Most every major city has a children’s museum—Milwaukee included—and playgrounds for the kids to burn off steam, but Wisconsin’s largest city has so much more in terms of kid-friendly fun. From ecology to entertainment, here’s where to take the tots on a day in Milwaukee, no matter the season.
Learn About Conservation at Urban Ecology Center
Since its founding in the early ‘90s, Urban Ecology Center has spread its wings beyond Riverside Park on Milwaukee’s East Side. There are now three locations (the additional two are in Washington Park and Menomonee Valley). While some events carry a fee, plenty do not—and ones created with children in mind are clearly indicated. Examples are Eco-Art Wednesdays, Washington Park Young Scientist Club and animal feedings. Check the center’s online calendar for up-to-date info.
See the Stars at Daniel M. Soref National Geographic Dome Theater & Planetarium
Tucked into the Milwaukee Public Museum in downtown Milwaukee is a full-on dome theater for IMAX films and planetarium shows. Included with museum admission is entrance to this theater for a planetarium show; others cost additional. Currently showing is “Extreme Weather 3D” and “Great White Shark.” Show times are posted here.
Explore Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
Located in downtown Milwaukee near the lakefront, this museum highlights Milwaukee’s industries, from Harley-Davidson to a faux Sendiks where kids can “check out” with their carts or baskets of groceries, and a replica city bus. Other interactive exhibits are Pocket Park (a replica urban park just for pre-school children) and Word Headquarters (a pretend global-communications company with word games and literary tiles).
See a Show at First Stage Milwaukee
Does your child have thespian dreams? Then take him or her to a First Stage Milwaukee performance for inspiration. All of the performances are geared for kids and many of the actors are kids, pre-teens and teens.
Engage With Science at Discovery World
Part museum, part aquarium, this lakefront museum is filled to the brim with interactive activities. That it’s right on the harborfront, adjacent to Lakeshore State Park, means you can also build in a short hike or picnic before or after your visit to Discovery World. All under one roof are the Reiman Aquarium, an exhibit called “Great Lakes Future,” “Les Paul’s House of Sound” and—when it’s in port—the S/V Denis Sullivan schooner, the world’s only re-creation of a 19th Century three-masted Great Lakes Schooner.
Conquer Fears at Adventure Rock
This climbing gym has two locations: in Brookfield and Milwaukee’s East Side. Youth between the ages of six and 14 years old can participate in special classes just for them. “Wee Climb” is a six-week session for 6- to 8-year-olds and “First Ascent” is for older kids (ages nine to 14), also a six-week session.
Create and Appreciate art at Milwaukee Art Museum
Even if your child isn’t yet interested in art museums or has the patience to tour a gallery, the Milwaukee Art Museum hosts hands-on craft sessions that are just for kids. These are held in the Kohl’s Art Generation Studio at the museum from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. most Saturdays and Sundays. Check the museum’s online calendar for other kid-friendly activities at the Milwaukee Art Museum.