Plan your next vacation with kids to one of these best places to visit in Wisconsin for families! Whether you’re looking for a family day trip or a weekend getaway, there’s something to please everyone in this large Midwestern state. Of course, when visiting Wisconsin with your kids, there’s a lot of planning to do. On this list, we’ve put together the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families, including charming towns, water parks, state parks, and more adventures. In case you need hotel suggestions, we’ve also included where to stay in Wisconsin with kids. Keep reading for our list of the Best Places To Visit In Wisconsin For Families!
Best Charming Towns & Cities to Visit in Wisconsin for Families
Wisconsin is home to some of the most charming towns in the United States for families! Whether you’re looking for laidback fun outside or indoor activities, stay tuned for our suggestions on the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families! Certainly, these cities boast some of the most fun things to do in Wisconsin with kids! If you want to learn all about Wisconsin for kids, getting to know these cities is a great start.
Eau Claire is a quaint Wisconsin city with plenty of opportunities for adventure. Outdoorsy families can fish, hike, and enjoy a small sandy beach at Big Falls County Park (expect a small entrance fee). Or, for an urban experience, explore the historic downtown and stroll along the river in Phoenix Park. If you’re visiting in the summer, check out the schedule for local shoes and the weekly farmer’s market.
Then, families with young children can spend a day indoors at the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, one of the best children’s museums in Wisconsin. Older kids will also appreciate the artifacts at the Chippewa Valley Museum. For a dose of culture, don’t miss a family-friendly production at the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre or the Pablo Center at the Confluence! This is surely one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families!
Please note: Swimming at Big Falls County Park is best for tweens and teens who can swim on their own. This area is known for strong currents, especially when the water is high. There are no lifeguards on duty.
La Crosse is one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families. Located along the Mississippi River, families flock to this area during the summer for its abundance of outdoor activities. One popular excursion is paddling, kayaking, and canoeing on the Mississippi River. Families can also go hiking at Grandad Bluff Park, the Mathy Tract – Mississippi Valley Conservancy, or head north to Perrot State Park for incredible views. Kids will also love a 90-minute trail ride on horseback with Redrock Trail Rides LLC!
On a rainy day, visit the Children’s Museum of La Crosse, featuring exhibits on fire trucks, rivers and bridges, and more. Plus, it’s one of the best children’s museums in Wisconsin! End your stay by getting the full Wisconsin experience at Digger’s Sting Restaurant, a local supper club. Finally, La Crosse is just across the river from Minnesota (30 minutes from Winona, and about 2.5 hours from Minneapolis), making it a great location for families interested in a two-state Midwest trip.
Bayfield & the Apostle Islands
Take your next Wisconsin family vacation to Bayfield, a small city located on Lake Superior. As an entry point to the Apostle Islands, this coastal destination is sure to charm all members of your family, whether you want to enjoy a city or an island vibe. Stay on the mainland or head to Madeline Island by ferry to hike, bike, kayak, swim, and canoe. In downtown Bayfield, see some of the largest collections of Victorian homes in the Midwest or visit the Bayfield Maritime Museum. Depending on the season, head to Blue Vista Farm to go fruit picking and see what farm life is like. Don’t miss the freshest fish Bayfield has to offer at The Copper Trout!
Lake Geneva is one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families, especially during the summer. Famous for its lakeside location, Victorian architecture, and beautiful scenery, it features a cute downtown area with award-winning restaurants, plus luxury accommodations. There are also many things to do in Lake Geneva with kids, including boating, fishing, or swimming. Families can choose from four beaches and options for boating of all sorts, including the Lake Geneva Cruise Line.
You can also appreciate the natural beauty on the Geneva Lake Shore Path, which is 26-miles-long with shorter a segment starting at Library Park. See animals on the lake, visit Safari Lake Geneva, or enjoy a show at Dancing Horses Theatre. Older kids will also love the chance to soar through the trees with Lake Geneva Ziplines & Adventures.
Home to museums, scenic parks, and other fun attractions for kids, Madison is a wonderful city for all ages. Animal and nature lovers can visit Henry Villas Zoo, the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Vilas Park, and the UW-Madison Arboretum. Or, walk down State Street, a half-mile-long pedestrian mall, see a performance at the Overture Center for the Arts, and visit the Dane County Farmers’ Market, held from April to November on Saturday mornings on the Capitol Square.
Young children will adore exploring the Madison Children’s Museum, one of the best children’s museums in Wisconsin. Plus, there are splash pads located across the city for hot summer days. Alternatively, older kids will enjoy visiting the Wisconsin Historical Museum or the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. For dinner, Memorial Union Terrace has incredible views over the lake. Madison also has family-friendly breweries too, many offering family game nights and live music. Capital Brewing and Wisconsin Brewing Company are two great options. Lastly, don’t forget the campus-made ice cream at Babcock Hall Dairy Store!
Port Washington is the perfect location for kids who love the water. Just north of Milwaukee, this charming Wisconsin town is located on Lake Michigan, featuring multiple miles of shoreline at Port Washington South Beach Park. Families could easily spend hours swimming, fishing, and boating, whether at the beach or on the lake. Charter a salmon or trout fishing adventure with Nicky Boy Charters or fish at Harrington Beach State Park. Other outdoor adventures include hiking along the bluffs at Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve. Walk through the historic downtown or visit the Possibility Playground. Looking for an indoor activity in Port Washington? Visit the Port Exploreum Museum to travel back in time to the sunken ships of Atlantis!
Door County is one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families. Charming towns dot the western coast, a few popular ones include Egg Harbor, Sister Bay, and Gibraltar. From boat tours to amazing wildlife and gorgeous forest hikes, there’s so much to see! Take the ferry to Washington Island, home to lavender fields. Here, spend an afternoon at Schoolhouse Beach Park, or check out the lighthouses. Pottawatomie Lighthouse, the oldest on the peninsula, is in Rock Island State Park. In Sturgeon Bay, kids will love the interactive exhibits at the Door County Maritime Museum. Door County is also known as the Cherry Capital. Make sure you pick some at local farms from mid-July through mid-August!
Looking for more things to do in Door County, Wisconsin with kids? Families can also go kayaking or diving among the shipwrecks for an unforgettable experience. Then, Cave Point County Park and Ridges Sanctuary offer great locations for family hiking. Kids will also delight in taking the tractor ride to Cana Island Lighthouse. Since water flows over the causeway, you actually have to take a hayride through the water to get there! If you’re into camping, Door County is also a popular destination. Families can even rent a cabin to feel like they’re camping with extra luxuries! No wonder Door County is a top pick for families seeking the most fun things to do in Wisconsin with kids!
Milwaukee is a wonderful place to spend the weekend with kids! Located on the western shore of Lake Michigan, it’s home to countless cultural attractions, historical landmarks, and outdoor things to do. Motorcycle lovers can’t miss a trip to the Harley-Davidson Museum, which traces over 100 years of history. Plus, Milwaukee is full of other museums to appeal to all ages, including the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Discovery World, the Milwaukee Public Museum, and The Domes Living Museum. Families can even catch a show at First Stage Children’s Theater or explore Milwaukee’s downtown area, featuring restaurants, interesting architecture, and more. Of course, parents can’t visit Milwaukee without experiencing a classic German brewery, like the kid-friendly Estabrook Beer Garden!
From breathtaking views of Lake Michigan to sandy beaches, top-notch sailing, and other family-friendly activities, Sheboygan is surely a great destination to visit in Wisconsin with kids. On a sunny day, enjoy a beautiful white sand shoreline at both beaches in town, Deland Park and King Park. A few miles south of the city, you’ll also find Kohler Andrae State Park. Featuring a campground, nature trails, and 2.5 miles of sandy beach, this hidden gem is also very scenic. Kids who want a break from the beach can explore the Bookworm Gardens, a whimsical botanical garden inspired by popular children’s books. There’s also the Above and Beyond Children’s Museum, plus an indoor water park at Blue Harbor Resort!
Best Outdoor Adventures in Wisconsin for Families
Looking for an outdoor adventure in Wisconsin for families? From lakeside retreats to scenic drives through the forest, there’s so much to discover here. In fact, hiking, kayaking, and fishing are among the top fun things to do in Wisconsin with kids. Keep reading for the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families!
Wazee Lake Recreation Area
Enjoy the deepest inland lake in Wisconsin at the Wazee Lake Recreation Area in Jackson County. Featuring access to Wazee Lake, with a private swimming area with a sandy beach, it’s a popular spot for scuba diving and fishing due to its striking clear waters. The calm turquoise waters at the beach are also perfect for families visiting Wisconsin with toddlers or younger children, since they’re shallow and great for swimming. To have fun on the lake, there’s a boat launch and also camping available. Seasonal concessions are available as well, and there’s a playground when kids want a break from the water. No wonder this is one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families!
Madeline Island/The Apostle Islands
Since we already mentioned Bayfield earlier in this list of best places to visit in Wisconsin for kids, Madeline Island is next. Located on Lake Superior, this Wisconsin island is the largest of the 22 Apostle Islands, accessible by a ferry from Bayfield. It’s also a popular destination for hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, swimming, and canoeing! Whether you want to stay in a cozy cabin or camp, most accommodations overlook Lake Superior with convenient access to the area’s best attractions. For an indoor activity, visit the Madeline Island Museum to enjoy interactive exhibits highlighting the island’s history. Kids can also watch the weavers work in the loom at Woods Hall and maybe even try it for themselves!
Need more fun on the water? Look no further than these Best Lakes in the Midwest for Families!
Great River Road
Following the Mississippi River, the Great River Road is a scenic drive spanning 250 miles in Wisconsin, featuring lush forests, beautiful lakes, and several family-friendly towns. You can drive the whole way to take in the history, or select a few to explore. For outdoorsy families, there’s tons of hiking, biking, and shopping in La Crosse, Prescott, and Stockholm. Families visiting La Crosse can appreciate the amazing views from Grandad Bluff, as you drive on Bliss Road to ascend to the bluff. Animal lovers will appreciate a visit to the National Eagle Center or Perrot State Park. In Stockholm, visit the Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery to enjoy tastings while kids play in the hay or the corn maze!
Cave of the Mounds
Children and adults alike will be impressed by the Cave of the Mounds, one of the best things to do in Wisconsin with kids. Located near Blue Mounds, this natural limestone cave system is one of the longest-known undeveloped caves in the Midwest. Kids will love exploring the underground caves and learning more about their history on a go-at-your-own-pace tour, where a guide will lead you through the colorful crystal formations. (Bring a sweater, since the caves are around 50 degrees.) Along the way, you’ll see stalactites, stalagmites, underground lakes, and even ancient fossils from the Ice Age!
Once you’re done exploring below ground, head above ground to spot some of the colorful birds that live on the property. It’s no wonder families select this as one of the top fun things to do in Wisconsin with kids.
Witches Gulch is one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families. Located in Wisconsin Dells, this narrow slot canyon features hidden whirlpools, mysterious passageways, and more spooky ways to be one with nature on a gorgeous hike. Since it’s only accessible on a boat tour, we suggest booking the Upper Dells Tour, which provides transportation to and from the canyon, plus a bit of background information. Once you reach Witches Gulch, you’ll be able to walk through the winding boardwalk with ease as you pass through rock formations and get up close to the sandstone banks. Once you reach the end of the boardwalk, you’ll come upon a concession stand if you want a snack.
Best Wisconsin State Parks for Families
Visiting a state park is a must during a Wisconsin family vacation. Certainly, they are some of the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families! Featuring beautiful cascading waterfalls, exotic wildlife, and even recreational activities like hiking, these following state parks rank as the best things to do in Wisconsin with kids. Stay tuned to learn more all about Wisconsin for kids!
Devil’s Lake State Park
Devil’s Lake State Park is a beautiful place to explore as a family. Located in central Wisconsin, it features a variety of hiking trails, rock formations, two small lakes, and various plant species. It’s one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families! Start at the Nature Center, then find boat rentals located at the north and south ends of the lake. When kids want to cool off from the sun, there are also two swimming beaches, one on each end. Ready for fun on dry land? Take a guided hike along Devil’s Lake’s western shore, rent fishing poles, or even try a scavenger hunt! Devil’s Lake State Park is also a popular camping area for families.
For more scenic hikes, check out this list of 10 Exciting Midwest State Parks For Families!
Peninsula State Park
Peninsula State Park is one of the most popular parks in Wisconsin for families to explore. Located near Sturgeon Bay, it’s known for its beautiful shoreline that extends out to Lake Michigan, with activities like biking, swimming, hiking, and wildlife viewing. First, families can relax on Nicolette Beach, where you can also rent kayaks and paddleboards. In fact, from here kids can kayak to Horseshoe Island, known for its distinct shape! Parents will love the 18-hole golf course or relaxing by the ocean with a drink. When you want to spend time as a family with some quality entertainment, visit the Northern Sky Theater, which puts on a variety of kid-friendly performances year-round.
Amnicon Falls State Park
Looking for an adventure near Lake Superior? Visit Amnicon Falls State Park, one of the best things to do with kids in Wisconsin! This natural area showcases the beauty of the cascading waterfalls located along the Amnicon River. Visitors can see the falls from a covered footbridge or on the 2 miles of trails by the river, leading you through a forest with huge towering trees. Along the gradually sloping path, you’ll pass multiple viewpoints on your way to the falls, eventually coming upon an incredible view. Aside from hiking, the park is also a popular place for camping, picnicking, and learning more about the Douglas Fault (the geological formation that formed the falls).
Brunet Island State Park
Seeing Brunet Island State Park is one of the best things to do in northwestern Wisconsin with kids. Located outside of Eau Claire on the Chippewa and Fisher Rivers, it’s the ideal destination for families to enjoy the natural beauty and recreational activities. There are more than 8 miles of hiking trails in this scenic park, including the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, where kids can feel like they’re going back in time. A few fun biking trails include the Pine Trail, Spruce Trail, and the Timber Trail. Families can also go fishing, try swimming in the beach area, or rent kayaks and canoes. For a real rugged adventure, set up camp and stay overnight!
Copper Falls State Park
Copper Falls State Park is known as one of Wisconsin’s most scenic parks. Located in northeastern Wisconsin, in the heart of the state’s prime fishing country, it features stunning waterfalls, deep gorges, and miles of forest. Families can enjoy all sorts of activities here, including hiking, biking, fishing, and canoeing. At Loon Lake, kids can play on the 300-foot sand beach or rent kayaks and paddleboards to explore. (Swimming is allowed, but be aware there are no lifeguards on duty.) There’s also a boat launch. To see the falls from dry land, take the Doughboys Nature Trail, which follows the Bad River and Tyler Forks. No wonder this is one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families!
Willow River State Park
With spectacular views of Willow Falls, Willow Gorge, and miles of scenic hiking, families should definitely take their next summer vacation to Willow River State Park. Located on 2,800 acres of rolling countryside in northwest Wisconsin, it’s surely one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families! Enjoy water activities on Little Falls Lake, where kids can fish, swim, or paddle. There’s also a beach area to relax. Then, get an incredible view of the falls from a scenic hike like the Burkhardt Trail, which winds along the river bottom. The Hidden Ponds Nature Trail takes hikers through oak forest and wetlands, plus it’s a bit shorter. Want to bike? Cruise down the Little Falls Trail!
Best Animal Encounters in Wisconsin for Families
Who doesn’t love an animal encounter? Learning about local wildlife is one of the best things to do in Wisconsin with kids. If your kids want to get up close to giraffes, deer, bison, and other fun wildlife, check out one of these best places to visit in Wisconsin for families!
Henry Villas Zoo
Animal lovers flock to the Henry Villas Zoo! Located in downtown Madison, it’s one of few free zoos in North America, featuring big cats, reptiles, and more fascinating creatures. Kids will love walking around different exhibits like the Arctic Passage, where you can see polar bears or harbor seals, and the Primate House, filled with monkeys, lemurs, and more. Plus, don’t forget about more exotic animals like meerkats, red pandas, and flamingos at the Children’s Zoo! In the Tropical Forest Aviary, kids can even get up close to macaws, motmots, and more. On certain weekends of the year, the zoo also offers behind-the-scenes experiences, like safari tours or animal feedings. Check the calendar for more information.
Wildwood Wildlife Park and Safari
Nothing says family fun quite like a visit to Wildwood Wildlife Park and Safari! Located in Minocqua, this dynamic complex houses a zoo, a safari park, and even a fishing pond. That means there are plenty of ways to keep entertained, starting with the Giraffe Serengeti, where kids can feed some of the tallest animals in the world. Bird lovers will appreciate the Parakeet Encounter, where the “budgies” will land on their shoulder or hand to say hi. Kids can also go boating on the small lake to spot more animals or take a ride on the kiddie train. Don’t forget about the Safari Tram Ride, which runs through the property to see emus, ostriches, and other unique animals roaming!
Milwaukee County Zoo
The Milwaukee County Zoo is a fantastic place to visit with kids. Spread across almost 200 acres, this sprawling educational facility is home to almost 2,000 animals. Major exhibits include Big Cat Country, featuring red pandas, and Primates of the World, where kids can meet the biggest monkeys in existence, the mandrills. Of course, there’s also a Penguin Exhibit, a North America section with grizzly bears, and so much more.
Plus, with daily seal and sea lion feedings, kids can get up close with the animals and also take a picture! Aside from animal encounters, the zoo also has fun rides for children, like a carousel and a safari train. Remember to check the calendar for zoo special events. With so much to offer, you’ll quickly see why families rank this as one of the most fun things to do in Wisconsin with kids.
If you’re visiting Wisconsin in the fall, consult our list of 12 Best Places to See Fall Colors in the Midwest for Families!
Wisconsin Deer Park
Traveling through Wisconsin in search of the best things to do? Take your kids to the Wisconsin Deer Park! Located in Wisconsin Dells, this 40-acre petting zoo features animals like deer, elk, and bison. Here, kids can feed the deer by hand, pet them, and take photos. Families will have plenty of other chances to see wildlife along the paved trails on the property, perfect for exploring at your own pace. There’s also a petting zoo for kids to enjoy. Plus, not only does the park provide a chance to see amazing creatures, but it also offers educational opportunities through programs, camps, and other events. No wonder this is one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families!
Shalom Wildlife Zoo
The Shalom Wildlife Zoo is the place to go for an epic animal adventure. Home to over 750 animals across 100 acres, this educational center in West Bend isn’t your average zoo. Four miles of gravel road connect each exhibit, from bobcats to bison, coyotes, cougars, and more. Families can feel free to walk through the whole thing (bring comfortable shoes!) or rent a golf cart, available from April to November. Occasionally, the zoo also hosts events where you can drive your own car. Either way, you’ll be able to purchase food at the entrance, which you can use as you explore. If you’re looking for a family activity that’s less active, there’s also a petting zoo and more!
Once you’ve seen the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families, explore more animal adventures at these Best Zoos in the Midwest For Families!
Best Water Parks in Wisconsin for Families
Still looking for some of the best things to do with kids in Wisconsin? There’s no better way to cool down on a hot day than with a visit to a water park. Luckily, whether you’re looking for indoor or outdoor options, Wisconsin has a ton. Certainly, visiting one of these water parks is among the best things to do in Wisconsin with kids! Keep reading to learn more!
Noah’s Ark Waterpark
A family vacation to Wisconsin would be incomplete without a visit to Noah’s Ark Waterpark, the largest water park in the United States! Located in the heart of Wisconsin Dells, this sprawling park features water slides, splash zones, and more fun for all ages. Adventurous kids will love thrilling attractions like the Black Anaconda, America’s most thrilling water coaster, while little ones relax on the lazy river. Plus, there’s also the Big Kahuna Wave Pool and a Safari Jungle Area where kids can surf. When you’re hungry, there are several restaurants on the property, including desserts like Dippin Dots and funnel cake!
Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park
For the ultimate adventure the whole family can enjoy, visit Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park! Located in Wisconsin Dells, this expansive fun park features an indoor and outdoor water park, an indoor and outdoor theme park, plus a hotel. Kids can spend a rainy day at the indoor water park, which features tube slides, wave pools, and more. Then, head to the indoor theme park to enjoy bumper cars, teacups, and other thrilling rides. From May through September, families also have access to the outdoor water park, featuring incredible attractions like The Lost City Of Atlantis! At the outdoor theme park, ride thrilling coasters like the Hades 360. Plus, coming soon in 2022 is a giant Medusa Slide Wheel!
More Waterparks in Wisconsin for Families
Looking for more water parks in Wisconsin for families? You’ll find lots of options in Wisconsin Dells, like the Klondike Kavern Water Park at the Wilderness Resort. From lazy rivers to fast slides, it truly has it all! Some other great water parks in Wisconsin include the Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark, Kalahari Resort, and Great Wolf Lodge. If you’re traveling to Wisconsin from Minneapolis, you can also visit the Metropolis Resort & Conference Center in Eau Claire, which features an indoor water park and even a trampoline park!
Searching for more Midwest water parks for families? Check out these Exciting Midwest Hotels With Indoor Water Parks For Families (By State)!
Best Amusement Park in Wisconsin for Families
Kids will love all the thrilling rides at the best amusement park in Wisconsin for families. Not only is this one of the best things to do with kids in Wisconsin, but parents will love it too! Keep reading to plan your perfect vacation to the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families!
Bay Beach Amusement Park
Bay Beach Amusement Park is one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families. Located in Green Bay, it’s located near the Fox River, featuring a variety of rides the whole family can enjoy. There are a variety of kiddie rides for younger kids, like race cars, boats, and more. Then, you’ll also find rides families can experience together, from the giant slide to the tilt-a-whirl, merry-go-round, and bumper cars. Have teens in your family that are in the mood for a thrilling experience? Check out the Sea Dragon or the Zippin Pippin! Various concessions are also available on-site.
Bay Beach Amusement Park, one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families, is only open seasonally between May and September, check the calendar before planning to go.
Best Resorts in Wisconsin for a Family Getaway
Once you’ve discovered the best places to visit in Wisconsin for families, you’ll need somewhere to stay. For a rustic retreat in northern Wisconsin, check out Stout’s Island Lodge, featuring chic lodge rooms or cozy cabins. Or, enjoy the beautiful shores of Delavan Lake at the historic Lake Lawn Resort, located near Lake Geneva. For something a little more upscale, try the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa or The Abbey Resort. Families looking for a secluded stay near the wilderness will love Northernaire Resort, located in Three Lakes at the edge of the Nicolet National Forest. To stay in the Solan Springs area, look no further than the St. Croix Inn, a beautiful resort overlooking Upper Saint Croix Lake.
We hope you found this list of the Best Places To Visit In Wisconsin For Families helpful for planning your own adventures! Whether you are looking for some of the best things to do in Wisconsin with kids, family resorts in Wisconsin, or the best waterparks in Wisconsin for families, we know this list has you covered! Certainly, if you were hoping to learn all about Wisconsin for kids, you did! Between history, recreational activities, and scenic views, this Midwest destination is fantastic for all ages. Enjoy Wisconsin with your kids!
*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the attractions, accommodations, or things to do on this list may be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision.
*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.
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