We’ve now explored two areas for hiking with young kids in the Spring Green area, good riverfront beaches and areas to play, along with a couple good food options.
Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center hike
This April, we took advantage of a warmer day and headed to Spring Green with our two families, plus another family and their two young kids. The Spring Green area never disappoints – and we can never quite squeeze all that there is to do in one day.
A few people had mentioned the Frank Lloyd Wright trails being something a little different, so we gave that a try. A large parking lot at the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center was located at 5607 County Road C in Spring Green, right along the riverfront. We give this address as 2 of the 3 families had GPS directions that didn’t take them to this location 🙂
From the parking lot, there is a trailhead marked Welsh Hills trail that goes off into the woods. We were going into this trail blindly, with no map or idea what the hike difficulty would be or length. It was a pretty trail through the woods and the kids loved hunting for the little flowers, walnuts, and some unique little plants they called “umbrella trees”. After a short walk through the woods, the trail opened up to overlook the valley and view the historic home of Frank Lloyd Wright, Taliesin. We got about a mile inward and the trail seemed to end – so an option was to turn back, at which point we did see a trail marker that went up a hill into the woods and was a little rougher of a path but still fun. Overall, we hiked about 1.6 miles which was good for six young kids on their first real hike of the season.
Riverfront Beer Garden
Snacks and beers at the picnic table near the parking lot was the perfect place to regroup, toss the football, and relax with some music on the portable speaker. It was getting to be late afternoon and we knew everyone would be hungry soon, so we decided to head to Sauk City on our way home for dinner on the patio.
We’ve shared before what a great spot Vintage Brewing Company’s beer garden is for families. We grabbed a table overlooking the large riverfront beach area, where we’re able to let the kids run and play in the sand while we keep an eye on them and have a drink. Everyone left for the night tired, happy, and very dirty 🙂
Another fun adventure is the Great Sauk Bike Trail and ending at the beer garden, as outlined in one of our past blog posts here:
Biking the Great Sauk Bike Trail
Tower Hill State Park
(Note, this adventure was from September 2020)
On a warm September day last fall, after a stop at Heck’s Market to grab pumpkins, apple cider donuts, and get our “fall fix”, we swung over to Tower Hill State Park in Spring Green. A state park pass is required so either purchase ahead of time or at the entrance. This isn’t a large park but had ample parking and a huge open area for picnics and the kids to run around. A trailhead near the parking lot with a sign pointing to the “Shot Tower” is where we started.
This trail is about two miles of winding natural paths with so much variety that the kids never got bored. We explored the park with another family who had small children that hadn’t done much hiking in the past and it was very manageable. The trail features wooded paths, old wooden stairs, a historic shot tower building, a small mine, an impressive overlook, and our favorite – an old tunnel dug by hand near the river that the kids thoroughly enjoyed exploring. We were highly impressed by this trail and all the kids enjoyed it as well.
After the hike, we made the short drive to the nearby Peck’s Landing along the Wisconsin River. (*note: as of April 2021, the bridge to this beach is out so it’s a bit further to get to this area) A large parking lot along the water included bathrooms, life jackets for borrowing, and a boat kayak/canoe launch. We grabbed our beach bags, speaker, and chairs and headed out to the sandbar. The kids had a blast running around the huge sandbar (which can vary in size throughout the seasons), wading in the shallow areas, and building sandcastles. Lunch was grabbed to-go at Rumbleseats, an old-school 50s-style drive-in burger and sandwich joint, and brought back to the beach area for a waterfront picnic. We all knew that this late-September day was likely going to be our last beach day with mid-70 degree weather for the year, so we soaked it up and spent the entire afternoon relaxing along the river while the kids happily played nearby.
Tip for Peck’s Landing: This sandbar and large stretch of beach is seasonal – typically late summer / early fall due. We were here on a warm fall day, but it was still fall, so swimming wasn’t the biggest priority for the kids. When you arrive, there is a warning sign posted that says “wading not advised” due to currents. We packed life preservers for the kids, as an extra precaution while being on the river with undertows and currents.
It doesn’t matter what season we’re in, you can’t go wrong visiting any of these three locations along the Wisconsin River. Our best advice when adventuring with young kids is to keep expectations low, dress for the weather, and be flexible based on the moods of the group. Many of these activities can be modified based on skill and activity level, making it fun for the young children to the older adults. There is no better day than spent with family enjoying the water views, tasty eats, and scenic trails found along lower Wisconsin River.
Next time, we’d love to try some biking in the area, and we’ve heard great things about a wood-fire pizza joint called the White School Collective. As of April 2021, they’re only open on Friday evenings but a quick phone call let us know they plan to open up more events as we approach summer. Other good options for great views is the Wisconsin Riverside Resort.