(Milwaukee, WI): Milwaukee and Madison are only about an hour apart and both have such unique offerings to their residents. We polled our friends over at Milwaukee Mom and asked them what the must-sees or must-visits are in Milwaukee, WI for families. So below, we are highlighting all of the insider tips we received (and there are lots of good ones!) so that your family can make the most of a weekend adventure (or day trip) to Milwaukee, WI this summer!
If you are spending the night – Milwaukee Mom has a roundup of the best family-friendly hotels in MKE. You can check it out here! (Our personal favorite is The Ingleside Hotel, just west of Milwaukee – complete with a waterpark!).
J. Leinenkugel’s Barrel Yard is a one-of-a-kind restaurant and
Best Things to Do
Milwaukee Public Museum | The Milwaukee Public Museum is a natural and human history museum in downtown Milwaukee. They have a ‘Streets of Old Milwaukee’ exhibit, dinosaur models and fossils, a rainforest exhibit, and so much more.
Discovery World | Located on the shoreline of Lake Michigan, Discovery World Science and Technology Museum is one of Milwaukee’s best things to do for children and families. This museum is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of STEM majors through curiosity and creativity. From an aquarium to virtual reality – this is a must stop for kids!
Betty Brinn Children’s Museum | The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum inspires all children to wonder and explore their world through play and innovative, hands-on learning experiences. It’s FREE on the 3rd Thursday of each month from 12pm-8pm.
Milwaukee Art Museum | Four floors of over forty galleries of art are rotated regularly with works from antiquity to the present. Among the best in the nation are the Museum’s holding of American decorative arts, German Expressionism, folk and Haitian art, and American art after 1960. The Museum also holds one of the largest collections of works by Wisconsin native Georgia O’Keeffe.
Milwaukee County Zoo | The Milwaukee County Zoo houses 1,800 animals and covers an area of 190 acres. You can spend the whole day here if you want to!
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center | Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is a 185-acre habitat on Lake Michigan, with 6 miles of hiking trails & a 60′ observation tower.
The Mitchell Park Domes | The Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, better known as The Domes, is a living museum filled with plants from across the globe. From desert to tropical – you will be transported to other parts of the world!
Milwaukee Public Market | The Milwaukee Public Market is a must-stop in MKE! Bursting with unique, high quality selections of artisan and ethnic products, and freshly-made prepared foods, you’re sure to enjoy shopping the independent merchants of the Milwaukee Public Market.
Sprecher Brewery Tour | Old-school brewery with tours & tastings plus live music & food in an indoor Bavarian beer garden.
Summerfest Playground | Open in the summer – this is a must visit park on the shores of Lake Michigan! The park offers inclusive and accessible play for children ages 2 – 12 years of age, including those who may experience a variety of challenges.
Wheel Fun Paddle Boat Rentals at Veterans Park | Veterans Park Swan Boats by Wheel Fun Rentals won the Readers’ Choice for best spectacle in the city! Families and friends can go on an exciting adventure without ever leaving the city. Each swan seats 5 people.
Lynden Sculpture Garden | The Lynden Sculpture Garden offers a unique experience of art in nature through its collection of more than 50 monumental sculptures sited across 40 acres.
Lakeshore State Park | Lakeshore State Park is a 22-acre Wisconsin state park located on the shores of Lake Michigan in the city of Milwaukee. The park offers fishing, and jogging paths wind throughout the park. There is also a marina in the park where reservations for slips can be made up to 11 months in advance. The park is an urban oasis offering a small beach and accessible paved trails that link to Milwaukee’s other lakefront parks and the Hank Aaron State Trail.
The Milwaukee RiverWalk | The Milwaukee RiverWalk runs from the Historic Third Ward in the south up the right side of the river to downtown. The RiverWalk connects three downtown neighborhoods through an approximately 20-block pedestrian promenade along the Milwaukee River. Many events, festivals and more occur throughout the year along the beautiful RiverWalk in Downtown Milwaukee.
Atwater Beach | This 5-acre open space features a sandy beach, public art, a playground & scenic lake views.
Edelweiss Boat Tours | Edelweiss Cruises is Milwaukee’s premier cruise company featuring the largest fleet variety in the area. Most vessels feature outdoor viewing decks, restrooms, interior bars, and large enclosed cabins allowing for cruising in any weather condition.
Milwaukee Brewers Game | The Brewers play at American Family Field – a family-friendly ballpark on the west side of Milwaukee. Games are fun for all ages!
- J. Leinenkugel’s Barrel Yard | Overlooking left field at American Family Field
- Goddess & The Baker | Check out the rainbow cake and the glittery drinks – it’s a must-stop for kids!
- Zócalo Food Park | Hip destination with food vendors doling out global street foods & craft cocktails, plus live music.
- Kopps Custard | Kopp’s Frozen Custard specializes in Milwaukee’s best freshly made frozen custard and jumbo burgers.
- Leon’s Custard | Famous, family-owned drive-in providing housemade frozen custard, milkshakes & other fast-food eats.
- SafeHouse | Buzzy spy-themed hideaway features creative cocktails & casual fare in a quirky, dimly lit interior.
- Cubanitas | Recommended for lunch. Cubanitas, which means little Cuban girls in Spanish, is the city’s first, and only, entirely Cuban restaurant.
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli | Wisconsin’s only shop dedicated to serving America’s favorite sandwich.
- Tua Pasta-Milwaukee | Build-your-own pasta dishes in an informal counter-service joint offering river views.
- Colectivo Lakefront | Built in 1888, the historic Milwaukee River Flushing Station is now home to Colectivo Lakefront, a unique cafe serving sandwiches, soups and salads, and locally roasted coffee.
- Milwaukee Public Market | The Milwaukee Public Market is a must-stop in MKE! Bursting with unique, high quality selections of artisan and ethnic products, and freshly-made prepared foods, you’re sure to enjoy shopping the independent merchants of the Milwaukee Public Market.