For moms of children 0-5 in the Madison, WI area.
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things to do outside

nature

Olbrich's Gardens- The outdoor gardens at Olbrich is one of my toddlers favorite places to go. Open to the public and free, the gardens have paths and walkways, wild areas, manicured rose gardens, bridges and wildlife, waterfalls and fountains and butterflies to follow. There is also a park at the end of the parking lot with swings and slides.

UW Arboretum - Family Programs ... On the second Saturday of every month, we offer a two-hour, kid-friendly program that uses nature hikes, stories, crafts and activities to explore animals, plants and natural phenomena. On the second Sunday of every month, we offer a one-hour family walk with topics that are especially appealing to youngsters.

Henry Vilas Zoo -Henry Vilas Zoo is surrounded by a park. The city park includes lush open green spaces for active play, as well as two playgrounds for children to explore. We are free, so come visit us as often as you'd like, whenever you'd like! The Zoo concession stands sell great food at very reasonable prices, including: hot dogs, bratwursts, barbecues, ice cream, beverages and many other treats. Strollers, wagons and wheelchairs are for rent at the upper concession stand. There are no stairs on the Zoo grounds, just rolling pathway. Your free Zoo is wheelchair accessible and trouble-free! Limited lot parking, some parking available on side streets (watch the signs for no-parking areas on certain days).

Welcome to the Aldo Leopold Nature Center! - The Aldo Leopold Nature Center specializes in connecting children, their families and teachers to the outdoors. ALNC offers classes, camps, public events, field trips and even birthday parties! 300 Femrite Drive, Monona, Wisconsin 53716
(608) 221-0404

NatureNet -Nature Net is a consortium of not-for-profit nature centers, parks and museums dedicated to encouraging and fostering in Wisconsin school children a love and understanding of the natural world. Sustaining environmental education through family programs, class field trips and hands-on learning experiences, Nature Net offers free and low-cost outdoor resources — online at www.naturenet.com or on-site at locations throughout the Dane County area. Order a free “Environmental Adventures Family Guide” for limitless ideas for nature exploration.

favorite parks for the little ones

Search Dane County Parks here.

Search City Parks here.

The Dream Park @ McKee Farms Park - Great dream park with a big kids area and the tot lot with special toddler & preschool sized equipment. No shade, so wear the sunscreen and go early!

The Dream Park in Monona - A more shady dream p ark - nice play area. Older park, so mulch is not too fresh and some equipment is worn out, and sand hasn't been replaced for the digging areas in a long time - but this is the only dream park with shade and it is nice on those hot days!

Deerfield Dreampark - This is the nicest dream park in the area and it is well worth the drive to visit. Enclosed all the way around (but for the entrance) so it is easier to keep the kids from 'escaping', gorgeous large tot play area which includes slides, playhouses, digging area (with digger), bells, swings, tunnels, and bridges. Bigger kids area includes climbing wall, jungle gym areas, several big slides, balance beams, tire swings and more. VERY new and VERY nice (just no shade). Restroom facilities with water fountain and clean changing table. How to get there: From Hwy 12/18 east, go north on Hwy 73. Turn left on Washburn Rd. and go left on Autumn Wood Pkwy.

Sun Prairie Dream Park - The newest dreampark is big, has a new parking area, and has some shade. Click the link for info and a map!

outdoor swimming & aquatic fun

The Goodman Aquatic Center is a 5,500 square foot 5-year old pool located at the beautiful Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Jewish Community Campus. The Goodman Aquatic Center is a "family-friendly" PUBLIC outdoor pool located on Highway PD, just 5 minutes from Mineral Point Rd. There is a zero-depth entry which is perfect for young children, a "mushroom" waterfall along with other fun
bubbling fountains in the shallow section. The shaded deck and lounge chairs along with the great concessions stand make it a perfect place to spend the day. Daily and season passes are available. JewishMadison.org has photos and more information, including a complete 2008 schedule.


Monona City Pool - The Monona Community Pool was totally redesigned and constructed in 1993, making it one of the most spectacular water parks in the area. It is the pearl of the city, with a diving area, lap swimming lanes, a special "Kiddie Pool" fun area, and an exciting water slide.
The pool is open from Memorial Day weekend through the Labor Day weekend. Open swimming is offered every afternoon, and the pool has evening hours until 8:30pm daily. Morning swimming lessons are offered, and there is a noon-hour "adults only" lap swim and water aerobic class offered.


Sun Prairie Family Aquatic Center - The Family Aquatic Center is every kid's dream, with an outdoor water slide, numerous fountains, sand volleyball courts and 210 foot beach entrance for hours of fun. Browse our website to get great deals on pool passes, discover exciting programs (pan for gold at the pool!) and learn how to sign your kids up for lessons. When it's a hot summer day and your kids are watching too much TV, take them to the pool. You'll all be glad you did.


Goodman City of Madison Pool - Whether you want to swim laps, join an aqua aerobics class, teach the kids to swim or simply cool off,the Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Swimming Pool is for you!


YMCA East Water Area - JACKSPLASH, shallow water play area at the YMCA on the east side.


City of Middleton Splash Pad - The new free splash water play area in Middleton.


City of Madison Public Beaches - Be sure to check if the beaches are open and water quality statements online here before you go!


 

Farms

A-Z Farm Tours
1820 Schuster Rd., Oregon
(608) 835-5553
At A-Z Farm we provide an interesting and educational experience relating to animal agriculture and life on the farm. We offer direct contact and explain how animals are a part of agriculture and contribute to a wholesale safe environment. There will be lambs, chicks, bunnies and other animals to see and touch. Visitors can ask questions and see farm related displays. Early spring visits will be in an indoor facility. This is the time lambs are being born and will include information appropriate for the group. From late April, tours are primarily out of doors, sheep are on pasture and includes a hayride. All tours must be scheduled in advance. For more information visit our Web site at www.a-zfarm.com or call (608) 835-5553.


farmer's markets

WSJ Guide to all the local farmer's markets

Dane County Farmer's Market - the big one, downtown

Farm Fresh Atlas - Listing of local markets

 

MACSAC - The Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition promotes and supports local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms that provide organically grown produce to people throughout southern Wisconsin. MACSAC coordinates community and grower education programs about the benefits of locally, sustainably grown foods and operates the Partner Shares Program which raises funds to subsidize CSA memberships for households on a limited income.

With a CSA share, families can visit their farms for festivals, upicks and special events and see where their food comes from!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

books

Here are some great books with ideas for outdoor fun, crafts and nature activities.

The National Wildlife Federation Book of Family Nature Activities: 50 Simple Projects and Activities in the Natural World by Page Chichester

Trails, Tails & Tidepools in Pails: Over 100 Nature Activities for Families With Babies and Young Children by Nursery Nature Walks, Marlena Day

Kids Camp!: Activities for the Backyard or Wilderness
by Laurie Carlson, Judith Dammel

The Complete Backyard Nature Activity Book: Fun Projects for Kids to Learn About the Wonders of Wildlife and Nature by Robin Michal Koontz

The Little Hands Nature Book by Nancy Castaldo, Loretta Trezzo Braren

 

 
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