The Ultimate Milwaukee Summer Bucket List

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Summer is BACK!

There are so many things to do on our Milwaukee Summer Bucket List, and we can hardly WAIT to get started! Milwaukee is famous for our festivals, fairs and fun so be sure to get out there and see what the Milwaukee area has to offer. This year’s bucket list offers more than 100 ideas of things to do this summer for every budget, interest, and age. We’ve even included some fun ideas for date nights as well as for when you get together with the girls. Think you’ve done it all in Milwaukee, think again! (Please note to check each event/business website for the most up to date information, including any health & safety protocols.)

Now let’s get started, and be sure to share your fun all summer long! And show us YOUR summer adventures by tagging us on social media at @milwaukeemoms!

Milwaukee Summer Bucket List

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Milwaukee Summer Fun for the Whole Family

  • Fly a Kite. In your yard, at the park, or even better, head to the Gift of Wings kite store and take it for a flight along the lakefront.
  • Take classes at the Y to add some routine to your summer
  • Take the whole family on a one-of-a-kind bike ride by renting a Surrey Bike and heading down Lincoln Memorial Drive.
  • Head over to Bayshore for their Sounds of Summer where you can enjoy live outdoor music and family-friendly movies all summer long.
  • 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. They also offer Summer Camps!
  • Do a family service project!
  • Attend a parade.
  • Watch fireworks!
  • Drop by the Marcus Center for their Kidz Days, where there will be a variety of performing arts presented by local Milwaukee groups. This is an interactive program that serves to entertain and education. (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays)
  • Explore downtown Milwaukee with a laid-back schedule and without the hassle of transportation by riding The Hop streetcar.
  • Have a night of vintage fun at one of the local drive-in movie theaters! Grab all the snacks and let the windows down to let in the summer breeze while you watch a flick from the comfort of your vehicle
  • Take a drive up I-94 for a day trip to Madison. The Dane County Farmer’s Market is always a favorite and don’t skip getting ice cream on the Memorial Union Terrace!
  • 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.
  • Rainy day? Need a break from the heat to enjoy the air conditioning? Head to participating Marcus Theatres on Tuesdays for $5 movies.
  • Enjoy the air conditioning and interactive fun at the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. Be sure to book your visit in advance, as they are using timed ticketing to limit the number of people inside the building.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt at the Milwaukee Public Museum! There are so many family favorites at this museum, but we’ve got some great ideas for you RIGHT HERE.
  • Bask in the sunshine at a local family-friendly Beer Garden.

Milwaukee Summer Fun for the Littles

  • 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.
  • Check out Tent Tales for Tykes at The Corners of Brookfield for story time with an outdoor twist!
  • Take a walking tour of the Little Free Libraries in your neighborhood. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the sunshine while finding some great new books to read and sharing some of your family’s favorites.
  • If you like to get a bit up close and personal with animals, check out Green Meadows Petting Zoo. There will frequently be Groupon deals for this popular family destination, so keep your eyes peeled.
  • There’s always something fun for young kids to do at the Milwaukee Art Museum! Kids 12 and under get free admission and families can drop in to create original art in the Kohl’s Art Generation Open Studio, use Museum Moments Cards to connect to your kiddos 5 and under about art, or take a Family Touch Tour!
  • Ride the rollercoasters at Little Amerrika. The park features twenty-six rides and attractions, mostly restored from the classic amusement parks from a previous generation. The park is best suited for families with young children.
  • 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 and you get a summer family pass to the Milwaukee Art Museum! Plus, if your kid reads through the levels, they get prizes and additional coupons for local restaurants, museums, and Brewers games.
  • 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!
  • Play at the universally accessible playground, Imagination Station, in Oconomowoc. Even better, do a full tour of our favorite parks in the Milwaukee area!
  • Visit the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum.
  • Get a jump on the school year by signing up for preschool or before and after school care

Milwaukee Summer Fun for the Bigs (School Age Kids and Beyond)

  • Make a great escape at Breakout Games – Milwaukee! With fun puzzles to solve, this makes a great activity for the family with kids age 10+.
  • Urban Air is a new trampoline and adventure park in Waukesha that has go carts, bumper cars, a zipline, trampolines, and more. They do offer birthday parties and private rentals too!
  • Visit Prairieville Park. Featuring mini golf, batting cages and bumper cars, there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
  • Jump off the walls at Sky Zone Milwaukee or Rockin’ Jump in Brown Deer! Indoor trampoline parks are great for is sure to getting out all that abundant summer energy! Also great for birthday parties.
  • Write hand-written letters to people you love.
  • Race around the track at Veloce Indoor Speedway. Kids can race in Junior Karts that reach 20 mph!
  • Let the kids bounce around and climb the walls at Bounce Milwaukee (reopening in July). They also have laser tag and activities for adults to enjoy and Parents’ Night Out.
  • Lace up your skates and hit the rink at Skateland in Waukesha.
  • Sign up for a gorgeous bouquet-making workshop at Flowers for Dreams.
  • Enroll in a Summer Art Camp at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Be inspired by the works of art at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Explore the exhibitions during fun-filled, interactive tours, and make your own creations in hands-on projects in the studio. Each class has a different focus.
  • Get your bowl on with Kids Bowl Free at JB’s on 41. Kids get 2 free games per weekday through summer.
  • Volunteer and hang out with the furry friends at the Wisconsin Humane Society (age 13 – 17, when accompanied by parent or guardian)
  • Run a 5K with them!
  • Summer is a great time to take the Red Cross Babysitting Course or get CPR certified.
  • Visit the Nelson Mandela: The Official Exhibition presented by the Milwaukee Public Museum and the American Black Holocaust Museum. Runs until August 1st.

Milwaukee Summer Signature Fun

  • The Wisconsin State Fair is BACK for 2021 and we are so excited!!! This is about as signature Wisconsin as it gets: Live music, Food on a Stick, Giant Slide, Racing Pigs, and so much more!
  • Digging the sculpture scene? Check out Sculpture Milwaukee where you can walk through the downtown area and check out amazing (and very photo-worthy) sculptures on display for FREE!
  • Go beyond the sculptures and find all sorts of public art installations from murals to street art with the Downtown Milwaukee Public Art Tour Tool!
  • Everyone knows the Milwaukee County Zoo is a must-visit in the summer, but it goes to a whole new level at Zoo a la Carte. While this special event is postponed for this year, we are hopeful it will be back for 2022!
  • Give the password at The Safe House! Newly renovated, this spy-themed restaurant is a Milwaukee tradition. The first challenge is finding it and then to gain access you have to give the password or prove your ability as a secret agent. HINT :: Be sure to bring $1.00 so you can leave through the secret exit!
  • 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!
  • Take a Milwaukee Boat Tour. There is so much fun to be had aboard the Vista King and Voyageur, the two riverboats that offer sightseeing, live music, and charters that provide a Milwaukee experience like none other.
  • 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!
  • Have lunch at the Milwaukee Public Market and then stroll the Riverwalk.
  • Shop the NEWaukee Night Market. NEWaukee’s Night Market is a free, outdoor event showcasing a variety of local Milwaukee vendors, performers, and artists. Held monthly during the summer, the Night Market transforms the heart of downtown into an exciting fusion of all the city has to offer.
  • Tour the Harley Davidson Museum.

Milwaukee Summer Eats & Drinks

Milwaukee Summer Outdoor Adventures

  • Check out a YMCA Summer Day Camp where kids laugh, learn, explore, and grow in the outdoors, while creating memories and friendships that last a lifetime.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hang out at one of the many state parks and forests in the area.
  • 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. Want a private dog playground all to yourself (and maybe your pup pals)? Check out the new HAWS Schallock Center for Animals in Delafield where you can reserve their giant dog park for private playtime!
  • Enjoy the blooms at Boerner Botanical Gardens. The gardens also hold a wide variety of events throughout the summer, including family yoga.
  • Visit the North Point Lighthouse.
  • Shop for fresh produce, flowers and so much more at any of the area Farmer’s Markets!
  • Hike at Lapham Peak.
  • Rent a kayak at Brew City Kayak and paddle down the Milwaukee River.
  • Go Berry Picking! There are several berry farms in the Milwaukee area that offer both U-Pick and pre-picked berries.
  • Go fishing.
  • Take a Road Trip!
  • Gather your girlfriends and head out on the Pedal Tavern.

Milwaukee Summer Festivals & Music

  • What would a Milwaukee summer be without food on a stick from the Wisconsin State Fair?! From chocolate-covered cranberries to a Door County surf and turf on-a-stick, the food adventures at The State Fair are always epic. This year, you can enjoy the best 11 days of summer August 5 – 15th.
  • Enjoy Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival as a family AND on Date Night. Yup, there is plenty for families to enjoy at Summerfest! Remember, it’s in SEPTEMBER this year!
  • Watch the hot air balloons soar through the sky at Balloons Over Mukwonago, happening July 16 – 18. The event grounds are open Fri 4-10pm, Sat 6-8am and 4-10pm, Sun 6-8am
  • Head over to Bayshore for their Sounds of Summer where you can enjoy live outdoor music and family-friendly movies all summer long.
  • Thursday nights at The Corners of Brookfield mean live music and a Beer Garden!
  • Attend one of the many fun Milwaukee festivals.
  • Eat an Original Cream Puff with no hands!! Trust us, it’s hilarious.
  • Attend the Bristol Renaissance Faire.
  • Grab a blanket and a picnic basket to take in Jazz in the Park, an iconic example of Milwaukee Summer at its finest. Don’t forget the HaloVino glasses! While Jazz in the Park has been postponed in June, July and August in 2021 due to the pandemic, there are still awesome plans for Cathedral Square Park, so follow along with the East Town Association for updates.
  • Pull up a chair at Starry Nights out at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts in Brookfield. Starry Nights boasts performances by acclaimed local and regional artists across a wide range of genres including big band, Afro-Cuban, Latin jazz, bluegrass, polkas, and more—perfect for families and audiences of all ages. Plus, it’s FREE!

Milwaukee Summer Learning Fun

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Enroll in a Summer Camp! There are options for kids of all ages and interests.
  • Drop by the Marcus Center for their Kidz Days, where there will be a variety of performing arts presented by local Milwaukee groups. This is an interactive program that serves to entertain and education. (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays)
  • Enroll in a Zoo Class at the Milwaukee County Zoo! Summer classes and camps are fun-filled, educational programs for guests ages infant through adult, featuring amazing Zoo animals and Zoo educators. Camps include hands-on learning, animal interactions and Zoo tours.

Milwaukee Summer Sports and Fitness

  • Take the family to Miller Park to cheer on the Milwaukee Brewers! Watch Bernie zoom down his famous slide when the home team hits a home run! Plus, SAUSAGE RACES.
  • If a little smaller scale is more your style, check out a Lakeshore Chinooks Game! It’s a cheaper alternative to the major leagues where there’s no such thing as a bad seat. Good food, easy parking and a playground for the kids.
  • Cheer on a cyclist at the East Tosa Grand Prix. (June 30th)
  • Create an epic Corn Hole tournament with your neighbors.
  • Go “frolfing” (disc golfing) at one of the various courses.
  • Check the kids into childcare and try out a new workout! These local fitness studios offer childcare for a variety of ages.

Milwaukee Summer Waterplay

  • Enroll the kids in Swim Lessons to make sure they are staying safe in the water this summer! 
  • Splash around at a Milwaukee area splash pad, beach or pool.
  • Explore a new Lake Michigan Beach each month of the summer.
  • Dangle your feet off a dock at a local lake.
  • Turn on the hose and run through the sprinkler.
  • Have a water balloon fight.

Milwaukee Summer Date Night (or Day Date!)

Milwaukee Summer Fun for Homebodies

  • Finish a DIY project. Find a hidden gem at a rummage sale or the ReStore to get that project done!
  • Cook together — try out a brand new recipe!
  • Camp out in your backyard.
  • Make sidewalk chalk art
  • Set up a lemonade stand
  • Read a book in the sunshine.
  • Make an iMovie with your kids, complete with epic music and special effects. Dinosaurs and Barbies make fun “supporting characters.”
  • 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.
  • Make your own popsicles with your favorite juice.
  • Have a blanket picnic in the backyard with only finger foods.
  • Make S’mores!
  • Dance under the stars.
  • Chase fireflies.
  • Play in the rain
  • Host a cookout with friends.
  • Play “Yard Twister” by spray-painting circles on your lawn!
  • Plant a garden.

**Check out our 2020 Socially Distanced Summer Bucket List for lots of ideas of how to make summer fun awesome from home!

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