Sunday, August 13, 2017

Regner Park

Regner Park is a large park in West Bend.  It looks like they have a LOT to offer, but we went there to swim.

I will start by saying it was a really nice beach and splash pad.  It is a man-made pond with lifeguards.  There began the less desirable qualities.  I am all for safety, but this place seemed little over-the-top.  Kids under....5? 6? (I'm not sure because the prerecorded repeating announcement contradicted itself) are required to be within arm's reach of their guardian.  Seems like a reasonable request, right?  Except the "kiddie" area of this beach is VERY shallow VERY far in.  I do not need to stand in water up to my ankles to keep my child within arm's reach.  I can sit on the beach and watch her safely. Yes, I know kids can drown in 2 inches of water, but in the very slim chance her face went in and didn't pop right back out, I could easily stand up and run to grab her in plenty of time.  And even kids with flotation devices are not allowed to go past their armpits without passing a swim test.  Now HERE is where the arm's reach rule would actually make sense to me.  If she's past her armpits I should be able to reach her.  But no matter because she can't go there anyway.  And flotation devices aren't allowed outside of the very shallow kiddie area, so...? Don't worry, if you even think about doing something that might not be allowed, a lifeguard will start yelling through a megaphone from their chair.  You can't entirely understand them sometimes, and you usually have no idea whether they are yelling at you or someone else, but there is a lot of yelling none-the-less.

Overall, the kids really did enjoy themselves, and it was a nice clean place.  And I will say I'm sure they almost never have any incidents.  I just found it to be a little bit stressful.  I was looking forward to be able to relax a bit knowing there were lifeguards watching, but it felt to me more like I was constantly on edge trying to make sure we weren't getting in trouble.  It would probably also be better if you went there a few times and were more familiar with the expectations.

In the winter, the pond turns into a skating rink, which sounds fun.

Also at the park: playgrounds, trails, a fishing pond, and sport fields.  There is a labrynth garden, too!  I wish I would have known, because I would definitely have dragged my kiddo there to check it out.

Would I go back to explore the park some more?  Absolutely!  Would I take my kids swimming there again?  No.

Regner Park
800 N Main Street ~ West Bend, WI ~ (262)335-5087
Admission: for swimming $4/adult, $3/child, 2&under free

Traxler Park

We attended a party this summer at Traxler Park in Janesville.  It was a great venue, and we had a lot of fun!


The playground area was separated into sections, giving us lots of room to play and explore.  Even the adults had to try out some of the unique equipment we found here!

The bathrooms were pretty nice.  I assume they are usually open, but it may just have been for the party.

One note of caution: this park is on the water, so it's something to keep an eye on, but the playground was not close enough to cause us much concern.  There is a water-skiing team that performs at the park that would be pretty fun to check out too.

Traxler Park
600 N Main St ~ Janesville, WI ~ (608)755-3025

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Bay Beach Amusement Park

Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay is a great place to take the family!

There are rides for all ages, from kiddie rides to roller coaster.




The best part about Bay Beach, though, is the price.  Tickets are only 25 cents each, and most of the rides are only one or two tickets.  We bought $20 for our family of 2 adults and 2 littles, and we brought more than half of them home with us.  (Don't worry - they don't expire!)

Bay Beach Amusement Park
1313 Bay Beach Rd ~ Green Bay, WI ~ (920) 448-3365
Admission: No admission, 25 cents/ticket

Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary

The Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary is not usually the first place you think of when you hear "Bay Beach," but it is a gem! 

Our first stop was the Nature Center.

 It is a really fun, hands-on place!  There are things to climb in, including a mock tree with hidey-holes that show different critters that live there.  There are live animals and animal bones.

This miniature house gives examples of different ways wild animals could invade your home.
 There's also a "beaver slide" into the "otter pond," which does a pretty good job of making you feel like you are under water.

Then we got to explore the animals.  It is like a very natural zoo.  We saw all kinds of animals, but our favorite were the deer.  This guy hung out pretty close to the fence, so the brave one got to pet it!
 We really enjoyed the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary.

 Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary
1660 East Shore Drive ~ Green Bay, WI ~ (920) 391-3671

Apple Valley Park

Apple Valley Park is in Beaver Dam.  It is a small neighborhood park in a subdivision on the edge of town.
It is not a very large park, but there is a covered picnic shelter and a nice playground.  There are swings, monkey bars, and slides.
We also enjoyed the rock climbing tunnel.
Their favorite part of the playground was a fake wall with a cut out that worked really well for playing drive-thru.

There were no bathrooms.

Apple Valley Park
Empire Drive ~ Beaver Dam, WI


Dodge County Historical Society

The Dodge County Historical Society has a museum in Beaver Dam.


Admittedly, we did not see the entire museum.  For some reason my kiddo got totally freaked out and would not go to most of it.

Both littles enjoyed the loft area, which has a model wigwam and teepee.  There is also a large collection of arrowheads found in the area.

Most of the museum was jam-packed full of antique items.  There was plenty of daylight, but most of the lights were turned off, so it was still a bit dark.

There is a mock one-room schoolhouse set up on the second floor.

It was a bummer that the kids couldn't touch anything.  I was hopeful when a sign mentioned something about playing in the schoolhouse, but there were signs all over once we got up there saying not to touch anything.

There were some easy opportunities I saw for them to make this museum a bit more interactive, but it is really just a very large collection of stuff.  Don't get me wrong, I found it pretty interesting!  It is a place worth stopping by once for an hour.

The curator was very friendly.

Dodge County Historical Society
105 Park Avenue ~ Beaver Dam, WI ~ (920) 887-1266

Woodlawn Park

Woodlawn Park is Neosho's only park.  It features a dock and a boat launch.

 My kiddo thought it was "hilarious" that the road drove right into the water :)
 There is some confusion when it comes to the playground.  Is it part of the park?  Does it belong to the school? I cannot tell.  Google maps shows it as part of the park, the random guy I asked said it was the school's.  Since the park edges right up against the school property, I really don't know where the line is.
 We played there anyway!


There is a nice picnic shelter that is definitely part of the park, as well as permanent bathrooms.  They were nothing great, but they were better than port-a-potties!

Woodlawn Park
Center St ~ Neosho, WI

Hickey Park

Juneau's Hickey Park is definitely a neighborhood park.

 We were the only ones there when we visited, but I felt a little bit like we were intruding.  There were toys left there, so it seems that there are neighborhood kids who play there regularly - which is awesome!  It just made me feel like we were in someone's backyard. 

That being said, no one said a word to us or did anything to make us feel unwelcome.

They had a very nice climber.  It was in good shape, could have been brand new.  It had a small slide, bumpy racing slides, a climbing wall, and two kinds of monkey bars.
There were also swings.
The playground is shredded tires.

We did not find any open bathrooms.

Hickey Park
341 Ridge Rd ~ Juneau, WI

River Bend RV Resort

River Bend RV Resort just outside of Watertown is more than just a campground.  It is actually a great place to hang out for a day!  To be honest, we were really only interested in their water park.

Now, if you're looking for a Wisconsin-Dells-caliber water park, this is not it.  But if you are looking for a swimming hole with some fun extras, River Bend is a great place to try.

First off, there IS an old-fashioned swimming hole.  Well, maybe not exactly traditional.


They have a shallow, sandy beach on one side.  Across the buoy line is much deeper with inflatable water equipment, like jumping pads and slides.  We did not venture that far with two little ones, but we did enjoy the floating lounges the resort puts out.  They are pretty sturdy and fun to float around on.

 The main attraction, though, is the pool area.  River Bend has a nice splash pad/kiddie pool.  We had to hold both of our kids (ages 5 & 2) back from racing in as soon as they saw it.  There are fountains, a spray arch, and a slide with a nice pad at the bottom, as well as plenty of open water for playing.

And then we ventured to the big pool!  I would say the main draw to River Bend is probably the big green water slides.  However, both of ours were still too small for those ones.  It is also worth noting that they do not run the entire time the pool is open.

Although the kiddo was a little disappointed she couldn't go on the big slides, they BOTH had a blast flying down the little slides.  There is a smaller frog slide (above, at the right) as well as a pretty decent-sized eagle slide (below, at the left).  We did lots of swimming practice and sliding.  The eagle slide was the definite favorite, but they are both good and fast.

We visited as soon as the pool opened in the morning, so we worked up quite an appetite by the time we dragged the kids out a few hours later.  We opted to order some lunch to-go from their restaurant.  It was reasonably priced and gone before we got home!

One thing I really appreciated about River Bend was that they allowed us to use our own floaties.  For some reason some places don't, but I always feel more comfortable when the kids have them on.

River Bend has nice bathrooms with coin-operated showers.

River Bend RV Resort
 W6940 Rubidell Rd ~ Watertown, WI ~ (920) 261-7505
Admission: 3&under free, Monday-Thursday $5/person, Friday-Sunday $10/person

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Preview Post: Telulah Park

Telulah Park in Appleton has a picnic pavilion, accessible bathrooms and playground.

Telulah Park
1300 East Newberry Street ~ Appleton, WI

Preview Post: Pierce Park

Pierce Park in Appleton has a pavilion, bathrooms and a handicapped-accessible playground.

Pierce Park
1035 West Prospect Avenue ~ Appleton, WI

Preview Post: Erb Park

Erb Park in Appleton has a pavilion, restrooms and a handicapped-accessible playground.  There is also ice skating and sledding for the winter, a wading pool in the summer.

Erb Park
1800 North Morrison Street ~ Appleton, WI

Preview Post: Appleton Memorial Park

Appleton's Memorial Park boasts restrooms and playground equipment.  There is also skating and sledding in the winter.  There is a nice picnic pavilion.

Appleton Memorial Park
1620 East Witzke Boulevard ~ Appleton, WI

Preview Post: Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin

The Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin is "Wisconsin's largest butterfly house and maze."  They also have bee, frog, toad, and turtle exhibits.  The butterflies look to be housed in a greenhouse-like structure, while the maze is shaped like a butterfly through the garden.

It looks like an enjoyable, relaxing stop.  I believe they are open seasonally.

Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin
N2550 State Hwy 47 ~ Appleton, WI ~ 920-475-0777
Admission: $6/adult, $3/child, 2 & under free

Henry Vilas Zoo

The Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison is a fantastic FREE zoo. 

There was a new interactive arctic exhibit that was lots of fun.  The kids could go into bear traps and an arctic exploration vehicle.

Of course, there are lots of other typical zoo exhibits too.  We had a great time!  Plus there is a really nice park right outside the gate.

Downside: very little parking

Henry Vilas Zoo
702 S. Randall Aveue ~ Madison, WI ~ (608) 266-4732
Admission: Free, carousel/train extra

Rockin' Jump

 We have been to the Madison Rockin' Jump a few times now.  Originally, we were looking for a place to take our two-year-old for his birthday that he would LOVE.  There are so many places he enjoys, so we wanted to come up with something a little bit different so it would feel more special.

We decided on a trampoline park.  There are a few in Southern Wisconsin, but the toddler jump hours at Rockin' Jump fit our schedule the best.


 Needless to say, he had a blast!

Once she heard all about it, the big kiddo felt a little left out, so for Christmas we gave them a gift certificate and took them both back.

We've had so much fun here, we've even taken friends back with us!  One of my favorite parts about Rockin' Jump is their Rockin' Tots, when the entire trampoline park is only open to children 6 & under and their supervising adults.  It's great to let them run and play without worrying about them getting trampled.  For the older crowd, they also host Tween/Teen jump time.  And, of course, there are times that are open for all ages.

The facilities have always been very clean and well-kept when we have been there.  There are nice bathrooms.  We did not take diapers in (chose to change in the car before and after), but I believe there were changing stations.

The other part I LOVE is the pricing.  Parents do not pay to supervise their kids.  That is one of my pet peeves at a lot of child-centered places - parents pay admission even though they are really only there for their children.  Not here.  Only the jumpers pay!

Some advice before you go: sign a waiver online so you don't have to wait to do it there, and save your jump socks so you don't have to buy more next time.  Also, there is a maximum number of jumpers at any given time, so if you're going at a time that might be busy, either book a spot online or get there early.

I have never been to the one in Brown Deer, but I would assume it is very similar.

Rockin' Jump
2700 Novation Parkway ~ Madison, WI ~ (608) 819-5368
9009 North Deerbrook Trail ~ Brown Deer, WI ~ (414) 522-1945
Admission: anywhere between $5-$20, depending on when you go and how long you want to be there

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Preview Post: Plamann Park

While Plamann Park in Appleton does not have a playground, they offer quite a bit in its place.  One of the park's main features is its trail system.

Another more seasonal attraction is the beach.  There is a small lake with sand beaches open for swimming in the summer.

In the summer, they also house a petting zoo with animals from area farms.

Plamann Park
1375 East Broadway Drive ~ Appleton, WI ~ (920) 832-4790
Admission: Free, fees for beach: free/seniors, $3/Ages 16&up, $2.50/Ages 4-15, free/under 4

Preview Post: Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve

The Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve has year-round trails to explore.  They also hold many events throughout the year that sound like great family fun.

Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve
4815 North Lynndale Drive ~ Appleton, WI ~ (920) 731-6041
Admission: Free from what I can tell, though I am sure many events have a charge

Preview Post: Wisconsin Museum of International Wildlife

The Wisconsin Wildlife Museum is a more unique museum.  It consists of many mounted animals from around the world.  Some of the mounts look like they are pretty need "action" shots.  They also have some hands-on exhibits, which would make this a whole lot more fun!

They do have quite limited hours, so be sure to check ahead.

Wisconsin Museum of International Wildlife
10 East College Avenue, Suite 222 ~ Appleton, WI ~ (920) 419-2721
Admission: free

Preview Post: Trout Museum of Art

The Trout Museum of Art looks like a typical small art museum.  While it is not geared toward children, it could be interesting for them, especially if you have one who is interested in art.  I think I would be most inclined to try one of their events that are more specifically for kids.  There are regular family art project days as well as performers that they bring in, called the Young Audiences series.

Trout Museum of Art
Fox Cities Building for the Arts ~ 111 West College Avenue ~ Appleton, WI ~ (920) 733-4089
Admission: "Varies by Exhibition" (?) but at the moment it's:
                    $6/Ages 11&up, $2/Ages 5-11, Under 5 free

Preview Post: History Museum at the Castle

The History Museum at the Castle is in Appleton.  It is not a children's museum, but they do welcome children, and it looks like they try to have some family friendly, hands-on exhibits.  I am not sure how frequently their exhibits change, but at the moment, the ones I think my kiddos would most enjoy are the Houdini and toy areas.

History Museum at the Castle
330 East College Avenue ~ Appleton, WI ~ (920) 735-9370
Admission: $7.50/adult, $3.50/child, under 5 free OR $20/family

Wilderness Resort

We attended a family gathering at the Wilderness this spring.  The kids had blast!

The highlight, of course, was the water park.  While the Wilderness does have an outdoor water park as well, we were only able to experience the indoor in March!  It spans three large rooms.

One room is primarily a splash area.  There is a large climber as well as a small splash pad for babies and toddlers.

Another room contains the "activity" pool, VERY small lazy river, and some little water slides geared toward preschoolers.

The third room has a wave pool, a small climber area for small kiddos, and more full-sized water slides.

The Wilderness has a great variety of activities that are appropriate to span all ages.  I also really like that they measure and provide wristbands to kids based on their height so the lifeguards know at a glance which rides each child is tall enough for.  It's also an easy way to reference the rides as a parent and know which are okay for your child.

The water park has plenty of life preservers on hand, but they also allow you to use your own, which is awesome since some don't!

The disadvantage of the Wilderness is that you are supposed to be a hotel guest in order to use their water park.  However, we had some members of our party join us just for a day, and they were able to get a day pass.  I am not entirely sure how that works, but I believe a staying member had to go vouch that they were with us.

I will also say their lost and found program is not very user friendly.  The ONLY way to retrieve an item is to fill out an online form and wait until they contact you.  We did eventually get our stuff back, though.  And, yes, I realize it was our fault it was left in the first place.

All in all, if you are looking for a weekend water getaway, the Wilderness was a pretty decent one.

Wilderness Resort
511 E Adams St ~ Wisconsin Dells, WI ~ (800) 867-9453
Admission: included in room rate

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Preview Post: Bergstrom Mahler Museum of Glass

I was a little bit skeptical when I started looking into the Bergstrom Mahler Museum of Glass.  I am pretty hesitant to take my crew anywhere that has "Glass" in its name (!), but as I look into it, I think the kids would be pretty intrigued.  There are lighted exhibits, and they offer classes.

Gerstrom Mahler Museum of Glass
165 North Park Ave ~ Neenah, WI ~ (920) 751-4658
Admission: Free

Preview Post: The 10th Frame

The 10th Frame is a bowling alley in Appleton.  Well, actually it is a bar with a bowling alley, but they are definitely open to all ages.  I cannot find anywhere how many lanes they have, but they boast open bowling every single day!

The 10th Frame
618 West Wisconsin Ave ~ Appleton, WI ~ (920) 733-1929
Admission: $6/person unlimited bowling!

Preview Post: Special Memories Zoo

Special Memories Zoo is a privately-owned zoo in Greenville.  They owners started it as a hobby and have expanded it through the years.  It seems like they have a wide array of animal species.  They have a petting zoo and a train ride.  Has anyone been to this zoo?  I have never even heard of it before now, but most of the reviews I have seen were from people very impressed!

Special Memories Zoo
W7013 Spring Road ~ Greenville, WI ~ ​(920) 757-9695
Admission: $9 ages 13&up/ $7 ages 6-12/ $5.50 ages 2-5/ under 2 free; train ride extra

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Preview Post: Revolution Raceway

Revolution Raceway is an RC vehicle track in Appleton.  They host competitions, but they also have open practice hours when anyone can go and give it a try.  They also have vehicles for rent.  The practice hours seem to be most afternoons and evenings, but I would call ahead or check online to verify.

Revolution Raceway
122 S Memorial Drive ~ Appleton, WI ~ (920) 955-2121
Admission: $7.50/vehicle, $2/rental

Monday, January 16, 2017

Preview Post: Paper Discovery Center

The Paper Discovery Center in Appleton looks like a great place to visit, even just because it is different from every other museum in the area.  There are hands-on exhibits, all related to paper.  I actually was there once when I was much, much younger.  All I remember is making my own paper.  I must have enjoyed it to remember it, though!

Paper Discovery Center
425 West Water Street ~ Appleton, WI ~ (920) 380-7491
Admission: $6/adult, $4/student

Preview Post: Hearthstone Historic House Museum

I don't know about you all, but I am a sucker for beautiful historic homes where I can pretend I used to live in my elegant gowns... Sooo Hearthstone Historic House Museum looks like a fantastic place to take the family for a little escape from reality.  It is the first home in the WORLD lit by hydroelectricity.  And I have to say, the few pictures I've seen of the inside are gorgeous!  Has anyone been here?  Worth the visit?

Hearthstone Historic House Museum
625 West Prospect ~ Appleton, WI ~ (920) 730-8204
Admission: There is a price, but it is unlisted at the moment since they are closed for the season.