Indoor and outside things to do this spring with your family in Milwaukee
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.
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.
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
First Stage is a great place to introduce little ones to live theater, with its kid-friendly plays and Q&A sessions with the actors. The spring lineup includes "The SpongeBob Musical" and "Little Women."
If your family loves music, a trip to see a Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concert is a great idea. Some of the upcoming concerts will be especially appealing to children, including a sensory friendly concert focused on spring break and cruises, as well as a viewing of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" while the orchestra plays the soundtrack.
The Milwaukee Ballet will stage performances of "Peter Pan" later this spring.
Where to see kids' movies around Milwaukee
If movies are more your family's style than live theater, there are always plenty of family movies to see. Marcus Theatres' Kids Dream series is going on through April 2, with discounted tickets to previously released family movies like "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" and "The Lorax."
Milwaukee's Oriental Theatre is showing its own series of previously released family movies, including "Frozen," "Mary Poppins" and "Freaky Friday."
Brewers games, Bucks games and other sports around Milwaukee
It's always fun to support our local teams with tickets to a Bucks or Brewers game.
Baseball in Milwaukee isn't just the Brewers. You can also take the family to a Milwaukee Milkmen game in Franklin.
And, if you're willing to drive a little (to Appleton, to be specific), the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, our minor league baseball team, is famous for its kid-friendly game promotions, including visits from Disney princesses.
Leon's, Kopp's and other places to get frozen custard around Milwaukee
Frozen custard isn't just a summer thing in Milwaukee; it's an all-year-round thing. Here are some favorite places to grab a treat.
Board Game Barrister, American Science and Surplus and other toy stores around Milwaukee
When the weather is uncooperative and the kids are stir crazy, it can be fun to visit a toy store to look for some new entertainment or just to window shop. A few independent toy stores in the area include Ruckus & Glee in Wauwatosa, Cedarburg Toy Company, The Smiley Barn in Delafield and Winkie's in Whitefish Bay.
A trip to American Science & Surplus on Oklahoma Ave. is always fun, too. There are so many interesting things to see, especially for kids who consider themselves makers. And, if they're not interested in trying to figure out how to build something themselves, the store has kits and toys too.
The Board Game Barrister, with locations in Bayshore and Mayfair Mall, is great for families who are looking for a good board game.
Family-friendly escape rooms around Milwaukee
If you have kids of elementary school age or older who love mysteries and puzzles, escape rooms can be great family-bonding activities. Some in the Milwaukee area that invite families to play include Save Milwaukee on Brady Street or in the Third Ward, Escape the Room on Erie Street and 60 to Escape in Southridge Mall.
More: Need to keep the kids busy during spring break? Here are 7 things to do around Milwaukee.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Outdoor and indoor things to do with kids in Milwaukee in spring