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Milwaukee Vacation with Toddlers

Hello there! We survived our 2 week road trip with the girls, and it feels SO good to be home. Both kiddos picked up a couple of less than ideal habits over the course of the trip (aka Everly waking to eat THREE times per night), so we’re taking some time to readjust back into our regular routines.

We did the same two week trip (1 week visiting my sister in Iowa City + 1 week kicking it in Milwaukee) last summer, and I have to say that this year went SO much better! The girls are both at such a fun age to be out and about. It was truly a joy getting to spend so much time exploring with them!

If you’ve ever wondered what to do on a trip to Milwaukee with little ones – this post is for you! If not, enjoy some photos of our fun family trip! :)

Milwaukee Vacation with Toddlers

Where We Stayed

After learning the ins and outs of traveling with two kids last year, I knew I wanted to stay somewhere with a kitchen. It’s SO nice to be able to prepare breakfast in the room and pack a healthy lunch to eat while out and about. Let me know if you’re interested in my vacation grocery list – it seriously made a world of difference!

hotel with toddlers
We opted to stay at The Knickerbocker on the Lake – one bed (because our kids never end up sleeping alone anyways) and a full kitchenette. It was basically a little studio apartment. Super cute, ample space to spread out and play, and walking distance to the lakefront, museums, and our favorite restaurants.

Surprise, surprise – Everly spent most of her time in the hotel going in and out of the various cupboards ;)

Apartment living at The Knickerbocker Milwaukee

What We Did

Ok, this part is going to get pretty long because we did a TON over the course of the week! Our mornings were pretty busy but then usually followed by a car nap (mixed feelings on those) or some downtime in the hotel before Jeff got done working. Here’s the rundown…

Monday: Milwaukee County Zoo

When we lived in Milwaukee, we actually lived across the street from the zoo for about a year. It was fun to go back with the girls! They both had lots of wiggles to get out, so as cool as the animals were, they were most impressed with the giant playground in the middle of the zoo.

milwaukee county zoo
Needless to say, we spent most of our time going down the slides rather than taking in the exhibits :)

milwaukee zoo playground

Tuesday: Errand day & Lakefront

Even on vacation, sometimes mom just needs to get things done! We spent the morning walking to get various errands completed before heading down to the lakefront and my favorite coffee shop Colectivo. It’s SO beautiful down there and the weather was nice and mild to be out and about for an extended period of time.

Milwaukee Art Museum

Wednesday: Betty Brinn Children’s Museum

Betty Brinn Children's Museum Milwaukee
This was probably the best destination on our trip. Eleanor LOVED Betty Brinn last year, but this year BOTH girls got in on the fun. The highlights were definitely the 5 and under play zone where everything is geared toward the smaller crowd and the interactive train exhibit where Everly enjoyed going through tunnels and Eleanor enjoyed playing conductor.

betty brinn with toddlers
I personally loved seeing my biker babes on a Harley ;)

Betty Brinn Harley Davidson

Thursday: Discovery World & The Big Backyard

Ok, so Discovery World was a total bust. I really don’t recommend going there unless your child is AT LEAST 5 or 6. The concepts were WAY above Eleanor’s developmental level and 95% of the exhibits were simply too tall for her to even see. Once my girls are in school, we will DEFINITELY go back because the museum is full of neat interactive exhibits!

I tried my best to find something enjoyable for my littles, but we ended up leaving after about an hour. I did manage to snap a photo of the girls by the lake before we headed out…

Milwaukee Lakefront view from Discovery World

To make up for kind of a rocky morning, I took the girls to The Big Backyard in New Berlin. It was the perfect place to escape the heat and run off some energy. They had several different playground structures (various sizes for all ages), riding toys, balls, play houses, etc. The girls had a blast! The only downside was the destructive behavior of several other kids, but that’s just part of the territory I suppose ;)

The Big Backyard Milwaukee

Friday: Kids in Motion & Milwaukee Riverwalk

Friday was an extremely HOT day, so I took the girls to an indoor play area we visited last year. Kids in Motion has different themed rooms such as trains, a dinosaur dig, a diner, an underwater adventure, a stage, a construction zone, art projects, etc. They also have a giant padded play structure in the middle of the room.

Kids in Motion Milwaukee
Both girls loved the larger than life Lite Brite and playing in the beans in the dino dig room.

kids in motion lite brite
That evening we met up with Jeff to tour his office and then we took a walk down the Milwaukee Riverwalk to find a good patio (and beer). Of course no trip to Milwaukee is complete without a photo with the Fonz ;)

The Fonz on the Milwaukee River Walk

Saturday: Rock ‘n Sole Quarter Marathon

The first 5k Jeff and I did together was the Rock ‘n Sole back in 2012. When I saw that our trip was going to coincide with this year’s race, I decided to sign up for the quarter marathon (no half for me YET). It was a really fun, well organized race. The views going over Hoan bridge are simply amazing and ALMOST make you forget that you’re tired and sweaty.

My cheering section was pretty darn adorable too – Evie had a heyday with her cow bell!

Rock 'n Sole Quarter Marathon Milwaukee
Phew – I’m honestly tired just thinking about all of the running around we did! The days and nights were also filled with visiting old friends and eating great food. That’s a trip that can’t be beat!

Do you have any summer vacations planned? Jeff and I are headed to San Francisco in August for an anniversary trip! We’d love your recommendations!

Find me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to continue the conversation! And please SHARE with a mama who you think would enjoy this post!

xoxo joanna


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