The mid-western state of Wisconsin is home to spectacular natural scenery, two Great Lakes – Lake Michigan and Lake Superior – dense forests and rolling farmlands. The Badger State is packed with fun things to do for the whole family from several children’s museums in Milwaukee, La Crosse, and Madison and experiencing the spectacular beauty of the speleothems in the Cave of the Mounds to exploring the history of the circus in Baraboo and hiking and mountain biking at the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center.
1.Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary
The Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary is a pristine 600-acre wildlife refuge in Green Bay and home to an extensive wildlife rehabilitation program. The largest park in the Wisconsin Park system and open to the public year-round, the sanctuary cares for injured and sick wild animals and rehabilitates them to return to the wild. Those that cannot be returned to the wild are cared for and given a permanent home at the sanctuary. The Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary features a variety of attractions, including exhibits of live animals, many of which are native to Wisconsin, including bobcats, foxes, wolves, and several species of birds. The park also offers miles of hiking and skiing trails, wildlife viewing opportunities, and environmental education programs.
1660 E Shore Drive, Green Bay, WI 54302, Phone: 920-391-3671
2.Betty Brinn Children's Museum
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The Betty Brinn Children's Museum in Milwaukee is explicitly designed for kids under the age of ten and features a variety of fun, interactive, and immersive exhibits and programs that enable children to learn through play. The educational museum was founded by three women who wanted to provide a place for children to explore, discover, and learn through adventure and play and features hands-on displays where children can role-play, such as a grocery store, a design workshop, and an art room. The Betty Brinn Children's Museum also offers a variety of field trips and programs for scouts and girl guides.
929 E Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202, Phone: 414-390-5437
3.Cave of The Mounds
Cave of the Mounds is a natural limestone cave and National Natural Landmark near Blue Mounds that features a spectacular array of mineral formations called speleothems. Visitors can explore the caves on guided daily tours on paved, lighted walkways that showcase the natural beauty of the geologic wonder and its colorful crystal formations. The caves have a constant 50-degree temperature throughout the year, making it pleasant for visitors to experience the crystallized rock formations, stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and shimmering pools. Other attractions include a gemstone mine, a fossil dig, hiking and biking trails, butterfly gardens, a picnic area, and a gift shop.
2975 Cave of the Mounds Road, Blue Mounds, WI 53517, Phone: 608-437-3038
4.Children’s Museum of La Crosse
The Children’s Museum of La Crosse is an educational institution in historic downtown La Crosse that features three floors of interactive exhibits that encourage children up the ages of 12 to learn through play. Attractions at the museum include interactive exhibits such as a climbing wall, a fire truck, a story library, a treehouse, and grocery store, as well as a multipurpose theatre, and a gift shop selling educational books, games, and toys. The museum has two birthday party rooms to cater for celebrations, and hosts summer day camps, holiday functions, and other special events.
207 5th Ave S, La Crosse, WI 54601, Phone: 608-784-2652
5.Chippewa Falls Museum of Industry and Technology
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The Chippewa Falls Museum of Industry and Technology preserves and promotes the history of industry and technology in the Chippewa Valley. The museum documents the history of technological sectors dating back to 1840 and boasts an extensive collection of Cray supercomputers, including Control Data machines designed by Seymour Cray, and other related artifacts. In addition to the fascinating exhibits and displays, the museum offers a range of hands-on learning activities and educational programs for all ages.
21 E Grand Ave, Chippewa Falls, WI 54729, Phone: 715-720-9206
6.Circus World Museum
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The Circus World Museum is a large museum complex in Baraboo that celebrates the history of the circus. The 64-acre complex features 30 permanent structures, including the training complex for the Ringling Bros. Circus, which was founded by five brothers in 1884 and known as Ringlingville. The training complex buildings include the Animal House, the Elephant House, the Baggage Horse Barn, the Ring Barn, the Winter Quarters Office, and the Wardrobe Department. The museum is home to a vast collection of circus-related artifacts and objects, including over 200 original wagons and other vehicles used by circuses all over the world. Visitors can explore the museum on guided tours which offer behind-the-scenes glimpses into circus life.
550 Water St, Baraboo, WI 53913, Phone: 608-356-8341
7.Death's Door Maritime Museum
Located in the village of Gills Rock on the Door County peninsula, the Death’s Door Maritime Museum documents the rich history of the area’s commercial fishing industry. Nestled on the shores of Porte des Mortes (Death’s Door), the museum features several informative exhibits, including a wooden fishing tug called Hope, a shipwreck and scuba diving exhibit, artifacts brought up from the bottom of Lake Michigan, and a beautiful bronze sculpture honoring commercial fishing in Northern Door. The Death’s Door Maritime Museum is open mid-May to mid-October.
12724 W Wisconsin Bay Road, Ellison Bay, WI 54210, Phone: 920-743-5958
8.East Troy Electric Railroad
The East Troy Railroad is a living history museum that offers visitors the opportunity to experience what I was like riding an electric trolley a century ago. The family-friendly trolley museum operates scenic train rides on Chicago, South Shore, and South Bend interurban cars each weekend from April through October, along with dinner trains, family picnic trains, Christmas trains, and other special events. The museum is home to over 30 historic railroad cars, including 17 operating trains, and the only working Milwaukee Streetcar in existence.
2002 Church St, East Troy, WI 53120, Phone: 262-642-3263
9.Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame
Located on the main floor of the Lambeau Field Atrium in Lambeau Field, the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame honors the Green Bay Packers professional American football team. Founded in 1966 by Green Bay restaurateur and Packers fan, William L. Brault, the 15,000-square-foot, two-level Hall of Fame features nine permanent galleries that use state-of-the-art technology to create enhanced interactive displays, along with inspiring exhibits of artifacts and objects relating to football and two temporary exhibit spaces. The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame is a self-guided attraction and takes about two hours to explore.
1265 Lombardi Ave, Green Bay, WI 54304, Phone: 920-569-7512
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10.Lumberjack Steam Train
The Lumberjack Steam Train is a passenger excursion train that is made up of a steam locomotive, passenger coaches, and cabooses that runs from the outskirts of Laona to the museum site. The train operates on the Laona and Northern Railway, a heritage railroad and part of the Camp Five Museum, which is a living history museum that documents the history of transportation history and the forest industry of Wisconsin. The museum includes the Camp Five Farmstead, also known as Camp Five Logging Camp, an old logging camp that is listed on the National Historic Register of Places and can be explored on the same ticket purchased for the Lumberjack Steam Train. Other attractions that can be enjoyed at the Logging Camp Complex include the Logging Museum and Blacksmith Shop, the Cracker Barrel Store, the Animal Barn and Corral, and the Choo Choo Hut Restaurant.
5068 US-8, Laona, WI 54541, Phone: 715-674-3414
11.MacKenzie Environmental Education Center
The MacKenzie Environmental Education Center is home to a variety of ecosystems, fauna, and flora. Located just 25 miles north of Madison, the center encompasses 250 acres and offers a range of outdoor recreational activities for the whole family, from hiking and mountain biking to picnicking, and hands-on nature walks. The center features a lodge with a kitchen for private functions, two dormitories that can sleep up to 80 people, a conservation museum, a logging exhibit with a 19th-century log cabin and sawmill, and a maple syrup facility. The grounds include an arboretum, a variety of prairie habitats, a pond habitat, several nature trails, an observation tower, and a large picnic area and pavilion for families with modern restrooms.
7303 County Road CS & Q, Poynette, WI 53955, Phone: 608-635-8105
12.Madison Children's Museum
The Madison Children's Museum is designed to encourage children to learn through play and features a variety of one-of-a-kind interactive exhibits, immersive displays, hands-on activities, and year-round special events. The presentations cover topics like arts and crafts, history, culture, health, and the sciences, and include an art studio, an urban garden, a community concourse, and a rooftop ramble. The museum also offers a wide range of educational programs and workshops for adults and children of all ages, including summer camps, scout and girl guide programs, and Adult Swim.
2116, 100 N Hamilton St, Madison, WI 53703, Phone: 608-256-6445
13.Mid Continent Railway Museum
The Mid-Continent Railway Museum is a history and railroad museum in North Freedom that documents and preserves the Golden Age of Railroading. The indoor/outdoor museum features many beautifully restored railroad cars and locomotives, as well as several buildings that can be explored on a tour of the grounds, including a depot, a coach shed, a freight house, a water tower, an engine house, a crossing shanty and tower, and a section shed. Visitors can enjoy a seven-mile round-trip ride on historic railroad cars, as well as onboard dining and other special events.
E8948 Museum Rd, North Freedom, WI 53951, Phone: 608-522-4261
14.Milwaukee County Zoo
The Milwaukee County Zoo is a 190-acre animal sanctuary that is home to over 3,100 mammals, amphibians, birds, fish, and reptiles in specialized habitats. Established in 1892, the zoo has been hailed as one of the country’s most beautiful zoological attractions and features several outstanding exhibits, including Taylor Family Humboldt Penguins, the Herb, and Nada Mahler Family Aviary, Sterns Family Apes of Africa, Primates of the World, and Macaque Island. Visitors can explore the zoo on a fun safari train ride, and the zoo offers a range of educational programs, summer camps, and workshops throughout the year.
10001 W Bluemound Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226
15.Mulberry Lane Farm
The Mulberry Lane Petting Farm offers a fun-filled country experience for families where children of all ages can meet, greet, and learn all about farm animals through interactive and hands-on activities. Kids can meet and pet a range of farm animals from pigs, goats, and geese to donkeys, cows and sheep, and enjoy hayrides, pony rides, and milking cows. There are plenty of spots to enjoy old-fashioned summer and springtime picnics and a playground area, and the farm’s famous Pumpkin Patch offers lots of pumpkin-picking in the Fall. Mulberry Lane Farm also provides a beautiful venue for country chic weddings and other special occasions.
W3190 Co Rd B, Hilbert, WI 54129, Phone: 920-989-3130
16.National Railroad Museum
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The National Railroad Museum is a railroad museum located in Ashwaubenon preserves and interprets the nation's railroad history. Founded in 1956, by community volunteers in Green Bay, the National Railroad Museum is one of the oldest institutions in the United States. Exhibits at the museum include the Jodey Lenfestey Children's Discovery Depot, Dwight a D. Eisenhower Locomotive and Command Cars, a General Motors Aerotrain, and a Rare Views on The Rails: A Railroad Photography Experience. Visitors can enjoy a ride on a vintage train during which the conductor points out highlights of the Museum and discusses hobo culture; and 25-minute documentary entitled Last of the Giants, which chronicles the Union Pacific Big Boys.
2285 S Broadway, Green Bay, WI 54304, Phone: 920-437-7623
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17.NEW Zoo & Adventure Park (Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo)
The Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo, commonly referred to as the NEW Zoo & Adventure Park, is a 43-acre animal sanctuary located within the Brown County Reforestation Camp near downtown Green Bay. The zoo and the camp function as a 1560-acre recreational area and offer miles of hiking, mountain biking, and nature trails, trout ponds, picnic areas, and animal exhibits. Attractions at the zoo and camp include behind-the-scenes tours of the zoo, ziplining from an observation tower, breakfast with the animals, and giraffe feeding, along with adventure camps, workshops, summer camps, and overnight programs.
4378 Reforestation Rd, Green Bay, WI 54313
18.Northwood's Children's Museum
The Northwoods Children’s Museum is an interactive educational facility in Eagle River that is designed to encourage children to learn through play. The museum features 24 hands-on exhibits created for children between the ages of one and 11 years, including an arts and crafts center, and a fascinating exhibition on the human body. A seasonal theme area encourages children to explore and offers hours of hands-on fun through interactive play. The museum also provides a variety of educational classes and programs, as well as the Discovery Toy Store, and a gift shop.
346 W Division St, Eagle River, WI 54521, Phone: 715-479-4623
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19.Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum
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Located in Carson Park, the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum documents the history of logging through a range of informative exhibits and displays. The museum boasts a whimsical Paul Bunyan theme and several interactive exhibits for children of all ages, including a blacksmith shop, a bunkhouse, a farmyard barn, a filer’s shack, a cook’s cabin, heavy equipment sheds, a foreman's office, and a wanigan. Other attractions include watching a movie about logging in the 1800s and having a photograph taken with Paul Bunyan and his faithful blue ox, Babe.
1110 E Half Moon Dr, Eau Claire, WI 54703, Phone: 715-835-6200
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20.Railroad Memories Museum
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Located in the old OMAHA/CNW depot in downtown Spooner, the Railroad Memories Museum celebrates and preserves Spooner's railroad history and heritage through an extensive collection of railroad memorabilia. Run by volunteers and retired railroaders, the museum comprises 13 rooms filled with historical documents, railroad equipment, and railroad-related artifacts and items such as lights, railroad bells, timetables, whistles, photos, art and antiques, and advertisements. A television in the main room shows videos of a 'G' gauge model running on an elevated track with both a steam passenger and a diesel freight.
424 N Front St, Spooner, WI 54801, Phone: 715-635-3325
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21.The Building for Kids
Located in the City Center Plaza in downtown Appleton, the Building for Kids is a children’s museum designed to encourage children under the age of seven to learn through play. Established in 1991 as the Fox Cities Children’s Museum and later renamed as the Building for Kids, the museum features a diverse range of hands-on exhibits, including the Big Rig Depot, Fox Communities Credit Union’s Littlest Branch, Innovation Lab, the Amazing Heart Slide, Construction Junction, and the da Vinci Studio. Educational programs at the museum include Storybook Stars, Golf Fore Children, Children’s Parade, Sensory Superstars, and SPARK!
100 W College Ave, Appleton, WI 54911, Phone: 920-734-3226
22.Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue
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The Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue is an animal sanctuary that provides a safe home for abused and abandoned big cats. The non-profit organization rescues and shelters big cats that have been abused abandoned, or seized in the United States, including lions, tigers, and leopards and shelters them in large, natural habitats. The center also aims to educate the public about big cats and the importance of their role in the natural world through informative exhibits and displays, self-guided tours, and feeding experiences.
305 Pine St, Rock Springs, WI 53961, Phone: 608-524-5466
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23.Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center
The Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center is a museum that celebrates Wisconsin’s number one fruit, the cranberry. Located at the historic Union Cranberry Warehouse in Downtown Warrens, the museum provides the ultimate guide to everything about the little fruit, the history of Wisconsin cranberries, and the cranberry industry. The one-of-a-kind center was opened in 2004 by the Potter family, and today features a museum with a range of exciting exhibits and displays, an ice cream parlor, and a gift shop. Visitors can explore the museum on guided tours and see machinery from the early years, the evolution of farming methods over the decades, and the history of cranberry growing in Wisconsin.
204 Main Street, Warrens, WI 54666, Phone: 608-378-4878
23 Fun Things to Do in Wisconsin with Kids of All Ages
- Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, Photo: JRJfin/stock.adobe.com
- Betty Brinn Children's Museum, Photo: Joaquin Corbalan/stock.adobe.com
- Cave of The Mounds, Photo: bjphotographs/stock.adobe.com
- Children’s Museum of La Crosse, Photo: stock.adobe.com
- Chippewa Falls Museum of Industry and Technology, Photo: morgan rauscher/stock.adobe.com
- Circus World Museum, Photo: Andrea Izzotti/stock.adobe.com
- Death's Door Maritime Museum, Photo: lesniewski/stock.adobe.com
- East Troy Electric Railroad, Photo: Nueng/stock.adobe.com
- Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame, Photo: Rawpixel.com/stock.adobe.com
- Lumberjack Steam Train, Photo: Gudellaphoto/stock.adobe.com
- MacKenzie Environmental Education Center, Photo: Mary/stock.adobe.com
- Madison Children's Museum, Photo: davit85/stock.adobe.com
- Mid Continent Railway Museum, Photo: Gudellaphoto/stock.adobe.com
- Milwaukee County Zoo, Photo: Ian/stock.adobe.com
- Mulberry Lane Farm, Photo: edorovekb/stock.adobe.com
- National Railroad Museum, Photo: Petr Bonek/stock.adobe.com
- NEW Zoo & Adventure Park (Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo), Photo: stock.adobe.com
- Northwood's Children's Museum, Photo: sycheva2016/stock.adobe.com
- Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum, Photo: Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum
- Railroad Memories Museum, Photo: Alessandro Cristiano/stock.adobe.com
- The Building for Kids, Photo: triocean/stock.adobe.com
- Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue, Photo: Motion Photography/stock.adobe.com
- Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center, Photo: makedonski2015/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Maryna/stock.adobe.com