Diaper bag, check. Goldfish crackers, check. Pile the kids in the car and head north for a scenic road trip to two meccas for family fun: Sheboygan and Kohler, Wisconsin. Just over two hours north of Chicago, you’ll find sundaes, ziplines and even a mini Whistling Straits clubhouse. Read on for our guide.

Bookworm Gardens Magic School Busphoto: Bookworm Gardens Magic School Bus via Wendy Altschuler

Where to Play and Explore

Bookworm Gardens
Make Sheboygan’s free two-acre garden based completely on children’s literature, Bookworm Gardens, your first stop. Among the 60 children’s stories represented, see the limited edition book, Connor the Caddie—released in timing with the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits—displayed in true-to-life form. This new literacy-promoting exhibit, based on the book written by Ulrich Koberstein and illustrated by his wife Christina, features a miniature Whistling Straits clubhouse, a charming cast iron Connor-the-sheep and lush greenery. Partners of Connor the Caddie include PGA REACH, PGA Tour Wives Association, The PGA of America and Kohler Co.

1415 Campus Dr.
Sheboygan
920-287-7895
Online: bookwormgardens.org

John Michael Kohler Arts Center SculpturePhoto: John Michael Kohler Arts Center via Jason Eppink, flickr

John Michael Kohler Arts Center
Artists will love the Kohler Arts Center, free for all visitors. Currently on view are six fiber-focused exhibitions that showcase the work of 27 contemporary artists—from cast iron sewing machines to folk textiles to transformed objects, everyone in the family is sure to see and feel something inspiring. Check the website for a list of live performances as well as fall classes and workshops.  Added bonus: you won’t mind taking potty breaks because the bathrooms are stunning works of art.

608 New York Ave.
Sheboygan
920.458.6144
Online: jmkac.org

Kohler Womens RestroomPhoto: John Michael Kohler Arts Center via Jason Eppink, flickr

Kohler Design Center
The free Kohler Design Center is also a fan favorite with the kids. Imagine walking around a 36,000-square-foot, three-level design center to see a wall of Kohler toilets, well thought out design rooms that use the latest technology and gorgeous bathtubs fit for royalty.

101 Upper Rd.
Kohler
920-457-3699
Online: us.kohler.com

spaceportphoto: Spaceport Sheboygan

Spaceport Sheboygan
Your child can pretend to go where no child has gone before using the space shuttle simulator at Spaceport Sheboygan. Not only can they feign visiting the man on the moon, hands-on exhibits and genuine NASA artifacts will fascinate the space lovers in your brood.

802 Blue Harbor Dr.
Sheboygan
210-595-0725
Online: spaceportsheboygan.com

James Tellen Sculpture Gardenphoto: James Tellen Woodland Sculpture Garden

James Tellen Woodland Sculpture Garden
From 1942 to his death in 1957, furniture maker James Tellen sculpted 30 concrete statues and displayed them surrounding his rustic cabin. This dramatic sculpture garden depicting prairie settlers, native american figures, woodland creatures, small castles and religious figures still remain to this day.

5634 Evergreen Dr.
Sheboygan
920-458-6144
Online: kohlerfoundation.org

Above and Beyond Children's Museumphoto: Above & Beyond Children’s Museum

Above & Beyond Children’s Museum
Round out the experience by visiting Above & Beyond Children’s Museum in Sheboygan ($6 admission) where kids can get their sillies out by scaling a two-story tree house, slither through a sky crawl and make noise in the Music Mezzanine. This museum is full of interactive and educational exhibits including a vintage fire truck and the Just Kids Dental Recording Studio.

902 N. 8th St.
Sheboygan, WI
920-458-4263
Online: abkids.org

Horse and Plow Kohlerphoto: Horse and Plow via Dan Perry, flickr

Where to Eat

After visiting Bookworm Gardens, scoot on over to the Craverie Chocolatier Café  in Kohler for lite bites, hot chocolate and a stunning view of Wood Lake. If you visit during the week, check out Kohler’s The Horse & Plow because kids eat free on Wednesdays—they have a State Fair Sundae that will knock your kids’ socks off!

Craverie Chocolatier Cafe
The Shops at Woodlake
725D Woodlake Rd.
Kohler, WI
920-208-4933
Online: americanclubresort.com

The Horse & Plow
The American Club
419 Highland Dr.
Kohler, WI
920-457-8000
Online: americanclubresort.com

Kohler Inn on Woodlake Kids in Bed

photo: Inn on Woodlake

Where to Stay

If you’re having so much fun that you want to stay the night, we recommend the family-friendly (and pro-dog) Inn on Woodlake, which is walking distance to an array of dining options, shopping and activities—including Yoga on the Lake. If parents want a night out or time alone, kids can have fun in the Kohler Kidz program: Kidz Dinner and a Movie, offered from 6-9 p.m. every Saturday. For an extra $15, your child can enjoy dinner and a movie (with popcorn of course), play games and hang at the Inn on Woodlake. Also offered to guests for an additional $25 is the Kohler Kidz Amenity: a drawstring bag full of gifts, coupons for a smoothie at Take 5, a treat at Craverie, a meal at Horse & Plow and complimentary activity equipment rentals.

Inn on Woodlake
705 Woodlake Rd.
Kohler, WI
800-344-2838
Online: americanclubresort.com

Shout out your favorite activity in Sheboygan and Kohler, WI in the Comments below! 

—Wendy Altschuler