Milwaukee Summer 2020 Bucket List | Social Distancing Edition

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In a normal world, we’d have a robust post of a hundred or so things for you to get out and enjoy this summer in and around Milwaukee, but in the new environment we find ourselves in, our Summer 2020 Bucket List is a version with social distancing in mind.

A typical Milwaukee summer involves strolls by the lake, going to ALL THE FESTIVALS, visits to the pool, parades, and all the incredible activities our city puts on each year. This summer, due to all the unknown factors regarding COVID-19, many of our tried and true options have changed and lots of families are planning to continue practicing social distancing.

With that in mind, here is our Summer 2020 Bucket List! Make sure you are taking the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe and healthy and always reach out to a business directly to confirm their operational status, any change is procedures or hours, etc.

Thank you to the YMCA of Greater Waukesha County for sponsoring our Summer Bucket List and for their commitment to being an epicenter of family fun in all seasons of the year, including the summer months! Promoting wellness, teaching swim skills, and offering convenient wellness resources for families, the Greater Waukesha YMCA has five locations to serve Milwaukee families. Make sure you check out their COVID-19 reopening resource to find out the specific information for your nearest location.


Summer 2020 Bucket List : 100+ Awesome Activities for Milwaukee Families

  1. Buy or make a kite and fly it in your yard or at the park!
  2. Take classes at the Y to add some routine to your summer.
  3. Take the whole family on a one-of-a-kind bike ride by renting a Surrey Bike and heading down Lincoln Memorial Drive.
  4. Join our Milwaukee Mom Virtual Running Team for the One WI Running Challenge and help us pound the pavement to benefit local running small businesses…..and emerge victorious in our battle versus Madison Mom! Walking is encouraged too, so no worries if running isn’t your jam.
  5. Explore Lynden Sculpture Garden, where you will find a unique experience of art in nature. There are more than 50 monumental sculptures across 40 acres of park, lake and woodland.
  6. Do a family service project!
  7. Watch an outdoor movie at the Hwy 18 Theater in Jefferson or check out the brand new Milky Way Drive In Theater in Franklin! Wear your jammies and pack the bug spray! This double feature outdoor drive-in movie theater is fun for the whole family! Check out the other drive-in movie theaters in the area here!
  8. Pack up the car and head out for a family-friendly day trip to some of the many awesome attractions in Wisconsin and the surrounding states.
  9. Wander through Bookworm Gardens, a garden-based completely on children’s literature. Over 60 different books are represented. FREE ADMISSION, but they do accept donations.
  10. If you like to get a bit up close and personal with animals, check out Green Meadows Petting Zoo, Shalom Wildlife or Safari Lake Geneva! Some have adjusted to a drive-thru model for the time being, so be sure to call ahead to find out more info!
  11. Check out your local library’s summer reading program. Pro-tip: If you have kids under 12, sign them up for the Super Reader Summer Reading program at any Milwaukee public library.
  12. Create your own marble art: Line the inside of a coffee can with construction paper. Roll marbled in your favorite colored paint, place them in the coffee can and secure the lid. Kick the can around the yard until you’ve burned off some energy. Open the can to see your masterpiece!
  13. Play at the universally accessible playground, Imagination Station, in Oconomowoc. Even better, do a full tour of our favorite parks in the Milwaukee area!
  14. Take the kids to a park and play tag.
  15. Write hand-written letters to people you love.
  16. Download the Houseparty app and establish a new weekly Game Night with family and friends with no direct contact required!
  17. Ride a Bublr Bike. If you’ve seen these adorable blue bikes all over the city, it’s because Bublr is the bike-sharing program in Milwaukee that makes bike-riding convenient and fun!
  18. Snap a selfie with the Bronz Fonz. Located on the Riverwalk just south of Wells Street, stop by and say “Heeyyyyyyy” to The Fonz himself!
  19. What would the Brew City be without our Beer Gardens? Many of the beer gardens in the city are very family-friendly. These are definitely a highlight of a Milwaukee Summer and we are watching closely for updates on how these will continue this year.
  20. Eat your way through the fantastic culinary offerings at Sherman Phoenix! Many have been doing curbside pickup and delivery for weeks and will be slowly reopening for dine-in in the coming weeks.
  21. Make the perfect iced coffee. Follow these steps by the experts at Colectivo Coffee for the perfect summer caffeination!
  22. Grab a meal on-the-go from a food truck.
  23. Make a run for Purple Door Ice Cream or your favorite Frozen Custard.
  24. Drink mojitos. Try our Cucumber Cranberry Mojito Recipe!
  25. Mix up a batch of Margaritas and invite the neighbors over for a backyard party.
  26. Find the best Friday Night Fish Fry in the city.
  27. Learn about Juneteenth and celebrate as a family!
  28. Enjoy brunch in the sunshine or take your lunch break al fresco at one of the many beautiful outdoor dining options in the Milwaukee area! Keep in mind that many restaurants will have new capacity limits and procedures for a while, so please be patient with everyone!
  29. Paddle Boats! Explore Veterans Park by paddle boats, kayaks, and even stand-up paddle boards. Safety instructions and life jackets are provided with every rental, so it’s safe and fun for the entire family.
  30. Have an in home spa day with face masks and pedicures for everyone!
  31. Head up to Grafton to experience Lion’s Den Gorge. Take a walk through their beautiful trails made for all shapes and sizes. You can walk down to the lake or just enjoy the view from up high. FREE ENTRY.
  32. Hang out at one of the many state parks and forests in the area.
  33. Bring your fur-friends to the dog park at Minooka Park in Waukesha for tons of paw-some outdoor fun! $5 per car upon entry or get the year-long pass for admission to all Waukesha Country Parks and just drive on in.
  34. Enjoy the blooms at Boerner Botanical Gardens. The gardens also hold a wide variety of events throughout the summer, including family yoga.
  35. Grab a tarp and make your own shaving cream slip and slide!
  36. Visit the North Point Lighthouse.
  37. Shop for fresh produce, flowers and so much more at any of the area Farmer’s Markets!
  38. Hike at Lapham Peak.
  39. Rent a kayak at Brew City Kayak and paddle down the Milwaukee River.
  40. Go Berry Picking! There are several berry farms in the Milwaukee area that offer both U-Pick and pre-picked berries.
  41. Go fishing.
  42. Grab some Kool-Aid or hair chalk and have a crazy hair day!
  43. Pack some snacks and take a scenic drive!
  44. Go back in time at Old World Wisconsin. Go on a time travel adventure with the whole family! Gather chicken eggs, attend a one-room school, visit with the village blacksmith and walk our wooded trails. Take a refreshing step outside the 21st century and into the world of Wisconsin’s rich immigrant past. Make sure to check their website for COVID-19 reopening information.
  45. Get hands-on with nature at the Schlitz Audobon Nature CenterUrban Ecology Center, or Wehr Nature Center. All three offer a wide variety of activities for families that get kids engaged with the natural world around them.
  46. Create an epic Corn Hole tournament with your neighbors.
  47. Use YouTube to start a new hobby like Perler Beads or Diamond Painting.
  48. Go “frolfing” (disc golfing) at one of the various courses.
  49. Enroll the kids in Swim Lessons to make sure they are staying safe in the water this summer!
  50. Have a bubble gum bubble blowing contest!
  51. Tie dye shirts as a family. You can even use natural ingredients like beets or coffee to do so!
  52. Splash around at a Milwaukee area splash pad, beach or poolBe sure to check in advance to see what and when these will open after COVID-19. Want to avoid public water play spaces? Grab a giant unicorn sprinkler and make your backyard a safe and convenient water park!
  53. Explore a new Lake Michigan Beach each month of the summer.
  54. Dangle your feet off a dock at a local lake.
  55. Find a new show for the whole family to watch. My boys and I loved The Big Show Show on Netflix and Diary of a Future President on Disney Plus!
  56. Turn on the hose and run through the sprinkler.
  57. Have a water balloon fight.
  58. Go puddle jumping!
  59. Take pizza making night outside and try your pizza grilled!
  60. Explore our list of over 200 Date Ideas to try something brand new!
  61. Paint your own pottery at A Touch of Glaze. Or if painting an original canvas is more your style, try Painting with a Twist or Uptown Art.
  62. Have a date night on one of the many fabulous rooftop dining locations in Milwaukee.
  63. Plan a romantic backyard movie night with your main squeeze. And then plan another one with a PIXAR movie once the kids see what you’re up to.
  64. Finish a DIY project. Find a hidden gem at a rummage sale or the ReStore to get that project done!
  65. Cook together — try out a brand new recipe!
  66. Camp out in your backyard.
  67. Make sidewalk chalk art.
  68. Braid friendship bracelets for all your friends and send them in the mail!
  69. Read a book in the sunshine. We LOVE Book of the Month Club for getting a new gorgeous hardcover book every single month and using Kindle Unlimited to find great new books to read! (Click HERE for two free months of Kindle Unlimited!!)
  70. Make an iMovie with your kids, complete with epic music and special effects. Dinosaurs and Barbies make fun “supporting characters.”
  71. Have a dress-up party. With your kids, this means costumes and characters. With your girlfriends, it means a wacky theme with over-the-top outfits and a carefully selected playlist.
  72. Make your own popsicles with your favorite juice.
  73. Have a blanket picnic in the backyard with only finger foods.
  74. Make S’mores! Did you know you can make marshmallows in the microwave?
  75. Dance under the stars.
  76. Chase fireflies.
  77. Crush some ice, add some juice and make your own snow cones!
  78. Go to your favorite park and pick up trash so that everyone can enjoy the area for years to come!
  79. Play in the rain!
  80. Introduce the family to one of your favorite shows growing up – lots of TGIF shows are on Hulu!
  81. Play “Yard Twister” by spray-painting circles on your lawn!
  82. Plant a garden.
  83. Make giant bubbles and see if you can get one the size of your head!
  84. Try a new bike trail.
  85. Go geocaching!
  86. Celebrate a random holiday like Donut Day on June 5th, or create your own!
  87. Climb a tree!
  88. Make a fort outdoors!
  89. Play tag with flashlights!
  90. Keep track of who wins Uno (or any other card game) games all summer and make a trophy for the winner!
  91. Have a glow in the dark pool party with glow sticks!
  92. Grab a box of ice cream treats and drive around to friends’ houses like an ice cream truck!
  93. Create a backyard obstacle course and let the winner pick the next meal!
  94. Try an online coding class, like the one offered via Mad Science.
  95. Have an at home tailgating party with backyard games!
  96. Eat all three meals of the day picnic-style at different parks!
  97. Have a family Nerf, squirt gun or silly string war!
  98. Experiment with different types of slime…outside where you can make less of a mess or clean it up easier.
  99. Grab a kit (or a pinecone and peanut butter) and make your own birdhouse!
  100. Have a family Olympics day and grab yogurt lids and paper clips for medals! *Bonus points if you catch that reference*
  101. Turn your backyard or driveway into a dance floor or roller rink with fun lights and music.
  102. Grab your fanciest (or least breakable) teacups and saucers, dress up and have a tea party.

Tell Us More! What’s on your Bucket List this Summer?

2 COMMENTS

  1. This article is great, and I particularly enjoy the ideas for at-home activities. My only concern/thought would involve the fact that our local Y is not adhering to the CDCs recommendations, therefore we have cancelled our membership. Might want to reconsider that one.

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