Four Local Outdoor Activites the Whole Family Can Enjoy

Aug 15, 2016

Lake Effect contributor Stacy Tornio joins us every so often to talk about generally family-friendly adventures around the Midwest.  But by family-friendly, we generally mean activities that both kids and adults can enjoy.

But when you add grandparents or other older friends or family members to the mix, it can get a little more complicated to choose activities that work for everyone. 

"Whenever you have inter-generational outside activities, you have to be conscious of that, so you know, you have to pick things that someone can do whether they’re two or 22, or 82," says Tornio.

But enjoying an intergenerational outing is not an impossible task according to Tornio, and she offers a few suggestions that are close by:

Hiking - "Most of the trails around here will have different scale it back, start small and introduce things like butterfly or bird watching....See how your family and friends do before you take on that bigger challenge."

Whether you want to hike several trails or stick to smaller loops, Tornio recommends the trails at the Schiltz Audubon Nature Center.

The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center has several trail loops throughout their land, including a family-friendly boardwalk around Mystery Lake.
Credit Schlitz Audubon Nature Center /

"They have great trails...the kids can climb the tower, the older adults don't have to, or they have longer loops as well."

Horicon Marsh  - "The boardwalk is beautiful there and they also have a really great visitors's very friendly for all generations."

Credit Bookworm Gardens /

Gardens - Milwaukee has gardens easily accessible such as the Boerner Botanical Gardens, but Tornio would also recommend a quick drive to Sheboygan. "One of my favorite places is Bookworm Gardens...the have great activities for kids there and the adults are going to love it too...I've taken my kids there and the literary examples throughout the garden are just so cool, and there's activities (for the kids) and the adults can look at the plants and enjoy the nature around them."

Paddle boats - "Anyone can do (paddle boats)....It's very stable and a very family-friendly activity to do." Veterans Park in downtown Milwaukee is one of many places to rent paddle boats.

If all else fails, Tornio says even a simple outing can be a great one for the whole family. "Take a blanket, spread it out on the grass and have a picnic anywhere."

Stacy Tornio is author of numerous books for kids – and their parents – about nature, and runs the website,