Disclosure :: This post is brought to you by our sponsors at the Wisconsin State Fair. Our love of community events and family traditions is completely our own.
People from all over our great state and beyond head to the fair each August, how lucky are we to be only a short drive away?! In 2016, more than ONE MILLION people visited the Wisconsin State Fair – now that’s spectacular!
Insider Tip: If you can only make it to ONE DAY of the fair this year, make it Monday, August 7th. It’s Kohl’s Family Value Day, so adult admission is only $5 and kids under the age of 11 are FREE!
You could spend all eleven days at the Wisconsin State Fair and still not hit every attraction. So we’ve got the highlights for you, including features FAMILIES will want to know about! But first let’s talk about ‘getting’ there from Madison and where to park!
Where to Park
General Parking ($10) should enter at Gate 1 or Gate 9 and cars will be directed to a parking spot around the Milwaukee Mile. There will be DOT signs directing you along the main roads as you approach the fairgrounds as well. There is also Accessible Parking ($10) available at Gates 1, 3 and 7. Once you are parked, there are shuttles running from 10 am to 8 pm from the Milwaukee Mile infield to the admission gates.
Many residents of the neighborhoods around the fairgrounds will offer up their lawns and driveways to fairgoers for a range of fees, depending on their location. So if you don’t want to go with the General Parking, you could turn into a residential neighborhood, look for a sign or someone ready to wave you in and try your luck!
Classic Fair Hot Spots
The Giant Slide: It’s iconic and it’s cheap. Kids and adults alike LOVE it. In 2016 alone, the Giant Slide had more than 100,000 rides!
Original Cream Puffs: Did you know there is a Cream Puff Drive-Thru? Yup, you can order your favorite fair treat 24 hours in advance and swing by to pick them up from 6 to 8 am inside Gate 6. But sometimes half the fun is waiting in line at the Original Cream Puff Pavilion and watching the famous pastry chefs create these delectable delights right in front of your eyes!
The SkyGlider: The ultimate in people-watching from a birds-eye view! One-way tickets are $4.50, and round-trip is $7. Tickets are available at each end of the SkyGlider near the Exposition Center and on North Grandstand Avenue.
What to Eat
So maybe this is a given, but what’s awesome about the Wisconsin State Fair is that they don’t just do cheese curds ONE way — you can get a vast variety of these deep fried beauties! Poutine Cheese Curds at Duke’s Poutine. Leine’s Beer Battered Cheese Curds at Saz’s. Beer battered, pretzel coated cheese curds at Tropics at the Fair. The list goes on and on.
Deep Fried Oreo
Part of the fun of fair food is sometimes throwing the rules out the window and just letting the kids eat the crazy things you would never allow at home. It’s probably safe to say that a Deep Fried Oreo falls into that category.
Mac & Cheese Dog
Speaking of breaking the rules – a Mac & Cheese Dog! It’s just what you would expect — a hot dog topped with creamy mac & cheese.
Roasted Corn on the Cob
A trip to the fair just isn’t complete without a butter-dripping, husk-holding, tender, sweet roasted corn on the cob!
Milwaukee Bucks Milk House
Make sure you meander over near the Expo Building to check out the new flavors at the Milk House! Kids always love the Root Beer flavor milk, but there always seems to be a new, surprising flavor for you to sample.
Best Attractions for Kids
Kohl’s Activity Zone
The Kohl’s Activity Zone is just full of enjoyable and interactive activities that are perfect for families. By popular demand, this area will open an hour earlier this year, at 9 am, and will close at 5 pm daily. You can find it on South Grandstand Avenue.
What can you expect at the Kohl’s Activity Zone?
- Kohl’s Color Wheels, an art-making experience presented by the Milwaukee Art Museum
- Kohl’s Design It! Mobile Lab, create unique hands-on projects highlighting design with Discovery World
- Kohl’s Wild Theater, conservation-themed theatrical performances from the Zoological Society of Milwaukee
- Kohl’s Building Blocks Program, a Penfield Children’s Center program that promotes the health and positive development of children and celebrates their unique abilities
- Kohl’s Cares Grow Safe & Healthy Program, an educational display teaching children and families how to keep safe and healthy with help from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
We Energies Park
If you are coming to the Fair with toddlers or young children, make this your very first stop upon arrival. You can pick up a safety wristband to help keep your child safe while you and your family enjoy your day. There will also be fun demonstrations about electricity and teaching kids about energy!
Sea Lion Splash
Have an ocean-lover in the family? This attraction will teach valuable lessons about marine wildlife and conservation while entertaining crowds of all ages. The sea lions will amaze as they balance balls, shoot hoops and even perform handstands! This is the only traveling sea lion show in the U.S. with 30 minute shows running throughout the day. Find it at South Grandstand Avenue.
This is another one of those Wisconsin State Fair staples that you just can’t miss. With races running throughout the day, it’s easy to find a race that fits your family’s schedule. The presenters always do an amazing job of getting the crowd involved and the pigs are just so stinkin’ cute! Pick a pig and get cheering! Found at the Racing Animals Arena.
Barns & Animals
A trip to the State Fair just isn’t complete without visiting the animals. Check out the cows, horses, pigs, sheep, goats and more! Don’t miss the Discovery Barnyard where the entire family will enjoy discovering animal agriculture and experiencing agricultural exhibits and demonstrations daily from 9 am – 9 pm. Plus, BABY ANIMALS.
Insider Tip: Visit the barns early in the day. As the temperature climbs outside, the barns also heat up quickly so it’s better to check them out early.
More Cool Kid Stuff
- Daily Parade, a fair tradition that kicks off at 3 pm daily with street entertainers, marching bands, tractors, and more. Visit any Fair Information Center for the parade route.
- Spin City, with more than 50 amazing rides and attractions, plus a Kiddie Area for the younger fairgoers. Insider Tip: If your kid lives to ride the rides, spring for the unlimited daily rides wristband or you will go broke buying a la carte ride tickets.
- K-9 Sports Arena, located in the Big Backyard, features shows and demonstrations hourly on the half-hour on weekdays with additional shows on weekends. See dog dock diving, frisbee, agility courses, Police K-9 units and much more!
Good to Know
Nursing Stations and Baby Care Areas
Families can visit one of three private, comfortable areas designated as Family/Baby Care Centers; one in the Exposition Center, one in the Guest Services Pavilion and one of North Grandstand Avenue next to Bell Ambulance. Each center offers an area for nursing mothers as well as a diaper changing station.
Stroller and Wagon Rental
If you’d rather leave your stroller at home it’s easy to rent a single stroller or wagon at the Guest Services Pavilion or Transit Center.
Missed the pre-sale discounted tickets? No worries! Check out these Admission Deals for more info on how to save on regular admission prices. Discounts vary by day. See website for more details.
- August 3: Wells Fargo $2 Day
- August 7: Kohl’s Family Value Day
- August 13: Veteran and Military Recognition Day
New This Year — The WonderWheel
This is not your average Ferris wheel. The WonderWheel makes its debut at the Wisconsin State Fair in 2017 and this is an attraction you will not want to miss! Located on the west side of State Fair Park, the WonderWheel features 36 fully enclosed, brightly colored gondolas. Each gondola has a capacity of six people, and one gondola offers accessible seating. Rides cost $5 per person.
The ride stands 15 stories high and featuring 528,000 vibrant LED lights, offers a breathtaking view of the city, with visibility of 10 miles or more from the top of the wheel. Wisconsin State Fair is one of only three fairs at which the ride will be featured in 2017.