Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Kenosha, WI

  • Published 2022/12/24

Kenosha is a large city along Lake Michigan and the seat of Kenosha County, Wisconsin.

There are a lot of activities in Kenosha, especially free ones, as it has a lot of public parks, recreational species, and museums.

While the city has a rich urban culture, it’s surrounded by many natural wonders, such as sprawling woodlands and the great Lake Michigan.

Because of these options, you can easily make a week-long budget-friendly itinerary for this city.

It’s an excellent destination for all travelers, whether traveling as a couple, with kids, or alone.

Here are some free things to do in Kenosha, Wisconsin:

Enjoy a Picnic at Petrifying Springs Park

The grounds of Petrifying Springs Park

Tony Savino /

Petrifying Springs Park is a vast woodland located along Berryville Road along the outskirts of Kenosha.

It’s a 360-acre park with tons of nature trails, roads, and lush forests, making it a picturesque area, especially during autumn.

Simply parking here and going for a stroll can take several hours from your day.

You won’t even notice it because of its beauty!

Boardwalk at Petrifying Springs Park

Delavyn’s Photography /

However, a picnic is the best way to enjoy the park and its scenic beauty with friends and family.

You can use several pavilions and grills, so you won’t have to fuss about these things during your visit.

Of course, picnics aren’t the only free thing you can do at Petrifying Springs Park; the place is also bike-friendly.

The waters of Petrifying Springs Park

Tony Savino /

Explore the Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum

Located within Petrifying Springs Park is the Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum.

This place deserves mention because it’s one of the best places to see all sorts of fauna at Petrifying Springs Park for free.

Located along Greenbay Road, Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum is an oasis within an oasis.

It’s a fantastic area where you can find varying terrains, such as creeks, prairies, and thickets, with hiking trails.

There are a lot of different flowers here.

If you’re into nature photography, this is a can’t-miss place in Kenosha County.

Immerse in Natural History at Kenosha Public Museum

Water fountain in front of Kenosha Public Museum

Tony Savino /

There are two museums in Harbor Park, the Kenosha Public Museum and the Civil War Museum.

You can tour the Kenosha Public Museum for free, while the Civil War Museum costs a small entrance fee for adults.

Whether or not you plan to go to both, Kenosha Public Museum can quickly eat up most of your morning because of its fantastic displays.

Their crown jewel here is a gigantic skeleton of the wooly mammoth, standing majestically as the museum’s centerpiece.

Exterior of Kenosha Public Museum

Tony Savino /

It will surely be a great photo opportunity for both kids and adults.

Besides, you can see many life-size replicas of dinosaurs and contemporary wildlife.

See the prehistoric raptors and African herbivores like giraffes and wildebeests.

Known for its natural history collection, the Kenosha Public Museum is a must-see for kids and adults who get thrilled over prehistoric skeletons and fossils.

Bring your Pooch to Carlisle Family Dog Park

Carlisle Family Dog Park is an excellent place for dog parents.

It is conveniently adjacent to the southern portion of Petrifying Springs Park, along Highway JR.

This is a great dog park where you can just let your dog loose and let them release pent-up energy.

A dedicated section for small and large dogs makes this place safe for off-leash fun.

Best of all, you can easily access the wooded trails of Petrifying Springs Park, making this a two-in-one destination.

The Carlisle Family Dog Park is one of the most famous dog parks in the county.

If you want to socialize with the locals and their dogs, this is an excellent addition to your itinerary.

See the Gigantic Exhibits at Dinosaur Discovery Museum

Exterior of Dinosaur Discovery Museum

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While the Kenosha Public Museum has varied exhibits, Dinosaur Discovery Museum is dedicated to dino buffs.

Dinosaur Discovery Museum is a must-see at the city’s heart along 10th Avenue.

You can see high-arching fossils and skeletons of enormous dinosaurs here, ranging from different eras, such as the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

Geared towards children, Dinosaur Discovery Museum immerses kids in paleontology through interactive ways such as a science lab and a demo dig site.

Besides these, the building is also a historic landmark, which is an excellent bonus to your photo gallery during your visit.

As one of the best free places to visit in Kenosha, Dinosaur Discovery Museum has loads of fun waiting for you.

Enjoy Lake Michigan at HarborPark

Lake Michigan is easily the biggest attraction in Kenosha.

The city has miles of shoreline covering the lake’s western portion.

While there are plenty of parks and areas to see the lake, nothing beats the serene beauty of HarborPark.

Clean and with lots of benches, HarborPark is a fantastic way to take in the Lake Michigan breeze and do some scenic photography.

There’s also a nearby splash pad in the area during the hotter summer months, along with walking trails to give you different views of the lake.

HarborPark is also home to some of the most famous museums in Kenosha County.

Simple yet serene, HarborPark is a must-visit during your trip to Kenosha.

Take a Swim at Simmons Island Beach

View of a lighthouse from Simmons Island Beach

Tony Savino /

Like HarborPark, Simmons Island Beach is another excellent place to experience Lake Michigan, but in a slightly different way.

Unlike the paved walking areas of Harbor Park, Simmons Island Beach is an artificial beach with fine sand, a perfect place to sunbathe and swim.

Besides the lovely, sandy shoreline, Simmons Island is also a place to hunt for “beach glass,” a great activity that you can do for free with friends and family,

Waves of Simmons Island Beach

Tony Savino /

Dogs are allowed here, and the waves from Lake Michigan are usually gentle, making it a great place to swim for all ages.

Besides swimming, you can also get some fishing out of the way if you bring your rod with you.

At the eastern end of 50th Street, Simmons Island Beach is your go-to spot for swimming at Lake Michigan.

Sunny view of Simmons Island Beach

Asher Heimermann, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Check out the Shops at Kenosha HarborMarket

Explore Kenosha HarborMarket to see what’s brewing.

Kenosha HarborMarket is where all sorts of local artisans and farmers congregate to market and sell their products.

It’s a long stretch full of several pop-up shops along 39th Avenue.

If you’re the chatty type, this is the perfect place to meet the locals and their local economy.

You can find many exciting things here, such as flowers, pastries, apparel, fresh vegetables, and fruits.

The place is also great for walking around, featuring a garden with a fountain.

Visit Kenosha History Center

Exterior of Kenosha History Center

Tony Savino /

While at Simmons Island, you can add the Kenosha History Center to your itinerary.

This center is like a mini museum with all sorts of quirky displays that any history buff would appreciate.

Upon entering, you’d find some nicely preserved cars from the 20th Century, great relics that will take you back in time.

You can also find a vintage fire truck and all sorts of carriages embody 19th and 20th-century America.

Kenosha History Center is managed by a passionate small team who can tour you, making this a great place to learn about local history.

Even if it’s free, you can certainly help by donating for the great effort they put into this historic center.

Take Photos at the Kenosha Lighthouse Studio

Exterior of Kenosha Lighthouse Studio

Kenneth Keifer /

After your trip to Kenosha History Center, you can take a short walk to the end of Simmons Island to see one of the city’s icons, the Kenosha Lighthouse Studio.

This red lighthouse stands tall along the island’s tip, overlooking Lake Michigan.

While you can spot it from many areas, such as HarborPark, you can get an up-close look at the structure on Simmons Island.

It’s not open to the public, but seeing the lighthouse at the tip of the park is a simple but serene experience.

The blend of Kenosha Lighthouse Studio with Lake Michigan makes for fantastic landscape photography.

Ride a Bike at the Historic Washington Park Velodrome

If you’re a passionate cyclist, you might want to bring your bike to Kenosha because of the Washington Park Velodrome.

Located along Washington Road, this velodrome is both a cycling haven and a historical landmark.

It’s the oldest operating velodrome in the country; it has operated since 1927.

This public cycling track isn’t only historical but also beautifully maintained, making it the most popular place to watch bike races.

If there’s no racing event, you can enjoy the Washington Park Velodrome with its great angular and elevation changes, testing your biking acceleration skills.

Relive U.S. History at Library Park

Monument at Library Park

Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located along 8th Avenue, Library Park is a small green space with a war memorial, Abraham Lincoln’s statue, and an old historic library.

This is a great place to stroll along and look at the traces of 19th-century America, starting with its war memorial.

As the park’s centerpiece, the war memorial stands elegantly tall among the trees and greenery, making for a fantastic photo opportunity.

Abraham Lincoln statue at Library Park

Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can also find a statue of the late U.S. President Abraham Lincoln adjacent to the war memorial.

While you can’t enter the old historical library, its facade and the other old buildings surrounding the park make for terrific photo opportunities.

Tour the Anderson Arts Center

Anderson Arts Center is part of the historic district of Kenosha, located along 3rd Avenue corner 66th Street.

The Kemper Center manages the arts center, the organization in charge of managing group tours of the historic districts found on 3rd Avenue.

Unlike other activities here, Anderson Arts Center is free.

It’s only a small art museum, but the collections here are exciting and a must-see by serious art enthusiasts.

Once you’re done looking inside, you can walk along the historic district and marvel at other historical buildings in the area.

Stroll along Wolfenbuttel Park

Flowerbeds at Wolfenbuttel Park

Dj53144, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wolfenbuttel Park is a large lakefront park found along 3rd Avenue, south of Harbor Park.

What makes this park unique is its beautiful garden layout, featuring a wide variety of colorful flowers and a large pergola above its paved walkways.

This makes Wolfenbuttel Park a gorgeous place for wedding photography.

Compared to the other parks of Kenosha, the vast Wolfenbuttel Park has several interesting historic relics, most prominently a 19th-century field cannon that commemorates the Civil War.

Because it’s along Lake Michigan, you can access the lake, featuring a rocky beach where you can swim.

As one of the most charming places to relax in the city, Wolfenbuttel Park is an excellent addition to your itinerary.

Play Disc Golf at Lincoln Park

Colorful flowers at Lincoln Park

Brian A Wolf /

Located on 18th Avenue, Lincoln Park is another sizable park in Kenosha.

It is known for its extensive disc golf course.

Plenty of locals always go to Lincoln Park to enjoy its 18-hole golf course, an excellent experience for novice and seasoned experts.

Some 18 holes are challenging, making this a great bonding place for disc golf enthusiasts.

Besides the disc golf course, there are several other things to do at the park, such as playing basketball and checking out Lincoln Bridge.

This place is one of the best disc golf layouts in Wisconsin.

You can always find someone playing here, so give it a shot if you’re interested in golf.

Final Thoughts

Not only is Kenosha packed with historical sites and large recreational spaces along Lake Michigan, but most of its attractions are also free.

Whether you’re seeing gigantic skeletons of prehistoric dinosaurs or cycling at the oldest velodrome in the country, Kenosha has tons to offer that won’t ask you to spend a penny.

These free things to do in Kenosha, Wisconsin, will make any traveler happy.

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