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26 Fun & Best Things to Do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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Whenever I hear the name Milwaukee, I think of Alice Cooper’s history lesson in the cult classic movie Wayne’s World. Whether he has the original pronunciation right or not, the word does come from Native American languages and means “good land.” And it certainly is, as visiting Milwaukee is one of the best things to do in Wisconsin.

Situated on the shores of Lake Michigan and at the confluence of three rivers, Milwaukee is a pleasant seat. A culturally diverse town, Native tribes have settled here for thousands of years. Modern Milwaukee has a rich German heritage since the 19th century, not least in its choice of food and drink.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA downtown city skyline on Lake Michigan at twilight.
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Nicknamed ‘Brew City,’ the town is famous for its role in the beer industry, which dates back to around 1840. Some of the top attractions in Milwaukee are related to brewing beer and everything that goes with it, including an accompanying bratwurst. Throw in a passion for sports, and you have a recipe for fun (and a little overindulgence).

But there’s more to this city than beer, Brewers, Bucks, and brats. Milwaukee has a thriving arts scene – including top theater performances and the world’s largest music festival.

It’s the birthplace of Harley Davidson, Gene Wilder, and the answering machine. It’s an unofficial frozen custard capital, a hip college town, and home of the only bobblehead museum on the planet.

In other words, this is one of the coolest cities in the US. Read on for our selection of the best things to do in Milwaukee. Do we know how to party, or what?!

TL;DR

  • Most significant landmark – The Pabst Mansion
  • Best park – Lakeshore State Park
  • Free activity – Milwaukee River Walk
  • Activity for kids – Discovery World
  • Activity for adults – Brewery tours
  • Place to eat – Mander’s Restaurant
  • Nightlife – Brady Street
  • Place to stayPfister Hotel

Things to Do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

1. Downtown Milwaukee

Downtown Milwaukee Night Lights

I firmly believe in getting to know a city by first visiting its downtown area. In Milwaukee, you might find a few conflicting reports about its boundary, but the areas of East Town, Westown, and the Historic Third Ward are generally considered the downtown area.

Some of Milwaukee’s best bars and restaurants are located in this region, and the city has a jumping nightlife that is particularly good in the summer. The streets come alive with fairs, concerts, shows, and festivals covering every interest.

You’ll want to check out the Milwaukee Brat House, Buckley’s Restaurant & Bar, Blue Bat Kitchen & Tequilaria, and The Capital Grille for food and drinks. For some quality seafood with a view of Lake Michigan, head over to the Harbor House.

Keep reading for more specific attractions in the downtown area, the region also boasts some outstanding accommodation options. The four-star Pfister Hotel is one of the finest in the country, but Saint Kate is a stunning art hotel in the heart of the theater district.

2. The Milwaukee Riverwalk

Authr Stuart Jameson in Milwaukee Riverwalk
Stuart Jameson / ViaTravelers

Address: 101 W Pleasant St, Milwaukee, WI 53212

You can’t miss the legendary riverwalk when you’re visiting Milwaukee. Quite literally. It runs for just under four miles and links three of the most popular neighborhoods: the Historic Third Ward, Downtown Milwaukee, and Beerline B.

With views of notable buildings, bridges, and sculptures, it’s the perfect spot for a romantic or relaxing stroll when getting to know the city. Along the way, you’ll find a variety of restaurants, shops, art galleries, and parks that showcase Milwaukee’s dynamic culture.

Don’t miss a photo with the “Bronze Fonz” – a famous bronze statue of Henry Winkler as the iconic Happy Days character. The popular 70s sitcom was set in Milwaukee, and this whimsical landmark will greet you on the riverwalk. (He’s the one on the left, in the photo above).

And if you don’t fancy walking, why not paddle? Rent a kayak and explore the downtown area from a different perspective – on the Milwaukee River.

3. The Pabst Mansion

Exterior of Pabst Mansion, Milwaukee
Stuart Jameson / ViaTravelers

Address: 2000 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53233

For an insight into one side of Milwaukee’s legendary brewing history, look no further than the Pabst Mansion. This stunning home was built in 1892 by former beer baron Captain Frederick Pabst and has been open to the public since 1975.

The mansion features over 30 rooms filled with furniture and artifacts from the late 19th century. Visitors can explore its grand halls, elegant ballrooms, and lavish bedrooms. Artworks and decorative pieces from around the world, including Chinese porcelain and Japanese lacquerware, are on display.

An architectural gem and one of Wisconsin’s most beloved historic homes, the Pabst Mansion offers a docent-led 60-minute tour of the house from the first floor through the third. They run nearly daily at various timeslots, but you should book your tour in advance to avoid disappointment.

The Pabst Family lived here until 1908, and while you can’t stay in the Mansion itself, the Ambassador Hotel is perfectly located. It’s just two blocks away on the same side of the street.

4. The Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Art Museum-building exterior
Keith Ewing / Flickr

Address: 700 N Art Museum Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Milwaukee boasts one of the finest art museums in the country, housed in a striking building that’s a masterpiece itself. The Milwaukee Art Museum is located on Lake Michigan, an easy walk from downtown.

The collection includes over 32,000 art pieces, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, decorative arts, photographs, prints, videos, installations, and textiles. American artist (and Wisconsin native) Georgia O’Keeffe is prominently featured, along with work by Degas, Monet, and Kandinsky – to name but three.

The museum features several rotating and permanent exhibitions throughout the year, so stay updated with its calendar. With several other key Milwaukee attractions close by, you might want to earmark more than a day to fully appreciate this part of the city.

The Milwaukee Art Museum is closed on Monday and Tuesday, and kids under 12 get in for free. Two hotels are within an 11-minute walk, so try the Westin Milwaukee or the Dubbel Dutch for the best places to stay.

5. Brewery Tours

Lakefront Brewery outdoor seats
Lakefront Brewery / Facebook

Address: Lakefront Brewery, 1872 N Commerce St, Milwaukee, WI 53212

In a town known as Brew City, one of the best attractions in Milwaukee is to experience a brewery tour. Over 70 breweries have come and gone throughout its history and it currently boasts around 30 to 40 within city limits.

Of these, Lakefront Brewery (pictured) is undoubtedly one of the best breweries in Wisconsin, and they offer tours that include sampling their famous local beers. But a visit to Lakefront Brewery is barely scratching the surface.

This original Milwaukee Guided Brewery Tour includes a stop at Lakefront and three other popular local breweries in the region. You can also visit major breweries like Miller, Pabst, Schiltz, and Blatz (but I always prefer supporting the little guy).

Note that even the itineraries for the best brewery tours are subject to change, and you should check with each location in advance to ensure they’re operating on the day you wish to attend. And if your preferred poison is a little stronger, try the Great Lakes Distillery for their world-class spirits.

6. The Harley-Davidson Museum

Harley-Davidson Museum in Wisconsin, showcasing iconic motorcycles and rich history

Address: 400 W Canal St, Milwaukee, WI 53201

When it comes to motorbikes, it doesn’t get much more iconic than Harley Davidson. Milwaukee happens to be the birthplace of the legendary brand, and the Harley-Davidson Museum is a motorcycle Mecca for anyone passionate about riding two wheels.

Spread across 20 acres and two floors of exhibits, the museum contains a gallery of bike models from 1903 to the present day. It celebrates the brand’s history, long-standing craftsmanship, and commitment to quality.

Several cool, permanent exhibits are on display, and the museum hosts a variety of special events and programs throughout the year. Not just for bikers, you’ll find exciting, interactive exhibits throughout, including Build a Bike, My Papi Has a Motorcycle, Off-Road Harley-Davidson, and the Tsunami Motorcycle Display.

Skip the line with this entry ticket and explore over 100 years of the world’s most famous motorcycles. And even if you can’t afford to buy a bike, the museum shop is well-stocked with branded merchandise.

7. Sporting Events

Milwaukee Brewers game at American Family Park

This city is a passionate sports hub, and woe betide you if you’re trying to get anywhere or do anything on game day. If you can’t beat them, join them, and one of the best things to do when visiting Milwaukee is to catch some live action.

Baseball and basketball are the main attractions, with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Bucks the teams of choice, respectively. Ice hockey is also popular, and the Milwaukee Admirals get their skates on when in season. Milwaukee Wave and Milwaukee Torrent provide indoor and outdoor soccer action.

Go here to snag yourself a Brewers ticket at American Family Field, and try here for a Bucks game at Fiserv Forum in the Deer District. Even if you miss out, you can head to the city’s bustling sports bars for the next best thing.

If you’re looking for the NFL, you’ll need to drive some two hours north to Green Bay to catch the legendary Packers. But there’s more than enough sporting prowess to keep you entertained in Milwaukee, and you won’t forget the electric atmosphere in a hurry.

8. Milwaukee Public Museum

Exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum
Management / Tripadvisor

Address: 800 W Wells St, Milwaukee, WI 53233

Opened in 1884, the Milwaukee Public Museum hosts a vast array of exhibits and research areas covering anthropology, botany, geology, photography, and zoology, among others. For human and natural history buffs, this is an essential stop during your Milwaukee trip.

The permanent exhibition space is displayed across three and a half floors and 150,000 square feet. Museumgoers will visit Africa, Asia, Europe, the Arctic, South and Middle America, the Pacific Islands, and a Costa Rican Rainforest.

Step back to the Streets of Old Milwaukee and European Village recreations. The Third Planet exhibition takes you even further, with the world’s largest-known dinosaur skull and a life-sized replica of Tyrannosaurus rex.

Admission prices are quite reasonable, and kids under five get in for free, which makes this a great place for a family outing. Stay up-to-date and plan your visit so you don’t miss out on special events.

9. Lake Michigan

Aerial view of the Lake Michigan shoreline and downtown Milwaukee skyline
James / Adobe Stock

One of the five Great Lakes, Lake Michigan is a popular focal point for anyone visiting Milwaukee. You’ll find plenty of activities here that are fun for the whole family, including kayaking, fishing, sailing, and even scuba diving.

During the summer, nothing is better than walking along the shoreline and soaking up the sun. Head to Atwater Beach to hit the sand and relax, or go biking around McKinley Marina if you want to be a bit more active.

Bradford Beach is popular for beach volleyball, and the annual “Polar Plunge” madness which has taken place on New Year’s Day since 1916. Try a two-hour sailing adventure you’d rather be on the water than in it.

With upwards of 1,400 acres of waterfront parks and beaches, you’re sure to find something of interest for spending time on Lake Michigan. Alternatively, why not cross it? You can take a fast ferry from Milwaukee and enjoy a day trip to Michigan.

10. North Point Lighthouse

North Point Lighthouse and Skyline
Sulfur / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: 2650 N Wahl Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53211

I’m a big fan of lighthouses, and I always make an effort to visit and explore them whenever possible. In Milwaukee, the North Point Lighthouse is an iconic city landmark and has stood in Lake Park on the East side since 1855.

One of the oldest operating lighthouses in Milwaukee, visitors can wander the grounds and climb to the top for an unobstructed view of the lake and surrounding area. It’s open to visitors on Saturdays and Sundays year-round from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., making it the perfect spot for those looking for things to do in Milwaukee on the weekends.

Today it’s more a museum than a functioning lighthouse, but for 150 years it has guided ships through inclement weather on the tempestuous waters of Lake Michigan. You can also take a guided tour, or use this skip-the-line ticket to explore at your own pace.

I recommend wearing comfortable shoes since there are 84 steps and a ladder to reach the lantern room. At 70 feet tall, it’s not for the faint of heart, especially if you happen to visit on a particularly blustery day.

11. Milwaukee Food Tour

Address: Various, Citywide

For foodies like myself, Milwaukee is the perfect place to indulge. From classic American pub fare to Italian restaurants and Asian eateries, this city is an excellent place to visit when you’re hungry.

On a food tour of Milwaukee, visitors can sample some of the best dishes from local vendors, while exploring the city’s unique neighborhoods. Sample regional dishes and gain insight into Milwuakee’s history through its diverse culinary landscape.

You can try delicious local delicacies such as Klement’s sausages, Wisconsin cheese curds, and German-style pretzels. Baked goods Be sure to try a frozen custard, Milwaukee’s staple dessert treat!

Even if you’re not on a food tour, the city is overflowing with world-class dining options. Head to the highly-rated Beerline Cafe for some of the city’s best vegetarian food. For some traditional German fare, check out Mader’s Restaurant.

12. Discovery World

Discovery World Building
Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 500 N Harbor Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53202

If you happen to be visiting Milwaukee when the weather is less than perfect, Discovery World is a great option to keep the family entertained. Situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, this science and technology center is just the tonic for a rainy day.

Here you’ll find 140,000 square feet filled with interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, and educational programs that help kids explore things like sustainability, marine biology, engineering, and more.

In Les Paul’s House of Sound, you can learn about the life and work of legendary musician Les Paul through interactive displays. Automation Everywhere explores the fascinating (and sometimes scary) world of AI, engineering, and mechanics. And the touch tanks at Reiman Aquarium will be a sure-fire hit.

But there are plenty of other exhibits and displays here that will keep you and your family occupied for the whole day. The only problem is going to be getting Dad off the flight and driving simulators. Visit here for tickets, and children under two go free.

13. Brady Street

Brady Street in Milwaukee
Mark Danielson / Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

Address: E Brady St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Known by locals as the prettiest thoroughfare in Milwaukee, Brady Street is the perfect place to wander and explore. This well-preserved area in the historic East Side has many international dining options, unique boutiques, bars, spas and salons, and cozy cafes.

Top eateries include Casablanca for Middle Eastern food, The Diplomat for American favorites, and La Masa Empanada Bar for a Latin menu with Argentinian roots. Go to Dorsia if you’re looking for modern Italian, or if you’re a fan of American Psycho.

I recently wandered Brady Street during a “quiet” Sunday afternoon and yet it felt as if everything could kick off at any moment. This is the place to be when the sun goes down, and you should head to Nomad World Pub to get things started.

Hotels are a little scarce in the area, but you can find plenty of accommodation rentals. This four-bedroom lower unit is within walking distance of Lake Michigan, yet still in the heart of the Brady Street action.

14. Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory

Mitchell Park Domes Architecture and Scenery
Sulfur / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: 524 S Layton Blvd, Milwaukee, WI 53215

The Mitchell Park Domes is a Milwaukee landmark that’s hard to miss – literally and figuratively. This unique park features three horticultural glass domes, each simulating different climates and ecosystems. It’s funny to see them poking out above the trees as you drive the 57.

Each dome has a theme that will transport you to a different world. You can explore an arid desert in the Desert Dome, marvel at exotic plants in the Tropical Dome, or get lost in a forest full of exquisite flowers in the Floral Dome.

Guided tours and educational programs are available to learn more about the flora contained within. Outdoor movie screenings and special events are held throughout the year, and there’s a gift shop if you want to purchase something green for the gardener in your life.

The Domes are also a hugely popular photography spot, particularly for engagements, weddings, and prom nights. Check out our travel photography tips to help you get the best shots while you’re there.

15. Grohmann Museum

Grohmann Museum Buidling
Tony Savino / Shutterstock.com

Address: 1000 N Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Located on the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) campus, the Grohmann Museum showcases art dedicated to human work. It houses a collection of more than 1,700 paintings and sculptures from 1580 to the present.

Named after local businessman, art collector, and MSOE regent Dr. Eckhart Grohmann, the museum’s international exhibits depict men and women at work down the centuries. From early agriculture to the industrial age and post World War II, it’s a fascinating journey of human endeavor.

See paintings of traditional craftsmen at work, such as cobblers, blacksmiths, and glass blowers. Some paintings depict the use of early medical instruments. While later exhibits display the grim reality of life in steel mills and factories.

In addition to its extraordinary collection of paintings, the museum also hosts educational programs and events throughout the year. A skip-the-line ticket is a great way to beat the busy campus crowds and enter the museum to begin exploring.

16. Pettit National Ice Center

Pettit National Ice Center Building
Sulfur / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: 500 S 84th St, Milwaukee, WI 53214

When it comes to fun things to do indoors, the Pettit National Ice Center is an absolute must-visit. It’s one of the best ice skating and hockey facilities in the United States.

Even if, like me, you have no sense of balance or ability on skates, the center is impressive to witness. It boasts two international-sized rinks and a 400-meter oval ice track for speedskating – one of only 30 worldwide.

It’s here that the gold-medal-winning US Olympic speed skating team hones their skills. If you’re not quite at that level, there’s a popular skating school and a race/walk track if you don’t fancy getting on the ice.

Check out the public skating schedule for open skating times and for more information on signing up for lessons. Get your skates on – this place is popular!

17. Lakeshore State Park

Brideg at Lakeshore State Park
Corey Coyle / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0

Address: 500 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202

The only urban state park in Wisconsin, this 22-acre oasis sits on the shores of Lake Michigan. Close to the Discovery Center and Henry Maier Festival Park, it offers wonderful views of the Milwaukee skyline.

The park features a restored waterfront prairie habitat, which has encouraged wildlife to call this charming green space home. Birding is particularly popular, as there are over 70 species found here throughout the year.

Visitors and locals alike enjoy taking a stroll on the park boardwalk, which provides some of the best views of the city and lake. There are several connecting trails to explore, all of which are pet and wheelchair friendly.

Fishing, kayaking, and boating are available in Lakeshore State Park during the summer, while in the winter months, you’ll find hiking and snowshoeing popular on the plowed east trail. I recommend visiting during twilight as the sun sets over Milwaukee.

18. Milwaukee Public Market

Address: 400 N Water St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

A good public market can be a rewarding attraction in its own right, and Milwaukee’s version is no exception. Situated on the outskirts of the Historic Third Ward, this center is a community hub for culinary delights and the freshest fare.

The Milwaukee Public Market is bursting with unique, high-quality artisan and ethnic products. Vendors and independent merchants offer an eclectic menu of international dishes, and you can enjoy your purchases in the Palm Garden.

Some of the best choices include Margarita Paradise Mexican Restaurant, Aladdin – Taste of the East, Thief Wine Shop & Bar, and the St. Paul Fish Company. For coffee, check out Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co., a locally-owned small-batch roaster.

The market hosts numerous events throughout the year, as well as cooking classes in The Madame Kuony Demonstration Kitchen. Current and past classes feature instructors ranging from their vendors and local chefs to nationally known cookbook authors. I’m hungry just thinking about it.

19. Betty Brinn Children’s Museum

Betty Brinn Children’s Museum Exhibit
Betty Brinn Children’s Museum / Betty Brinn Children’s Museum

Address: 929 E Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202

The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum is one of the top things to do in Milwaukee with kids. Designed for children aged 10 and under, this interactive museum offers hands-on exhibits and activities for an educational and fun way to spend the day.

You and your young ones can explore exhibitions like Let’s Play Railway!, Science CITY, Pocket Park, and Velocity.

The museum also offers several family-friendly events, workshops, and programs throughout the year. You’ll find Community Access Days on the third Thursday of every month, Sensory-Friendly Sessions, Lunar New Year celebrations, Black History Month programs, and more.

The museum is conveniently located near downtown Milwaukee, making it an easy stop for a family day out. It’s part of Museum Center Park, right next to Milwaukee’s infamous street art sculpture, “The Calling.”

20. Milwaukee County Zoo

Elephant in the Milwaukee County Zoo, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Drake Fleege / Adobe Stock

Address: 10001 W Bluemound Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226

One of the best attractions in Milwaukee for kids, the Milwaukee County Zoo is home to over 3,000 animals from around the world. Dedicated to the conservation of all the creatures we share our planet with, the zoo is more than just a place to see them.

Here, you can find everything from exotic cats to majestic elephants, as well as educational exhibits and activities perfect for kids. Spend the day admiring the sleeping sloths or getting up close and personal with the playful penguins.

The Milwaukee County Zoo also includes many interactive experiences. From the Safari Train to Animal Encounters, your kids will have no shortage of options to let all their energy out.

And if you happen to be visiting in the summer months, don’t miss out on the popular ZooBrew! This family-friendly event includes food, drinks, and a variety of games and activities.

21. Lynden Sculpture Garden

Lynden Sculpture Garden Milwaukee Wisconsin
Management / Tripadvisor

Address: 2145 W Brown Deer Rd, River Hills, WI 53217

Milwaukee and street art go hand-in-hand, and the city is known for its impressive collection of public works, murals, and sculptures. For a dedicated collection of the latter all in one place, you should head to the Lynden Sculpture Garden in the River Hills neighborhood.

Located on the grounds of a former private estate, it contains over 50 large-scale sculptures set in 40 acres of parkland. The works are arranged to create a peaceful atmosphere, and visitors can admire them while meandering through woodland trails, serene ponds, and lush gardens.

Renowned artists like Mark di Suvero, Tony Smith, and Ellsworth Kelly are on display here, and you can book docent-led or self-guided tours to get the most out of your visit.

A little outside Milwaukee’s city center, the nearest hotel is the Four Points, but there is a unique vacation rental close by. Set in a 2.5-acre estate, the Glass House features a collection of 20th-century glass artworks.

22. The National Bobblehead Museum

National Bobblehead Museum exhibit
Stuart Jameson / ViaTravelers

For something a little different when visiting Milwaukee, check out the National Bobblehead Museum. As a huge fan of alternative attractions, it was one of the first places I went as soon as I arrived in the city.

Entirely devoted to bobblehead dolls, the collection holds the distinction of being the only museum of its kind in the world. It claims to contain over 10,000 of the figures, from celebrities to legendary sports stars, from pop culture to politics. There’s even a six-foot life-sized bobblehead!

Baseball and American football players feature prominently, and hailing from the UK I’ll admit to being clueless about who many of them were. But that didn’t take the enjoyment out of searching for my favorites among the rows and rows of wobbling heads.

You can learn all about the history of bobbleheads, how the museum came to exist, and even purchase some for your collection at the bobblehead store. As far as unusual museums go, give your head a wobble and visit the bobble.

23. Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Interior of Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra / Facebook

Address: 212 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53203

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1959, has become an integral part of this city’s culture, and its reputation for excellence is renowned worldwide.

The symphony performs a wide range of classical music from famous composers like Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach, as well as contemporary works from today’s artists. The orchestra also performs arrangements from popular cinematic films like Harry Potter and Ghostbusters.

The symphony has a range of performances throughout the year at the Bradley Symphony Center concert hall. It’s best to check out their calendar of events so you can stay up to date when planning your trip.

This is the place to go for locals and tourists in need of a culture fix. For a romantic night out, dine at the decedent Capital Grille before a performance, and stay at the Dury Plaza Hotel. All are within easy walking distance of each other in the heart of Milwaukee.

24. Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

A horned owl at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
NaturesFan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 1111 E Brown Deer Rd, Bayside, WI 53217

Journey around 12 miles north of the city center on North Lake Drive and you’ll eventually reach the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. Sitting on the banks of Lake Michigan, this nature reserve covers 185 acres of parkland complete with a great choice of hiking trails.

A focal point of the park is its 60-foot observation tower, which gifts wonderful views of the lake and surrounding landscape to anyone with a head for heights.

You can explore around seven miles of hiking trails which are open every day. Birding hikes are particularly popular, as the center is home to around 260 species. Mystery Lake has a boardwalk that lets you get close to the frogs and turtles.

Many trails are stroller and wheelchair accessible (and growing all the time), ensuring nobody is denied the chance to spend time in nature. Be sure to check out the center’s annual calendar for all the best education programs and events.

25. Henry Maier Festival Park

Henry Maier Festival Park Aerial View
James Meyer / Shutterstock.com

Address: 200 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202

The Henry Maier Festival Park sits on the shores of Lake Michigan, a short distance from downtown Milwaukee. The 90-acre lakefront fairground has a special place in Milwaukee’s history.

It was designed by famous architect Daniel Burnham, who envisioned the park as a place of celebration and entertainment. And it certainly is, today renowned as the site of the legendary Summerfest music festival, which first took place in 1968.

Named after Milwuakee’s longest-serving mayor, the park has several attractions, including an open-air amphitheater, picnic areas, and a giant chessboard. Visitors can also explore its walking trails or stop by one of the many public art pieces.

Aside from Summerfest, the park hosts several important festivals, live music gigs, runs, and charity events throughout the year. Check out the park’s event calendar for more information when planning your trip to Milwaukee.

26. Whitnall Park

Boerner Botanical Gardens Milwaukee
Management / Tripadvisor

Address: 5879 S 92nd St, Franklin, WI 53132

A little outside the city center, located in Hales Corners, Whitnall Park is another charming outdoor attraction. Visitors can explore the well-designated trails while enjoying a spot of bird and wildlife watching.

This wooded park features several points of interest, including the Wehr Nature Center, a 220-acre nature reserve with five miles of trails, and an outdoor amphitheater with a fire pit. On the opposite side of the park pond, you’ll find a championship golf course if you fancy playing the links.

Tucked into the northeast corner there’s the delightful Boerner Botanical Gardens. It features 12 stunning themes, including the English Garden, the Native Plant Collection, and the Rose Garden. The annual China Lights Festival is a – pun intended – a highlight.

15 minutes from downtown, Whitnall Park makes the perfect spot for a short day trip, particularly if you’d like to spend some time away from the city. If you’d rather stay in the area, this beautiful vacation home is right on the park’s edge.

Tours in Milwaukee

1. Discover Iconic Milwaukee Tour Top Recommendation

Hit the ground running with a three-hour tour that hits top destinations and some hidden gems, too. The Discover Iconic Milwaukee Tour is a great way to experience the city in one day. This is a small-group tour that promises a more personal experience.

2. Shakers Original Historical Ghost Tour

Shakers is a historical bar and ghost tour located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is one of the only places where you can visit an old speakeasy with an amazing history. They are also known for their awesome happy hour deals and for being a hangout for serial killers, so if you love ghosts and booze, this place is definitely for you!

3. The Grand Walk: A Self-Guided Audio Tour through Milwaukee

The Grand Walk is a self-guided tour that explores Milwaukee's history, architecture and art. This audio tour will take you from the Milwaukee Public Library to the Milwaukee Art Museum.

FAQ

What is the best thing to do with kids in Milwaukee, Wisconsin?

Kids in Milwaukee will enjoy the Betty Brinn’s Children’s Museum, explore Discovery World, or a visit to the Milwaukee Public Museum.

What are some fun things to do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin?

Some fun things to do in Milwaukee include visiting the North Point Lighthouse, touring the Harley-Davidson Museum, and exploring the Henry Maier Festival Park or the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Are there any free things to do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin?

Yes, there are many things to do for free in Milwaukee, such as visiting the Milwaukee Public Library, taking a stroll through the Lynden Sculpture Garden, exploring Lakeshore State Park, or wandering along the Milwaukee RiverWalk.

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