Never underestimate summer in Wisconsin. America’s Dairyland not only hosts the world’s largest music festival, it’s also home to the “Waterpark Capital of the World,” not to mention more fun-filled resorts than we can count.
So whether you’re looking for a unique and active date idea or a memorable way to get your kids’ energy out, these 11 adventure parks are worth checking out. As a bonus, some of them are even free!
Where: Wisconsin Dells
When: Open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Cost: Admission starts at $29.99
Considering it’s America’s largest water park, Noah’s Ark clearly deserved a top spot on this list. The park certainly lives up to its name, too, as it takes up a whopping 70 acres in Wisconsin Dells — the Waterpark Capital of the World. It hosts more than 50 slides, two wave pools, two lazy rivers, a surfing simulator, a water coaster, and more.
Even if you’ve visited in years past, it’s worth another trip to see the park’s brand-new Chameleon ride, which is the Dells’ first slide featuring colorful lights and sounds.
When: Open Sunday-Thursday, noon-5 p.m.
Cost: Free to enter, single tickets are $2, and wristbands start at $13.95
Step into a time machine and head back to the 1950s at this restored amusement park. Featuring 26 rides and attractions—including the famed wooden coaster The Meteor—the park is on the smaller side, which makes it ideal for young families. Plus, it’s super affordable!
While entrance to the park is free and rides can be purchased a la carte, there are also wristbands that cost between $13.95 and $26.95 and are priced by height. So even if you want unlimited fun, it still only costs half of what it would at bigger parks.
When: Open Sunday-Wednesday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
Cost: From $45
This Bristol hot spot has garnered 1,200 five-star Google ratings, which is hard to beat. What makes it so amazing, you ask? Well, for one thing, it’s less than an hour away from bustling Chicago and Milwaukee, yet it’s nestled in a green forest surrounded by wildlife. It also features nine different adventure courses, four miles of hiking trails, and the Pringle Nature Center, so there’s truly something for everyone.
There are some fun night-climbing events worth checking out, too, like America Rocks (and Rolls) on July 22 or Hawaiian Vacation Luau on Aug. 5. It’s recommended that you wear close-toed shoes and bring gloves, which can also be purchased onsite for $6.
When: Open daily, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: From $16
If you’d like your child to spend the afternoon somewhere equally educational and engaging, Discovery World is the place to go for science and exploration. The campus consists of two buildings—an Aquatarium Building and Technology Building—plus an outdoor portion, so bring your walking shoes!
The Technology Building houses an intricate replica of Milwaukee, a block-building area, a flight simulator, a mining game, and more, whereas The Aquatarium Building is home to all kinds of underwater creatures—including some that you can touch! Now that’s what we call hands-on learning.
Note: Families that present a Wisconsin EBT card get a $5 discount per person.
Where: Eau Claire
When: See calendar for hours of operation
Cost: From $7 (see pricing guide here)
Located inside the Metropolis Resort, Action City Family Fun Center & Trampoline Park has the largest go-kart track in the Midwest—but that’s not all. There’s also a unique laser tag course, an arcade with 150 games, a golf course, a zip line and, of course, a trampoline park!
In the trampoline park alone, kids can hop around between two dodgeball courts, stunt jumps, jousting, a slackline, and three ninja warrior courses. The resort also offers kid-friendly restaurants like Dairy Queen so you can fill up after your day of fun.
Where: Green Bay
When: Open daily, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Cost: Admission is free but ride tickets are 25 cents each (rides take between one and four tickets)
When you think of a city park, you likely don’t picture a wooden roller coaster, Ferris wheel, and passenger trains, but that’s what makes Green Bay’s Bay Beach Amusement Park so special. In addition to the Zippin Pippin roller coaster, the site houses six thrill rides, eight family rides, and seven kiddie rides. You can essentially enjoy a mini amusement park with all the amenities you could want for mere quarters. This is what we like to call good, cheap fun!
Don’t just take it from us; all the reviews say so! As one family put it, “Never have we had so much fun for so little money.”
When: Open Thursday, 3 p.m.-8 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Cost: From $7
We certainly don’t condone drinking and driving, and drinking and bouncing could lead to injuries or stomach sickness, but drinking and watching your kids bounce is a whole different story. At Bounce Milwaukee, adults can imbibe craft cocktails and a wide selection of beer while the kids get their energy out. With an inflatable sports area, laser tag arena, rock climbing wall, vintage games, an indoor playground, and more, they’ll have plenty to keep them occupied.
And although you’re probably used to getting greasy, heat-lamp pizza and stale fries at places like this, Bounce Milwaukee’s menu features locally sourced food, solar-powered pizza, and vegan and gluten-free options. Honestly, the restaurant alone is worth the drive!
Where: Wisconsin Dells
When: Open Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-midnight
Cost: Day passes start at $19.99
As the unofficial amusement capital of the Badger State, Wisconsin Dells has tons of resorts and adventure parks to choose from, but Tom Foolerys stands out from the pack.
With 100,000 square feet of indoor attractions, this year-round venue has it all; there’s a ropes course, zip line, climbing wall, bowling, laser tag, mini-golf, go-karting, thrill rides, and a ginormous arcade. It’s the perfect way to balance out a trip to one of the area’s many waterparks!
When: Zoo open daily from 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; amusement park open daily from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
If you’re still in the “littles” stage of parenting, the whole family will love Menominee Park, Zoo, and Little Oshkosh Playground. The city’s largest park is situated along the shore of the beautiful Lake Winnebago. Attractions include a merry-go-round, miniature train, and kiddie carnival rides. Paddle boats are available if you want to spend some time on the water—or you can simply wade up to your shins. Lastly, there’s a zoo that offers hands-on exhibits.
It’s all so much better than a playground—especially because it’s totally free!
Where: Wisconsin Dells
When: Theme park open 10am–9pm, water park open 10am–7pm
Okay, we know you’re sick of hearing about Wisconsin Dells, but when an amusement park houses the country’s first-ever rotating water slide, it obviously deserves a mention. Although a portion of the indoor water park is under construction until September, the new 22,500-square-foot expansion (including the aforementioned Medusa’s Slidewheel) is open now.
Plus, there’s an outdoor water park and theme park that has roller coasters, go-karts, kiddie rides, and more. Both the water and theme park are free with your stay, so a staycation might be in order!
Where: Lake Geneva
When: Open daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: From $5
Lake Geneva Adventures offers a variety of experiences, from a $5 hiking-and-biking pass to a $110 zip-line course with nine lines. However, the Racing Zipline and Beer Garden option (which includes live music!) sounds like optimal summer fun. Booking any of these eco-friendly adventures lands you a complimentary Arbor Trails Pass, which will grant you access to the gorgeous 100-acre property.
Everybody who’s been here loves it to death, which is why it boasts nearly five stars on Tripadvisor, Facebook, Google, and Yelp. The reviews don’t lie, people!
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