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Indoor and outside things to do this spring with your family in Milwaukee

The Whitnall Park waterfall in Franklin is one of the many natural gems in Milwaukee County.  Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022.
The Whitnall Park waterfall in Franklin is one of the many natural gems in Milwaukee County. Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022.

Spring in Wisconsin is an exciting but fickle time. As the weather starts to warm up, it feels great to get outside, but, when the inevitable cold fronts, wind, mud and, yes, snow, send us scurrying back inside, we need indoor activities to keep us busy. Here are several things to do with your family around Milwaukee this spring, both indoors and outdoors.

Hiking trails and nature centers around Milwaukee

There are tons of great places to hike around Milwaukee. Some, like Milwaukee's Oak Leaf Trail and Delafield's Lapham Peak, have paved trails, making them accessible for strollers and wheelchairs and more pleasant on a muddy spring day. Others, like the Eagle segment of the Ice Age Trail, provide beautiful scenery in spring.

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There are great trails to hike at nature centers too, with the added bonus of family-friendly programming and activities, as well as an indoor option to retreat to if the weather doesn't cooperate.

Where to see flowers around Milwaukee, including the Mitchell Park Domes and Boerner Botanical Gardens

The Mitchell Park Domes is a great place to experience the great outdoors, except indoors, which is appropriate for Wisconsin's colder months. In addition to amazing photo opportunities in each of the three domes, there's also an education center with kid-friendly activities.

Starting May 1, the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Whitnall Park open. There's family-friendly programming and special events, or you can just wander around the gardens themselves, appreciating the different flowers as their seasons arrive. Also, for kids, the 3-acre Margie's Garden has special places for children to visit, including a playhouse, a bug garden and a storybook nook.

Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum and other museums around Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Public Museum has a temporary live-animal exhibit until May 19, featuring animals that evolved to be slow, including sloths and lizards. While you're there, make sure to scope out secret treasures. Or you can gather your family together for an April 27 family mystery activity.

A sloth is one of the live animals at the Milwaukee Public Museum's temporary exhibit, "Survival of the Slowest," through May 19.
A sloth is one of the live animals at the Milwaukee Public Museum's temporary exhibit, "Survival of the Slowest," through May 19.

The Milwaukee Art Museum has lots of things for kids to do, including classes and a drop-in art studio. It even has ArtPacks to check out, with activities to engage kids as they tour the museum's artwork.

At Discovery World, kids can learn all about science through a variety of hands-on exhibits.

Betty Brinn Children's Museum is dedicated to learning through play, welcoming young kids to play pretend in everything from a grocery store to a theater stage to a construction zone. It also has a makerspace for kids to create their own projects.

Milwaukee County Zoo and Racine Zoo

Although many people save their zoo days for summer, the Milwaukee County Zoo is open year-round, and its indoor animal habitats make it a great place to visit even when it's cold or rainy outside.

For families looking for a different zoo to visit, the Racine Zoo has plenty of animals to learn about along with an amazing view of Lake Michigan.

Parks and playgrounds around Milwaukee

One of the easiest things to do to burn off energy on a spring day is to go to the park. Here are some of the Milwaukee County Parks system's natural gems.

Surrounding counties also have excellent parks. Waukesha's Fox River Park has a natural playground, complete with a slide built into a hill.

The Northwestern Mutual Community Park at Summerfest grounds is accessible for children with disabilities and also has different types of playground equipment for children of different ages (Make sure to check the website for opening dates).

Veterans Park on the lakefront is known for its excellent kite-flying conditions. And, if you don't have a kite, there's a Gift of Wings location right in the park.

First Stage, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and other places for live theater around Milwaukee