By Kelly Aiglon   Published Jul 13, 2016 at 6:00 AM

Editor's Note: Sponsored content is paid third-party advertising content. OnMilwaukee's newsroom does not write or edit this content. 

Are you ready to play, learn and discover? Let curiosity be your guide! We gathered the best places for families to have a blast and let their imaginations soar, from a beautiful garden that inspires reading to a circus museum that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

For exciting train excursions

Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway

Grab your ticket to ride a diesel-powered train with charming vintage cars. Your journey on the rails starts at the fully restored 1916 SOO Line Depot in Osceola. From there, you’ll watch the natural beauty of rural northwest Wisconsin unfold as you travel for 20 minutes along the sandstone bluffs of the St. Croix River, looping into Minnesota before returning.

For lions, tigers and bears

Milwaukee County Zoo

Animal lovers go wild in this zoo-topia, home to more than 2,000 mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles. With indoor and outdoor habitats, there is always a new species to spy on – and plenty of shows and interactive activities, too.

Hop on the Safari Train for a whirlwind tour of the grounds, watch hawks circle in the Birds of Prey show and try your endurance on the overhead ropes course.

For circus escapades

Circus World Museum

Tigers growl and clowns grin under the Big Top in Baraboo. But this spot is more than a circus show – it’s an entire campus that colorfully preserves the history of the Ringling Brothers circus. See a whole circus story told in vignettes of miniature hand-crafted figurines, take a selfie in front of sideshow posters and check out original circus props.

The hour-long circus performance has international acts that wow with everything from chair balancing to juggling.

For airplane adventures

EAA AirVenture Museum

Spread your wings in Oshkosh, where the Experimental Aviation Association showcases more than 200 historic airplanes in massive, sparkling galleries. Get close to monoplanes, gliders, air campers and even a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis. World War II aviation history comes alive in the Eagle Hangar, where Allied fighters, bombers and Army aircraft have taken up roost.

Don’t leave without exploring the KidVenture Gallery, where tots can climb into the cockpit of a half scale model of an F-22 Raptor.

For underground exploration

Cave of the Mounds

Located far beneath Blue Mounds just west of Madison, Cave of the Mounds is a natural limestone cave with paved, lighted walkways safe for all ages of explorers. Budding spelunkers pass crystalized rock formations and underground pools.

Back at ground level, get your hands dirty in the Gemstone Mine and Fossil Dig, and pick up a souvenir at the Rock & Fossil Gift Shop.

For art, color and history

Madison Children’s Museum

The state capitol is all in favor of fun. The proof: this vibrant, three-story attraction. Its rotating exhibits are aimed at making kids more aware of the wonders of the world around them, and the museum itself has a special heart for art. In the dedicated art studio, kids can sculpt, paint, draw, weave and take their masterpiece home.

Another museum highlight is the Brand Log Cabin, an authentic 1838 building recovered from Walworth County where you can cook on an open hearth, churn butter and try a two-man saw.

For science and tech fun

Discovery World

Set on Lake Michigan in Downtown Milwaukee, Discovery World is a place where you can look with your eyes – and your hands. Its 14 interactive exhibits break down concepts of science, technology, innovation and Great Lakes education and conservation into bite-sized morsels that school-age kids understand.

Play tic-tac-toe with a robot, explore gears and pulleys, touch freshwater fish in an aquarium and go on a virtual archeological dig.

For treetop thrills

Trollhaugen Adventure Park

Think of it as one big floating playground, where you can climb trees, hang from tires and swing on ropes. Adventure seekers of all ages can monkey around Trollhaugen, an aerial challenge course and zip-line park in Dresser.

There are six different circuits and four levels of difficulty, including opportunities to tandem with a friend. In winter, the park becomes a skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing destination, keeping pulses racing all year long.

For literature and nature

Bookworm Gardens

A child’s love of reading is sure to bloom after a visit to Sheboygan’s two-acre paradise. It’s a well-kept garden where kids enjoy unstructured play among flowers, trees and lots of books.

In fact, there are mini-environments inspired by popular stories – imagine a goldfish pond for "McElligot’s Pool," a farm garden for "Curious George and the Pizza Party," and a little hut for "Winnie the Pooh." Often, storytellers emerge from the colorful landscape and spin yarns, much to the delight of young bookworms.

For rides and games galore

Bay Beach Amusement Park

Green Bay harbors nostalgic thrills and speedy chills at its outdoor amusement park for all ages. Enjoy the old-time excitement of whizzing down a giant slide on a burlap sack, going ’round on a Ferris wheel and knocking around in bumper cars. Those who want heart-racing fun can put their hands in the air on the Zippin Pippin, a wooden rollercoaster based on the design of Elvis’ favorite coaster in Memphis.

Reward your bravery with a soft-serve ice cream before going home.

Check out these kid-friendly Wisconsin resorts if you’re looking for a place to stay, or consider going all-out with one of these family summer camps!