If you haven’t visited Milwaukee with kids, you don’t know what you’re missing. This city on Lake Michigan has family friendly museums, restaurants, and festivals to appeal to children of all ages. The city is fairly easy to maneuver, has a stunning lakefront, and is perfect for a weekend getaway. We love visiting from Chicago and each time we are pleasantly surprised to discover new sights to explore as a family.
Best family attractions in Milwaukee
If you’re looking for a fun road trip in the Midwest, Milwaukee is the perfect choice. It has a rich history, outdoor adventures, and a crazy good food scene. If you’re taking a road trip with kids, we are sure they will love it!
1. Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
This children’s museum in Milwaukee will entertain kids for many hours. They can pretend to check out your groceries, perform maintenance on a kid sized car, and mail you a letter from the post office. Your child’s imagination is the limit!
Everything is interactive and infants up through age 8 will be entertained for a couple of hours by everything there is to do in this museum. Educational and exciting for little ones, visitors won’t be disappointed they made the trip.
2. Discovery World
My kids have a thing for science museums (this is the third one we’ve visited this year) and they love Discovery World. There’s a music factory where children can create their own music, a simple machine shipyard where they learn the basics of mechanics, and an aquarium where they can pet sting rays and sharks.
The museum occupies a gorgeous space on the lakefront and has its own sailing vessel you can visit or take out for a tour on the lake. Definitely something you don’t find every day.
3. American Family Field
American Family Field (formerly Miller Park) is the home of the Milwaukee Brewers. Even if you’re not a baseball fan (or a Brewers fan), this is a fun place to spend a day with the kids.
It is a beautiful, clean stadium with a retractable roof and a ton of fun kids activities. What kid wouldn’t love watching life size sausages racing around the park between innings? A hit for so many reasons. Take them out to the ball game, you won’t be disappointed.
4. Milwaukee County Zoo
I can’t lie, we will often travel to the Milwaukee County Zoo because it’s more convenient to reach than the ones in Chicago. We also love taking a ride on the Sky Safari, the opportunity to feed the giraffes, and watching the crazy antics of the seals and sea lions.
The zoo features over 2,000 animals and covers 200 wooded acres, the hardest part is knowing where to begin once you arrive. There’s also a zipline and ropes course for those feeling adventurous and a zoo train for those looking for a leisurely way to explore the zoo. If your kids love a zoo, this is the place for you.
5. Milwaukee Public Museum
Don’t be thrown off by the uninspiring name, the Milwaukee Public Museum is anything but boring. This natural history museum houses dinosaur bones, a tropical butterfly garden, a re-created European village, and an IMAX theater. That’s just the beginning, and visitors will be amazed by the variety of artifacts they will find.
If you’re traveling by car, be sure to grab our road trip essentials!
6. Beaches in Milwaukee
If your hotel doesn’t have a swimming pool (many of the downtown hotels do not), head for Bradford Beach which is a popular destination near downtown. There are biking and jogging trails that run along the lakefront if you would rather go for a stroll.
We headed 5 miles further north to Atwater Park in Shorewood (close to Sprecher Brewery below) and enjoyed the playgrounds and beach there. It’s a long hike down to the beach, but definitely worth a stop.
7. Explore the SafeHouse
We didn’t know what to expect from this “secret” restaurant where you need a password to enter and experience life as a “spy”. Our kids thought this place was a hoot and they loved their secret mission that took them all over the restaurant looking for clues while we waited for lunch to be served.
I have to be honest, don’t go for the food, you’ll be disappointed. Go for the spy experience and be sure to bring a quarter for the secret getaway phone booth. The kids will remember this experience for a long time.
8. Sprecher Brewery
Many people look at me funny for suggesting a brewery tour with children, but this isn’t your ordinary brewery. The Sprecher brewing company manufactures not only beer, but gourmet soda as well.
The kids may not find the tour through the brewery very exciting, but all bets are off once they discover they can drink all the free soda they want.
Some of their favorites might include cherry cola, grape, orange cream, and the famous Sprecher root beer. We literally had to drag our kids out of there, they were having so much fun!
9. Harley Davidson Museum
I didn’t think I would enjoy the Harley Davidson museum, but I was pleasantly surprised. The museum does a great job appealing to kids, and parents will appreciate the museum’s hands on exhibits. Kids will love dressing up in their own Harley gear and creating their own Build-A-Bike.
The place is gorgeous and the layout almost seems more like an art exhibit than a collection of motorcycles. Harley Davidson knocked it out of the park with this one.
10. Visit a festival
Milwaukee is known for its amazing summer festival, Summerfest, but there are festivals all year long. Many are kid friendly and tons of fun. The Wisconsin State Fair is also held in Milwaukee in the summer. It’s worth the trip!
Where to Eat in Milwaukee with kids
There is no shortage of delicious food in Milwaukee and we would highly recommend Mader’s for an authentic German experience, Café Benelux for its cinnamon streusel french toast, or Milwaukee Public Market where you can find a variety of fresh food from local vendors.
Head to the Purple Door for a sweet treat and enjoy their artisan ice cream, with rotating flavors to choose from and ice cream flights. Yum!
Where to stay in Milwaukee with kids
Families will like the spacious suites and free breakfast at the Residence Inn downtown. The DoubleTree is close to the Milwaukee Public Museum and Mader’s, has decent sized rooms and warm chocolate chip cookies on arrival (kids love that).
The Hilton Garden Inn is located in the heart of the city and is walking distance to all attractions. All rooms have refrigerators and microwaves which is perfect for families on the go.
Book Your Flights
You can find discounted fares using sites like Momondo or Skyscanner. If you want to keep an eye on discount fares, we suggest signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights, a daily newsletter with flight sales around the world.
If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. It’s nice to have a space where you can relax before your flight.
Book Your Accommodation
We regularly use Hotels.com and Expedia.com to find lodging when we travel. It’s a great way to compare vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts.
If your family knows they want to stay in a vacation rental, we recommend looking at VRBO and Plum Guide.
Book Your Transportation
For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. We tend to use Hertz simply for the quality of service.
Book Your Tours and Travel Photos
We regularly used companies like Viator and GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. Both have great communication and a large variety of activities that work for all ages.
If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City. Tiqets is another place to purchase tickets for attractions.
Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational based activities. The former teacher in me loves their tours.
One of our favorite things to do annually is take photos with Flytographer. They have photographers around the world and we’ve used them on four separate occasions. This is our favorite travel souvenir.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
With the state of travel these days, it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threat or cancellations. We always travel with insurance and would recommend SquareMouth, Travelex, or Medjet as good options. And if you want to compare different insurance options, use Travel Insurance Master to find the best policy for your group.