After a particularly long and harsh Wisconsin winter, we’re finally starting to experience warmer temperatures and sunnier days.
We’re lucky to live in an area rife with so much gorgeous scenery, welcoming greenspaces, plentiful trails, and tons of city, county and state parks. And even though springtime is notorious for its rain, wind, chill, mud and occasional snowfall, there’s no excuse not to get outside and enjoy the bounty of spring.
As the famous Swedish adage goes, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”
To help get you inspired for spring, we’ve compiled a list of our top five free or affordable things to do in Milwaukee this spring.
1. Visit a State Park, State Forest or Nature Preserve
Dig out your best weatherproof gear from the closet and grab your vehicle admission sticker (which pays for itself in about two visits)—it’s time to take advantage of our local parks system! You’re sure to come out feeling relaxed and refreshed.
Here are a few favorites, all of which are within an hour’s drive or so of Milwaukee, less if you’re coming from the suburbs or nearby towns.
- Lakeshore State Park (Downtown Milwaukee)
- Havenwoods State Forest (North Milwaukee)
- Harrington Beach State Park (Belgium, WI)
- Lapham Peak (Delafield, WI)
- Kohler-Andrew State Park (Sheboygan, WI)
- Kettle Moraine State Forest (Across southeastern WI)
- Loew Lake Park Unit (Erin, WI)
- Pike Lake State Park (Hartford, WI)
- Grant Park (South Milwaukee)
2. Explore a Museum on a “Free” Day
A number of area museums offer free admission one day a month. You just have to know where to go, when to go and what to see!
Museums, although not totally outdoors, can make for a fun, engaging and inspiring day that keeps your and/or your kids’ feet moving and your imaginations working.
Plus, many of these attractions have outdoors spaces in addition to indoor ones, so even though you’re learning, you can still enjoy the spring weather. Museums are also great for days when the rain simply won’t let up but you need a little adventure.
- Milwaukee Public Museum: Free admission to permanent exhibits on the first Thursday of each month
- Milwaukee Art Museum: Free admission on Free First Thursdays
- Betty Brinn Museum: Free admission from 5–8 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month through the Neighborhood Night program
- Mitchell Park Domes: The famous tri-domed conservatory admits Milwaukee County residents for free on its Free First Thursdays.
- Milwaukee County Zoo: The zoo offers Family Free Days a few times a year.
3. Take in Some Outdoor Art
There’s a lot more art in Milwaukee than lives in the art museum. Beautiful and thought-provoking art and especially sculptures can be found in the alleyways, streets and parks of the city as well.
- Black Cat Alley (Milwaukee’s East Side)
- Wisconsin Avenue Statues (Downtown Milwaukee)
- Street Art Tour (Downtown/Avenues West, East Side and Riverwest)
- Lynden Sculpture Garden (River Hills)
4. Try a New Sport—Or an Old Favorite
- Disc Golf: Head to Estabrook, Dretzka, Root River or Dineen parks in the Milwaukee area for day of disc golfing and nature admiring! This slower-paced, low-impact sport requires only a single disc and some good walking shoes to get started. Keep in mind most local courses are city- or county-run, so there’s likely a small entry free.
- Kayaking: A handful of local companies—most along the Milwaukee River or downtown lakefront—will rent you a kayak and the necessary equipment for a half or full day, as will the Urban Ecology Center if you have a membership.
- Bicycling: There’s no better way to see the city than by bike! Chart your course by selecting a pick-up spot and a drop-off spot and choose a few landmarks, food stops or businesses to stop at along your route. Stations can be found as far north as Shorewood and as far south as Bay View.
- Kickball: Join one of the county’s co-ed, after-work kickball leagues or just organize an informal game with friends or colleagues. Kickball’s an easy, relatively low-impact sport that will keep your heart pumping and remind you of your days on the schoolyard.
5. Walk or Bike the Entire Oak Leaf Trail
Milwaukee’s famed Oak Leaf Trail will take you on a whirlwind tour of many nearby cities, towns, suburbs and neighborhoods as you take in the fresh air and enjoy the nature views.
But at 125 miles in total length, don’t expect to conquer it all in one day. Instead, make a plan to tackle a “line” or two at a time until you traverse all nine this spring.
If all nine lines and 125 miles sounds like too large a task, consider walking the Beerline Trail (Riverwest), the Wehr Nature trail (Whitnall Park), the Seven Bridges Trail (Grant Park) or various sections of the Ice Age Trail (throughout southeastern WI) and work your way up to the OLT.
No matter which city, town or Wimmer property you might live in, there are countless free or low-cost things to do in the Milwaukee suburbs to help you embrace spring. Nearly all Wimmer communities are within a 20-minute drive of Milwaukee, and all are close to parks, trails, outdoor spaces, sports leagues and cultural spots to keep you out and active all season long.
Plus, most Wimmer properties offer some kind of cost-free outdoor space for enjoying the fairer weather—from fitness centers, yoga studios and swimming pools to properties on beautiful woodlands, golf courses and city parks. So, even if you want to stay active close to home, Wimmer has you covered.
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