Fun family activities in Milwaukee

Milwaukee, Wisconsin is the biggest small town in America. It offers many of the attractions of a big city such as a symphony orchestra, world-class architecture and summer-long festivals and events, yet it has a friendly small town feel. Milwaukee has lots of activities and attractions for the whole family.

Lake Michigan

If you keep traveling east anywhere in Milwaukee you’ll eventually find Lake Michigan. At 22,300 square miles, Lake Michigan is the largest freshwater lake in the United States. Take the family for a day of sunbathing, swimming and playing in the sand at any of the five beaches in the Milwaukee County Park System (Grant Park is my favorite-not crowded, hiking trails, playgrounds for kids and a golf course). There are other beaches to enjoy as well in the surrounding area. Milwaukee offers many opportunities for boating, sailing, diving and other water activities. A ferry can speed you across Lake Michigan from Milwaukee to Muskegon, Michigan in just two and a half hours.

The Domes

Mitchell Park is home to three, 85 feet tall, glass domes where plants from all over the world grow year-round. The Arid Dome houses desert plants such as cacti from North America to plants native to Madagascar. Birds mingle among the palms, banana trees, hibiscus and other rainforest type plants in the Tropical Dome. Children will especially enjoy the waterfall and colorful fish. The Floral Show Dome has spectacular changing floral displays around a specific theme such as trains, Lego or holiday themes.

Milwaukee Art Museum

Besides being home to some of the world’s finest art from Old Masters to American decorative arts to works by Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, the Milwaukee Art Museum itself is a work of art by several world-class architects. The distinctive opening and closing of the Burke Brise Soleil by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava is a sight the whole family will enjoy.

Milwaukee Zoo

The Milwaukee County Zoo sits on two hundred acres in the middle of Milwaukee with 350 animal species from all over the world including four new meerkat brothers. The zoo has shows at certain times of day with trained seals, birds and others (a raven picked a can from my hand and nodded a thank-you!). A train takes visitors around the circumference of the park, or the kids can have a pony or camel ride. Plan on a whole day for this one and don’t miss the Animal Health Center where visitors can view sick or injured animals being cared for by veterinary staff.

Festivals

Families can find something to do every weekend all summer long in Milwaukee. The lakefront is home to a number of festivals, the largest being Summerfest, eleven days of music with over 700 bands. Many ethnic groups also hold festivals such as Polish Fest, Irish Fest, Mexican Fiesta, Indian Summer Fest, etc. These festivals have lots of good food, drink, music, dancing and other activities, and most of them end with fireworks. Speaking of fireworks, Summerfest has spectacular ones on July 3rd; then enjoy lots more around Milwaukee County on July 4th. View them from Lake Michigan for added pleasure.

Anyone can find something to do in Milwaukee. People are friendly and though you may run into some crowds (July 3rd fireworks), it’s not as bad as some bigger cities. Families with children will find a myriad of activities.