If you are looking to take your kids on an easy and cheap getaway, Milwaukee, Wisconsin just may be for you! While searching for destinations to take our car-unfriendly kiddos, we needed a drive under 3 hours with cheap activities and plenty to do for kids. We decided on Milwaukee when I discovered that their county zoo had just opened their new elephant exhibit.
Quick Trip to Milwaukee with Kids: Zoo and Jelly Belly Factory
This summer, we put it on our bucket list to visit a new zoo. We have done Brookfield Zoo well over a dozen times and wanted to check out something different.
Milwaukee County Zoo was quick and easy to get to from Chicago. We went on a Monday, right when it opened and stayed for about 5 hours. Because it was a ‘new to us’ zoo, we took our time and lingered at many of their exhibits. If you like penguins, they have a very nice exhibit right at the entrance that gives you the chance to be close to them.
The huge draw this season for the zoo is the newly renovated elephant exhibit. It is an enormous enclosure that allows Milwaukee to be one of only 66 AZA accredited zoos to have elephants. It is truly impressive.
The zoo was not crowded, and at some points felt like we were the only people there. I don’t know if it was because it was a Monday, but it was definitely less crowded than Brookfield Zoo. We even decided to pay the extra money fee and feed the giraffes because there was no line.
10001 West Blue Mound Road
Check the website for hours, admission fees, and more information.
When searching out other things to do in Milwaukee, outside of the zoo, lots of people recommended that we check out the free Jelly Belly Warehouse Tour in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.
It’s the perfect stop off if you are going with young kids, especially kids ten and under. But if you love learning new things, there is something for everyone! The Jelly Belly tour is a good excuse to stretch your legs and go to the bathroom. When the tour is over, there is only about another 30-40 minutes before you have officially reached Milwaukee, which is manageable, even for my busy-bodied children.
We stopped off the expressway and took this tour on a Sunday morning around 11:00 am. When we arrived, there was no line and no wait. They do have an area for waiting, so it is possible that other days and times have a wait time.
When you arrive, they hand out little paper hats that everyone must wear. Then, they usher you up to their interactive waiting room while they prepare your train. The waiting room features samples of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans at different stages of the process, old equipment, a smell station and tons of interesting facts. (For example, did you know that Ronald Reagan insisted Jelly Belly Jelly Beans always be stocked in the Oval Office and on Air Force One? Yeah, me neither.)
After the waiting room, everyone takes a ride on a small train through the warehouse. You learn about the process of making a jelly bean as you stop at different stations and watch short video clips.
After the tour, everyone receives a bag of jelly beans and visits the Jelly Belly Store. You can try as many free samples as you would like! The tour lasts about 45 minutes from start to finish. (You could make it quicker if you don’t dawdle in the store like we did.)
10100 Jelly Belly Lane
Pleasant Prairie, WI
Tour Hours: Daily 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Store Hours: Daily 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
For more information, call 1-800-9-JELLYBEAN
Other Popular Milwaukee Attractions
Since this trip was SO easy, we plan to go back to Milwaukee in the fall to try out some of the other popular places.
- Sprecher Brewery Tour
- Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
- Discovery World Science and Technology Museum
- Milwaukee Brewers Game
Got a favorite spot in Milwaukee to visit with your family? Let us know in the comments below!
Find more fun things to do with kids and plan your next family adventure!