Milwaukee’s Must-Dos for Summer Family Fun

Experience summer family fun in Milwaukee with baseball, Summerfest, delicious dairy delights and so much more.

Less than a 2-hour drive north, Milwaukee is an easy getaway packed with family fun. A summer itinerary should include catching a baseball game and grooving at Summerfest, a huge, annual music festival. Plus, you should always enjoy cheese curds and custard every time you visit Wisconsin, the Dairy State!

Family-friendly Milwaukee summer fun

Milwaukee Family Travel Guide
Photo credit: Cortney Fries

Nothing says summer quite like attending a baseball game. My family loves going to Brewers games because it’s spread out, the roof opens and closes depending on the weather, and, of course, the tasty food.

Favorite ballpark fare includes peanuts, popcorn, custard and fried cheese curds. Look for the 414 Value Menu at 12 concession stands, where you can purchase four kid-size items for just $4 each. Tailgate in the American Family Field parking lot before the game, where some people go all out with grills, bags games, music and more. You’ll find playgrounds for little ones to burn off energy. And when the sausages race during the game, you can’t help but hoot and holler. 

Zoos are great places to walk around outside and learn about animals while bonding as a family. Milwaukee County Zoo is a spacious zoo, with many interactive activities. You can feed giraffes, ride the zoo train and even zipline. Explore Lake Michigan’s shoreline in Milwaukee by visiting Bradford Beach. Bike the Oak Leaf Trail or Hank Aaron State Trail. Kayak the Milwaukee River or kick back at Veterans Park. Betty Brin Children’s Museum and the Harley-Davidson Museum are interesting stops when you need some inside time.

Milwaukee Family Travel Guide
Photo credit: Cortney Fries

Did you know that Milwaukee is home to the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum?

With over 10,000 bobbleheads in the collection, it’s the world’s largest. Check out the range from sports figures to historic items to pop culture. Did you know there were Golden Girls bobbleheads? And if you have some bobbleheads you’d like to donate, feel free to bring them along.

Summerfest is a nine day music festival running late June through early July featuring over 600 artists. Take in a family-friendly show like country singer Keith Urban or Hanson (remember their 1997 hit, MMMBop?). You’ll find children-focused entertainment like magicians, jugglers and puppet performances at Northwest Mutual Community Park, located on the lakefront. Kids will also enjoy playgrounds, rides, sports demonstrations and children’s games at Gruber Law Offices Sportzone. 

Yummy eats to scoop up in Milwaukee

Milwaukee Family Travel Guide
Photo credit: Cortney Fries

You cannot go to Third Street Market Hall and leave without everyone feeling satisfied. With over 10 food vendors, even the pickiest eaters will find something they can’t wait to try. Our family savored the gluten-free empanadas, steaming bowls of pho and creamy frozen custard. The custard flavor of the day was chocolate topped with crumbled peanut butter cookies, Reese’s Pieces and peanut butter sauce. How can anyone resist that? Plus, there’s shuffleboard, bags, pinball, Topgolf Swing Suites and many other games to keep the family having fun together. 

Milwaukee is home to one of the largest German American populations in the United States. Take the fam to try German fare at Mader’s, the top-rated German restaurant in mid-America on TripAdvisor. Celebrities like Justin Bieber and Brittany Spears have dined at this over 100-year-old establishment. Steins of beer flow and soft, salty pretzels are served with German sausages and Sauerbraten. The restaurant is on the nicer side so some entrees are priced around $40. Both our kids fully enjoyed themselves despite being quite picky. Take advantage of the free valet parking, especially if you’re attending a nearby sports game or concert because you can leave your car at Mader’s for the evening. 

The historic, iconic Pfister Hotel has been recognized as a AAA Four Diamond for 47 years. Stop by the Café at the Pfister for a lovely brunch. Choose from omelets, frittatas, benedicts, waffles and French toast. Our daughter enjoyed a fresh fruit smoothie while my husband and I sipped cappuccino and coffee. They also have a nice bakery case for a quick bite.

North Avenue Market is a family-owned business with a restaurant serving Southern fare upstairs, and a co-working and event space downstairs. We tried the cheese curds, vegan gumbo, a burger and salad. All the food was great. They also feature patio seating and live entertainment like music, comedy and trivia. Safehouse is a spy restaurant with espionage memorabilia. Have the fun is just finding the entrance to the restaurant. Kids enjoy searching for items in the spy scavenger hunt. I thought the curry chicken was quite good.

Where to stay in Milwaukee

Drury Plaza Hotel Milwaukee Downtown is rated as one of the top hotels in Milwaukee on TripAdvisor and Google. We enjoyed the downstairs pool and hot tub, super-friendly staff, complimentary breakfasts and happy hours, and our spacious room. Conveniently located downtown, we were able to walk to attractions like the Riverwalk and Third Street Market. 

Looking for a unique, arts-inspired hotel? The Saint Kate is a super cool boutique hotel featuring art from local makers throughout. Budding artists and art appreciators will definitely be impressed by this Milwaukee gem. 

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Cortney Fries
Cortney Fries
An award-winning travel journalist, Cortney Fries (pronounced "freeze") has been writing about family travel for over a decade. She knows that parents planning trips are looking for all members to have fun and make lasting memories. Cortney believes that you should definitely try anything that makes you slightly nervous.
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