horses, go on trail rides, and pretend you’re in a western movie (minus the tumbleweeds).

Animal Gardens Petting Zoo

This isn’t your average petting zoo. It’s a 40-acre playground where exotic animals, farm friends, and a celebrity parrot (Echo, of America’s Got Talent fame) hang out. It’s like a real-life Dr. Dolittle scene.

Big Foot Beach State Park

A stone’s throw from downtown, this park offers a beach that’s practically waving at the highway, hiking trails, and picnic spots. Bigfoot sightings not guaranteed, but hey, you never know.

Zipline Adventures

Why walk when you can fly? Lake Geneva Ziplines & Adventures offers you the chance to zip through trees, conquer high ropes, and pretend you’re a superhero (cape not included).


8. Sheboygan, WI: Sand Dunes & Shipwrecks

Quick Highlights:

  • Breaker Bay at Blue Harbor Resort: A tropical escape on Lake Michigan’s shores.
  • Bookworm Gardens: A literary-themed green space offering free admission and whimsical exploration.
  • Above and Beyond Children’s Museum: An interactive museum with creative exhibits across three floors.
  • Kohler Arts Center: An art museum with kid-friendly spaces and unique restroom art.
  • Harrington Beach State Park: A beautiful Lake Michigan beach with dog-friendly trails and a stargazing observatory.
  • Kohler-Andrae State Park: Nature hikes through sand dunes and along beaches.
  • Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center: Interactive exhibits including a cow-milking station and a birthing barn.
  • Kohler Design Center: A showcase of Kohler’s innovative design history.
  • Lottie Cooper Shipwreck: A historic shipwreck display in Deland Park.
Photo Credit: Blue Harbor Resort

Dive Deeper:

Discover the many facets of Sheboygan, a city where history, nature, and creativity converge. Each attraction in Sheboygan offers a unique experience, ensuring that every family visit is packed with memorable moments.

1. Breaker Bay at Blue Harbor Resort

Just an hour north of Milwaukee, Blue Harbor Resort offers a 54,000-square-foot indoor waterpark, maintaining a comfortable 84 degrees year-round. Perfect for families, the resort combines the thrill of a waterpark with the beauty of Lake Michigan.

  • Toddler Tides: Ideal for the youngest visitors, this area features a kid-friendly waterslide and interactive spray features.
  • Adventure for Older Kids: The four-story water center includes suspension bridges, cargo nets, and four exhilarating waterslides, with two standing at three stories high.
  • Family Fun in the Recreation Pool: Engage in water basketball, climb on sea creatures, and enjoy the leisure river and whirlpool for relaxation.
  • The Riptide: Experience eastern Wisconsin’s only double surf simulator, offering boogie boarding and surfing opportunities indoors.
  • VIP Experience: Rent a private cabana equipped with comfortable furniture, a flat-screen TV, and a mini-fridge.
  • Extra Activities: Visit the Pier Fun Zone Arcade and play glow-in-the-dark miniature golf for more entertainment.
  • Summer Offerings: During warmer months, enjoy access to Lake Michigan, an outdoor pool, and scenic walking paths along the water.

2. Bookworm Gardens

This enchanting garden brings children’s literature to life. Wander through settings inspired by beloved stories like the Magic School Bus, Hansel and Gretel, and Charlotte’s Web.

It’s a picturesque and interactive space where stories leap off the pages into beautifully crafted gardens.

3. Above and Beyond Children’s Museum

Spread over three floors, this museum is a treasure trove of interactive exhibits. Children can make impressions on the Giant Pin Screen, embark on a make-believe journey in the USS Efroymson ship, or step back in time in the 1900s schoolhouse.

Above and Beyond Children's Museum Sheboygan Wisconsin

The All-Abilities Purple Octopus Playground adds an inclusive outdoor adventure.

4. Kohler Arts Center

This free-entry art museum is not just about viewing art; it’s about experiencing it. With a dedicated kids’ art space and an ever-changing array of exhibits, the center ensures a fresh and engaging visit each time.

The creatively designed restrooms are a quirky highlight, showcasing the museum’s dedication to art in every corner.

5. Harrington Beach State Park

Over a mile of pristine beachfront along Lake Michigan awaits at Harrington Beach State Park. Ideal for swimming, hiking, and picnics, the park also features a unique limestone quarry lake.

The Jim and Gwen Plunkett Observatory within the park offers public astronomy evenings, making it a stellar destination for star gazers.

6. Kohler-Andrae State Park

This state park is a showcase of natural beauty with its sandy beaches, rolling dunes, and pine forest trails. The Sanderling Nature Center, nestled among the dunes, offers educational exhibits and an observation deck.

The park’s trails, including the Creeping Juniper and Black River Marsh Boardwalk, are perfect for family hikes.

7. Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center

This interactive center in Manitowoc brings farming to life. Kids can try milking a cow, churning butter, and learn about agriculture through kinetic sand displays and a tractor simulator.

The Land O’ Lakes Birthing Barn is a unique feature where visitors can witness the birth of calves.

8. Kohler Design Center

The Kohler Design Center is a three-level exhibition space showcasing the evolution of Kohler’s product designs. Visitors can explore a gallery of current designs, a historical museum, and a product pavilion, offering a comprehensive look at the brand’s impact on American home design.

9. Lottie Cooper Shipwreck

The Lottie Cooper, a ship that met its fate in 1894, offers a glimpse into maritime history. The salvaged section of the ship displayed in Deland Park near the Harbor Centre Marina is a poignant reminder of the Great Lakes’ shipping heritage.


9. Green Bay: More Than Just Cheeseheads

Quick Highlights:

  • Bay Beach Amusement Park: Rides that won’t break the bank (or your sanity).
  • Wildlife Sanctuary: Where animals pose, and you can’t help but say “aww.”
  • Lambeau Field: Football fanatics’ dream come true, even when it’s not game day.
  • National Railroad Museum: Choo-choo-choose to have a blast here!
  • Botanical Garden: More green than a Packers jersey.

Overview

Think Green Bay, and you might think football. But hold onto your cheeseheads, because there’s a whole city of fun out there! Whether you’re riding a 25-cent Ferris wheel or strolling through botanical gardens, Green Bay’s got surprises at every turn.

Thrifty Thrills at Bay Beach

An amusement park where your wallet can relax too. Rides, slides, and all the fun of a fair, but with prices from yesteryear. Seriously, where else can you feel like a rollercoaster tycoon for a few bucks?

Photo Credit: Discover Green Bay

Sanctuary of the Wild

Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary is a park that’s home to over 4,500 animals calling it home, a real ‘who’s who’ of Wisconsin wildlife. And with hiking trails, it’s also a bit of an outdoor gym.

The Hallowed Grounds of Lambeau

Even if football’s not your thing, Lambeau Field is worth a visit. Walk where legends have walked, and feel the ghost of victories past. It’s truly a football museum – but with more grass.

Titletown District

Explore Green Bay’s Titletown District for a perfect family day out! Adjacent to Lambeau Field, this area is packed with activities for all ages, from a full-size football field to a unique playground and seasonal ice skating.

It’s more than just football; it’s a hub of family fun. Check out our full guide for all the tips and must-dos in Titletown!

All Aboard the History Train

Chug along the tracks of history at the National Railroad Museum. With vintage trains and special events like pumpkin trains, bunny trains, Polar Express – it’s perfect for a train-loving kid and their family.

Botanical Beauty

The Green Bay Botanical Garden is 47 acres of “wow, nature’s cool.” It’s a green oasis with a rose garden, a children’s garden, and even a hobbit house. Coming soon: a children’s expansion that sounds like it’s straight out of a fairy tale.


10. Port Washington: A Lakeside

Quick Highlights:

  • Possibility Playground: Where kids can be superheroes, pirates, or musicians.
  • Ice Cream Paradise: Because no summer day is complete without it.
  • Historical Lighthouse Adventures: Climb and be mesmerized by lakeside views.

Overview

Just 30 minutes from Milwaukee, Port Washington is the day trip your family didn’t know they needed. Here, the arts meet the lake, history shakes hands with fun, and ice cream is practically a way of life.

Possibility Playground Adventures

This playground is massive and magical. A castle, a pirate ship, and musical instruments – it’s like the ultimate kid fantasy land, all with Lake Michigan as the backdrop.

Ice Cream Galore

With places like Chocolate Chisel and Frankie’s iconic Airstream, ice cream here is an art form. Grab a scoop (or two), and take a stroll. It’s the sweetest way to explore.

Step Back in Time

For history enthusiasts, Port Washington offers an opportunity to step back in time to the 1800s.

A tour through 1860 Light Station takes visitors through the living quarters of the lighthouse keepers who kept the light on and guided mariners traversing the often-treacherous waters of Lake Michigan.

Splash at Pirate’s Hollow

A local water park with slides, diving boards, and mushrooms. It’s the perfect chill spot on a hot day.

Into the Wild

Explore the Sauk Creek and Birchwood Hills Nature Preserves. Wildlife, bird watching, and secret spots – nature’s own hide and seek.

Maritime and More

The Port Exploreum isn’t your typical museum. It’s a maritime adventure with interactive exhibits that make learning a breeze.


For more adventure ideas, don’t forget to check out our articles on the “100 Best Day Trips from Milwaukee,” perfect for planning your next family outing.

And for those days when you just want to splash around, our guide to the “Best Wisconsin Hotels with Indoor Water Parks” will provide you with plenty of options for a fun and cozy staycation.

If camping is more your style, our list of the “Best Family Campgrounds in Wisconsin” has got you covered for an unforgettable outdoor experience.

We’d love to hear bout your experiences! Email us at hello@mkewithkids.com.

Happy exploring!

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