Top Things to Do in Milwaukee with Kids
This 120,000-square-foot science center brims with high-tech exhibits, such as a flight simulator, 3D tour of planet Earth, Les Paul's House of Sound, and a touch tank filled with sharks and stingrays. Water is a popular theme; not only is the center on the lakefront but it also has fresh- and salt-water aquariums as well as displays on aquatic life around the world. In the summer, a re-created 19th-century schooner serves as a floating classroom and cruises around Lake Michigan on short sails.
Sprecher hosts informative tours through the cellar, bottling line and warehouse to demonstrate how beer is made using old-world German traditions. Fun for adults, sure, but did you know the company also produces flavored soda pop? Bring the kids, and let them indulge in free pop samples at the end of the tour; fizzy flavors include root beer, orange, ginger ale and red cream. Reservations recommended.
Related: Top Things to Do in Milwaukee
Milwaukee County Zoo
More than 2,000 animals, birds, amphibians and fish live in habitats spread across 200 wooded acres at the Milwaukee County Zoo. See wildlife from around the world, including kangaroos, reindeer, red pandas, gorillas, penguins and anacondas. Guests craving encounters hand-feed giraffes and pet stingrays and sharks. More adventure awaits on the zip-line and ropes courses. The ski lift-style Sky Safari ride or a cruise on the Safari Train pleases younger—or slightly less adventurous—visitors.
Relax. It's perfectly fine to let the kids don some biker duds, saddle up kid-size motorcycles and rev away at the Harley-Davidson Museum. If you can tear them off the Evel Knievel video game, that is. And make sure they grab a free "Peashooters" activity guide on the way in. The full-size Harleys on display range from hulking World War II-era machines to sleek modern cruisers; check out the "exploded" bike in the Engine Room for a 3D look at how all the parts fit together.
Gift of Wings
Take to the air with high-flying fun for the whole family. This Veteran's Park shop sells and rents kites of all sizes, shapes and colors; you can even check the weather forecast and local wind speeds ahead of time on the store's website. The staff provides flying lessons if you need them, and Gift of Wings fills the lakefront sky with soaring kites during a number of festivals throughout the year.
Milwaukee Public Museum
Displays at this top-ranked natural history museum span the globe, including the Pacific Islands, Costa Rican rainforest, Africa, Asia and the Arctic. Must-sees include the world's largest known dinosaur skull, a gallery where visitors stroll amid free-flying butterflies, and life-size dioramas that let guests experience Milwaukee as it was in the 1880s.
Bring a towel and relax at Bradford Beach, or get in on a soccer or sand volleyball game. Beachside snack bars make it easy to find ice cream and drinks.
Mitchell Park Domes
Explore the desert dome, tropical dome and themed floral shows at the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, better known as The Domes.
Betty Brinn Children's Museum
If you've got kids 10 and under, check out this hands-on museum where little ones conduct news broadcasts, manage a bank transaction at a drive-up window and crawl through a giant human heart. The facility honors the late Betty Brinn, a successful Milwaukee businesswoman who was raised in foster homes and later went on to do inspiring work with underprivileged women and children.
AJ Bomber's and Safe House
Kids will love these one-of-a-kind restaurants. At AJ Bomber's burger joint, peanut shells litter the floor and crayon graffiti decorates the walls. Nuts are delivered via overhead "bombers." Safe House is especially kid-friendly at lunch (the bar scene is livelier in the evening); kids can go on spy missions and explore the rooms while they're waiting for their food. If you can find the restaurant to begin with, that is.