There are so many fun, free and unexpected things to do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
One of the things I love about the city is that it is a small, big city. It is by no means the size of Chicago, but that is what is so cool about it. You can visit some amazing museums, attractions and restaurants but they aren’t as busy or crazy as big city attractions.
Here is where we recommend visiting with your family in Milwaukee.
Table of Contents
- Discovery World
- Milwaukee County Zoo
- Milwaukee Art Museum
- Milwaukee Public Museum
- Harley Davidson Museum
- Betty Brinn
- Sprecher Brewery Tour
- The Beach
- Historic Pabst Brewery
- Sporting Events
- Historic Third Ward
- Brady Street
- Where To Stay
This is a hands on science museum where you and the kids will learn a ton and also have a lot of fun. Sometimes you go to hands on museums and nothing works. That is NOT the case with Discovery World. Instead they have multiple workers there to make sure machines are working and to help if they are not.
We really liked the Great Lakes area that talked about the Great Lakes while also having a simulated storm where the windows closed, rain fell and you could hear the thunder and see lightning. Don’t worry, it doesn’t rain where you are standing.
We also enjoyed the virtual reality attraction where the kids (who were 10, 7, 7 and 5) could put on the headset and experience the underwater virtual reality experience. There was also a really cool flight simulator where the kids learned how to land a plane.
There is so much more to do and we could have spent all day here exploring each of the floors and pushing buttons and pulling knobs all day long! They also have food on site and a really cool store – which you shouldn’t go into if you don’t want to buy anything.
If the weather is cooperating there is also a cool walkway around the museum that gives an amazing view of Lake Michigan and downtown Milwaukee.
We have been to quite a few zoos around the US and the Milwaukee Zoo still remains at the top of the list. They have a great selection of animals to see and a lot of them you can view indoors and outdoors so you can go year round.
They also have a nice playground area for the kids and one of our kids favorite things is the train, which takes you on a ride through the zoo. Then, when you are done, you can head over to the carousel for a ride.
If you are looking for some action they also offer a ropes course which we have not tried yet. Plus the Sky Safari which takes you on a ride over the zoo and some of the animal’s habitats.
Be sure to check the schedule for Kohl’s Wild Theatre and the animal feeding schedule. We have fed the giraffes and it is always a fun time!
We didn’t last long – the kids are still just too curious and want to touch everything . . . but the things we did do were really fun and we want to go back. Plus kids are free so that is always good.
They have a hands on area where we built paper structures and also did paper weaving. One of our favorite things was renting out different activities at the activities desk.
You can choose through a variety of things like a kit with a painting on it. You then go to the painting and follow the instructions in the kit.
Our favorite thing was getting the large pieces of fabric and going to the art work and striking a pose in the fabric in front of the artwork. It was so cool and fun!
The architecture of the Art Museum building is breathtaking in itself and well worth taking a walk around the outside of the building and also taking a minute to look at the building from the inside.
Make sure to check out tips on how to make an art museum trip successful with kids!
You could spend all day exploring the multiple floors of this museum. You can learn about natural history, anthropology, botany, geology, history, zoology and more! We always have fun as a family walking through the museum and seeing what we can find.
One of our favorite exhibits to visit is the European Village. It is a recreated village from around the early 1900’s and actually has shops you can walk in and a few of them you can buy things – like candy that may have been around during that time.
The Streets of Old Milwaukee exhibit is another neat recreated village, but this time it is old Milwaukee being recreated with buildings 3/4 scale size! So interesting to see history in this way. This is the most visited exhibit in the museum.
The rainforest is another exhibit where you walk through and feel like you could actually be in the rainforest. I love when you have a more interactive experience like that.
They also have the butterfly experience, bugs alive, animals and dinosaurs. Can you see how you could spend a whole day here?!
We aren’t big Harley Davidson fans but it was still cool to walk through this museum that is filled with history on the motorcycles and is such a big part of Milwaukee.
The kids area was a big win with our kids where they could get dressed up and sit on a motorcycle their size that made noises and sounded like they were driving down the road. They also had a few touch screens where you could design your own motorcycle.
Our family’s favorite part was trying out a variety of motorcycles. You can’t touch most of the motorcycles but in the back there is a section where you can try out and sit on about 10 different motorcycles and see which one you would like. You can also get your picture taken here with a cool background.
If your kids are under 10 years old be sure to make time to stop at Betty Brinn. It is a really nice smaller sized children’s museum that has a variety of activities for kids.
Our favorite is always the grocery store, post office, auto shop section that has multiple setups like this were you can do make believe play. I have to admit I have fun playing with the kids here too!
They also have special exhibits that change every few months, a stage area, art/maker area and different programs and events. This is always at the top of our list what to do with kids in Milwaukee!
Also, check out how to save big money with a reciprocal museum membership!
Yes, I am recommending a brewery tour with kids. Milwaukee, WI is the brew city, so it makes sense to do one when you plan a trip to Milwaukee. The tour part itself is pretty short and, no matter what it is, I think it is so cool to see the process of how things go from the factory to ready to be sent to the shelves.
The best part is the all you can drink soda at the end of the tour and the 4 beers the parents can get. They have a variety of different sodas and the kids can walk right up to ask for refills or to try a different flavor.
They also have games that you can play as a family. We always have a great time with our family when we go to a brewery together!
No this isn’t Florida, but Lake Michigan is still beautiful and if the weather is nice a beach day in Milwaukee is a lot of fun! The sand is perfect for sand castle building and the water is fun to splash around in. We have spend many a summer day at the beaches of Lake Michigan. Add it to your list of things to do in Milwaukee, WI!
Hey, it is historic – so yes, another brewery tour is on the list with your family. The building is amazing and the tour will give you more history on the city of Milwaukee and beer which do go hand in hand. If you want to continue learning about the Pabst family head to the Pabst Mansion!
And while you are at it check out the Lakefront Brewery too – remember Milwaukee is known for its beer! If you are looking to hit the bar scene without the kids, check out the Bay View neighborhood, voted the best bar district in the city several years running.
With Milwaukee being a small, big city it is a great place to see professional sports since it isn’t as crazy as going to a big city to see an event. Parking is pretty easy and there are restaurants within walking distance of most venues. The games are fun and offer a great atmosphere to really enjoy the city and the people.
The Miller Park baseball stadium is a little outside of downtown which is nice since it is easier to get in and out of the stadium. There is a TGI Friday’s restaurant that is in the stadium so you can eat during a game (may be hard to get seats) or else go on a day when there isn’t a game and you can eat there and look out over the stadium.
The venue is located in downtown Milwaukee, so get there early and walk somewhere for dinner before heading over to the game. You can usually get really good priced tickets and get them the same day as the game assuming they aren’t having an amazing season or isn’t the playoffs.
Milwaukee is filled with a variety of restaurants from super fancy to kid friendly, focusing on food, drinks and fun. Here are a few that we checked out when we were there.
There are a few of these throughout the city. It is a unique restaurant with yummy comfort food and good drinks. We really enjoyed the hash-brown options.
The coolest thing about the restaurant were the peanut dropping bombers! Seriously so cool. They launch a bomber from the bar and it hits your table and drops peanuts down a shoot right onto your table.
The kids (and Craig and I too) thought it was so cool. Plus after you eat the peanuts you can throw the shells on the ground. Of course, the kids loved that.
Donuts! As you know we love checking out donut places all over the U.S. so we were excited to see what Holey Moley Donuts was all about. They didn’t disappoint. They have a variety of different flavors and kinds like pistachio, red velvet and turtle. YUMMY! A great way to start our day.
We visited the one in Tosa and it was a great family place. The kids meals were very reasonably priced and they got a lot of food. Plus there was a great selection of beers for us to choose from. Are you seeing the beer trend here? 🙂 we like to search out donuts and beers when we go to a new location!
The streets of Tosa were so cute that I wish we would have gotten here earlier in the day so we could explore when it was light out.
If you are looking for good local ice cream, then Purple Door’s award winning Ice Cream is for you! They offer a variety of fun and unique flavors – beer and pretzel flavor anyone? Or how about campfire? I love when ice cream places comes up with unique flavors.
If you want more when you are done with your cone you can always get a pint to go. Purple Door Ice Cream is committed to using local ingredients as often as possible and has done a great job within their community by creating Milk for Milwaukee which is a program that works to provide fresh milk to homeless shelters around Milwaukee.
I love how around the country cities are taking old warehouse spaces and turning them into these amazing locations where you can find local shops, dining, and experiences. There’s no doubt visiting the Historic Third Ward made the list of things to do in Milwaukee.
Inside the historic third ward you will find the nationally acclaimed Milwaukee Public Market, a favorite of Milwaukee locals, which features a variety of unique and delicious local food. You will have to come back here more than once to experience all the amazing options!
If you are visiting Milwaukee around Christmas time, you must check out the famous Christmas Market or Christkindlmarket, a traditional German market that pops up for a limited time around Christmas to help you do your holiday shopping and enjoy some traditional German holiday making!
If live music is what you are looking for, be sure to check out the Milwaukee Ale House. Which is a riverfront brewpub with great beer and food and live music on Fridays and Saturdays.
Make sure to also check out the Milwaukee River and take a walk on the Riverwalk for amazing views and food options.
Looking to check out more of Milwaukee? Then head to Brady Street. Up and down the street you will find shops, restaurants and get a feel of the midwest atmosphere of Milwaukee. You will find shops, fun nightlife, ethnic cuisine and coffee shops you will want to hang out in for a few hours.
If you have more time check out: The Mitchell Park Show Dome. We have heard great things about it and plan to visit next time we go! Or maybe check out a city tour or the Pfister Hotel.
By no means is this list complete, as there are more things to do in Milwaukee than you can imagine, but we hope you’ve enjoyed these Milwaukee things to do. If we missed any must do’s, let us know in the comments below!
Where To Stay
We recommend Jellystone Caledonia for tent or RV camping. You’ll get a clean, family friendly experience here and it is only about a 20 minute drive from many of the activities listed above.
The Brewhouse Inn and Suites – If you really want to lean in to the Brew Town nature of Milwaukee, consider staying in the former Pabst Brewing Company Brewhouse, which is now gorgeously renovated luxury suites located right in downtown.
Sleep Inn and Suites – 8 miles from downtown, this hotel offers funky, family-friendly suites and a complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport ( a short, <2 mile drive.)
There are some great Airbnb Milwaukee options!
Artist’s Oasis – This beautifully designed Tudor style home will be a delight to stay in while you enjoy the unique experiences Milwaukee has to offer. Located on the east side near the lakefront.
Contemporary Farmhouse – this renovated farmhouse is located in the Bay View neighborhood and has room for a crowd with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.
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