The Mid-Continent Railway Museum Train Rides in North Freedom, WI

DIFFICULTY: EASY            COST: $$ ($20-22/person over 2)

The Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom, WI is just outside of Baraboo. We've gone here a handful of times in the past few years and it never disappoints-- the boys LOVE it! Not only do we all have fun, but it's educational, too. (Check out their online kid's resources here.)

From the website: Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society–also known as Mid-Continent Railway Museum–is an outdoor, living museum and operating railroad recreating the small town/short line way of life during the “Golden Age of Railroading,” with operating trains, educational exhibits, and displays of restored rolling stock. Mid-Continent has operated at North Freedom, Wisconsin since 1963.

Watching the Engine Turn Around

Walking Through the Passenger Car

Train ride times vary throughout the year along with their open hours, but the website stays up-to-date on schedules. You can purchase tickets ahead of time online, or when you arrive. They also have on-board dining events including Mother's and Father's Day events! Other popular train ride events they have are the Fall Colors ride, Pumpkin Patch ride, and Santa Express. During summer, they're open week-round with three departures a day. If you have a train lover or love trains yourself, you have to check this place out.

Riding in the Caboose

Preparing for Departure in the Caboose

Blue Mounds State Park

Difficulty: EASY-MODERATE    Cost: ($8/vehicle)

Blue Mounds State Park is located in the driftless region in Blue Mounds, WI and is open year round from 6am-11pm. At Blue Mounds State Park, you can find hiking, look-outs, a picnic shelter, a brand new playground, camping and even a pool!

We headed to Blue Mounds one afternoon spontaneously, and were surprised by all that they have to offer. I was able to wrangle two toddlers, although I avoided the look-out structure with them. This park is extremely family-friendly and you could easily spend an entire weekend here instead of an afternoon. It has beautiful hiking and lots of fun features.

Blue Mounds State Park is located at
4350 Mounds Park Rd
Blue Mounds, WI

Click HERE for more info on Blue Mounds State Park

Click HERE for the Blue Mounds State Park Website 
Click HERE for the Blue Mounds State Park Facebook

DeYoung Family Zoo

Difficulty: EASY    Cost: ($8-12/Person)

The DeYoung Family Zoo is located in the UP in Wallace, Michigan, but we were able to visit while we were staying at a cabin in Crivitz, WI and the drive was around a half an hour from there. The distance and drive is worth it, though. If you are ever near the area, you won't find another zoo like this one! The animals are in close enclosures where you can get up-close and personal with them, and the variety and involvement of animals is awesome! They had different kinds of cross-breed livestock, tons of monkeys, tigers, panthers, you name it. David even got to hold a little baby kangaroo while we looked at the handler with crazy-eyes like, "Do you know who you just handed that baby animal to?!

Overall, the zoo was toddler-friendly, small enough to not need a stroller, and such a unique experience that we plan to return next year!

From their website:
The DeYoung Family Zoo is nestled in the wilderness of the beautiful Upper Peninsula. This is NOT a big city zoo, step out of the box, away from the concrete jungle and come along on a new journey. You will love the natural setting filled with amazing animals from around the world. Large natural habitats, education through hands-on experiences, as well as up close and personal family fun! It’s all waiting for you at the DeYoung Family Zoo!

Breakfast on the Farm (Dane County)

Difficulty: EASY       Cost: Low ($0-8/person depending on age)

Breakfast on the Farm is a really neat county-wide festival type breakfast held by the Dane County Dairy Promotion Commitee, and varies each year as to which farm hosts the breakfast, taking place on a weekend summer day (varies per year/farm). The Breakfast on the Farm includes a delicious breakfast, live music, expo stands, tractors to check out, and lots of farm animals. There was even a few-hours-old calf at the breakfast for the kids to view, which was really cool for our guy who has a special place in his heart just for cows.

You pay an admission fee to cover the cost of breakfast and all of the fun stuff to check out, but the proceeds go on to sponsor scholarships, and other dairy promotion activities throughout Dane County, making it more than worth the cost!

It's worth noting that this ended up being way more popular and crowded than anticipated. We figured that we would just pull up to a local farm, park in their drive, eat breakfast with the farmers, and be on our way. This thing is huge. Police direct traffic, and there's a few acres of parking, plus buses and tractors offering a trolley for people from parking to the event. Most families prepared for this and had strollers and things, but we failed to plan ahead. Besides our own poor planning, account for at least a few hours minimum spent here, and arrive earlier to beat the largest crowd.

They have a Facebook page to "like" for updates here

National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, WI

Difficulty: EASY         Cost: Low $

The National Railroad Museum in Green Bay is a great place to check out if you are anywhere near the Green Bay area and have a little train-lover, too. This particular trip was made even more special for our little guy, because his Aunt was up visiting, who he doesn't get to see very often!

The National Railroad Museum was established in 1956, and still today is one the largest rail museums in the country! There is a ton to check out: An awesome variety of different Engines, cool interactive displays, and lots of opportunities for a toddler to get involved, including some cool die-cast train toys to take home from the gift shop.

Stewart Lake County Park

Difficulty: EASY     Cost: FREE

David and I planned on a quick trip to the Mount Horeb Family Aquatic Center (which is an awesome pool), but when we arrived today we were sad to see it closed for the season. It's really hard to believe summer is already nearing it's end.

I racked my brain for somewhere nearby, which David would enjoy. I remembered a small park just outside Mt. Horeb, which I've passed several times on my way to a client's home. I've never stopped before today, but I at least knew there was a playground.

We arrived at Stewart Lake County Park and headed to the playground. After a while playing on the jungle gym, we made our way down to the water. There's a beach! It's a beautiful spot, shallow water, lots of sand and pretty clean. It was such an incredible surprise and David was happy to get his time in the water! Outside of a couple other families, we had the place to ourselves.

This is worth a trip! Bring your SUP board, Kayak or Canoe and venture out a little deeper. When you get hungry, you can head back into beautiful Mt. Horeb, walk main street and find a great place to eat.

David had a blast!

Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area in Lodi, WI

Difficulty: EASY     Cost: FREE

A new hiking spot for us, with awesome views to boot, was found near Lodi, Wisconsin at the Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area

The toddler refused to do any hiking, but it was a mild enough hike to where a stroller would have possibly been manageable for a good portion of it! One of the unique features of this hike were the steep cliffs found right at the border of the trails with no hand rails, making a cool view, but a danger for kids or any sort of weather condition. Be sure to keep your kids close if you check out this spot, but it's certainly worth the visit!