Winter Activities in Milwaukee, WI
Skiers who would rather glide across the countryside than zip down the slopes can hit the free, marked cross-country ski trails in two of the parks in the Milwaukee County Parks system. While the lightly groomed trails at Whitnall offer the convenience of ski rentals and a clubhouse concession stand, the trails at Brown Deer Park are fully groomed and open from dawn until 10 pm, weather and snow conditions permitting. Be sure to check the National Weather Service for cold-weather or wind-chill advisories prior to setting out as both the Whitnall Clubhouse and the Brown Deer Boathouse restrooms will be closed.
Skiing for all ability levels is available at Crystal Ridge Ski Resort in the Milwaukee suburb of Franklin. Grab onto the tow rope for a gentle ride down the bunny hill or hop the chairlift up to the seven intermediate and a advanced runs at the top of the ridge. Check their online calendar for upcoming events like their annual Winter Carnival featuring snow sculptors, live music and cardboard box racing. Avid skiers should take advantage of Crystal Ridge’s season passes which has the added benefit of half-price lift tickets at sister ski resorts in Wisconsin and several other Midwest states.
Across Milwaukee and its surrounding suburbs, parks with fishing lagoons don’t remain closed when winter hits. As soon as the frigid winter freezes to over 6-inches thick, the ponds open up for seasonal ice fishing. At Humboldt park the county park system stages a free Ice Fishing Clinic for children under 15 each winter season. The clinic includes an indoor class on ice safety and knot tying, followed by an outdoor ice fishing experience, weather permitting. Experienced ice fishermen can set up on any lagoon within the park system, but be sure to keep clear of areas designated as thin ice or skating rinks.
If you conjure up images of lazy summer afternoons when you hear the word ‘garden,’ think again. Milwaukee’s Lynden Sculpture Garden has plenty of outdoor activities celebrating the areas frozen months. Become a member for free access to activities or purchase a museum day pass at the door to participate in events like their annual Winter Carnival and ice skating parties. Take in the pristine beauty of the outdoor, snow-covered sculptures at night at the Light Up the Garden event, where you can nibble on cookies and imbibe hot cider while making your own handmade lanterns to carry on your snowy garden tour.
The Urban Ecology Center in Riverside Park may be well-known for their summertime attractions, like canoeing and their habitat-themed playground, but the center offers plenty of events and activities to draw crowds all winter long. In January they stage their annual Winter Fest with Icelandic ponies and sled dog demonstrations. Plus, classes in cross-country skiing, winter animal tracking and winter survival are offered throughout the winter months. Mark your calendar for special, not-to-miss events like Snowshoe Night Hike and the Winter Camping Trip.