We had so much fun at Wildwood Wildlife Park in Minocqua! Our favorite part was the petting zoo area. They had lots of barnyard animals, but they also had a few exotics the handlers rotated out of the cages to pet as well.
I learned that Wildwood Wildlife Park is actually the second largest zoo in Wisconsin. They really did have an amazing assortment of animals and offered many ways to interact with them. That was the best part!
The one major complaint I have is that they have NO diaper changing tables. One of the workers told me it was because someone ripped the one they had off the wall, so they decided it wasn't worth replacing it. Excuse me?! You are an establishment aimed toward families and children. Every other place we went to on our little mini-vacation had a changing station, including our other stops in Minocqua. I'm pretty sure if almost every other business can figure out how to provide a changing station for their patrons, you can manage to do the same. The fact that a place specifically for children doesn't have a place to change diapers is unacceptable to me. I would probably not pay again to get in until I didn't have to worry about this for the day.
That being said, we really did have a lot of fun. Wildwood Wildlife Park 10094 State Highway 70 West ~ Minocqua, WI ~ 715-356-5588
Admission: $16.99/adult, $11.99/child, under 2 free, season passes available; lots of extra possibilities for additional cost
Big Bay Town Park is a superior park on Lake Superior! (See what I did there?) It is one of the parks on Madeline Island, the only Apostle Island that is not part of the Apostle Island National Shoreline.
There is not a playground, but there are trails and a great lagoon for swimming or kayaking/canoeing (available to rent). Lake Superior is really too cold for swimming, but this lagoon is nice and warm-ish...and gorgeous! We even saw a deer swim across the lagoon. There is also beach to play in on the shore of Lake Superior.
The Apostle Island National Lakeshore is one of Wisconsin's most unique parks, and one of only two national parks in the state. It consists mostly of islands, which are accessible only by kayak or boat.
This is the headquarters in Bayfield.
Some of the park is on the mainland along the Lake Superior shoreline. The largest draw to the Apostle Islands are the caves, especially the ice caves in the winter. These can't really be seen from the mainland shore.
There are plenty of other activities, especially if you are willing to pay for them. There is an Apostle Island cruise available. We chose not to do that one due to the cost and duration (3 hours!) of the cruise. You can also fish, tour some lighthouses, and there is plenty of hiking!
The park may be accessed for free, but there are fees for many specific uses.
The Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center is just outside of Ashland. It is a cooperative center run through the partnerships of multiple organizations.
They have a large property with trails to explore. There is also a pond with some fish to feed. We also found a giant turtle in the pond!
Climb the observation tower for this awesome view!
Be sure to walk through the interactive museum inside as well. It's all about the history of the region, including the native heritage, the mining industry, and the fishing industry. You can even try your hand at the detonator in the mine.
If you are in the area, this is a great place to stop and get some good information. This is where we learned of the Powwow we attended while we were up there.
I took my kiddo to Astico County Park mostly because I discovered they had canoe rentals, and I thought it would be fun to give it a try.
Word to the wise: Don't give your 3-year-old a canoe paddle unless you are looking for a MAJOR arm workout trying to paddle against the one permanently dragging in the water! My newly toned arms thank my daughter for the boot camp:)
The website says they offer half-day or full-day rentals, but onsite they also give the option of hourly. One hour was perfect for us.
Once we got our canoe safely back to harbor, we did a little more exploring of the park. It was mostly campsites and trails, but we did find a little playground. I definitely wouldn't go to this park specifically looking to play on their playground because it was pretty minimal, but it was a nice enough pit stop.
Astico Park does have bathrooms.
Astico Park N3620 County Road TT ~ Columbus, WI ~ 920-386-3700
Admission: There is no entrance fee, but there are fees to rent canoes/kayaks and to camp.
We spent most of our time in the Tot Place (playground)...
...but we did also meander down this interactive path to get to the bathrooms. On the way, we encountered a little league baseball game as well.
From what I can gather, we only saw a small portion of this fantastic park. There are various trails, volleyball & tennis courts, soccer fields, ball diamonds, an ice rink in the winter, and a pool in the summer. Wow! We sure enjoyed ourselves when we were there!
Brandenstein Park in Watertown is your typical neighborhood park. There is a sand-padded playground.
There is also a volleyball net and a baseball diamond. When we were at Brandenstein Park, there was a pile of bikes with a group of kids playing a game of kickball. There is plenty of green space for picnics as well.
There is a port-a-potty.
30 West Spaulding Street ~ Watertown, WI
Brandt/Quirk Park is Watertown's largest park...without a playground!
That being said, it really is a nice park. There are soccer fields, a frisbee golf course, and baseball diamonds.
There are also walking trails throughout the park, which is what we did when we visited. We've also been for a couple of baseball games. There was a sand and water play area near the ball diamonds at one point, but I did not notice that when we were there for a game last night, so either they got rid of it or I just got lucky that my kiddo didn't find it:)
Dogs are allowed, but I have not come across any enclosures. Anyone know if they have one?
The park has actual restrooms.
800 Carriage Hill Drive ~ Watertown, WI
We had so much fun at Little Amerricka!! We started with the kiddie rides. My kiddo loved these, as expected. They have quite a few to choose from.
Then we moved onto something a little more advanced:) My kiddo went on her first roller coaster!
They were not super busy that day, so they sent us around THREE times before stopping the ride! We had very little wait time for any of the rides. A much better option for us than Great America, especially with the little ones.
Little Amerricka's pricing allows for lots of customization. Another perk of this amusement park, there is no general admission, so if anyone wants to go along to watch without riding, they don't need to pay to get in. They have pay-per-ride tickets as well as wristbands. Different color wristbands allow you to do different activities throughout the park. Our whole group had gold wristbands, and we really didn't have time to take full advantage of them. I would strongly recommend looking at the ride list for each wristband and choosing based on what each person is able/wants to do. A better option for many might be to purchase one of the lower level wristbands and then buy tickets to do an extra activity or two. The park is generally only open for a few hours a day, so that is important to keep in mind as well. While we may have liked to do more that our wristbands allowed, there just really wasn't time to go on all the rides AND go-karts AND bumper cars AND mini golfing.
It was a fun day and a great alternative to Six Flags! Smaller, less crowded, and locally owned!
One other word of advise: be sure to check the website for hours of operation before you make your plans. Their schedule is kind of all over the place and changes throughout the summer.
Little Amerricka 700 East Main Street ~ Marshall, WI ~ 608-620-5224
Admission: no general admission; prices vary based on your ride selection: rides start at $1.50/ride, wristbands available from $10.95-$21.95, season passes available as well
Trechel Park is located in "downtown" Lebanon, a tiny little town in Dodge County.
It is the smaller of two parks located in Lebanon, but it is still a nice, quiet little pit stop. There is actually a nature trail that I believe connects the two? There is actually quite a bit of green space behind the playground as well. We actually had just as much fun at Trechel Park as we did at Firemen's Park, so I would definitely recommend it, especially if it is busy at Firemen's Park. There is a port-a-potty.