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Wisconsin Parent

Milwaukee Summer Fun: Ten Cool Places to Take the Kids

Jul 16, 2013 10:16PM ● By Julie Henning
Summer vacation is halfway over and (believe it or not), stores are stocking up on school supplies. Temperatures and warming up and kids are complaining about general "boredom." If you live in Milwaukee, or are in need of a road trip, here are ten ways to get outside and explore Wisconsin's largest city in the summer months:

 1. Menomonee Valley: Urban Ecology Center: 3700 W. Pierce St. , Milwaukee


Open less than a year, the Menomonee Valley branch of the Urban Ecology is similar to Riverside Park location. In a state-of-the art building located on the Memononee park corridor (and bike path), visitors to the center will learn about the environment, ecology, and biology. With classrooms, a roof-top terrace, slide for the kids and a water-bottle filling station, consider joining the center for perks like equipment rental and discounts to programs all year-round.

2. Hart Park Playground and Splash Pad: Wauwatosa, 7300 W Chestnut St., Wauwatosa


Hart Park is a 19.5 acre city park maintained by the city of Wauwatosa. Backing up against the Menomonee River, the park features a pavilion, sports fields (tennis, softball, volleyball, and even football), and a playground/splash pad "designed by local architect Ed Haydin as a tribute to the " Menonomee River, Native Americans and the Schoonmaker Reef."

Splash Pad Playground

3. Bayshore Town Center Splash Pad: 5800 N Bayshore Dr., Glendale 


Located in the Bayshore Town Center Town Square is another Milwaukee splash pad. Designed with the community in mind, the splash pad is within several dining and entertainment venues. Spontaneous patrons will appreciate the use of a beach towel, courtesy of the Jewish Community Center (look for the Towel Trolley). 

Splash Pad

4. Schlitz Audubon Nature Center: 1111 E. Brown Deer Rd., Milwaukee


Nestled along the lakeshore on Milwaukee's North side, the Schlizt Audubon Nature center is the perfect way to find solitude in a big city. With hiking trails, a nature center, and access to Lake Michigan beaches, if your kids don't know how to skip a stone, you'll find plenty of "skippers" along the waterfront.

Skipping Stones

5. Purple Door Ice Cream: 138 W. Bruce St., Milwaukee


Hunkered down in Milwaukee's historic Walker's Point neighborhood, Purple Door Ice Cream calls the Clock Shadow building home. Offering visitors a chance to purchase locally made ice cream in traditional and unique flavors (whiskey or salted caramel, anyone?), you may want to enjoy your treat from the top of the building's roof top garden. Views include the Historic Third Ward, the Allen Bradley clock tower (a.k.a, the Polish moon), and Lake Michigan against a backdrop of the Hoan Bridge.

Purple Door Creamery

6. Marquette University Campus: 530 North 13th St., Milwaukee


Giving kids a glimpse into "campus life," touring Milwaukee's Marquette University is one way to see a unique part of the city. Integrated into an urban setting, the university's green space is an ideal picnic spot, especially in the courtyard adjacent to the Haggerty Museum of Art.

Marquette Campus

7. Lynden Sculpture Garden: 2145 West Brown Deer Rd., Milwaukee


The region's newest outdoor sculpture garden, the Lynden Sculpture Garden features 50 monumental sculptures throughout the 40 acre campus. Privately owned by the Bradley family, the campus was opened to the public in 2010. An ideal place to bring pencils and a sketch pad, the grounds are centered around a pond, complete with frogs and lily pads. In this photo, the boys are figuring out how to re-create this particular piece in Minecraft.

Lynden Sculpture Garden Wisconsin Parent

8. Growing Power Urban Farm Tour: 5500 W Silver Spring Dr., Milwaukee


Milwaukee's 2.5 acre urban farm, Growing Power is open for tours in every season. Ideal for educating kids' about where their food comes from, the experience both inspires and motivates visitors to shop local and shift their farming paradigm.

Growing Power Wisconsin Parent

9. Alterra Coffee Bay View Urban Waterfall: 2301 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee


With indoor and outdoor seating, the Alterra Coffee location in the heart of downtown Bay View is one more example of Milwaukee's hip-and-trendyness. Featuring a Japanese rock garden and urban waterfall on the building's facade (complete with floaty ducks and boats to entertain younger kids), make sure and visit the main dining room for views of the bakery in production mode.

Alterra Waterfall

10. Lake Park Ravine Waterfall: 3233 E. Kenwood Blvd., Milwaukee


One of Milwaukee County's most beloved city parks, Lake Park draws visitors for sports, breathtaking views, and landmarks like the North Point Light and Lake Park Bistro. Relatively new to the park's list of natural attractions is a beautifully landscaped ravine waterfall perfect for all sorts of photo ops.


If you liked these suggestions, consider downloading the Milwaukee Loves Kids smart phone app to your iPhone or Android (click on the appropriate link below). A three-year project in the making, the Milwaukee Loves Kids and Madison Loves Kids apps offer a combined total of 330 documented venues, resources, and events for parents living in (or visiting) Wisconsin's two largest cities.

And if you like this story, check out the related article on 10 Cool Places to take your Kids in Madison.