This summer my family opted for a stay-cation so we could do as many local, and not so local, outings in the Illinois/Wisconsin area as possible before relocating. Last week included a day trip to Madison, WI, about 2.5 hours from Gurnee, IL. We opted to avoid the I-94/I-43 traffic and take US 12, a very scenic drive with not as much traffic.
Family Day Trip to Madison, WI
There are quite a few museums located in Madison, plus a botanical garden, but we decided our children would do best at the Madison Children’s Museum. Madison Children’s Museum is on the Blue Star museum list and is reciprocal with Kohl Children’s Museum memberships. The Madison Children’s Museum opens at 9:30 a.m., which, if your children are morning people like mine are, makes it quite feasible to get out the door early, and to the museum not too long after the doors open. The highlight of the museum was the exhibit on the roof of the building. The rooftop teaches children about ecology and weather, with hands-on access to a greenhouse, solar oven, live animals, a garden, and more.
After the museum, we found Ian’s Pizza. I was so thrilled we chose this restaurant to eat at because it was an easy walk from the museum and the pizza was completely worth the trip! Ian’s sells pizza by the slice, featuring 12 varieties. The Mac and Cheese pizza lived up to our expectations and the kids thought it was fun. We also tried a meatball pizza that had a hint of Indian spices, and a sausage and penne pizza. All the varieties were very satisfying and enough to feed our family of four.
Had we decided to stay overnight, we would have liked to visit the following attractions:
- Wisconsin Historical Museum closed Sundays and Mondays, short walk to Children’s Museum, Veterans Museum, and many restaurants.
- Wisconsin Veterans Museum features 19th century and 20th-century galleries commemorating the roles of Wisconsin Veterans.
- Museum of Contemporary Arts: Closed Mondays, opens at noon Tues-Fri and Sun, 10 am on Sat.
- Olbrich Botanical Gardens: 16 acres of outdoor gardens are free, $1 for children older than 5 to enter the Conservatory.
- The University of Wisconsin, Madison Geology Museum: free, self-guided tours including rocks and minerals, fluorescent display, fossils, and dinosaurs.
Have you been to Madison? What’s your favorite stop?
Jessica and her family shared their trip to the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison. You can find all these locations and plan your route at the map below:
Find more family travel and weekend destination ideas on our Family Travel page.