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Please be sure to call and verify times and rates as they are subject to changeWisconsin Free Activities List


625 W. Prospect., Appleton 54911   920.730.8204

COST:  $6 Adult/ $5 Senior/ $3 Child (age 5- 17)/ age 5 & under FREE  (AAA Member discount available)
HOURS:  Check website for hours
Hearthstone House is not only a beautiful step back into classic architecture, but also a step back into history.  This home was the first in the world lit by hydroelectric power.  Tours of the home are given every half hour and take approximately 30 minutes.  There is also a hands-on activity center in the basement where you can try your hand at creating electricity to get a trolley to move.  Special events are held around Halloween and Christmas.
FAMILY FRIENDLY PROS-  Hands-on activities in the discovery center are educational and fun.   Tour guides were happy to answer questions regarding the history of the house, as well as details about its place in history.
FAMILY FRIENDLY CONS-  The home tour is all hands-off and might be a bit much for young children.  Not stroller friendly. 

330 E. College Ave., Appleton 54911   920.735.9370

COST:  $7.50 Adult / $5.50 Senior & Student w/ ID/ $3.50 Child (age 5 - 17) / Under 5 FREE / $20 Family Rate (2 adults and their minor children)
HOURS:  Tues - Sun 11 am - 4 pm
This history museum primarily highlights the history of the area.  When we were there they had an exhibit highlighting historical postcards of the area, a sports exhibit, and a large Houdini exhibit.  The Houdini area was especially fun since it was extremely hands-on.  There were many interesting details throughout.  Stroller friendly.
FAMILY FRIENDLY PROS-   Houdini exhibit had many hands-on opportunities;  the whole family especially enjoyed this area.  There were a few hands-on areas in the rest of the museum as well.

425 W. Water St., Appleton 54911   920.380.7491

COST:  $5 Adult/ $4 Senior/ $3 Student/ $12 Family
HOURS:  Monday - Saturday 10 am - 4 pm
The Paper Discovery Center is an educational opportunity with plenty of child-friendly hands-on activities.  Learn about the paper products we use and how paper is made.  There is a large climb-on play center in the middle of the museum which teaches kids the steps to papermaking.  The kids' favorite part of the museum was the paper making area where they got to learn to make their own piece of paper.  Free parking on-site.
FAMILY FRIENDLY PROS-  Hands-on activities were fun for all ages.  Informative and interesting.  This really made us think more about the paper products we use everyday.

550 Water St (Hwy 113), Baraboo    866.693.1500

Circus World
COST:  Check website for cost
HOURS:  Check website for hours
If you love the circus, you will love a walk around the 60 acre Circus World Museum.    Visit during the performance season and see circus acts.  Tour the buildings filled with memorabilia. 
FAMILY FRIENDLY PROS-     The kids were very interested in the displays and the circus acts.
FAMILY FRIENDLY CONS-  Not as interesting during the non-performance season.

701 Maritime Drive, Ludington  800.841.4243 
COST:  Passenger fee-  1 way:  $69 Adult /  $62 Age 65 and over / $24 Age 5 - 15 / Free for Under 5     Round Trip:  $121 Adult /  $109 Age 65 and over / $39 Age 5 - 15 / Free for Under 5
HOURS:  Call for crossing schedule
Whether you are planning a vacation in Wisconsin or just want to take a day trip, the SS Badger is a great way to cross Lake Michigan.  The ferry is large and fun to explore.  There is a Kidsport Play Room for little ones to color, climb soft climbing toys, and watch children's movies.    There is also a video arcade.    There is a restaurant.  If you want a place to relax during the four hour crossing there are plenty of seating areas or you can rent a stateroom for $39 each way or $69 round trip.  We found that to be a great place to let the children take a little rest.   Remember it is cooler out on the water so be sure to bring a jacket.
FAMILY FRIENDLY PROS- There are several things for the kids to do once they have tired of the original excitement of being on board the ferry.  My children particularly enjoyed watching the cars as they were unloaded at the new dock.
FAMILY FRIENDLY CONS-  Though the boat is large and doesn't move a lot, there is a chance of sea sickness.

75 Maritime Drive, Manitowoc  54220  866.724.2356

COST:  $12 adult / $10 child (6-15)/ 5 & under free  (Discounts available:  15% family discount for families with children age 6 - 15 / 10% senior discount for ages 60+ / 10% AAA member discount/ 10% veterans & service personnel discount)
HOURS:  Check website for hours
The Wisconsin Maritime Museum offers an interesting look at the maritime history of Wisconsin and the Great Lakes area.  Included with the admission is a tour of the USS Cobia Submarine (not a good choice if you are terribly claustrophobic) while we found very interesting.  The tour guide seemed to be very eager to share all he knew about the submarine.  There are several hands-on areas in the museum, including a water discovery center that had our whole party (kids, mom and dad, plus grandpa) all having a great time playing in the water.  We thought this was definitely worth the admission fee on both an educational and fun basis.
FAMILY FRIENDLY PROS-   There was very interesting information laid out in well-designed displays.  Enough hands-on opportunities to keep the kids interested.  The kids were especially interested in the USS Cobia Submarine tour and the hands-on water discovery center.    Ample free parking.

Museum:  306 3rd St, Pepin  Phone:  715.442.2142
Wayside:  7 miles north of Pepin on Road CC

Home - Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum 
MUSEUM HOURS:  Check website for hours
The informational museum in Pepin  has displays on Laura Ingalls Wilder and pioneer life.  Just seven miles up the road you will find the Little House Wayside.  A replica cabin is built on the piece of land once owned by the Ingalls family (as written about in Little House in the Big Woods).  The cabin has informational displays, picnic tables and restrooms.
FAMILY FRIENDLY PROS-   Fun way to learn about history.  Interesting for children who enjoyed the Little House books. 

Wisconsin Dells    608.254.8555

COST:  Check website for tour options
HOURS:  Check website for hours
The Dells Boat Tours offers a variety of tours;  from a one hour non-stop to a two hour tour with 2 stops along the way.  You might also enjoy the 50 minute jet boat tour or the dinner cruise.   Whichever you choose, you are sure to enjoy the beautiful scenery and interesting narrated stories.  Even younger children enjoyed the tour.
FAMILY FRIENDLY PROS-  The two hour tour offers two opportunities to leave the boat and walk around which was a nice option for families.  The kids enjoyed getting out and walking around the scenic riverside. 


110 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy S, Wisconsin Dells    608.254.1122

The Dells' only microbrewery is also a fun family restaurant.  The younger kids loved the paper antlers that were handed out.  The food was very good.  The menu had a nice variety, from sandwiches to steaks.   There is a kids menu with foods that should please any child.  The children's menu is priced at $6.99. 
FAMILY FRIENDLY PROS-  Great variety on the Kids Menu.  Fun, outdoorsy atmosphere.


Family Friendly Travel Tip:
Collect aside a bag of small toys (inexpensive options include happy meal style toys or items from the dollar store or clearance sections) that are new to your child.  Wait until about half way through your destination then start distributing toys at a specified interval.  Children are easier to entertain at the beginning of the trip so it's best to wait until they are bored and less easily amused to begin handing out your surprises.


Read our articles for more travel tips and location information:
How to Make the Most of a Family Trip to Disneyland

How to Enjoy Family Activities in Colorado Springs

How to Enjoy a Family Vacation Without Hearing 'Are We There Yet"


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