A day (or night) out in Milwaukee doesn’t have to cost a fortune
Milwaukee is a vibrant city with plenty of sights and attractions to enjoy. Luckily for those who live in Brew City—or are just here to visit—many of the best things to do here are just as inexpensive as they are entertaining.
Whether you’re planning a date night or a family fun day, there are tons of affordable activities in Milwaukee to enjoy. From cheap sports games to bargain movies to free art events, here’s a list of 15 budget-friendly ways you and your crew can have fun in Milwaukee.
Play arcade games at Up-Down Milwaukee
615 E. Brady St.
Unleash your inner child and reconnect with all your favorite arcade games at Up-Down Milwaukee. This nostalgia-themed bar and arcade features more than 60 games from the 1980s and ’90s, plus pinball machines, several skee-ball alleys, and a Nintendo 64.
All games cost just 25 cents to play and you can take advantage of daily specials such as $1 off draft beers and specialty cocktails on Monday or $2 pizza slices on Friday to make your outing even more affordable. You must be 21 or older to enter Up-Down Milwaukee (except during specified family hours), making it the perfect spot for a fun date night or evening out with friends.
Go bowling at Holler House
2042 W. Lincoln Ave.
For another dose of nostalgia, try your hand at bowling in Holler House, the oldest certified bowling alley in the US. A family-run business since it opened in 1908, Holler House offers the “same bowling experience as a century ago,” with pins set by human pinsetters and scorekeeping done by hand.
The alley features just two lanes—made from real wood and oiled with a spray can—and is located in the basement of a tavern. The cost to reserve both lanes is $75 for the first hour with no limit on the number of bowlers, making this an affordable option for a friend group.
Tour a brewery
Get your buzz on during a tour of one of Milwaukee’s many breweries. Aptly named Brew City, Milwaukee is home to a number of breweries, and many of them offer tours for less than $20.
Lakefront Brewery’s 45-minute tour ($13 Monday-Thursday and $16 Friday-Sunday) includes four 8-ounce pours and a souvenir pint glass. This is one of Milwaukee’s most popular tours, as the guides are known for effortlessly blending comedy and knowledge.
Pilot Project offers tours on Friday and Saturday for $15. Included in the ticket price are five 5-ounce tasters, a souvenir glass, and three $5 draft coupons to enjoy after the tour. Pilot Project is relatively new to the Milwaukee brewing scene, and its unique business model—an incubator for fledgling breweries—makes it worth checking out.
Tour the Pabst Mansion
2000 W. Wisconsin Ave.
While we’re on the topic of beer, we have to mention the Pabst Mansion, a Milwaukee landmark constructed in 1892 for the Pabst family. Now a museum, the well-preserved historic building is open to the public for tours.
A classic guided tour ($17 for adults) lasts for one hour and takes participants through all three floors of the mansion. You can also opt for a self-guided tour or one of many themed options such as the Sunday Mimosa Tour or the Blue Ribbon Happy Hour Tour (prices vary).
Explore America’s Black Holocaust Museum
401 W. North Ave.
America’s Black Holocaust Museum exists to raise awareness of the “harmful legacies of slavery and Jim Crow in America” while promoting “racial repair, reconciliation, and healing.” Founded by a lynching survivor, the museum serves as both an educational site and memorial.
The museum has several informative galleries to explore, highlighting touching personal narratives of those affected by the Black Holocaust. Tickets are $7 for those 18 years or older and $5 for children ages 3-17. Admission for anyone younger than 3 is free.
170 S. 1st St.
From sports fans to TV lovers to political buffs, there’s something for everyone at the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame & Museum. As the name suggests, this unique museum is home to the world’s largest collection of bobbleheads and exhibits.
Beloved movie characters like Buddy the Elf and world leaders such as President Biden join the likes of sports stars, mascots, musicians, and other famous faces that have served as inspiration for bobbleheads in the museum. In addition to marveling at the thousands of bobbleheads on display, you can learn more about the history of these fun knickknacks and how they’re made. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children.
Public skate at Pettit National Ice Center
500 S. 84th St.
Sharpen your ice skating skills during a public skate session at Pettit National Ice Center. The impressive facility is an official training site for the US Speedskating team and home to two international-sized ice rinks.
Casually cruise the ice at your own pace, or if you’re feeling up for a challenge, join a “Let’s Race” session to compete against other skaters for no additional fee. Adult public skate tickets cost $9, teen tickets are $8, and youth admission is $7.
Visit the Milwaukee County Zoo
10001 W. Bluemound Road
For a day of affordable family fun, head to the Milwaukee County Zoo, home to more than 2,100 creatures and critters from penguins and pythons to lemurs and leopards. There’s also a wide variety of rides and activities to enjoy. Tickets start at $12.50 for adults and $9.50 for children.
Stroll along the Milwaukee Riverwalk
Stretch your legs and soak up the beauty of the Milwaukee River as you stroll along the Milwaukee Riverwalk, an attraction that’s always free and open to the public. While exploring the 3.7-mile path, you’ll pass through three neighborhoods—Historic Third Ward, Downtown, and Beerline B—each with their own selection of shops, restaurants, outdoor art, and more.
Play games at 3rd St. Market Hall
275 W. Wisconsin Ave.
In addition to the wide variety of unique food and beverage vendors housed within 3rd St. Market Hall, the venue features several indoor yard games such as shuffleboard, giant Jenga, and cornhole. There’s also a lounge with three gaming consoles, six TVs, and a combination of retro and current games. All games are free to play on a first-come, first-served basis.
Cheer on the Milwaukee Milkmen
Franklin Field; 7035 S. Ballpark Drive, Franklin
You’ve likely heard of the Milwaukee Brewers, but did you know the city has another baseball team worth rooting for? The Milwaukee Milkmen offer a pro baseball experience that is “udderly different.” Games are affordable to attend (adult tickets can be purchased for as low as $9) and feature plenty of between-inning games, hijinks, and stunts to keep you and the kids entertained.
Support the arts at Gallery Night MKE
Discover new art and support local artists at Gallery Night MKE. During this free, two-day gallery hop held each quarter, you can experience Milwaukee’s creative culture while visiting participating local galleries, boutiques, and restaurants.
Explore Milwaukee’s murals
Don’t want to wait for a quarterly event? Explore the city’s art scene on your own. There are tons of showstopping outdoor murals on display throughout Milwaukee, and this interactive map shows you exactly where they’re located while providing background information on each. There’s also a key at the bottom of the map that categorizes the murals by category, from social justice to artistic to neighborhood entry.
Movie night at Times Cinema
5906 W. Vliet St.
Make your next movie night extra special by catching a show at Times Cinema. This single-screen movie theater has an old-school vibe with modern amenities like comfy recliner chairs and draft beers, wine, and liquor. Classic concessions like popcorn and candy are available, but you can also order pizza, mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, soft pretzels, and more.
Movies change frequently and range from throwbacks like Predator to new hits such as Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour. Tickets start at $10 for adults.
Immerse yourself in nature at the Mitchell Park Domes
524 S. Layton Blvd.
The Mitchell Park Domes consist of three large glass greenhouses, which, as you might have guessed, are shaped like domes. Inside each dome is an incredible array of exotic plant life along with a few animals, from Steve the Bearded Dragon to unnamed birds and koi fish.
There are two permanent collections—the Tropical Dome and the Desert Dome—as well as temporary exhibits that are housed in the Floral Show Dome and rotate throughout the year. Adult tickets start at $9 with discounts available for Milwaukee County residents.
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