Weekend getaways to Milwaukee keep kids busy and feed their imaginations with family-friendly museums, a zoo, science center and food attractions.

By Amy Lynch
Updated March 07, 2021
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Pandemic-related closures and restrictions may be in place. Please check destinations' websites before making travel plans.

Discovery World 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. discoveryworld.org

Discovery World
Discovery World
| Credit: Courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

Sprecher Brewery Sprecher hosts informative brewery 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 unlimited free pop samples at the end of the tour; fizzy flavors include root beer, orange, ginger ale and red cream. Reservations required. sprecherbrewery.com

Milwaukee County Zoo More than 2,000 animals, birds, amphibians and fish live in habitats spread across 200 wooded acres. 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. milwaukeezoo.org

Milwaukee County Zoo
Milwaukee County Zoo
| Credit: Courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

Harley-Davidson Museum Relax. It's perfectly fine to let the kids don some biker duds, saddle up kid-size motorcycles and rev away. 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. Guided tours are available. harley-davidson.com

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. giftofwings.com

Gift of Wings. Photo courtesy of Visit Milwaukee.
Gift of Wings. Photo courtesy of Visit Milwaukee.

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. mpm.edu

Milwaukee Public Museum
Milwaukee Public Museum
| Credit: Courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

Bradford Beach Bring a towel and relax, or get in on a soccer or sand volleyball game. Beachside snack bars make it easy to find ice cream and drinks. bradfordbeachmke.com

Mitchell Park Domes Explore the desert dome, tropical dome and themed floral shows at the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, better known as The Domes. county.milwaukee.gov

Betty Brinn Children's Museum (Temporarily closed due to the pandemic) 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. bbcmkids.org