Between holidays, inservice days, and early release days, the school year calendar has plenty of opportunities for the kids to be home from school and parents to be left wondering what’s out there to do to keep everyone occupied and engaged.
Thankfully, we in the greater Milwaukee Area are blessed with some fantastic opportunities to get out and about during the week to enhance learning for kids, even on the days they aren’t in the classroom. Plus, family fun doesn’t have to be confined to the weekend! If your family is staying safe and healthy, take advantage of those days off of school to do some super fun activities! We’ve got lots of ideas for you.
This guide is sponsored by the Wisconsin Center District and the Beyond Van Gogh Exhibit, the perfect experience for visitors of all ages to enjoy the world of Van Gogh in a unique and personal way.
COVID-19 NOTE: Please be aware that we are still dealing with ongoing developments related to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Please call ahead to confirm the hours and offerings of any business or organization listed and to inquire about masking requirements, safety protocols, etc.
Weekday Fun for Milwaukee Families When School's Out
Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience
This resource is presented by Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, an interactive art exhibit at The Wisconsin Center through January 9, 2022.
When school is out of session and you want to avoid the lure of hours of screen time, finding an engaging and interactive activity to capture kids’ curiosity and interest is crucial. Beyond Van Gogh is the perfect fit.
Milwaukee Weekday Fun When School's Out
Just because school isn’t in session for the day doesn’t mean that learning has to end! Take the day to go in pursuit of something new, whether that means checking out some awesome books from the library, enjoying art, or exploring a museum! There are plenty of opportunities to learn all around the city!
- Discovery World – There’s a reason Discovery World is such a popular field trip destination! STEM learning galore at every turn, learn about the Great Lakes in a popular hands-on exhibit, create an original masterpiece in the Kohls Design It Lab, and more!
- Retzer Nature Center – Located in Waukesha, you’ll find learning opportunities galore both in person and online. Environmental Education is what Retzer does best and they have lots of resources on their website to help you make the most of your visit.
- Play in the Cloud – The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum now offers a platform for online education — Play in the Cloud powered by GLOMADO. Families, students and educators seeking creative and cultural enrichment opportunities can visit the platform and register for a hands-on workshop led in real-time by a Museum educator or a GLOMADO instructor from across the globe.
If the kids are out of school, it’s the perfect opportunity to play hooky from adult stuff as well and spend the day having fun with them! Catch a movie or see a play! We’ve got several ideas for weekday entertainment in Milwaukee for when school is off.
- Marcus Theatres – Movies are back! What could be a better way to spend a day off school than relaxing in a DreamLounger and enjoying a movie?! Marcus Theatres have several options to save on your visit including $5 Tuesdays, $6 Student Thursdays, Early Bird Movies, The Big Screen $5 Showcase and more!
- First Stage Children’s Theater – Check out their full season lineup of live performances and you won’t be sorry. Rather enjoy performances virtually? Don’t miss Amplify: First Stage’s BIPOC Play Series.
Nature and Outdoors
No matter what season it is, there is no better activity when school is out that getting outside and enjoying all nature has to offer. Whether you opt for a bike ride along the lake, a hike, or a visit to the zoo….getting outside is always a good idea!
Milwaukee County Zoo – 10001 W. Bluemound Rd., Milwaukee. The ultimate safari experience to enjoy as a family! Learn about a multitude of animals, including those who are currently endangered, and what we can do to help.
- Mitchell Park Domes – A visit to the Domes is always a good idea because there are countless educational opportunities to explore each time you go, but it’s even more perfect for the days when school is out and the weather is crummy because it’s always gorgeous inside the Domes! The Fall Show is open now and runs through November 7th and each season, there is a new featured show inside the Show Dome to encounter!
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center – 1111 E., Brown Deer Rd., Bayside. Go on a hike and explore this GEM! When the weather’s too cold for a hike, you can still take advantage of the facility’s fascinating indoor educational programs, such as Word with a Bird. Little ones will also enjoy visiting with and learning about the resident turtles and other small animals housed in the lobby.
Urban Ecology Center – Three locations, but our team favorite is the Riverside location. They have live animals in display and lots to explore in their building and informational displays about the environment. They also have plenty of open space that gets tons of sun: perfect for sitting and reading, or playing with games or puzzles (which they have on hand).
Lions Den Nature Preserve – This is a true hidden gem of the Milwaukee area. The perfect spot to explore and take in breathtaking views of Lake Michigan.
Fall Farm / Apple Orchard / Pumpkin Patch / Corn Maze – When school is out during those gorgeous weeks of fall, it’s the perfect opportunity to head to your favorite fall favorite, whether it’s apple picking, pumpkin hunting, or getting lost in a corn maze. We are so lucky to have several awesome options in the Milwaukee area!
Hiking Trails – In every season, a hike is always a good idea! Find a new favorite, lace up your boots (or snowshoes!) and hit the trail.
- Local Park & Playgrounds – It’s simple, free, and there are tons to pick from!
Arts & Music
Inspiring creativity through the arts is a wonderful way to engage the brain every day. Take advantage of the day off school to invest in arts & music with your child, no matter their age!
- Beyond Van Gogh – Beyond Van Gogh is a walk-through exhibition that allows for 6ft distance between all attendees, and includes increased cleaning practices. Tickets are purchased in time slots for staggered entry to limit the number of people inside the exhibit at all times. Visitors should plan on approximately one hour to experience the entirety of the exhibit.
- Milwaukee Art Museum – The Milwaukee Art Museum offers a variety of engaging programs and resources for families with kids. Families can paint, sculpt, draw, or sketch in the Kohl’s Art Generation Studio any day the Museum is open.
- Michael’s Boredom Busters – For those who are craft-inclined, there are a whole bunch of super fun ideas and projects on the Michael’s website for all ages.
- Broadway at Home – If you have theater kids, watching performances on streaming platforms is a great way to enjoy a fantastic show, but without going to the theater in person. Sure, its not the same, but it’s definitely a wallet-friendly way to enjoy the arts! Hamilton is on Disney+, Come from Away is on Apple TV+, Newsies is on Disney+, and In the Heights will be coming back to streaming soon!
- Bronzeville Boheme from The Florentine Opera – This unique show takes the familiar opera La Boheme and not only condenses it down to a 32 minute production, but transforms it into a celebration of Milwaukee and her history. Plus, it’s FREE and available virtually!
- Take a Public Art Tour – Milwaukee has a ton of murals and public art pieces to choose from, in a variety of neighborhoods and by a bunch of artists. Milwaukee Downtown has a really handy Public Art Tour planning tool that will make it simple for you to find what’s available in your area of interest.
Sports & Active Fun
Whether you like to be a spectator or a player, there are lots of opportunities during the week to get in the game! Be sure to check out the schedules of local sports teams to see if there are any games to catch or make your own sports activity by heading out for a hike, a walk along the lake, or go for a swim!
- Hit the Skating Rink – Whether it’s winter and you’re gliding across the ice or grabbing your skates to hit up the local roller rink, skating is awesome exercise and is a ton of fun to enjoy with your kids!
- Climb, Flip, Jump & Soar – Depending on your style, there is an option for high-flying active fun to suit your needs. Soar through the air at Urban Air. Jump off the walls at SkyZone (Check out their weekday specials!), Bounce Milwaukee, or Rockin’ Jump. Climb to new heights at Adventure Rock. This kind of activity is perfect for the days when your middle and high school kids are off school and you need to spend some quality time together.
- Bowling – It’s old school and continues to be a family staple for a reason! Bowling is easily adaptable to any skill level and is the perfect activity for a day when school is out!
- Batting Cages, Mini Golf, Axe Throwing – Basically, if it’s a sports-esque activity you could do with your friends, there’s a good chance you can do it with your kids, especially if they are older!
Of course, this is by no means a comprehensive list! There are countless amazing options for weekday fun and indoor play around the area. We would love to hear about your favorite options when school is closed.