11 Top Family-Friendly Wisconsin Vacation Trips

What do you think of when you hear somebody say, “Wisconsin?” Snow? Frigid cold? Dairy farmers? Cheeseheads? 

Sure, Wisconsin is a northern state that sees its fair share of snow and cold. It’s also the nation’s leading dairy producer and home to Cheeseheads, fans of the Green Bay Packers. 

However, Wisconsin has a lot to offer vacationers seeking variety, beauty, and fun. 

Kenosha

Kenosha

One of the southernmost cities in the state, Kenosha, sits on the shore of Lake Michigan. Over the years, Kenosha invested heavily in tourism, and the city has a lot to offer visitors.

What are you looking for? There’s a good chance Kenosha can deliver. 

If you’re desperate for some family fun, what could be better than the Jelly Belly Visitor Center? Explore interactive exhibits (try the smell stations!) and ride the Jelly Belly Express through the warehouse to learn about the journey of a Jelly Belly bean.  

Is shopping your main objective? Kenosha has loads of unique retail opportunities like the European-inspired HarborMarket. 

History buffs can revel in the Civil War Museum, Kenosha History Center, or Dinosaur Discovery Museum. For a few months every summer, you can even immerse yourself in history at the Bristol Renaissance Faire.

What about sports? Yes, Kenosha can satisfy that request. Catch a Kenosha Kingfish baseball game or get active yourself at Boundless Adventures.

Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin is a geographically diverse state, and you’ll glimpse that diversity with a trip to Wisconsin Dells. Established on the Wisconsin River, Wisconsin Dells overflows with natural beauty. 

Start by getting the lay of the land with a tour. We suggest the Original Wisconsin Ducks or Dells Army Duck Tours, but there are plenty of options for tours of the area.  

Once you’ve seen what Wisconsin Dells has to offer, it’s time to dig deeper.  

Head downtown for unique shopping and dining experiences, including Capone’s Original Old Time Picture Studio and Bella Goose Coffee (try the Lavender Mocha).

Fun is the name of the game in Wisconsin Dells. Head to the big top at Circus World, try your hand at mining with Dells Mining Company, or investigate the unusual at the Haunted Mansion

Wisconsin Dells also offers plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the natural terrain for adventures you won’t forget. Try ziplining, boat tours, and even ax throwing! 

Bonus tip: For an experience you’ll never forget, take a sunset dinner cruise with Dells Boat Tours.

Green Bay

Green Bay 

Green Bay is the third-largest city in Wisconsin. It is an industrial city and a major port on Lake Michigan.  

When you visit, be prepared to encounter Cheeseheads (people prone to wearing foam cheese slices on their heads). Green Bay’s raucous, fun-loving Cheeseheads are fans of the city’s professional football team, the NFL’s Packers 

If you have the opportunity to catch a pro-football game at Lambeau Field, count yourself fortunate. Even if you can’t catch a game, take advantage of the stadium tours for an incredible experience with the NFL’s only publicly-owned team.

Obviously, Green Bay has more to offer than football, though the Packers are a huge part of the city’s culture. 

Families will love watching animals at the NEW Zoo and Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary. For affordable, family fun, head to the Bay Beach Amusement Park with 19 rides!

Nature lovers have dozens of options to hike, bike, and ski at parks, wildlife preserves, and the Cofrin Memorial Arboretum.

Adults, we haven’t forgotten to include some special experiences just for you! Craft brewing and winemaking exploded in Green Bay, which opened the door to more than a dozen breweries and wineries

Milwaukee

Milwaukee

Speaking of breweries and adult beverages, Milwaukee is known for its role in the beer industry. Situated on the western shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee has a lot more to offer than beer (though the brewery tours are awesome!). 

You might be surprised to learn that Milwaukee is a great place for antique hunters. There’s a handful of antique shops offering eclectic, vintage collections.  

When you think of Milwaukee, do you think of motorcycles? If not, you should because it’s the birthplace of Harley-Davidson 

From scenic routes to a biker-inspired hotel, Milwaukee embraced their motorcycle roots. Swing by the Harley-Davidson retail stores and tour the museum.

Green Bay may have Wisconsin’s only professional football team, but Milwaukee sees its share of sports action. From roller derby to baseball, sports fans can find plenty of action in Milwaukee. 

Sports fans can cheer on the MLB’s Brewers at Miller Park all summer long. When the weather changes, catch a basketball game with the NBA’s Bucks at the brand-new Fiserv Forum Sports and Entertainment Complex. 

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the local music scene. If you’re into live music, there are several opportunities to sit back and soak up some tunes at some of the coolest venues (like The Jazz Estate).

La Crosse

La Crosse

Head to the western side of Wisconsin, and you’ll find La Crosse sitting on the shores of the Mississippi River. This cool little college town can be a whole lot of fun if you know where to look!

Perhaps the best parts of La Crosse are the parks and trails. Grandad Bluff is a must-see destination with breathtaking views of the Mississippi River Valley, picnic areas, and plenty of hiking trails. 

The automobile industry has been a critical part of the American economy for decades, and the Dahl Auto Museum pays tribute to the industry. You can even reminisce at the museum’s Starlite Drive-in that shows classic films.  

Craft brew lovers will love La Crosse, especially Turtle Stack Brewery and 608 Brewing Company. Both breweries offer a unique selection on tap and good food to balance it out. 

Madison

Madison

The capital of Wisconsin, Madison, is a center of progress and technology. Madison is an appealing destination for vacationers traveling at any time of the year.

Named for one of America’s founding fathers, James Madison, the city is home to several historic sites, including several buildings on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. 

Staying true to their progressive, cutting-edge reputation, Madison offers an array of unique tourism experiences. The only question is, what do you want to experience first?

Foodies have some intriguing options in Madison. Learn how to build a Wisconsin cheese board or meet the Sassy Cows who produce some of the area’s best dairy products (and sample some ice cream!). 

Are you more of a condiment person? If so, you must head over to the National Mustard Museum for a tour and tasting.

What do you know about bitters? Learn everything you never thought you’d want to know about the most important ingredient in an Old Fashioned when you enter the Bitters Bootcamp

Art lovers can certainly appreciate masterpieces at museums, but why not try an immersive experience? Olbrich Botanical Gardens blend art and nature while providing one-of-a-kind experiences, including tastings, tours, and classes. 

Eau Claire

Eau Claire

Located in the west-central region of the state, Eau Claire was first settled by French fur traders. Today, Eau Claire is a college town that encourages people to go their own way. 

Embracing an indie mentality, Eau Claire evolved to embrace an eclectic identity. They host a variety of annual events ranging from Country Jam to Farm Technology Days and everything in between. 

If you’re seeking unique thrills, head into Eau Claire in August for Extreme Thunder USA. Indian Relay Horse Racing is the oldest extreme sport in America, but the event also celebrates Native American history and culture.

Put on your adventurer’s gear and head to Crystal Cave. This family-friendly attraction is fun for all ages and includes the opportunity to search for gems and fossils. 

Oh, one more thing, you have to try Kubb. A combination of bowling, horseshoes, and chess sounds ridiculous, but the sport has Viking roots and is loads of fun!

Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva

A resort city in Wisconsin may seem strange, but Lake Geneva has welcomed vacationers for decades. The city is set on a lake and is peppered with just enough hills and bluffs to break up the terrain. 

Explore the nature of Lake Geneva by foot, bike, and boat. Yes, boat. Sailboats, excursion boats, and antique wooden boats are just some of your choices. 

Tours are big business in Lake Geneva. Don’t skip the Ghost Walks that cover some of the town’s more colorful residents (spirits). 

Definitely make time to see the Black Point Estate and Gardens. The unique house was built in the late 1800s and has been maintained for tours and special events.

Oshkosh

Oshkosh

Once known as Sawdust City, Oshkosh developed as a lumber center with multiple mills. Home to Oshkosh B’gosh, a children’s clothing retailer, and several breweries, Oshkosh embraced new industries to expand the city’s economic base. 

Part of Oshkosh’s evolution included the development of a strong tourism board, making it a desirable destination for vacationers. There’s plenty of fun to be had in Oshkosh.

Families will love the animals, exhibits, and free admission at Menominee Park Zoo. Set on the shores of Lake Winnebago, feed llamas, and participate in special events.  

If you (or a kid you know) are hooked on airplanes, the EAA Aviation Museum is a perfect excursion. Containing more than 200 historic planes, the museum explores the history and evolution of aircraft. 

Outdoorsy folks will appreciate the variety of adventure and nature excursions. Hit the trails, kayak or canoe, or play through on one of Oshkosh’s golf courses.

Fans of craft brews will love the brewery tours. Every Saturday afternoon, visitors can learn about four Oshkosh breweries.  

Bonus tip: Basketball fans should catch a Wisconsin Herd game at Menominee Nation Arena. The team is an affiliate of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and showcases new talent.

Spring Green

Spring Green

Spring Green is a village in the southwestern part of Wisconsin. With a population of fewer than 2,000 people, Spring Green covers less than two square miles.

You’re probably wondering how such a small town landed a spot on this list. The answer lies in one of Spring Green’s most famous attractions, Taliesin. 

Taliesin is a unique home that was built in the early 1900s by a local man who was born not far from the village – Frank Lloyd Wright. The famous architect grew up in Spring Green.

The village capitalized on its famous ties and built their tourism around Wright’s legacy. Visitors can visit Wright’s former home, Taliesin.

Bonus tip: Plan your meals to include Freddy Valentine’s Public House for a one-of-a-kind dining experience. 

Door County

Door County

On the peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan lies Door County. Long shorelines, several parks, and gorgeous scenery make Door County an unparalleled escape from any busy life.

When you truly need a break, head to Door County and let the calm waters wash away your stress and tension. Take your pick of places to relax, splash in the water, or sprawl on sun-warmed rocks. 

For a scenic escape, take a boat tour or kayak to witness the beauty of the Door County Bluffs. 

Did you know there are around 240 known shipwrecks in Door County? If you’re feeling adventurous, you can explore a few of them. 

Lighthouses are crucial to marine towns, but they are also beautiful fixtures in Door County. Take a walking tour to explore the lighthouses of Door County. 

If you’re looking for the best places to eat, try the Old Post Office Restaurant or the White Gull Inn for some local flavor.

Bonus tip: Mountain Park Tower offers one of the most breathtaking views in the area. It’s free to walk the 184 steps to the top of the wooden lookout tower.

Spend a Weekend in Wisconsin

Once you spend a weekend in one of Wisconsin’s cities or towns, you’ll beg for more. Few places can match Wisconsin’s history, undisturbed natural landscapes, and eclectic cultural centers. 

Whether you’re seeking an escape from the big city or a thrilling vacation in the middle of a bustling metropolis, Wisconsin is sure to deliver.

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