Summer Fun for Kids: Get ‘Em Outdoors!

Julie Henning Headshot

A self-diagnosed travel addict, Julie Henning is the founder of Wisconsin Parent.

Ah, children! Our legacies and our greatest accomplishments. Tomorrow’s leaders… today. But, man, they sure are loud, messy and sometimes really expensive. With three long unstructured months of summer break rounding the bend, don’t let them smell your fear. It's time to take the kids outside and enjoy the wide range of outdoor activities Wisconsin has to offer.

Here are some of my favorite summer pastimes:


If you don’t already participate in the high-tech treasure hunt otherwise known as Geocaching, why not start in West Bend? Known as the Geocaching Capitol of the Midwest™, West Bend has more than 1,200 geocache containers hidden within a 10-mile radius of downtown. While many are easy to find, others require you to row a boat or even climb a tree.

Nearby, Pike Lake State Park is home to Wisconsin’s Oldest Geocache—make sure you climb to the top of the observation tower to enjoy breathtaking views of the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail also runs through the park. If an urban adventure is more your thing, drive into Milwaukee for the VISIT Milwaukee GeoTour to learn about each of Milwaukee’s unique neighborhoods. For more information on how to get started and a list of geocaching events around the state, connect with the friendly folks at the Wisconsin Geocaching Association.


An activity that involves both teamwork and balance, family canoe trips provide excellent material for both scrapbooks and “What I Did This Summer” school reports. From the fast-paced flow of the Wolf River to the shallow sandbars of the Wisconsin River or even an urban paddle on the Milwaukee River, adventure outfitters across the state can help arrange the necessary gear, equipment, and guides.

Skipping Stones

One awesome benefit of living in a state bordering the Great Lakes is a never-ending supply of water and stones. Kids will skip stones for hours and love it. While you really can’t go wrong with a trip Up North to the breathtaking shores of Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, our family’s favorite stone skipping spot is Schoolhouse Beach on Washington Island in Door County.

Roadside Attractions

From the majestic Claire d’Loon in Mercer to the notorious Hodag in Rhinelander, Wisconsin’s roadside attractions make fabulous road trip detours. Three of our family’s favorite spots are the Wisconsin Concrete Park in Phillips, Forevertron in Sumpter and the Dickeyville Grotto in downtown Dickeyville. All three make excellent venues for Sunday picnics, burning off steam or inspiring whimsical drawings in sketchbooks.

These are just a few of the many outdoor activities that your entire family can enjoy around Wisconsin. Enjoy!

Raising kids is hard work. Best accomplished with the support of the entire village, Julie Henning founded Wisconsin Parent as an online resource for Wisconsin Families. A self-diagnosed travel addict, Julie writes about The Dairy State from a parent’s point of view. She also loves to podcast, regularly adding episodes to her Midwest Travel Podcast on iTunes.

This entry was posted in Outdoor Fun, Tours, Water Activities, Canoeing, Kayaking & SUP, Entertainment and Attractions, Guest Bloggers, Summer, Family