|Local Attractions for Families in Dane County, WI
"Kid Attractions" listed here, are places that are open nearly daily, without the need to register for classes/sessions.
Aldo Leopold Nature Center
The Aldo Leopold Nature Center specializes in connecting children, their families and teachers to the outdoors. Through
hands-on, guided experiences, children and adults come to discover and explore the wonders of the natural world! Visit
website for activities & events.
Babcock Hall Dairy Store
UW Madison ice cream plant & store that opened in 1951 is located right on campus. Available for tours, and ice cream
store open daily. The plant also produces award winning cheeses and bottles locally produced milk. Yum!
Cave of the Mounds, Blue Mounds
IF YOU GO: Dress for 50 degree temp, some damp areas under your feet, and bring a camera - and maybe a little
spending cash to pick up a special treasure in the gift shop. Cave of the Mounds, open to the public since 1940, is
considered a national natural landmark, offering daily educational tours of beautiful natural cave formations. A guided tour
of the Cave, which is a constant 50 degree temperature, takes you past a varied collection of colorful stalactites,
stalagmites, columns and other formations. Tours last about an hour and are offered daily either hourly or 30 minute
intervals, with extended tours offered to scheduled groups. Participants can participate in mining for gemstones, and learn
about each one. Visitors can also enjoy the park-like grounds with picnic areas, walking trails and rock gardens as well as
the rock and souvenir shop. Snack bar, open Memorial Day to Labor Day. The Mounds also offer summer camps and
other year-round, and seasonal activities.
Chuck E Cheese's
This was one of the original birthday party venues in Madison a few decades ago. Today, it's remodeled and offers a larger
menu than just pizza. In addition to an area of tables that accommodate large groups for parties, there is several other
booths for family dining right near all of the arcade games, including a toddler play area. Other than some toddler games
and rides, all games reward players with tickets that can be redeemed for various prizes. The daytime/weekday hours are a
quiet time to enjoy some fun with the kiddo's and easier to keep track of them. Tokens are used for games, and you can
find an assortment of food/token package coupons. It's worth signing up for e-mail for a "welcome" coupon, and great "free
token" coupons for birthdays, half-birthdays and more!
City of Madison Parks
The city of Madison operates more than 260 parks, beaches & facilities, including the Irwin A. & Robert D. Goodman Pool
(nestled in a charming neighborhood between Park St & John Nolen Dr.) Their website makes it easy to locate parks, find
specific amenities and status/safety updates of beaches & ice skating ponds. Parks & shelters are available to rent for
birthday parties and other gatherings, and Madison Parks also hosts a variety of community-wide events throughout the
year offering great family-fun, such as Ride the Drive, Elver Park Fireworks, Kids to Kids Garage Sale & more.
The "just right sized" water park for younger children, located inside the Holiday Inn West, sells day passes Sunday through
Thursday. There is two separate pool areas; one is 3 ft deep & up, with a small, but long water slide. The other area is
zero-depth entrance reaching only ankle deep (adult) with a ship, water features and small slide. IF YOU GO: Try and find
a 2-for-1 coupon! $$$. Also, the small restroom is the only changing area so pack for an easy way to change your family.
Crawdaddy Cove also offers birthday party packages, with a party room right near the pool.
There are so many wonderful parks in Dane County, it would be impossible to try & highlight the best, which - of course - is
also a personal opinion. There are a special category of parks, however, that deserve some recognition & explanation. As
of 2012 there are five dream parks within Dane County, which - in short - are a very large area of sturdy, safe playground
equipment designed from the input of children in the community, are "barrier-free" (accessible to all), and are built by
community volunteers and funded by the community via personal & corporate donations & fundraising events. The
playground is built in a city park & given it's own name (therefore many people may refer to the playground by the park
name. It's basically a park within a park.)
East Towne Mall
New in 2011, the Play and Learn Area provides a large soft foam play area, interactive wall panels, jump and move areas,
and other fun engaging activities designed to improve childhood development skills. The United Way facilitates a play and
learn group the 1st Friday each month at 9am for children birth to age 5.
Eugster's Farm Market, Stoughton/Oregon
IF YOU GO: Good place to meet up with a small playgroup, play and end with a picnic lunch. It's not too big - don't have
to walk far to see their animals. Kids can wander with goats, chickens and pet or hold kitties. There is a small play set with
a slide & swings, and trikes to ride around their patio. They have a bathroom, and a small shop where you can purchase
ice cream, a drink, or farm fresh produce. They offer several hand-sanitizer stations. Goats are gentle and friendly, but
beware: they will grab things from your stroller, or your shoe laces (but they're in a fenced area.)
Greater Madison BMX Track
The area's first outdoor BMX bike track opened in DeForest in 2011. Track is open seasonally for ABA members to practice
or race, and all bikes must be inspected prior to riding on the track. Participate or watch track events, they also offer New
Rider Clinics, and host birthday parties. Location in town of Vienna: 6996 Hickory Lane, DeForest, WI. ABA Track No. 1821
Henry Vilas Zoo
IF YOU GO: To protect animals, the zoo does not provide straws (or lids) when purchasing beverages, other than a
child-size take-home reusable cup with lid and straw . You may want to bring your own cup that fits in the stroller cup
holders, and transfer a beverage you might purchase while there (and sippy cups for the kids, of course.) They have two
separate concession areas and two multiple-stall bathroom areas. Bring a blanket or beach towel for diaper changing or
snack time. For a long day or group trip, a sandy beach is directly across the way on Lake Wingra, and a large park with
playground equipment and picnic areas is by the main parking lot.
An amusement park offering 26 rides & attractions, specifically for younger children (toddlers to pre-teen), is open
seasonally Memorial Day weekend through September, with special their Pumpkin Train running on weekends in October.
The park is located just off Hwy 73 in Marshall, WI - easy access from town. Parking is in close proximity to ticket office,
concessions and the park full of rides. Admission to the park is FREE, and food/beverage carry-ins are allowed, which is
great for families with toddlers! Rides can be purchased ala carte or a wrist-band purchase makes for a convenient and
affordable way to make use of the park for a few hours.
Madison Children's Museum
IF YOU GO: MCM celebrated their re-opening at 100 N. Hamilton in August, 2010! There is much to explore, including
fun things to watch and interactive, hands-on activities, plus Roman Candle restaurant with seating within the museum, so
plan to stay awhile to enjoy your experience. Purchasing an annual membership makes it very economical for larger
families or repeat visits. FREE admission the first Wednesday each month after 5pm for Twilight
Wednesdays, open until 8pm. MCM offers regular classes, work shops, summer camps, birthday party venues and
other special events throughout the year.
Madison Public Library
All branches offer something for the entire family; from story times to crafts and special events (even movies and
sleep-overs!). Be sure to check all family-related categories in their calendar: Kids/Families, Preschoolers and
Olbrich Botanical Gardens
IF YOU GO: It's very warm & humid inside the Bolz Conservatory (don't wear a sweatshirt.) Also, everything there is for
looking, not touching - it can be difficult to keep curious fingers in control, especially when you have multiple children
in-tow, or distracted from trying to chat with friends during a play group. Annual events include their Holiday Express, a
display with a model train running along a track through beautiful poinsettias and their Butterflies in Bloom, with live
butterflies flying and floating among the tropical gardens. They also offer a variety of kids classes throughout the year and
various music venues, many are family-friendly.
The L.R. Ingersoll Museum is a free, public, hands-on physics museum on the UW Madison campus at Chamberlin
Hall, Room 2130. Curious, interactive exhibits to inspire future inventors! Open to public Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, or call for
group tours. Recommended ages 5 & up, but all ages welcome! (Stroller friendly)
Schuster's Playtime Farm
Schuster's, known especially for their massive corn mazes, is open for private group reservations May through October,
and open to the public daily during Fall Harvest, September 17 through October 31, 2011. The barnyard includes play
equipment, tire maze, several other activities and several small farm animals. The farm always has fresh bakery items and
produce available for purchase.
Vitense offers an outdoor and indoor miniature golf course, provides birthday parties packages, and has an indoor
restaurant with a full menu, including a snack/concession bar. The indoor course gets transformed into a haunted-looking
course around Halloween.
West Towne Mall
IF YOU GO: A mostly enclosed play area with soft climbing structures is located in front of JcPenney. Food & drinks
are not allowed. You need to keep a close eye on your kids. Early morning is a quiet time to be there, where
lunchtime and weekends can be a zoo (& often unsupervised bigger kids.)
Wisconsin State Capitol
IF YOU GO: Pay attention to which doors you walk in - it's very easy to get disoriented once inside! Bathrooms, stairs &
exits are easy to find, but they all look alike! (Good news: there is always a security guard or staff at the information desk if
you need assistance!) Not only is the Capitol a great bathroom stop when you're downtown with kids, they welcome visitors
and offer tours daily. One of the greatest stops to make in Madison is to venture up to the sixth floor, park the stroller, and
climb the steps up to the observation deck, which offers a near-birds eye view of the isthmus & beyond!
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