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Check out this list of 30 things to do in Milwaukee

Check out this list of 30 things to do in Milwaukee

Joseph Sohm/Getty Images

By UpNorthNews Staff

June 12, 2024

Milwaukee, a vibrant city on the shores of Lake Michigan, offers a blend of cultural experiences, outdoor adventures, and culinary delights. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, there’s always something exciting to explore. Here are 30 things you can do in Milwaukee to make the most of your time in this dynamic city.

Discover Milwaukee’s Cultural Attractions

From world-class museums and historic landmarks to vibrant theaters and unique galleries, the city’s cultural attractions offer something for everyone.Whether you’re an art enthusiast, history buff, or theater lover, you’ll find plenty of inspiring and educational experiences to enjoy. Explore the diverse cultural landscape of Milwaukee and immerse yourself in the stories and creativity that define this dynamic city.

1. Visit the Milwaukee Art Museum

The Milwaukee Art Museum is renowned for its stunning architecture and impressive collection of over 25,000 works of art. Don’t miss the iconic Burke Brise Soleil, a movable wing-like structure that opens and closes daily. The Milwaukee Art Museum is one of a kind and the perfect place to explore the museum’s iconic architecture is. Not only does the museum feature incredible collections, but occasionally, there are tours and other events on the grounds.

2. Explore the Harley-Davidson Museum

Celebrate Milwaukee’s rich motorcycle heritage at the Harley-Davidson Museum. Discover exhibits that showcase the history and culture of this iconic brand. If you’ve ever been curious to learn more about the mechanics of motorcycles or the iconic history of Harley-Davidson, this museum is for you.

3. Tour the Pabst Mansion

Step back in time at the Pabst Mansion, the former home of Captain Frederick Pabst, a beer baron. This beautifully restored mansion offers guided tours that provide insights into Milwaukee’s brewing history. The Pabst Mansion preserves Gilded Age architecture and showcases the history of brewing through the Pabst family history.

4. Enjoy a Performance at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater

Catch a world-class play or musical at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, one of the premier regional theaters in the country. Known as one of the first regional theaters in the country, Milwaukee Repertory Theater offers exciting theatrical experiences, and whatever money the theater makes is put back into supporting the local economy.

5. Discover the Grohmann Museum

Home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of art depicting the evolution of human work, the Grohmann Museum offers unique exhibits that highlight the industrial and technological advancements over the centuries. With more than 1,900 paintings, sculptures, and papers from 1580 to the present, you can learn about the nature of work and how it has transformed over the centuries.

6. Take a Candle Pouring Class

Ever tried a candle pouring class? A venue like the Glassnote Candle Bar is a great place to try it out. Choose your favorite scents and create your own candle to use at home.

Experience the Outdoors

Milwaukee’s natural beauty and outdoor spaces provide the perfect backdrop for a wide range of activities. From scenic riverwalks and bustling beaches to lush parks and breathtaking lake views, there’s something for every nature lover. Whether you prefer hiking, biking, or simply soaking up the sun, Milwaukee’s outdoor attractions offer endless opportunities for adventure and relaxation. Embrace the fresh air and stunning landscapes as you explore all that this vibrant city has to offer.

7. Stroll Along the Milwaukee RiverWalk

The Milwaukee RiverWalk stretches over three miles through the heart of the city, offering scenic views, public art, and access to restaurants and shops. 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, each with their own selection of shops, restaurants, outdoor art, and more. 

8. Relax at Bradford Beach

Enjoy a day at Bradford Beach, a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and beach volleyball. It’s the perfect place to soak up the summer sun. Beach day, anyone? Pack your towel and some sunscreen and head to Bradford Beach. It’s undoubtedly Milwaukee’s most popular public beach — and for good reason. There’s plenty of space to relax, and tons to do too. Go for a swim in Lake Michigan, watch (or join!) a sand volleyball game, or sit back and soak up the sun. There are also restrooms and two concession buildings. 

9. Visit the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory

Known as “The Domes,” this conservatory features three distinct climates: tropical, desert, and floral show. It’s a great place to explore diverse plant species. Calling flower lovers and photographers everywhere! If you appreciate the beautiful backgrounds, the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory provides the perfect place for a photo-filled date night. In addition to seasonal displays, you can always find a desert, tropical, and floral dome. 

10. Take a Cruise on Lake Michigan

Experience Milwaukee from the water with a cruise on Lake Michigan. Various tours offer breathtaking views of the city skyline and the Great Lakes. You can check out Edelweiss Cruises & Boat Tours or Milwaukee Boat Line, just to name a few options, but either way, you can spend some time basking in the sunshine on open water.

11. Hike in the Milwaukee County Parks

With over 150 parks, Milwaukee County offers numerous hiking and biking trails. Some popular spots include Whitnall Park, Grant Park, and Kletzsch Park.

12. Check out North Point Lighthouse

The North Point Lighthouse is a gorgeous location to take a few photos, but it also doubles as a museum. Explore the breathtaking scenery and learn about the lighthouse’s history going back to 1855. 

Indulge in Milwaukee’s Food and Drink Scene

13. Sample Local Beers at a Brewery

Milwaukee is known for its brewing tradition. Visit local breweries like Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee Brewing Company, and Good City Brewing to sample a variety of craft beers.

14. Dine at the Milwaukee Public Market

This bustling market offers a diverse range of food vendors, from fresh seafood to gourmet cheese. It’s an excellent spot for lunch or a quick snack. With a plethora of high quality items and artisan products, you’ll be sure to enjoy a delectable meal or snack from one of the Milwaukee Public Market merchants. 

Explore Milwaukee’s Unique Neighborhoods

Milwaukee’s neighborhoods each have their own distinct character and charm, offering a variety of experiences for visitors and locals alike. From the trendy Historic Third Ward with its art galleries and boutique shops to the eclectic East Side known for its lively bars and diverse dining scene, there’s always something new to discover. Wander through Bay View’s cozy cafes and beautiful parks, or enjoy the vibrant nightlife and culinary delights of Walker’s Point. 

15. Walk Through the Historic Third Ward

This trendy neighborhood features art galleries, boutique shops, and some of the city’s best restaurants. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon. Not only is the Historical Third Ward known for being home to unique and delicious food in the Milwaukee Public Market, but it also has scenic riverwalks that are the picture-perfect location for an impromptu photo shoot. Once you’re done with your photo-op there is no shortage of incredible (and picturesque) places for dinner, including The Wicked Hop, Tre Rivali, and more.

16. Discover the East Side

The East Side is known for its eclectic vibe, with independent shops, lively bars, and a diverse dining scene. Don’t miss a visit to the Oriental Theatre, a historic movie palace. If you prefer taking in unique works of art in an outdoor setting, check out Black Cat Alley, located in Milwaukee’s East Side district. This curated street art gallery spans two blocks and features more than 20 murals created by local artists, as well as creators from Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Columbus, Ohio, and as far away as Berlin. 

17. Visit Bay View

Bay View offers a mix of quirky shops, cozy cafes, and beautiful parks. It’s a charming neighborhood with a strong sense of community. One store you don’t want to miss: URSA, a shop where the “U” stands for unique.

18. Explore Walker’s Point

Walker’s Point is known for its vibrant nightlife and diverse dining options. It’s also home to some of Milwaukee’s best breweries.

19. Enjoy the Riverwest Neighborhood

Riverwest is a creative hub with a laid-back atmosphere. It’s a great place to explore local art, music, and community events.

20. Tour Alice’s Garden Urban Farm

Alice’s Garden Urban Farm was established as a place where Milwaukee residents could grow their own food. Now, the two-acre farm, which has about 100 garden plots representing 80 local families and organizations, also hosts events and activities for community members, including weekly walks through its herbal labyrinth. You can also take a self-guided or guided tour of the farm and learn about its role as a stop on the Underground Railroad. 

Discover Milwaukee’s History

Explore Milwaukee’s past through its well-preserved historic sites, engaging museums, and informative tours. Visit the Milwaukee County Historical Society for a deep dive into local history, or tour the meticulously restored Pabst Mansion to learn about the city’s brewing heritage. Uncover the contributions of African Americans at the Wisconsin Black Historical Society and step back in time at Old World Wisconsin. Milwaukee’s historical attractions offer a fascinating glimpse into the events and people that have influenced its growth and character.

21. Tour the Milwaukee County Historical Society

Learn about Milwaukee’s rich history through exhibits and artifacts at the Milwaukee County Historical Society, housed in a beautiful neoclassical building.

22. Visit the Wisconsin Black Historical Society

This museum highlights the contributions and history of African Americans in Wisconsin, with exhibits covering civil rights, arts, and culture. 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.

23. Explore Old World Wisconsin

A short drive from the city, Old World Wisconsin offers a glimpse into the state’s rural past with historic buildings and interactive exhibits. Located just a short drive from Milwaukee, this living history museum offers a fascinating glimpse into 19th and early 20th-century life through historic buildings, interactive exhibits, and engaging reenactments. Wander through meticulously restored homes, farms, and workshops while costumed interpreters bring history to life with demonstrations of traditional crafts and daily activities. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply looking for a unique day trip, Old World Wisconsin provides an immersive and educational experience that transports you to a bygone era.

24. Tour Historic Breweries

Learn about Milwaukee’s brewing heritage with tours of historic breweries like the Pabst Brewery Complex and Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery. Take a tour of one of Milwaukee’s many breweries in a city aptly named Brew City. Lakefront Brewery’s 45-minute tour 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 and is relatively new to the Milwaukee brewing scene, and its unique business model—an incubator for fledgling breweries—makes it worth checking out. 

Enjoy Family-Friendly Activities

Milwaukee has a wide-range of activities that kids and parents alike will love. Spend a day at the Milwaukee County Zoo, home to over 2,000 animals, or explore the hands-on exhibits at Discovery World, an interactive science and technology center. The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum provides creative and educational play areas for younger children, while older kids can enjoy a thrilling game at a Milwaukee Milkmen baseball game. From the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame & Museum to the historic Holler House bowling alley, Milwaukee’s family-friendly attractions promise memorable experiences for all ages.

25. Visit the Milwaukee County Zoo

Home to over 2,000 animals, the Milwaukee County Zoo offers a fun and educational experience for visitors of all ages. 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. 

26. Explore Discovery World

This interactive science and technology center features hands-on exhibits, an aquarium, and a variety of educational programs.

27. Visit the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame & Museum

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.

28. Attend a Milwaukee Milkmen Game

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. 

29. Enjoy the Milwaukee Public Library

The Milwaukee Public Library offers beautiful architecture, a vast collection of books, and engaging programs for children and adults alike. The library, with its stunning architecture and vast collection, offers an inviting space for reading, research, and relaxation. Explore special exhibits, attend engaging programs for all ages, or simply marvel at the beautiful historic building. The library’s various branches throughout the city provide accessible resources and services, fostering a love of learning and reading within the community. Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to study, a fun storytime for kids, or a deep dive into local history, the Milwaukee Public Library is a treasure trove of opportunities.

30. Go Bowling at Holler House

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. 

Milwaukee is a city that offers something for everyone, from cultural attractions and outdoor adventures to delicious food and exciting events. Whether you’re exploring its historic neighborhoods or enjoying its vibrant arts scene, you’ll find plenty of things to do in this dynamic and welcoming city.

Read more: The 5 best budget-friendly vacations in Wisconsin, according to readers

 

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CATEGORIES: THINGS TO DO
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