The Milwaukee Wisconsin Skyline

15 Things To Do In Milwaukee, An Insiders Guide

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin, may be a small city nestled between Lake Michigan and the farmland of its suburbs – but it’s also full of surprises! As someone lucky enough to grow up here, I still uncover all there is to do.

Milwaukee, also known as Cream City, is a beautiful place to live or visit. The city is filled with great food and drink, plus a host of exciting museums and factory tours. There are a lot of great activities on Lake Michigan or near the lakefront. This city of festivals has something to offer everyone.

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From outdoor activities in our many parks and trails, great restaurants with unique flavors from around the world (don’t miss out on that famous cheese curd!), and culture-filled events enjoyed by locals & visitors alike—the possibilities are endless. Milwaukee has something for everyone – explore what this fantastic city offers!

There’s plenty to do in Milwaukee, from breweries to parks to festivals. Check out this insider’s guide for the best of the best!

Milwaukee River at Night USA
The Milwaukee River at night in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

Things To Do In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Cream City

Milwaukee is an exciting city with something for everyone! With a population of over 600,000, it’s the largest urban area in Wisconsin and one of the 5th biggest cities in the Midwest.

You’ll find plenty to do along Lake Michigan – just two hours north of Chicago! From its rich culture and hidden gems to outdoor activities like fishing or sailing on picturesque lakes – Milwaukee has something unique waiting around every corner.

Milwaukee is also called Cream City, not because it is in Wisconsin, the dairy state, but because of the light-colored bricks found throughout the city of Milwaukee.

While In Milwaukee, Go Out for Beer and Brats

When you are in Milwaukee, make sure you get yourself a good brat and if you are a beer drinker, try some of the famous local beer. For Wisconsinites, beer and brats usually go hand-in-hand.

Some locations to get some good brats and beer:

  • Mader’s Restaurant – Maders is an old-style German Tavern that was established in 1902. Today it continues to be a premier location for all kinds of German food, including brats and beer. This is a not to be missed German-style tavern and restaurant. It is located at 1041 N Old World 3rd St in downtown Milwaukee. You can find out more about Mader’s Restaurant by clicking here.
  • Usinger Sausage – Usingers Sausage is a famous Milwaukee brand of deli products, including sausages. They have a historic factory in downtown Milwaukee near the Milwaukee Riverwalk at 1030 N. Old World Third Street. This is a must-stop place for your Milwaukee trip, especially if you like good-quality sausage. You can click here to learn more about Usinger Sausage and Deli.
  • Milwaukee Brat House – The Milwaukee Brat House has two locations; one is in downtown Milwaukee, and the other is in Shorewood. You can find out more about the Milwaukee Brat House by clicking here.
  • Vanguard – House-Made Sausages – Vanguard is in downtown Bayview, just outside Milwaukee City, at 2659 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue. They make their sausage in-house. You can find out more about Vanguard by clicking here.
  • The Water Street Brewery – The Water Street Brewery has 4 locations around Milwaukee. One is downtown, and the others are in Grafton, Delafield, and Oak Creek. They have an Old World Sausage platter that has a brat. You can find out more about The Water Street Brewery by clicking here.
  • Pabst Brewery – The Pabst Brewery serves not only beer but also has a small food menu that includes many German favorites such as brats. They are located at 1037 West Juneau Avenue in Milwaukee. You can learn more about the Pabst Brewery menu and their beers on tap and in bottles and cans by clicking here.

If you do not have time to go to any of these places, you can usually find a good brat in any place that would normally serve hotdogs as a Brewers game at the American Family Field (formerly Miller Park).

While In Milwaukee Go, Bar Hopping

From the tap to your table, Milwaukee is a mecca for beer lovers! As Brew City’s moniker implies, many bars and breweries are scattered throughout, providing plenty of opportunities to sample some delicious brews.

Traveling down any street in Wisconsin will surely lead you toward an inviting pub or tavern offering great beers and delectable food items sure to tantalize anyone’s taste buds.

Here are some of the favorite local places to go:

  • Safehouse – If you are James Bond Fan or love spy novels, then the Safehouse is a place you must go. The restaurant is an old Milwaukee establishment that has been operating since 1966. The Safehouse is at 779 Front Street in Milwaukee. You can find out more about the Safehouse by clicking here.
  • Mo’s Irish Pub – A Milwaukee favorite with live bands and music on the weekends is Mo Irish Pub. They are located at 142 Wisconsin Avenue, right in downtown Milwaukee. You can find out more about Mo’s Irish Pub by clicking here.
  • Camp Bar – This bar and restaurant are about camping and living outdoors. They have three locations in Shorewood, Wauwatosa, and downtown Milwaukee at the Historic Third Ward on 525 E Menomonee Street. You can find out more about the Camp Bar by clicking here.
  • Milwaukee Ale House – The Milwaukee Ale House is another Milwaukee favorite with great views on the Milwaukee River. They have beers on tap, live music, and great food. They are located in the Historic Third Ward at 233 North Water Street. You can find out more about the Milwaukee Ale House by clicking here.

While In Milwaukee, Enjoy Frozen Custard

Frozen custard is a Milwaukee favorite eaten and enjoyed all year round, even in the very cold winter. It is a true taste of Milwaukee and the dairy state of Wisconsin.

Most local places with frozen custard will also have a flavor of the day and a full menu with hamburgers and other foods. The flavor of the day will change from day to day.

You can get daily alerts on your cell phone or in your email inbox that will tell you what the day’s flavor is each day of the week. If you are not sure what the flavor is, you can just drive by the frozen custard place, and usually, a sign will announce the frozen custard flavor.

Some of the favorite Milwaukee places to eat frozen custard:

  • Kopps Frozen Custard – Kopps Frozen Custard is a Milwaukee favorite. Not only do they have amazing frozen custard, but they also have very good hamburgers and other food. There are three locations in Milwaukee: Greenfield, Brookfield, and Glendale. The Greenfield and Glendale locations are the two closest locations to downtown Milwaukee. Kopps has a flavor alert system, so when your favorite flavor comes up, they will send you an email to let you know. You can learn more about Kopps and their locations by clicking on their website here.
  • Culvers – Another Milwaukee favorite is Culvers. Like Kopps, they also have a full menu with various food items. They also have a flavor of the day; you can search on their website what flavor is in what location. Though Culvers is a Wisconsin company, it is now located in many other states. You can find out more about Culvers and their locations by clicking here.
  • Gilles Frozen Custard – Gilles is a very old Milwaukee frozen custard establishment operating since 1938. They have one location at 7515 West Bluemound Road, about 75th Street and Bluemound Road. Like the other places, they have a full menu and a flavor daily. Gilles is like a true old fashion Frozen Custard place. You can find out more about Gilles by clicking here.
  • Leon’s Frozen Custard – Leon’s is another old-time Milwaukee favorite that has been around since 1948. It inspired Arnold’s Drive-In from the popular television sitcom Happy Days. This is one of the frozen custard places closest to downtown at 3131 S. 27th Street in South Milwaukee. They also have a flavor of the day. You can find out more about Leon by clicking here.
  • Mosa Burger – Mosa Burger is a small burger and custard stand at Bradford Beach in downtown Milwaukee. It is open during the summer months when the beach is open. They have hamburgers, brats, and other food, including frozen custard. You can find out more about Mosa Burger by clicking here.
Milwaukee Art Museum
The Milwaukee Art Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

In Milwaukee, Check Out A Museum

Milwaukee has a lot of great museums. So if you like museums, you will have a lot of choices throughout Milwaukee. Some museums are large and well-known; others are smaller, independent museums.

Some of your museum choices in Milwaukee:

Harley-Davidson Cycles
Harley- Davidson Cycles, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin brand.

In Milwaukee, Experience the Harley-Davidson Campus

Milwaukee is famous as the hometown of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. You can see and do a lot at the Harley-Davidson Campus. Visiting Harley-Davidson is like visiting an important part of American life and culture.

Here are things to experience at Harley-Davidson Motorcycles Campus:

Explore Pabst Mansion & Museum In Milwaukee

Like Harley-Davidson is a well-known Milwaukee name, so is Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer. In Milwaukee, you can go to the Pabst Museum, which is in the Pabst Mansion, or go on a tour of the Pabst factory and sample their beers at the end of the tour.

Some information on the Pabst Mansion & Museum, Pabst factory tour, and Pabst Theater:

  • Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion Captain Frederick Pabst was a German American after whom the Pabst Brewing Company was named. This home, on 2000 W. Wisconsin Avenue In Milwaukee, was the Pabst family home from 1892 to 1908. You can visit the Mansion, which is also a Museum. They also have a lecture series and some events that will occur throughout the year. You can find out more about the Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion and Museum by clicking here.
  • Pabst Brewery Tours – Pabst Brewery also gives tours of the Brewery. Tour runs mainly in the evenings on weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the day. The tour also includes beer tastings. The Pabst Taproom also has a lot of events going on. You can find out more about the Pabst Brewery events by clicking here. You can find out more about the Pabst Brewery Tours by clicking here.
  • Pabst Theater – The Pabst Theatre was built by Captain Frederick Pabst in 1895 as a German-style opera house. It has opulent glamour both inside and out. Inside there is a two-ton Austrian crystal chandelier and a staircase made with white marble. The Pabst Theater is still operating today, so you can catch a show there. To find out more about the Pabst Theater and what is playing there you can click here.

Go to the Milwaukee County Zoo

The Milwaukee County Zoo is considered to be one of the best zoos in the United States. Not only does the zoo have a lot of animals, but they have rides and other educational events.

Plus many times during the summer or the holidays, they have special events taking place. The zoo is located at 10001 West Blue Mound Road, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But you can get there by car, taxi or bus.

To find out more about the Milwaukee Country Zoo and its events and facilities, you can visit their website by clicking here.

Attend a Festival in Milwaukee -The City of Festivals

Milwaukee is also called the City of Festivals, as the city has so many different kinds of festivals that happen all year round. Many of these festivals happen in the summer, but some take place at other times of the year.

Some of the major festivals in the City of Milwaukee:

  • Summerfest – takes place in June and July each year.
  • Brady Street Festival
  • Brewfest – Held at McKinley Park each July.
  • Polish Fest – takes place in June each year.
  • Pridefest – takes place in June each year.
  • Festa Italiana – takes place in July each year.
  • Lakefront Festival of Arts – takes place in June each year.
  • Locust Street Festival of Music and Arts – takes place in June each year.
  • Cedarburg Strawberry Fest – takes place in June each year.
  • Bastille Days – takes place in July each year
  • Garlic Fest – takes place in June each year.

To find out more about most of Milwaukee’s festivals, you can visit the Visit Milwaukee website by clicking here.

Wisconsin also has an excellent State Fair in August each year. The Stake Fair Park is in West Allis but not too far from downtown Milwaukee. The Wisconsin State Fair Park also has events at the park year-round. You can find out more about the Wisconsin State Fair and the Wisconsin State Fair park by clicking here.

MIller Park, MIlwaukee, Wisconsin USA
The American Family Field Stadium is home of the Miller Brewers baseball team. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

Go to a Sporting Event in Milwaukee

Milwaukee is a huge sporting city, so all the Milwaukee teams are highly supported. Here are some of Milwaukee’s favorite teams and where you can get tickets to see them play:

  • Milwaukee Brewers – Milwaukee Brewers is the major league baseball team that calls it home Milwaukee. They play at the American Family Field Stadium. You can always tell when they have a home game, as the freeways around the stadium can be backed up for miles as they have a lot of support from Milwaukee. You can find out more about the Milwaukee Brewers and their schedule by clicking here.
  • Milwaukee Bucks – The Milwaukee Bucks is an NBA professional basketball team whose stadium is the Fiserv Forum in downtown Milwaukee. You can learn more about the Milwaukee Bucks and their schedule by clicking here.
  • Milwaukee Admirals – The Milwaukee Admirals is a professional ice hockey team in the American Hockey League, and they play in Milwaukee at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Panther Arena. You can find out more about the Milwaukee Admirals and their schedule by clicking here,
  • Milwaukee Wave – The Milwaukee Wave is a champion Milwaukee-based indoor soccer team. They are part of the Major Arena Soccer League. They play at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena in Milwaukee. You can learn more about the Milwaukee Wave and its schedule by clicking here.

Explore Milwaukee’s Lakefront Area

Milwaukee has a wonderful lakefront area with many different things you can explore on the lakefront. It is a great place to walk, cycle, or just drive around and enjoy. While there check out some of the mansions and older houses nearby.

Some fun things you can explore on the Milwaukee Lakefront:

  • Veterans Park – Veterans Park is a small lagoon that connects the city of Milwaukee to Lake Michigan. Throughout the summer months, they host a lot of events. They have bicycles for rent, so you can explore the Oak Leaf Trail by bike or paddleboat to paddle around the lagoon. This area is also popular for kite flying. You can find out more about Veterans Park by clicking here.
  • Bradford Beach – Bradford Beach is a public beach in downtown Milwaukee that has lifeguards during the summer months. Also, beach volleyball leagues play on the beach throughout the summer months. You can find out more about Bradford Beach by clicking here.
  • Lake Park – Lake Park is a historic park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, a famous landscape architect who designed a lot of urban public parks, including Central Park in New York City; you can also climb the Northpoint Lighthouse for some magnificent views across the city and lake. Lake Park also has free concerts at the Summer Stage on Monday and Wednesday nights in the summer. Lake Park is right across the street from Bradford Beach. You can find out more about Lake Park by clicking here.
  • McKinley Beach – McKinley Beach is next to McKinley Marina. You can recognize it as there are a lot of boats docked there. The beach is also home to one of the best sailing schools in the nation, the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center. You can learn more about McKinley Beach and the Milwaukee Sailing Center by clicking here.

Go Cruising on Lake Michigan

You cannot visit Milwaukee without exploring all the wonders of Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan is the largest freshwater lake entirely in the United States.

As Milwaukee is on Lake Michigan, several cruise companies have boats you can take to see the lake and waterways of Milwaukee.

Some boat tours you can take to cruise around Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee rivers:

There is also fishing charters that go out on Lake Michigan to fish for salmon, trout, and other fish.

Go Sailing around Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan is a wonderful lake to sail on. The lake has some wonderful views of the city. Here are some places you can go sailing:

  • Sea Dog Sailing Sea Dog Sailing has a 38-foot boat that will take you around Lake Michigan. You can find out more about this and the Sea Dog Sailing by clicking here.
  • Milwaukee Community Sailing Center To really sail at the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center, you need to be a center member. If you live in Milwaukee and want to sail, this is a wonderful club to join. It is an excellent sailing school. But sometimes, they offer trying-to-sail classes where you can get on a boat for a few hours with an experienced sailor. You can find out more about the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center and its schedule by clicking here,

Kayak, Canoe, or Paddleboard on The Waterways in Downtown Milwaukee

Milwaukee also has some great kayaking, canoeing, or paddleboarding on the riverways in downtown Milwaukee. This is a great way to experience life around the waterways of Milwaukee.

Here are the places you can get a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard rental or tour:

Go to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s – Burnham Street Block

Frank Lloyd Wright was from Wisconsin, so he designed many significant buildings. One of these hidden treasures is the entire block on West Burham Street with small houses that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for his American System-Built Homes in South Milwaukee. You can find these homes at 2714 West Burnham Street.

You can read more about these homes by reading our blog entitled Frank Lloyd Wright’s American System-Built West Burnham Street Homes by clicking here.

Visit the Mitchell Park Domes – A Milwaukee Favorite

The Mitchell Park Domes are part of the Milwaukee Public Park System and three dome-shaped horticulture greenhouses with different plant species. If you love greenhouses, this is a must-see series of greenhouses.

Growing up, each time we rode past the Mitchell Park Domes, we would call it the bra factory as you could only see two domes at a time, and we always thought it looked like an oversized woman’s bra.

Some information on the different Mitchell Park Domes:

  • Show Dome – This dome will change its displays and flowers about five times yearly according to the season.
  • Desert Dome – The Desert Dome has plants from the deserts of Africa, Madagascar, South America, and North America.
  • Tropical Dome – The Tropical Dome is like a rainforest that has over 1,200 species of tropical plants, including chocolate, banana, and vanilla. 

You can find out more about the Mitchell Park Domes by clicking here.

With a bustling city vibe and beautiful lake views, Milwaukee is the perfect place to explore! This vibrant Wisconsin destination has something for everyone, from cultural activities to outdoor recreation. So, experience all that the town on Lake Michigan’s shoreline has to offer!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it Safe in Milwaukee?

Most parts of the city of Milwaukee are safe, especially in the established tourist areas. But it would help if you avoided the inner city area, which is generally the northside or northwest of downtown areas, especially at night. Unless you know someone in these areas, the chances are you will not travel there. I grew up in Milwaukee, and we rarely go to that part of Milwaukee. The lakefront area and downtown area in Milwaukee are usually safe.

But with that said, if it is at night, do not go out alone, and like in any major city around the world, avoid areas you do not know or are not sure are safe.

Is the Milwaukee General Mitchell International Airport area safe?

Most of the areas around the Milwaukee General Mitchell International Airport is safe. But as with all major cities, I would not go out alone at night and also avoid going into areas you are not sure are safe.

What are the main industries in Milwaukee?

Key industries include healthcare, manufacturing, retail, finance and insurance, utilities, and professional services. Major employers are Aurora Health Care, Ascension Wisconsin, Froedtert Health, and companies like Kohl’s Corp. and Harley-Davidson.

What is the climate like in Milwaukee?

Milwaukee experiences all four seasons with beautiful, albeit muggy, summers and cold, snowy winters. Summers can see temperatures into the 90s, while winters often feature negative temperatures and an average snowfall of around 40 inches.

Is Milwaukee an affordable place to live?

Generally, Milwaukee is considered affordable, especially compared to larger cities. The cost of living is about 3% lower than the national average, not including housing costs.

What are some popular neighborhoods in Milwaukee?

Notable neighborhoods include Historic Third Ward, known for its artsy and vintage vibe, Lower East Side with waterfront views and Victorian-style homes, and Northpoint, a cozy neighborhood with diverse housing options.

What are the pros and cons of living in Milwaukee?

Pros include an affordable cost of living, diverse job opportunities, a vibrant cultural scene, and access to Lake Michigan. Cons can include harsh winters, variable public school quality, and some areas with higher crime rates.

Is Milwaukee a family-friendly city?

Milwaukee offers many amenities for families, such as parks, a zoo, galleries, and a large school district. It’s a city with diverse neighborhoods suitable for families.

10 Must Eat Places In Milwaukee, Wisconsin – An Insiders Guide

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a city that takes its food seriously. From fine dining establishments to casual burger joints and custard stands, there is something to satisfy every palate.

By clicking here, you can discover 10 Must Eat Places In Milwaukee, Wisconsin – An Insiders Guide.

How Safe Is Downtown Milwaukee, WI?

Milwaukee is relatively safe for its population size. There are parts of Milwaukee I have never been to and have no reason to go to. I have found that the downtown area of Milwaukee is relatively safe, at least in the regions and places where I travel, seem always to be relatively safe. However, still, I will always take the necessary precautions.

By clicking here, you can discover How Safe Is Downtown Milwaukee, WI? 

How Wide Is Lake Michigan From Milwaukee To Muskegon?

It is about 80 miles by boat on Lake Michigan between Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Muskegon, Michigan. You can travel between both places during the spring, summer, and fall by ferry service. Lake Michigan is the largest lake in the United States; it is considered one of the Great Lakes. Lake Michigan offers some great boating and recreational activities.

By clicking here, you can discover How Wide Is Lake Michigan From Milwaukee To Muskegon?

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2 responses to “15 Things To Do In Milwaukee, An Insiders Guide”

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