Are you and your family searching for fun things to do in Oshkosh? As an Oshkosh family photographer, I meet so many families from the area. I love chatting with them and getting to know them before their session so that everyone feels more comfortable. One thing I talk to my families about is what they love to do when they spend time together. They’ve told me about all kinds of things to do in Oshkosh, WI. There’s a beautiful downtown, amazing shopping, plenty of outdoor recreational spaces and more. I’ve carefully created a list of my top recommendations for you and your family to check out in Oshkosh.
When I think of the best things to do in Oshkosh, I think of Downtown immediately. There is always something happening and there is such a variety of things to do.
Downtown hosts a lot of events. For instance, in the summer there is a farmer’s market every Saturday morning. The streets are filled with vendors who have everything from beautiful fresh flowers to eggrolls to handmade crafts to local produce. There are many other events throughout the year including shop hops, First Friday Date Nights (more info on that here), art walks, live music and more!
You will also find many different places to shop Downtown where you can support local businesses and find unique treasures. While walking downtown you will find adorable boutiques, fun art studios, hobby shops, and more. You could easily spend an afternoon walking around downtown with your friends and shopping.
After a day of shopping, you will have plenty of restaurants to choose from. There are a couple of cafes with quick grab and go snacks, local bars with fun atmospheres and a few upscale restaurants that offer a a fine dining experience. Just depends on what you’re feeling.
Paine Arts Center is super unique and a must see while looking for things to do in Oshkosh WI. It’s a historic mansion and is even listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a beautiful estate with the most magnificent gardens I have ever seen. The historic mansion showcases many different art exhibitions that are always changing. It also hosts seasonal events throughout the year including the holiday favorite, the Nutcracker. For a list of their upcoming events check here.
The Experimental Aircraft Association is an internationally recognized organization of members who all love aviation. The organization was founded in Milwaukee, WI and has since grown. You must visit the EAA museum and if you can check out AirVenture.
The EAA museum is one of the world’s best aviation museums. It is full of displays, galleries, features over 200 aircrafts, hands-on exhibits, kids exhibits and more! It’s truly an amazing site to see and there is so much to learn about. For visitor information check here.
If you are able, you should definitely check out AirVenture!! It’s a week long event, that is known worldwide. It’s filled with aircrafts from all over the world (more than 10,000 fly in each year), air shows, displays of aerobatics, hands-on workshops, kids programs and more! There is so much to see and do here from sun up to sun down.
For those of you who love the outdoors, you’re going to want to try fishing in Oshkosh. Lake Winnebago is the most popular destination for fishing. It is Wisconsin’s largest inland lake and is known for walleye and perch fishing. Other waters in this system include Lake Butte des Morts, Lake Winneconne, Lake Poygan, the Wolf River and the Fox river. No matter the season, fishing is one of the best things to do in Oshkosh.
Side note, if you are able to check out Sturgeon Spearing in February, you definitely should. It happens once a year and the lake is covered with fisherman waiting their turn to see a sturgeon. Even if you don’t have a spearing license you can wander the lake to see the sturgeon or visit local establishments where the DNR is setup for registering. Either way it’s fun for the whole family and something that should be seen at least once. This is one of my favorite things to do in Oshkosh WI. I have gone sturgeon spearing for a few years now (haven’t been successful) and I love the atmosphere!
I had to put this in my list of best things to do in Oshkosh WI because this is one of my favorite places. Leon’s has the best frozen custard in my opinion (my mouth is watering just thinking about it haha). This is the Fox Valley’s oldest drive-in restaurant and it mimics the 50’s era. The old fashioned car hop service is super fun and unique. Besides custard they also serve sandwiches. I 100% recommend trying the Cookie Dough Avalanche (by far teh best cookie dough custard I have ever eaten).
Located on the beautiful shore of Lake Winnebago, there is something for everyone in the family to do at Menominee Park. Enjoy fishing, boating, kayaking or jet-skiing on the water. There is a free zoo inside the park that has about 30-50 different animals during their open season. Enjoy many different paved walking and biking trails that wander throughout the park. The kids are sure to enjoy the two playgrounds in the park and the amusement rides (train rides, aqua bikes, paddle boards and mini pontoons). Take your family out for a picnic next to the lake or at one of the four picnic shelters. The park also includes baseball/softball fields, soccer fields, tennis/pickleball courts and outdoor volleyball courts.
This is one of Oshkosh’s oldest parks and it’s absolutely beautiful! There are three lagoons in the park that make for a beautiful site. There are also a few picturesque bridges, flowers and plenty of wildlife to see. It’s a great park to take a walk in and enjoy nature. The park also has a playground, splash pad, basketball and tennis courts, shelters, wooded areas, trails and you can even fish in the lagoons.
This is the trail you should take your family walks on or even take a walk by yourself to clear your head. It’s surrounded by grassland prairies, wooded areas, farmland and other beautiful views. The trail starts in Downtown Oshkosh by the Fox River and then goes North all the way to Hortonville. The trail is soft and is made of limestone so it’s perfect for walking, hiking, biking and even horseback riding. Feel free to visit the trail in the winter too for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Find the trail map here.
The Oshkosh Arena is home to the Wisconsin Herd (affiliate of the Milwaukee Bucks). However, this arena hosts many events and concerts throughout the year. You can visit the Winter Farmer’s Market, catch a Wisconsin Herd game, sport tournaments, or hold your own private event. It is located near the heart of Oshkosh and therefore there’s plenty of lodging, amazing restaurants and other attractions nearby.
Looking for all kinds of great deals and steals, then you need to shop at Oshkosh’s Outlet Mall. The outlet shops are located right off of Interstate 41 and there are plenty of stores to visit. Stores like Michael Kors, Coach, Eddie Bauer, the North Face, Nike, Under Armour, and more can be found here! Just make sure you bring a jacket, the stores aren’t connected at all and are accessed from the outside only. There is a large parking lot, so you are able to drive around and find parking easily by the stores you would like to visit. For the store directory check here.
Thank you for reading my blog, and checking out some of the best things to do in Oshkosh WI. If you’re looking for a unique family experience and want someone to capture the memories, check out my families page and book a session! I would love to spend time with you and your family.