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What are Some Things to do in Madison, Wisconsin with Children?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 17, 2024
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Madison, Wisconsin offers many interesting activities for children. There is a children's museum, a zoo and many more great places to consider when you're in Madison with children. For example, the many lakes and parks as well as the University of Wisconsin offer excellent things to do for both adults and children.

The University of Wisconsin Geology Museum has thousands of rocks, minerals and fossils native to the area. A model of a limestone is on display here as well as a collection of fluorescent, or glowing, minerals. The University's Geology Museum is a great attraction to see in Madison with children who love dinosaurs as it features the noted Boaz mastodon skeleton found in 1897 by the Dosch brothers.

The Babcock Hall Dairy Plant and Store is also located at the University of Wisconsin and is run by the Department of Food Science. The plant manufactures dairy products such as butter, ice cream, milk and cheese. Self-guided tours of the dairy are usually able to be arranged if you contact the plant first. There is an observation deck at the plant and the Babcock Hall Dairy Store sells ice cream, cheese and other dairy foods that Madison is known for.

Madison is also known for being a bike-friendly city and some workers here commute regularly by bicycle and some families take regular bike trips too. When you're looking for things to do outdoors in Madison with children, consider biking at the Lake Monona Park bike path. The Lake Monona bike path offers beautiful lake views.

Another outdoor spot to discover in Madison with children is Vilas Park. Vilas Park is at Lake Wingra and has areas for swimming and picnicking. Henry Vilas Zoo is also at Vilas Park. The Zoo dates back to 1911 and includes primates, big cats, rainforest wildlife, bears and many more animals. The Children's Zoo has a carousel that is usually open in the summer, plus a tree house and adventure play equipment.

Madison's Children's Museum is a must-see when you're in Madison with children. It has hands-on exhibits for children as young as six months and as old as about age 10. The theme is learning through play and popular activities here include the Shadow Room where a phosphorescent wall allows children to freeze their shadows as they learn about shadow and light.

The Madison Public Libraries often offer one-day programs for children and parents in the summer months. If you're in Madison with children in the summer, you can check the libraries for dates and times. Past events have included craft projects for children aged seven and up, stories and activities for infants and toddlers and a movie and stuffed animal parade for children aged three to nine years. All library activities are usually for children accompanied by an adult.

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