Sometimes when the weather isn’t the greatest, you and your family just need to get out of the house but don’t want to break the bank just to get a few hours of stir-crazy-free entertainment. These are places all across the state that don’t charge an entrance free and cover a wide variety of topics. Most small towns have a historical society or local history museum, so definitely check those out, as well. Here are 12 spots with full on museums that transport you and entertain you without making you open up your pocket book:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Dinosaur Discovery Museum - Kenosha
This is one of the most amazing, hands-on spots in the state. Fascinating displays, tons of kids activities and of course fossils, it's the best free place to spend time with kids. There are a couple of free admission museums in Kenosha, so make sure you do your homework and spend a full day enjoying these awesome offerings. Located at 5608 10th Ave., Kenosha, WI 53140.
2. Wisconsin Veterans Museum - Madison
Located right on Capitol Square at the top of State Street, this is a beautiful little museum. The displays are lifelike and big and make you feel a part of things - you aren't just looking into cases here. A must-stop for your next Madison trip. Located at 30 W Mifflin St., Madison, WI 53703.
3. Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum of Art - Wausau
This free gem was recently named a National Medal winner, the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community. Just five museums and five libraries are given the honor each year. Winners are chosen because of their significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. Not only do they have gorgeous art, but they put on a ton of workshops and classes. Located at at 700 N 12th St., Wausau, WI 54403..
4. Haggarty Museum of Art - Milwaukee
Located on Marquette University's campus, this art museum has up to nine rotating exhibits each year, plus an impressive permanent collection. The address is 530 N 13th St., Milwaukee, WI 53233.
5. A World of Accordions Museum - Superior
Home to America's only significant collection of accordions and related instruments, this is a hidden gem of a spot that was built by a love of this unique instrument. For Mary, the curator, this is a labor of love. You won't regret ducking in this spot. Located at 1401 Belknap St., Superior, WI 54880.
6. The Mustard Museum - Middleton
This weird and quirky spot has thousands of mustards from all over the world and a little shop where you can taste all kinds of goodies before taking some home. Located at at 7477 Hubbard Ave., Middleton, WI 53562.
7. Peshtigo Fire Museum- Peshtigo
The same day as the Great Chicago Fire, a fire raged in Wisconsin that was the single deadliest wildfire in US history. Exact details are difficult, as the whole city of Peshtigo was annhilated, during all documentation. But this museum honors the people who perished here. There are artifacts and murals and it's an important reminder of our state's history. Located at 400 Oconto Ave., Peshtigo, WI 54157.
8. L.R. Ingersoll Physics Museum - Madison
As both the Capitol and home to the state's flagship university, Madison is home to numerous free museums, from the Museum of Contemporary Art to numerous small spots on campus. One of the coolest places is L.R. Ingersoll Physics Museum, one of the first of its kind in the country. Everything here is conceived by faculty and staff and built on site by students and staff. It's hands on and fun and hidden in Stirling Hall. Located at 1150 University Ave., Madison, WI 53706.
9. Bayfield Maritime Museum - Bayfield
According to their website, "DIRECTORS
The Bayfield Maritime Museum preserves, interprets, and
presents artifacts that portray the dynamic nautical history of
Bayfield and the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior." You'll learn of life on the water, shipwrecks, boat building and more. Located at 131 S 1st St., Bayfield, WI 54814.
10. Mayville Historical Society - Mayville
Not all historical societies are museums, but in Mayville you'll find the remnants of a carriage factory, as well as numerous pieces once built there. There's also plenty of town artifacts, a rebuilt bank facade, a printing press and more.
11. James Newman Clark Bird Museum - Eau Claire
Public universities are a great place to find free activities. At UW-Eau Claire, this display has more than 500 species of native birds. From their website: "Mr. Clark accumulated this collection from the 1870s through the 1920s and donated it all to UWEC. The unique, circular room houses four dioramas depicting native birds in their natural habitats and several displays of other species. Highlights of the collections are a bald eagle, a golden eagle and a now-extinct species of the passenger pigeon." Located in Phillips Science Hall, 101 Roosevelt Ave., Eau Claire, WI 54701.
12. Menominee National Logging Camp and Cultural Museum
The Menominee people of Wisconsin have been here for more than 10,000 years and have a fascinating history of surviving on this land against all odds. This is a necessary look at what they've endured and how these original indigenous Wisconsin residents have lived and loved this land for 10,000 years. Located at W3426 County Road VV West, Keshena, WI 54135.
What are your favorite no-cost options for entertaining the family? Let us know in the comments! Do you have a favorite museum we didn’t mention? Let us know!