Here's How You Do Summerfest with Kids
Moms, dads, grandparents, and godparents: Are you looking for a special occasion to dedicate to some one-on-one bonding time with your kid? Check out our series of hip happenings that will give the two of you secrets to share and a ritual to return to year after year.
Summer in the midwest is a season for kids to escape the school-season 9-5 and focus on their hobbies. But between sleepaway camp, sports camp, band camp, and bike rides with their friends, perhaps you’ve lost touch with that sweet kid you knew during the regular school season.
Light up your summer in Milwaukee this year by attending Summerfest , a two-week-long music festival starting the last weekend of June and stretching through the 4th of July weekend. Get your kid on board to see popular acts, join their own rock bands, and watch the beautiful sunsets across Lake Michigan.
Inspired by a 1960’s Milwaukee mayor’s visit to Oktoberfest, the festival brings together people, music, and food in a big-city atmosphere that feels like a small-town fest. Admission prices are low, variety is high, and the festival offers something for everyone.
Lake Michigan or Bust
City kids will love the lakefront view and wide-open musical spaces of Summerfest, but if you’re coming from out of town, the contrast between big city an open lake will be even more grand. Book a downtown hotel for the weekend, starting from the event’s website, which offers special Summerfest deals for select hotels. Or even better – find a lakefront cabin just outside the city to make a sacred weekend out of it.
Then, take your boat to the festival and avoid the city traffic. No boat? No problem. You can still get out on the water once you’re at the festival. Paddleboat rentals are available from the north end of the festival, which will give you and the little one some exotic exercise for a relaxing afternoon away from the crowds.
Summerfest ticketholders can get a whole lot of fun for a very little price. Day passes and weekend passes are both a steal at $20 and $48, respectively; if you attend on a weekday, the fee is only $13. Kids three and up are charged the same as adults, except on Children’s Fest Day, when they get in free if entering between noon and 3pm.
The Spirit of the City
The 800 bands performing over 1,000 shows at Summerfest prove in true American style that bigger is better. While you may need to spend a solid afternoon or two navigating through the lineup and picking out a few acts to see, the selection will prove worthwhile to you and your young companion. Let your kid pick the headliner.
Team spirit is written all over the face of Summerfest and provides your children with opportunities to see the city’s best players and teams. The Bucks, Admirals and Wave participate in athletic demonstrations and hands-on teaching for kids and fans of all ages.
Meanwhile, the artistically inclined can make art with the Milwaukee Art Museum’s workshops at the Kohl’s Captivation Station. The School of Rock “Battle of the Bands” competition showcases teen talent from all over the world, resulting in a winning band earning a stage slot at Summerfest and becoming true Milwaukee legends.
Just for Kids
With a younger kid in tow, make sure to check out the Kids Activity Tent. You can BYOB (Bring Your Own Band, that is) to a setup of instruments, drums, monitors, and stage lighting at the UR the Band station. A magical place where rockstars are born, this area allows kids to walk onto a set and step into the shoes of their favorite act.
Around the grounds, look out for the kid-friendly Ferris wheel, the annual mascot welcome at mid-gate, a children’s theater, fireworks, and parades. Kids can also follow the Map of Fun, a passport-sized activity guide. Visit every area to get the book stamped, then turn it in for prizes and entrance in a vacation giveaway drawing.
Big Kid Fun
Hip parents who wants to stay in the know would be remiss not to check out the Emerging Artists series (let your teen guide you to this one), where the audience votes for their favorite band every day.
Trade off with your kids between favorite bands. The variety of headliners is so large, you will likely both find the music of your era on the lineup. Introduce each other to something new and find your way into a variety of genres and selections.
Beyond the music, be sure to check out the splash pad, ride on the Skyglider and take in the 4th of July fireworks together over the lake.
Summerfest for All
Local acts and international superstars alike converge under the Milwaukee summer skies at Summerfest, proving that even the most dissimilar components can coalesce under the right circumstances.
If you are looking to regain some common ground with your child, you can enjoy each other’s company and reunite during a weekend away – together! – at Summerfest.
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