Family Activities in Kenosha, Wisconsin

Kenosha Light_150Wisconsin’s fourth largest city, Kenosha, is home to 100,000 Wisconsinites. A midway point between Milwaukee and Chicago, Kenosha is conveniently located on both the Metra rail line and lies between Interstate 94 and the majestic Lake Michigan shoreline.

With a charming, walkable, downtown featuring free parking, inexpensive dining, and lots of places to shop, learn, and play, Kenosha is an ideal location for an affordable family vacation. The Kenosha Area Visitors Bureau, located at 812 56th Street is a fantastic resource for planning a trip to the region.

What to do:

Winter Harbor MarketKenosha Harbor Market

A regional source for farm-fresh produce, baked goods, meats, eggs, cheese, and locally-made arts and crafts, the Kenosha Harbor Market runs all year long (indoors at the Rhode Center for the arts October to mid-May and outdoors near the Kenosha Public Museum in the warmer months). The largest of several farmer’s markets in Kenosha, make sure to visit the Harbor Market if you are in the downtown area on a Saturday.

Kenosha Public Museum 1Kenosha Public Museum

Affiliated with the Smithsonian Museum, the Kenosha Public Museum a fine art and natural history museum showcasing Wisconsin’s cultural and geological transformation. Spread out over two floors, admission to the museum is free. Highlights for families are an interactive trading post and a field station/activity area with hands-on activities for kids of all ages. If visiting the Kenosha Public Museum, leave time to explore the nearby sculpture walk at Harbor Park and the Civil War Museum (another of Kenosha’s Smithsonian affiliates, but perhaps better suited for older kids).

Dinosaur Discovery MuseumDinosaur Discovery Museum

A museum unlike many others, the Dinosaur Discovery Museum is unique in it’s focus on making the connection between birds and meat-eating dinosaurs. Featuring the evolution of the theropod in the main exhibit on the main floor, make sure to watch the two video documentaries—How Do We Know Dinosaurs Existed and Dinosaur Behavior—for a better appreciation of the museum’s role in modern day paleontology  Kids will want to venture to the lower level for hands-on activities (but arrive more than 30 minutes before closing time if you want to take part in a dinosaur dig).

RecPlex Aquqtic CenterPleasant Prairie RecPlex

Home to the largest municipal recreation facility in North America, families visiting the Kenosha area will want to leave time to visit the Pleasant Prairie RecPlex. Youth, adult, family, and senior day passes are available at resident and non-resident rates, and admission includes access to the aqua arena and 17,000 square foot indoor waterpark. A nice option, particularly in the winter months, remember to toss a few beach towels and athletic shoes in your suitcase.

Pringle Nature CenterPringle Nature Center

Out towards the Bristol countryside, the Pringle Nature Center is a fantastic resources for Kenosha residents and visitors. Located in the nearly 200 acre Bristol Woods County Park, the nature center building is open from 9AM-4PM Tuesday through Sunday. Offering books, exhibits, and living and preserved animals, families can stay in the confines of the nature center or wander out onto the nature trails with snowshoes and a nature backpack (both available for rent for a small fee). The Briston Woods County Park is the site of picnic shelters, picnic tables, grills and playgrounds perfect for a road trip leg stretch/lunch break.

Kenosha Trolley 1Ride the Electric Streetcar

A primary mode of transportation in Kenosha from 1903 to 1932, electric rail and nostalgic electric street cars still make a 1.7 mile loop through downtown. With stops along the 54th and 56th streets and a loop out onto the harbor walk, riding the streetcar is a “must do” on your trip. Fares range from $2.50 for an all day pass to free for kids ages four and under, five different streetcars comprise the historic fleet that represent the legacy of the streetcar in North America. Check the Kenosha Transit Center website for schedules and fares.

JellyBellyJelly Belly Tour

A popular attraction in the Kenosha Area is the free tour of the Jelly Belly Visitor Center in nearby Pleasant Prairie. Tours run from 9AM-4PM and take visitors on a 35 minute warehouse tour on the Jelly Belly Express, a brightly colored passenger “train.” Tours focus on the history of the gourmet jelly bean in America and end in the Jelly Belly Candy Store where each person receives an edible souvenir. You can also purchase bags of Belly Flops, the cleverly-named beans that didn’t pass bean-shape inspection on the assembly line.

 Where to eat:

Trolley DogsTrolley Dogs

Serving up Vienna Beef products since 2003, Trolley Dogs on 6th Ave in downtown Kenosha is an affordable dining venue for the hot dog lover in your family. With toppings like banana peppers and celery salt, it’s no surprise Trolley Dogs appeals to the Chicago crowd. If you visit with younger kids, make sure and order the Octo-dog on Gold Fish crackers for $2.25 and sit under the electric trolley that circles the dining room on a ceiling high track.

Breakwater Bar and GrillBreakwater Bar and Grill

With a backdrop of downtown Kenosha and the harbor, the Breakwater Bar & Grill is located at the Kenosha Yacht Club. Open to members and the general public, the Breakwater Bar & Grill offers some of the best outside seating around. With upscale pub food and fancier evening entrees, the nautical-themed dining room and wood-paneled bar puts you in the spirit of dining on the water. Placing the children’s menu in the inside cover of a board book, kids can do more than color while their meal is prepared.

Best Western Executive Inn Kenosha PoolWhere to Stay

Find family-friendly accommodations in Kenosha, Wisconsin, from traditional hotels to private Air B&B homes through

Located near Interstate 94, our family stayed at the Best Western Executive Inn. Centrally located between attractions in Pleasant Prairie, Bristol, and along the waterfront, the Best Western Executive Inn has a nice indoor pool (and, as we all know, this is what kids really care about). Parents will appreciate the complimentary breakfast and plethora of nearby restaurants.

About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. In March 2018 Julie Henning published the book "100 Things to Do in Eugene Before You Die" (Reedy Press). She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. She has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, Travel Wisconsin, Travel Oregon, Hometown News Group, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine (DNR publication), Experience Michigan Magazine, the Official Oregon Wine Touring Guide, Metro Parent Milwaukee Magazine, Eugene Cascades & Coast Official Visitors Guide, Trivago, Intercom Magazine,,, Eugene Magazine, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio. She has produced episodes for Journey of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. Julie has also produced travel apps with Sutro Media and Bindu Media. She works full time in marketing. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at