Milwaukee is nicknamed the Cream City because of its dominant 19th and early 20th-century creamy-yellow brickwork. But Milwaukee has far more to offer than its creamy-coloured buildings. Milwaukee is on the west shores of Lake Michigan and is well-known for its breweries but there are tons of other things to see and do. There are lakeshore beaches, museums, and you’ve got to try the city’s famous cheese curds!
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Top Tours
- 20 Things To Do In Milwaukee
- 1- See The Collections At The Milwaukee Art Museum
- 2- Visit The Harley-Davidson Museum
- 3- Watch A Milwaukee Brewers Game At American Family Field
- 4- See Incredible Specimens At Milwaukee Public Museum
- 5- Step Back In History At Pabst Mansion
- 6- Relax With The Locals In Veterans Park
- 7- Shop And Eat In Milwaukee Public Market
- 8- Take Brewery Tour
- 9- Follow The Milwaukee RiverWalk
- 10- Visit North Point Lighthouse
- 11- See Animals At Milwaukee County Zoo
- 12- Visit Mitchel Park Horticultural Conservatory (The Domes)
- 13- Admire The Architecture At Basilica of St. Josaphat
- 14- Feel The Sand Between Your Toes On Bradford Beach
- 15- Enjoy Nature At Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
- 16- Learn About The Past At America’s Black Holocaust Museum
- 17- Try Cheese Curds
- 18- See The Fascinating Displays At Grohmann Museum
- 19- Explore The Historic Third Ward
- 20- Have Fun At Discovery World
20 Things To Do In Milwaukee
1- See The Collections At The Milwaukee Art Museum
The Milwaukee Art Museum is a strikingly modern building overlooking Lake Michigan and one of the largest art museums in the U.S.
The collection at the museum is highly diverse and there are more than 32,000 works including paintings, sculptures, drawings, photography, prints, video art and installations.
It should be noted that the museum is closed on Monday and Tuesday so plan your trip through the rest of the week.
The Milwaukee Art Museum is at 700 N Art Museum Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202.
2- Visit The Harley-Davidson Museum
The Harley-Davidson Museum isn’t just for petrol heads (though you guys will love it) everyone can appreciate the engineering of these bikes on a visit to this museum.
Harley-Davidson is the most iconic motorcycle company in the world and their headquarters are in Milwaukee! Harley-Davidson was founded in 1903 and it makes up an important part of America’s automotive industry.
This Milwaukee has an unrivalled collection of motorcycles and memorabilia spread across two floors.
They also have shopping and dining experiences too as well as events throughout the year.
The Harley-Davidson Museum is at 400 W Canal St, Milwaukee, WI 53201. Skip the line and book your ticket to the museum here, with an audio guide.
3- Watch A Milwaukee Brewers Game At American Family Field
The American Family Field (locals still refer to it as Miller Park) is home to the Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers.
Going to watch a game or tailgating is such a good way to meet the locals and soak up an incredible game day atmosphere.
The parking lot of the stadium opens three hours before the game for people to start grilling and socialising.
So, grab a cooler box and some of your favourite drinks and head down before a big game.
The atmosphere can totally make up for the fact you’ve not got tickets.
During the off season you can eat at the park and visit the field.
The American Family Field is at 1 Brewers Way, Milwaukee, WI 53214.
4- See Incredible Specimens At Milwaukee Public Museum
This museum features natural and human history exhibits and its handily in Milwaukee’s downtown area.
The museum has a collection of 4 million specimens! There’s an epic 14,000 year old Hebior mammoth skeleton which will amaze kids and adults alike.
You can wander through a 100-year-old recreation of an old village which is inspired by 33 different European countries.
Many people’s favourite part of the museum is the Puelicher Butterfly Wing.
Here you can see an array of butterflies flutter around the two-story garden.
There’s also an excellent Native Games exhibit where you can learn about the history and importance of games played by tribes and First Nations people in America and Canada.
This museum is wonderful for the whole family, first time historians and people who are new to exploring the natural world.
Milwaukee Public Museum is at 800 W Wells St, Milwaukee, WI 53233.
5- Step Back In History At Pabst Mansion
The grand Pabst Mansion is an intriguing house that is well worth visiting.
The house was built in 1892 in the Flemish Renaissance Revival-style for Captain Frederick Pabst who founded the Pabst Brewing Company.
It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 as a historic house museum.
In its heyday the house was the center of high society.
The house has 37 rooms, 14 fireplaces and more than 12 bathrooms.
Captain Frederick Pabst put Milwaukee on the map and its arguably how the nickname “Brew City” came about.
Take the 60 minute tour to learn more about the Pabst family as well as details of the house’s architecture and furniture.
They also offer 30 minute kid friendly tours.
Pabst Mansion is at 2000 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53233.
6- Relax With The Locals In Veterans Park
If you are searching for free things to do in Milwaukee head down to Veterans Park on the banks of Lake Michigan.
Veterans Park is a popular place for locals and visitors with many people relaxing and unwinding from the working week as well as running and cycling.
The park has an excellent 14 acre lagoon.
In summer you can rent canoes, kayaks and pedal boats from the concession stand.
If walking is more you thing you can walk all the way around the park on the Oak Leaf Trail.
The park is also a venue for an array of events including Juneteenth celebrations, the Lakefront Festival of Art, a St.
Patrick’s Day Parade and the Dragonboat Festival to name a few.
Veterans Park is at 1010 N Lincoln Memorial Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202.
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7- Shop And Eat In Milwaukee Public Market
Calling all foodies! Milwaukee Public Market is a wonderful place to visit on an empty stomach.
This public market is in an old industrial building in Commission Row.
The venue is home to 20 vendors showcasing some of the best cuisine from around the world.
Order whatever food takes your fancy and sit in the communal seating area.
Food on offer include pizza, fresh fish, Thai food, sushi, baked goods, scrumptious chocolates, Mexican, ribs, Middle Eastern food and more cheese than you could possibly wish for.
Milwaukee Public Market is at 400 N Water St, Milwaukee, WI 53202.
8- Take Brewery Tour
Though you may have been on a brewery tour or beer tasting tour before can anything really compare to one taken in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee is called Brew City after all!
With so many breweries to choose from it can be a bit overwhelming to decide which one to head to.
There are however four Milwaukee breweries that really stand out and will provide you with not only great beer (and more often than not cheese) but also an in-depth knowledge of Milwaukee’s brewing history.
Lakefront Brewery employs comics to run their beer tours so chances are you will be laughing in-between sips.
Lakefront Brewery is at 1872 N Commerce St, Milwaukee, WI 53212.
The iconic Pabst Brewery is a must visit as it has lasted this long for a reason! You can take one of their brewery tours as well as the aforementioned mansion tours.
Pabst Brewery is at 917 W Juneau Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53233.
If you are looking for a private tour head to MillerCoors Brewery, where you will learn about the city’s 150-year brewing history as well as see their historic beer caves.
MillerCoors Brewery is at 4251 W State St, Milwaukee, WI 53208.
Last but by no means least there’s the Milwaukee Brewing Company.
Unlike some of the other tours with this one you can drink as you walk and listen.
It’s a great place to start a good night out.
Milwaukee Brewing Company is at 1128 N. 9th Street, Milwaukee, W1 53233.
9- Follow The Milwaukee RiverWalk
Another of the best free things to do in Milwaukee is to take a stroll along the RiverWalk.
This walk connects three riverfront neighbourhoods, namely the Historic Third Ward, downtown and Beerline B.
The walkway lasts for around 20 blocks and there are plenty of great eateries, shops, galleries and public art installations to see along the way.
Be sure to find the Arthur Fonzarelli (Fonzie) statue, the character that Henry Winkler played in the Milwaukee sitcom Happy Days.
10- Visit North Point Lighthouse
The restored 19th century lighthouse overlooking Lake Michigan has all the charm you’d expect from a New England lighthouse.
The lighthouse was originally constructed in 1855 and today it is a historic site and a maritime museum.
Step inside and you can tour a number of exhibits as well as look around the former lighthouse keeper’s quarters.
You can also head to the lantern room by climbing up 84 stairs and a ladder to the top of this 74 foot (22 m) lighthouse.
After visiting the lighthouse be sure to check out the grounds of Lake Park where the lighthouse is .
North Point Lighthouse is at 2650 N Wahl Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53211.
11- See Animals At Milwaukee County Zoo
If you are looking for Milwaukee attractions that the kids will love, checkout Milwaukee County Zoo.
The zoo opened in 1892 and has since expanded to almost 200 acres of land and houses 2,299 animals from 330 species.
Some of the animals you can expect to see at the zoo include spotted hyena, camels, penguins, brown bears, porcupines and many more.
The zoo has a conservation program with substantial species survival plans to protect endangered species.
Milwaukee County Zoo is at 10001 W Bluemound Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226.
12- Visit Mitchel Park Horticultural Conservatory (The Domes)
If you have ever seen or visited the Eden Project in Cornwall, England then Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory might feel a little similar.
The Domes as they are referred to locally are three conservatories’, each providing a different visitor experience.
There’s the Desert Dome which is home to 600 plants from North and South America, Southern Africa, and Madagascar.
You can see cacti, Gerbera daisies and dragon blood trees.
Then there’s the Tropical Dome where temperatures range from 75 – 80° F (23 – 26°C) throughout the year.
Warm up in winter and see the orchids, palm trees and birds-of-paradise.
Finally, there’s the Floral Dome which changes with the season.
There are five floral shows throughout the year which showcase plants of that time of year.
Whether you are a keen horticulturist or not, The Domes are an excellent place to spend a few hours exploring.
Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory is at 524 S Layton Blvd, Milwaukee, WI 53215.
13- Admire The Architecture At Basilica of St. Josaphat
The Basilica of St. Josaphat is more than just a Catholic place of worship.
This spectacular building attracts history lovers and architecture enthusiasts alike.
This basilica on 6th Street is modelled after the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The building’s large copper dome can be seen around the city and it’s definitely one of Milwaukee’s iconic old buildings.
There’s a visitor center at the Basilica where you can get a walking tour brochure and then look around yourself.
As well as looking around you can also check out the photo exhibit which details the construction of the basilica.
Basilica of St. Josaphat is at 2333 S 6th St, Milwaukee, WI 53215.
14- Feel The Sand Between Your Toes On Bradford Beach
If you visit Milwaukee in summer, it’s hard to resist the temptation of hitting Bradford Beach.
This urban beach is just north of downtown and offers splendid views of Lake Michigan.
Bring your beach towels, a picnic and your friends and spend time on the sand and in cooling off in the lake.
There is also a shop and café that serves wine, cocktails and beer as well as a full food menu.
After some food, why not play a game of beach volleyball.
This beach also offers free beach wheelchairs and Mobi-mats for wheelchair access to the sand.
15- Enjoy Nature At Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
The 185-acre Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is a lovely place to take a break from urban Milwaukee life and enjoy nature.
The nature center has six miles of nature trails that allow you to discover forest, wetlands, prairies, ravines and Lake Michigan’s shoreline.
One of the best things to do here is climb the 60-foot (18 m) observation tower to access the tree canopy.
It’s a great way to take in the views of the nature center and Lake Michigan.
Be on the lookout for birds and animals which like to call the center home.
You can also learn about birds of prey in the raptor center or head out on the Mystery Lake boardwalk to try and spot them for yourselves.
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is at 1111 E Brown Deer Rd, Bayside, WI 53217.
16- Learn About The Past At America’s Black Holocaust Museum
While many will know about the Holocaust between 1933 and 1945 in Europe where around 6 million Jews were killed, fewer people know the stories of the harrowing Black Holocaust.
The 400 year history of captured Africans shares many of the same similarities with the features of the Holocaust experienced by European Jews and Holocausts like the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and the 1975-79 Cambodian Killing Fields.
The Black Holocaust in America started in the 1600s when first settlers in Virginia passed laws making black people slaves for life.
Around 10 to 12 million African men, women and children were kidnapped from their homes, and forced to march as much as 1000 miles where they were held in underground dungeons and then packed below deck just like cargo.
They then made the 60 to 120 day trip across to America.
As you make your way through the exhibit galleries you will learn a lot while having the feeling that still far more needs to be done to right the wrongs and tackle racism today.
America’s Black Holocaust Museum is at 401 W North Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53212.
17- Try Cheese Curds
Cheese Curds are an iconic food in the Dairy State and there’s no better place to try them than in Milwaukee.
These gooey cheese curds are super fresh and often fried.
It is often customary to dip these cheesy delights in ranch sauce.
There are so many places in Milwaukee where you can try cheese curds.
If you love them that much then it’s even possible to do a cheese curd tour of Milwaukee!
Some of the best places to eat cheese curds include the Lakefront Brewery, the Crafty Cow, AJ Bombers and West Allis Cheese & Sausage.
18- See The Fascinating Displays At Grohmann Museum
The Grohmann Museum is at the Milwaukee School of Engineering and its collection pays homage to the evolution of human work.
In fact, the museum has the world’s largest collection in this field.
There are currently more than 1,700 paintings, sculptures, works on paper dating from 1580 to present day.
The works document manpowered work, water, steam and electrically powered inventions and more.
From artwork showing early farmers to blacksmiths, cobblers and 17th century pieces showing medical treatments there’s an array of things to see.
Most pieces in the museum are by German and Dutch artists however a number of other international artists are on display.
It is also a good museum to visit because of the unusual and specific subject matter.
Grohmann Museum is at 1000 N Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202.
19- Explore The Historic Third Ward
You will walk through the Historic Third Ward if you follow Milwaukee’s RiverWalk but its well worth checking out this district in its own right.
This warehouse district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The district is known as Milwaukee’s Arts and Fashion District.
This area has a plethora of restaurants, spas, theaters and galleries all housed in historic warehouses.
It’s in this district that you will find the Milwaukee Public Market and home to the world’s largest music festival…Summerfest!
20- Have Fun At Discovery World
Discovery World is south of the Milwaukee Art Museum and Veterans Park on a piece of land that juts out into Lake Michigan.
This is an excellent family friendly spot to learn more about technology and science.
There are an array of hands-on exhibits to keep young children and adults engaged.
The museum has its own aquarium, the Reiman Aquarium.
There’s the Les Paul’s House of Sound where you can see the jazz musician’s guitar collection.
There’s also a model railroad that passes by miniature Milwaukee landmarks.
It also has one of the world’s largest interactive models of the Great Lakes.
Discovery World is at 500 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202.
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