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We had a really lovely weekend break in Milwaukee recently. We found more than enough fun things to do in Milwaukee with the kids to fill in our long weekend!
It was really important for us to stay car free for our short visit to Milwaukee. Renting a car, installing carseats, figuring out how to get around and parking in a busy urban center always adds a lot of stress to travel for us.
A note for planning purposes: There were many more fun things to do in Milwaukee had we had more time and a vehicle. These were ONLY things that were walkable easily accessible from the downtown area.
We stayed at the Residence Inn in Downtown Milwaukee which was centrally located and close to the attractions that we wanted to visit (I wrote a separate review of this hotel here). Our primary goal for our short visit was the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, and this was only about 10 minutes on foot from the hotel.
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Here is a run down of all of the fun things to do in Milwaukee that we managed to fit into our short weekend (and a few things we missed but that are on the top of our list for next time!):
The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum is situated in a prime location in Downtown right on the lakefront. It has been touted as one of the best children’s museums in the country for good reason. This museum had super interactive activities that were appropriate for many age ranges. (for instance most of the exhibits would include simple roleplaying for toddlers and also had deeper layers and educational opportunities for older children who were able to comprehend more advanced concepts).
This is one of the best fun things to do in Milwaukee if you are traveling with kids!
Discovery World is a popular museum is located on the downtown lakefront, right next to the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. It is a combination between a science museum and an aquarium.
Many of the science concepts are more suited to school aged kids, but my toddlers still found plenty to occupy them for a morning. While they were not able to understand the deeper concepts of the science, they still enjoyed many of the super interactive exhibits.
While they did enjoy the fish tunnel and the other parts of the aquarium, I would not visit here if the aquarium was the primary reason for your visit. We have been to many more robust aquarium experiences in our travels.
Another note: The touch tanks at the aquarium were a little disappointing, as they were so deep that my toddlers could not really reach any of the fish.
The Great Lakes Distillery
Ok, this is not really a children’s activity, but I am finding out as we travel with our kids that doing a few activities of adult interest on our trips is crucial to maintaining our sanity.
We enjoyed a short tasting here in their tasting room on a Saturday afternoon. Our kids were welcomed without any nasty stares or comment and they sat quietly on chairs while we tried a few of the distillery’s spirits, all made from scratch onsite.
Their tonic water, also made from scratch and sold onsite was of particular note, light and floral (we would have bought a bottle but had not checked any bags, so we had no way to get it home). The spirits were also welcome ($1/taste) after a morning hauling kids around the city.
A note: This was the only place that we went that really wasn’t walking distance from the hotel. While we DID walk, it was quite a ways and we learned later that the same bus that we had taken from the airport goes right past here. Note to self…CHECK THE BUS SCHEDULES!
The Milwaukee Public Market
The Milwaukee Public Market is a Milwaukee icon is a must during your visit to Milwaukee. It was only a couple of blocks from where we stayed at the Residence Inn Downtown Milwaukee.
We were initially confused about the relative lack of quick food restaurants in the downtown area until we went here during lunch time.
We realized that there are not very many informal restaurants because SO MANY people come here for lunch. There are a ton of enticing choices here for meals sure to please every palate and dietary need.
Grab your food and heat upstairs for seating (try to grab a table near the edge so you can watch the ebb and flow of the sea of people below you.)
Check out this guide to visiting the Milwaukee Public Market with your kids!
Strolling the Rivers of Downtown Milwaukee
Downtown Milwaukee has crafted a great river walk alongside the rivers that crisscross Downtown. We spent an evening down here enjoying the riverfront while the kids burned off some energy before bed. There are some ups and downs, but there are lifts and elevators at these points to help those that can’t do stairs.
Wondering what other travelers are doing in Milwaukee? Click to find out…
On Our Bucket List for Our Next Visit to Milwaukee
A Tour of the Sprecher Brewery
The Sprecher Brewery is Wisconsin original! They makes old style beer and sodas. It was only a 25 minute bus ride (no connections) from downtown. They offer a tour of the brewery (not free, there is a small fee) and at the end, you get to sample as many flavors as you want.
While we could care less about beer, we thought that it would be fun for us and the kids to sample their many varieties of old fashioned sodas and see the bottling process. Next time…
Brunch at Benelux
I REALLY wanted to eat brunch at Café Benelux, as I had been ogling their menu for years but we just ran out of time. This Milwaukee tradition is located at the Milwaukee Public Market.
Highlights from the inventive menu include tater tots topped with bacon, bleu cheese and sriracha mayo and a bananas foster waffle. Oh well, maybe it is better this way…I would have had an AWFULLY hard time deciding what to eat 🙂