After our time in Wisconsin Dells, it was time for a change of pace. I love places like The Dells, with so much going on at once, but it is nice to take a little breather and enjoy the little things in life at a slower pace. We decided to do that in the Sheboygan and Manitowoc area. I mean, the name itself is just fun to say, who wouldn’t want to go there? There are a wide range of family friendly options between these two cities, and most of them have to do with fun that involves the water in one way or another. Here are just a few of the things you can enjoy with your family when you visit the area.
Breaker Bay Waterpark
This fun-filled water extravaganza is located in the gorgeou Blue Harbor Resort. Even if you are not staying here, you can purchase admission into the indoor waterpark for a day of family fun. No matter what the weather is like outside, it is always a warm 84 degrees inside this waterpark that features four pools, three-story dueling waterslides, a Riptide double surf simulator and a 1,000 gallon tipping water ship.
The fun “maritime” theme carries throughout the whole park, from the four-story water activity center that features 12 levels of water fun including nets, webs and water effects that kids can activate.
Ride the lazy river as you drift through waterfalls, buckets that threaten to topple over and spill their contents at any time, and enjoy the slow drift of the water.
The Riptide Double Surf Simulator was definitely the highlight of my 14 year olds visit, I think he spent every spare moment on it. At first, we had to sign a waiver to get him a special armband to ride it, and he was a little nervous, but after his first turn, he was good to go. The staff led children through different tricks on the boogie boards as they progressed in their skills. If you are up to it, you can attend an indidual surf lesson before the park opens or when it closes at an additional cost.
The other boys had a blast going back and forth through the various area of the Breaker Bay Waterpark. There really is something for everyone at this park, and it isn’t so large that you feel like you have to keep your eyes glued to older children all the time.
Need a bite to eat? The Breaker Bay Waterpark has a concession area that sells basics like pizza, chips, chicken tenders and fries at a reasonable price.
The Breaker Bay Waterpark is open daily from 9am-9pm beginning June 7th. All day wristbands are $26 with $16 after 3pm wristbands available as well as a $10 spectator pass if you don’t plan on swimming.
Visit the Sheboygan Riverfront Boardwalk
Another activity by the water that you can enjoy in Sheboygan is the Riverfront Boardwalk. Learn about Sheboygan’s fishing history as you stroll along the beautiful riverfront boardwalk. Visit the shops, check out the fishing boats and even see some of the original fishing shanties that remain on the riverfront.
Looking for a place to eat? Pier 17 is a great new restaurant that opened right on the riverfront not too long ago. They have a wide range of seafood favorites as well as small plates that aren’t so small amd are a great value. Although they lack kid’s meals on the menu, they are family friendly, and were more than willing to bring out extra plates and split an entree during our visit. Try the maple glazed pork belly, it is incredible!
Walk Out to the Sheboygan Lighthouse
Although this might not be a novelty for some, the boys had never been to a lighthouse before, so this was a real treat for us. It was a gorgeous way to spend an evening walking out on the rock-lined walkway while the wind whipped in our hair. It is just a short walk from the parking area at Deland Park. On your way into the park, be sure to stop by and see the remains of the Lottie Cooper, the Great Lakes schooner that sank off the coast of Sheboygan in 1894.
While you can’t go inside the Sheboygan Lighthouse, it is red, and creates a great opportunity for photos and is a fun family activity that kids will enjoy. On a nice evening you can walk a bit further and enjoy the beach area complete with a playground on the sand.
Kohler-Andrae State Park
If you have never seen Lake Michigan before, like us, then the Kohler-Andrae State Park is the perfect place to get your first look. With miles of hiking trails, a nature center, play areas for kids, campgrounds and sandy beaches, you can easily spend an afternoon or an entire weekend at this state park. Begin your visit here with a stop at the beach access area and stroll along the sandy shore while enjoying wide-open views of Lake Michigian.
Try out a hiking trail, I sugges the Woodland Dunes Nature Trail. At just a mile long loop, it takes you on a tour of native plants, through the campground and ends with some glimpses of Lake Michigan through the dunes. Plus, it begins and ends at a great playground for kids.
Next, head on over the nature center and take in one of the scheduled ranger programs or other events. There is camping available at Kohler-Andrae State Park, but be aware that the park is popular and often fills to capacity on weekends and holidays in the Summer.
Wisconsin Maritime Museum
There are some places that always seem to surprise you and offer more than you thought they would. For me, the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc was one of those places. I expected a few displays on ships and that was it, what I got was so much more. When you pull up to the museum, it is hard to miss the U.S.S. Cobia submarine docked behind it. Little did I know, you can actually go aboard the Cobia on a tour.
After buying our tickets, we were signed up for the 2pm tour of the U.S.S. Cobia, which was included in regular museum admission. We headed off to explore the Treasures of NOAA’s Ark exhbit first. This was nothing like I thought either. In fact, I didn’t even know that NOAA stood for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration before entering this exhibit. It was filled with the history of NOAA as well as some noable members and artifacts.
We then Headed down to the Maritime History Gallery where we learned all about the maritime history of Manitowoc, including their history of building submarines for WWII. This was a facinating gallery, and be sure not to miss the short film that is shown here.
When it was time for our tour of the U.S.S. Cobia, we followed our guide on board, and learned all about what life would have been like for the 81 soldiers aboard the Cobia at any one time. It was far from a life of leisure with temperatures inside reaching up to 100 degrees, and them having to take turns eating and sleeping so that there was room for everyone. It was a great experience for the kids, especially Joshua who plans to go into the Navy in a few years.
Before you leave, don’t forget to stop by the Wisconsin Waterways room, where children can explore how the waterways work, build their own boat and so much more.
Other Sheboygan/Manitowoc Area Family Attractions
There are some other attractions in Sheboygan and Manitowoc that we did not get the chance to visit due to Memorial Day hours and inclemant weather. I wanted to list them though, so that if you are planning a visit to the area, you will be able to consider them.
- The Lincoln Park Zoo – Locaetd in Manitowoc, this zoo has free admission, though donations are accepted.
- Unique Flying Objects – In Two Rivers, this store has been considered one of the most epic kite stores, selling all manner of unique flying objects.
- Bookworm Gardens – Located in Sheboygan, these gardens bring fairytales and storybooks to life. Literally, with life-sized replicas of some of the most famous storybook homes.