Kids of all ages enjoy visiting zoos! There are so many nearby or within short road trip distance, and several of them have free admission and/or areas to have a picnic with packed lunches turning your trip into a budget-friendly thing to do with kids!
NEW Zoo, Green Bay
The Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo, or NEW Zoo, is in Suamico, (Green Bay area) Wisconsin. The zoo sits on 43 acres and is adjacent to the Brown County Reforestation Camp. Together cover 1,560 acres and see more than half a million visitors each year.
Some of the zoo’s popular features include feeding giraffes, prairie dog viewing tunnel, an adjacent Adventure Park with zip lines and a climbing wall.
- NEW Zoo, 4378 Reforestation Road, Suamico, WI
Menominee Park Zoo, Oshkosh
Menominee Park Zoo in Oshkosh. The zoo is approximately 8 acres and homes about 30 – 50 animals, from goats, llamas, birds, otters, elk, wolves, and more. Permanent exhibits include wolves, elk, and otters. The animals are all around a beautiful pond, and the trail is very stroller friendly. The Menominee Park Zoo is located near the playground. Admission is FREE, but consider dropping a donation on the way out.
- Menominee Park Zoo, 520 Pratt Trail, Oshkosh, WI
Sanctuary Aquatics, Oshkosh
Sanctuary Aquatics in Oshkosh is a local aquarium and pet store that specializes in freshwater and saltwater fish, aquascaping, and aquarium supplies. They offer a wide range of products to help maintain healthy aquariums, including water treatments, filters, lighting, substrates, and live plants. Additionally, they provide expert advice on fish care and maintenance techniques for both beginners and experienced aquarists.
- Sanctuary Aquatics, 2923 Jackson St, Oshkosh, WI
Henry Villas Zoo, Madison
One of our favorite things to do in Madison with kids include a visit to this FREE zoo, the Henry Vilas Zoo. Henry Vilas Zoo is a public zoo located in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. It is free and open daily year-round, funded by Dane County through county and private donations.
The zoo covers 28 acres and has over 650 animals from around the world, including polar bears, tigers, and orangutans. It also features a children’s zoo, carousel, playground, and train ride.
- Henry Villas Zoo, 702 S. Randall Avenue, Madison, WI
Milwaukee County Zoo
The Milwaukee Zoo is an animal lover’s paradise and on our list of favorite things to do with kids in Milwaukee! This is the largest zoo in Wisconsin on 190 acres.
The zoo is open daily and year-round and the home to over 2,000 animals and over 300 species from around the world and features exhibits such as Apes of Africa, Primates of the World, the Petting Zoo Farm, and the new penguin exhibit, as well as numerous activities and attractions for visitors of all ages.
- Milwaukee County Zoo, 10001 West Bluemound Road, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Discovery World, Milwaukee (Reiman Aquarium)
Discovery World is a science and technology museum located in Milwaukee. It features interactive exhibits and hands-on activities related to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Visitors can explore the Great Lakes, learn about renewable energy, design their own products, and more. The museum also houses the largest freshwater aquarium in the Midwest, as well as a touch tank and Caribbean Tank. This 65,000-gallon saltwater tank features a Bamboo Shark, Honeycomb Cowfish, and more in a walkthrough tunnel. Admission fee required.
- Discovery World, 500 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI
Wildwood Wildlife Park Zoo & Safari, Minocqua
Wildwood Wildlife Park Zoo & Safari is a wildlife park located in Minocqua, Wisconsin, USA. It is a family-owned and operated park that covers over 100 acres of land. The park was established in 1995 and is home to over 1,000 animals from more than 150 different species, including lions, tigers, bears, monkeys, kangaroos, and more. Family favorites include the petting zoo, bird aviary, dino playground, and bunnies.
In addition to the animal exhibits, Wildwood Wildlife Park Zoo & Safari offers various activities for visitors, such as camel rides, a train ride, and a playground. The park is open seasonally from May through October, and admission fees apply.
- Wildwood Wildlife Park Zoo & Safari, 10094 WI-70, Minocqua, WI
Lincoln Park Zoo, Manitowoc
Lincoln Park Zoo is a small municipal zoo located along the Little Manitowoc River in Manitowoc. It is home to about 200 animals, including a black bear, bald eagle, cougar, lynx, and others. Enjoy a picnic or rest on the deck along the river. It’s perfect for viewing native birds, ducks, and geese.
- Lincoln Park Zoo, 1215 N 8th St, Manitowoc, WI
Racine Zoo, Racine
The Racine Zoo (also known as Racine Zoological Gardens) is a small zoo located in Racine. The zoo was established in 1923 and is home to over 100 animals of more than 70 different species, including lions, tigers, snow leopards, lemurs, and more.
One of the unique features of the Racine Zoo is its waterfront location. The zoo sits on 32 acres on the shore of Lake Michigan. The zoo also features a walk-through aviary, a petting zoo, and various other animal exhibits.
In addition to the animal exhibits, the Racine Zoo offers various activities for visitors, such as a zip line, a carousel, and a train ride. The zoo is open seasonally from April through October, and admission fees apply.
- Racine Zoo, 2131 N Main St, Racine, WI
Bruemmer Co Park
The Bruemmer Co Park is a public park located in Kewaunee. It covers an area of 120 acres and features various recreational activities such as hiking, biking, and picnicking. The park has several trails that offer scenic views of the surrounding areas and the Ahnapee River, which flows through the park. Located Near the Kewaunee River & Ahnapee State Trail. There is also a playground. The zoo is free but small and includes Arctic Foxes, Barbados Blackbelly Sheep, Ducks, Nigerian Dwarf Goats, Peacocks, Pheasant, Western Bobcats and White-Tailed Deer
- Bruemmer Co Park, E4280 Co Rd F, Kewaunee, WI
Irvine Park Zoo, Chippewa Falls
Irvine Park Zoo is a small zoo located in Chippewa Falls. The zoo is home to over 300 animals from more than 76 different species, including tigers, lions, bears, monkeys, and more. Some of the animals include cougars, bears, bison, tigers, and more. One of the most popular summer attractions is the Red Barn Petting Zoo, where visitors can interact with a variety of friendly farm animals, from bunnies to pigs and goats. The zoo is open year-round, but the petting zoo is open Memorial Day thru Labor Day. Admission is free, but donations are greatly appreciated.
In addition to the animal exhibits, Irvine Park offers various other attractions for visitors, such as a scenic dam, museum, picnic shelters, restrooms, playground, and historical displays. Take a tour of the Sunny Valley Schoolhouse or Pioneer Norwegian Log Home on the weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Also, take in a natural, historical marker, the Irvine Park Cave, which is about 20 feet long with natural springs running through it.
- Irvine Park Zoo, Chippewa Falls, WI
Timbavati Wildlife Park, Wisconsin Dells
Timbavati Wildlife Park is a wildlife park located in Wisconsin Dells. It is a family-owned and operated park and covers over 400 acres of land. The park is home to over 400 animals from more than 70 different species, including zebras, giraffes, rhinoceros, lions, tigers, and bears.
Visitors can walk or ride on a safari train ride. Popular experiences include a giraffe feeding area, a parakeet encounter, and a kangaroo walkabout. Open year-round. Tickets required.
- Timbavati Wildlife Park, 2220 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy, Wisconsin Dells
Safari Lake Geneva, Lake Geneva
Safari Lake Geneva is a safari park located in Lake Geneva. It is a family-owned and operated park and covers over 75 acres of land. The park is home to many different species of exotic animals from around the world, including zebras, giraffes, camels, alpacas, and more. The zoo is experienced in your own car. Purchase a bowl of grain to feed the animals from your window or sunroof. The park is open seasonally from May through October, and admission fees apply.
- Safari Lake Geneva, W1612 Litchfield Rd, Lake Geneva, WI
Shalom Wildlife Zoo, West Bend
Shalom Wildlife Zoo is a wildlife park located in West Bend. It is a family-owned and operated park that covers over 100 acres of land. The park was established in 1990 and is home to over 750 animals from more than 100 different species, including wolves, bears, elk, bison, deer, and more.
One of the unique features of Shalom Wildlife Zoo is its natural setting, with many of the animals living in large enclosures that mimic their natural habitats. Visitors can explore the park on foot or by golf kart, which provides a closer look at the animals and their habitats.
In addition to the animal exhibits, Shalom Wildlife Zoo offers various activities for visitors, such as a petting zoo, a playground, and a picnic area. The park is generally open all year (closed in January) with different hours seasonally. Admission fees apply.
- Shalom Wildlife Zoo, 1901 Shalom Dr, West Bend, WI
Worth the Mention (Beyond Wisconsin) – DeYoung Family Zoo
This zoo is just two hours away from Appleton and one hour away from Green Bay. The DeYoung Family Zoo is a privately owned wildlife park located in Wallace, Michigan. It was established in 1990 by Bud DeYoung and his wife, Carrie Cramer, and covers over 200 acres of land. The zoo is home to over 400 animals from more than 100 different species, including big cats, bears, primates, reptiles, and more.
One of the unique features of the DeYoung Family Zoo is its hands-on approach to animal interactions, allowing visitors to have close encounters with many of the animals. For example, visitors can pet and feed some of the animals, including kangaroos and goats.
In addition to the animal exhibits, the DeYoung Family Zoo offers various activities for visitors, such as a playground, a gift shop, and a picnic area. The zoo is open seasonally from May through September, and admission fees apply.
- DeYoung Family Zoo, N5406 County Road 577 Wallace, Michigan
The Shedd Aquarium is a family favorite thing to do during a visit to Chicago.