We’ve been called underrated, sitting in the shadow of Chicago all unremarkable-like. But we’re anything but that. We’re a big-ish city with a small town feel, friendly people and tons to do for all different kinds of travelers. No matter what kind of traveler you are, these are my must see/do things for all Milwaukee visitors:
Take a Stroll Along Beautiful Lake Michigan
Walk from the Third Ward or downtown along the lake. Ramble wherever you like! For outdoorsy types, venture through Lakeshore State Park. For fitness fans, rent a bike from Coast In Bikes and ride on the Oak Leaf Trail up to the Estabrook Park Beer Garden. For beach-goers, chill at Bradford Beach and get a cone of fresh custard at Northpoint Custard.
Have a Pint
There is no shortage of great places to get a craft beer. We have three craft beer bars on DRAFT Magazine’s America’s 100 Best Beer Bars list and our craft brewery scene is exploding. Some of my favorites include Lakefront Brewery (you must go on their tour!), Milwaukee Brewing Company, Burnhearts, Sugar Maple and Draft & Vessel.
Eat Some of Wisco’s Famous Cheese
Cheese in Milwaukee comes in all forms and colors. It’s coated and fried in one of Wisconsin’s delicacies — fried cheese curds. If you haven’t ever tried a curd, please dear God add it to your list! The best fried cheese curds I have consumed in Milwaukee are at Lakefront Brewery, Camino, Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub, Rumpus Room, Drink Wisconsinbly Pub and the brunchy, sweet curds at Black Sheep. Lots of choices!
To get the best cheese curds in the city (not fried), visit Clock Shadow Creamery. They have fresh curds on Wednesday and Friday. My favorite place to find regular cheeses is hands down the Wisconsin Cheese Mart and its next door neighbor, Uber Tap Room where you can drink local Wisconsin beers with your cheese.
Get Off the Beaten Path
Milwaukee has been called a “city of neighborhoods.” Visit one of the neighborhoods that’s further from downtown like…
- Riverwest: Chill at a coffee shop, peer into Riverwest Radio’s headquarters or have a beer at Company Brewing. Take your time exploring and see what you can find.
- East Side: The Oriental Theater beacons film buffs and history lovers alike with its oriental statues and features built at the height of the cinema era. Walk across the street from Oriental for a German pub experience at Von Trier.
- Bay View: It’s likely Bay View will make it on your radar for their restaurants and bars, but their eclectic shops make it a place you can venture for an entire day! Hat store, record shop, printmaker…Bay View’s got it all! Film nerds will adore the Avalon Theater so take in a flick and rest your weary feet.
Learn About Our History
I <3 museums. Usually I visit at least one while traveling to a new city. The Milwaukee Public Museum is a good place to start and you can walk through the “Streets of Old Milwaukee.”
After the museum, go to the Central Library right across the street and look up at the dome. The library is on the National Register of Historic Places. Milwaukee used to be the brewing capital of the U.S. so there’s lots of brewing history here. Go on a tour of Best Place where Pabst used to call home or visit the mansion of the beer baron himself — Captain Pabst.
Dine Like a King or Queen
Our foodie scene has been receiving national attention of late. My friend Rick is really the one you should ask for recommendations from as he nibbles his way around our city.
- Suggestions for visitors with a $ traveler’s budget: Ian’s Pizza, Comet Cafe, Red Dot, Vanguard, Uber Tap Room, Transfer Pizza
- Suggestions for visitors with a $$ traveler’s budget: Honeypie, Wolf Peach, Rumpus Room, La Merenda
Get Your Espresso Fix
The coffee scene in Milwaukee is hot! (See what I did there). Get your java at an ever-popular Colectivo, newly added Kickapoo coffee shop or Anodyne, whose house blend never disappoints. There is coffee to be had outside the downtown area so if you are staying by the airport you must try Hawthorne…and get some ribs while you’re at it from the BBQ restaurant they share space with, Iron Grate BBQ. If you go to nearby suburb Wauwatosa, make a stop at Valentine Coffee.
Got more time to spare? Consider adding on: