Milwaukee is a city full of life and with its fair share of weird and quirky corners that hold all sorts of secrets and adventures. If you’re looking for things to do in Milwaukee, this list is a great place to start, we hand-picked these top attractions and local gems.
Milwaukee is the place we call home, but we aren’t just some overzealous locals who think everything in their city is amazing – we’ve also traveled the world and know the good attractions from the mediocre. These are the Milwaukee attractions we send all of our out-of-town friends to.
Let us be your local guides to our hometown!
This article is updated weekly and a lot of love is put in by Milwaukee locals that want you to thoroughly enjoy their city.
Top Rated Things to do in Milwaukee
1. Harley Davidson Museum
One of Milwaukee’s biggest claims to fame is Harley Davidson. If you’re an avid road warrior or even an occasional rider, you’ll find the Harley Davidson Museum an absolute blast. As one of the premier things to do in Milwaukee, make sure to check it out. Everything Harley-Davidson is here!
- Address: 400 W. Canal St, Milwaukee
2. Milwaukee Public Market
The Public Market is a two-story icon full of truly unique and independent vendors of all things delicious.
In the middle of sightseeing and adventuring through Milwaukee, make sure to drop by for a cup of spectacular coffee, or wander the aisles looking for lunch. There are more than a dozen local vendors preparing snacks to full dinners. With a wide range of food types, you are sure to satisfy everyone in your group.
- Address: 400 N Water St, Milwaukee
3. Tailgate at American Family field
There’s nothing too much more Wisconsin than a tailgate before a game, and in Milwaukee, we do it before every home Brewers game. Every game day the smell of charcoal grills and bratwurst sizzling and be smelled from about a mile in any direction of the stadium. Gather your group, a cooler with local beers, a portable grill, and take part in this uniquely Milwaukee tradition.
Parking lots open 3 hours before the game and fill up quickly with people grilling, playing games, and catching up with friends and tailgate neighbors before the game.
American Family Field is the new name of the Milwaukee Brewers with a retractable roof (previously called Miller Park, many locals will still use the old name). It’s a baseball icon that is a must for any fans passing through the city. If you come during the warmer months, you can eat out on the pavilion, and overlook the field in this piece of baseball history.
Off-Season Visitors: If you visit Milwaukee outside of baseball season you can still visit the field and eat inside the park at the restaurant with a non-sense name “the Restaurant To Be Named Later”. Here you can catch a meal on non-game days for lunch or dinner overlooking the third baseline and outfield. The food and drinks are much better than the name, and the views are pretty unique.
- Address: 1 Brewers Way, Milwaukee
4. Milwaukee River Walk
A two-mile wander through downtown Milwaukee with direct access to some of the city’s best shops, bars, and restaurants. It’s a great way to get a feel for the city, as well as get some exploring in!
5. Eat Some Cheese Curds
Deep-Fried fresh cheese curds, yes – they are as good as they sound. Here in Milwaukee we fully embrace our dairy heritage and celebrate it in every gooey bite of cheese curds. You will find them on the appetizer section of many restaurants in Milwaukee, but some are better than others.
To do them right you need a nice light and crisp batter, not a heavy breading. The cheese should also be white cheese and a very ununiform size ranging anywhere from thumb-sized pieces down to olive-sized nuggets.
Why is that important? I’m glad you asked. The best cheese curds are made from curds taken directly from the cheese-making process. If they fit the description above, you know they fresh cheese curds, not some processed cheese chunks masquerading as cheese curds.
You are permitted to dunk these little nuggets of joy into your favorite dipping sauce, here in Milwaukee we prefer ranch dressing.
*** Public Service Announcement – For first-time visitors, if you don’t have cheese curds and frozen custard you did not actually visit Milwaukee ***
Our Picks for Best Cheese Curds:
Lakefront Brewery (See Map) – You should also really do a Brewery tour here (yeah sure you’ve done brewery tours before) but this one is actually fun. Stay for the cheese curds they are some of the best in the city.
Crafty Cow (See Map) – Also good burgers and beer selection in the fun and quirky Bay View neighborhood.
Even more cheese
We encourage you to delve deeper into Milwaukee’s dairy culture with a few more cheesy stops.
Clock Shadow Creamery – To get the full experience head to Clock Shadow Creamery one of the few cheesemakers actually in the city of Milwaukee. You can take a tour and learn all about the delicious cheeses they make and try a few as well.
Wisconsin Cheese Mart – For all the cheese lovers out there. It’s been around since 1938 and they have over 150 types of cheese and ship to all 50 states! Any cheese you could think of is here, and there will be a whole bunch more you’ve never heard of! Check it out and enjoy the little restaurant/bar next door. You’ll get to sample some of the excellent Wisconsin cheeses and learn a little bit as well. Address: 215 W. Highland Avenue, Milwaukee
West Allis Cheese Mart – This is a great little cheese shop with a few locations around Milwaukee. We love to go to the location inside the Milwaukee Public Market. They have an extensive selection of cheese mostly from Wisconsin, but a few offerings from abroad as well. If you are in the Public Market you need to make a stop here.
6. Explore the Historic Third Ward
The Historic Third Ward is Milwaukee’s Art and Fashion district. It’s home to some truly fantastic theaters, breweries, and more than its share of interesting places to eat and neat shops to explore.
The Third Ward is one of the best places to wander looking for inspiration on things to do in Milwaukee! Take some time and explore, we guarantee you’ll find something great!
If you’re going to one of the many festivals at Henry Maier Festival Park (Summerfest, German Fest, Irish Fest, etc.) You’ll most likely park in this area and can easily take a stroll through some shops.
Book a culinary tour of the Historic Third Ward click here for details
Milwaukee Ale House
Located in the heart of 3rd Ward, Milwaukee Ale House is one of the best stops on the river walk. It has two distinct bars, and both are spectacular.
The Ale House Bar is one of the best nightspots in Milwaukee with live music several nights a week, and some house brews on tap, it’s a truly wonderful place. Downstairs is the Hopside Down. It’s a more intimate Irish-style bar with patio access and a laid-back vibe. No matter what you’re looking for, Milwaukee Ale House will be able to accommodate you!
- Address: 233 North Water Street, Milwaukee
Related: Best Breakfast in Milwaukee (Many in the Third Ward)
7. Take A Brewery Tour
Yeah Yeah, I am sure you’ve taken lots of brewery tours before – but our’s are better. Milwaukee is literally called brew city – We have new breweries, old breweries, and some of the best brewery tours I’ve been on (and I’ve been on too many). Plus you really have to stay hydrated after all of that cheese.
We’ve narrowed down the list of essential brewery tours in Milwaukee to only the best of the best. There is lots of great beer in the city, but a fun tour is what we are after here.
Lakefront Brewery is one of the best brewery tours in Milwaukee. They revolutionized the brewery tour in Milwaukee by hiring comics to do their tours as you walk the facilities sipping their beers. Make sure to check out Lakefront and discover who will be crowned the bung queen! Don’t know what that is? That’s ok. It’s a ton of fun, and they’ll tell you all about it!
They brew spectacular beer and offer tours on most days. Check out their website and get all the info you would need. They range from $8 to a $30 technical tour for homebrewers.
- Address: 1872 N Commerce St, Milwaukee
Milwaukee Brewing Company
Lakefront used to be the go-to spot for tours, but MKE Brewing is close to overtaking them for the best tour in Milwaukee. MKE Brewing Company is one of Milwaukee’s gems. The tours here are great and are “Beer in Hand” meaning you get to drink beer while you ask questions and learn about the beer! If you leave this tour sober, it’s your own fault!
- Address: 1128 N. 9th Street, Milwaukee
It’s Miller Time! Get a personal tour guide through the history of Milwaukee beer and wander through 150+ years of brewing history. Explore this fascinating large-scale brewery and iconic label in beer history. They may be the big guys, but this tour has a lot of interesting things to see like the historic beer caves and Milwaukeebeer memorabilia.
- Address: 4251 W. State St, Milwaukee
The home of PBR! One of the definitive Milwaukee attractions – Take a tour through the historic Pabst Brewery and Mansion to check out this iconic chapter in brewing history.
- Address: 901 W Juneau Ave, Milwaukee
Related Post: Top 10 best brewery tours in Milwaukee
8. Milwaukee Art Museum
The Milwaukee Art Museum opened its first gallery in 1888, since then it has been collecting and preserving art and has grown into a truly fantastic experience. From the iconic “wings” on the Calatrava to the rotating galleries and collections. This signature Milwaukee experience has something for everyone.
- Address: 700 N Art Museum Dr, Milwaukee
Related Article: The Perfect Weekend in Milwaukee Guide
9. Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (The Domes)
Three geodesic domes each with its own biosphere. Explore the Desert Dome and wander through one of the best collections of succulents, shrubs, and cacti. Then explore the Tropical Dome and see the incredible diversity of the rainforests of five continents.
Finally, make sure to check out the Floral Show Dome. Depending on the time of year, there are five seasonal displays, and each one is fantastic.
- Address: 524 S Layton Blvd, Milwaukee
Related Article: 3 Days in Milwaukee Guide
10. Discovery World
Don’t think this is just for kids! This is a fascinating museum with learning labs, the Reinman Aquarium, and interactive exhibits galore! Take the time to really explore this amazing place and have a ton of fun!
- Address: 500 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee
11. Bronze Fonz – Recently Re-Opened
Aayyyy! The Fonz is back after a winter makeover. The bronze statue of Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli is back out on the streets of Milwaukee, just in time for your spring and summer selfies.
In case you aren’t up on your 1970s sitcom trivia, the Fonz is a beloved character from the series Happy Days. The show is set in Milwaukee during the 1950-60s. To pay homage to the show and its ties to the city we got a bronze statue to commemorate it.
You can check out the Bronze Fonz on Wells Street in Downtown Milwaukee. Posing in front of the river, it’s a great place to get a photo with a piece of sitcom and Milwaukee, history.
- Address: N Riverwalk Way, Milwaukee
Milwaukee’s annual music festival, Summerfest, is one of the premier things to do in Milwaukee. Summerfest is the world’s largest music festival. It spans 11 days with 800 acts playing on 11 stages.
In true Wisconsin fashion, there will be plenty of beer & cheese curds available. Lots of the best Milwaukee restaurants also serve up some of their popular dishes. It’s a great place to sample different restaurants. If you love music, you have to check out Summerfest!
- Address: 639 E. Summerfest Place, Milwaukee
13. Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
If you have kids, you need to come here. The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum is designed with the goal of educating children in ways that help build critical skills during their younger years.
It’s chock full of awesome, interactive exhibits and programs that help out the kids, as well as a whole slew of options that educate the caregivers. Don’t forget, and it’s also a ton of fun!
- Address: 929 E. Wisconsin Ave. Milwaukee
Best Places to Stay in Milwaukee
Iron Horse Hotel Milwaukee (New & Trendy): One hundred years ago, the building was a warehouse. Now it’s an upscale hotel created for both bikers and business travelers alike. It has a warm, inviting atmosphere with a spectacular restaurant and a modern feel that showcases art, events, and is dog-friendly. Even if you’re not planning on staying, the Iron Horse is a truly Milwaukee experience that never fails to entertain. Address: 500 W. Florida St, Milwaukee – Check Prices | Hotels.com | TripAdvisor
Pfister Hotel Milwaukee (Classic Milwaukee Hotel): Built in 1893, the Pfister has been a staple of Milwaukee Elegance for over 100 years. Everything in this hotel exudes a sense of class and style. Enjoy the night in beautiful rooms with impeccable service. The Pfister is a truly wonderful experience that harkens back to the glory of yesteryear. Address:424 E. Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee – Check Prices | Orbitz | TripAdvisor
Aloft Hotel Milwaukee (Great Location): It is located right by Milwaukee Riverwalk and the 3rd Ward. Aloft offers something for everyone, especially the food lover. Eateries, boutiques, brewpubs, and so much more are moments from the door not to mention their own spectacular W XYZ Bar that has an extensive menu with everything from great wine to interesting cocktails! Address: 1230 Old World Third Street, Milwaukee – Check Prices | Booking.com | TripAdvisor
14. Have a ridiculously huge Bloody Mary at Sobleman’s
A relaxed pub and grill with some out-of-this world-burgers! A great atmosphere and truly Midwestern Bloody Marys make this a must-go place anytime you stop in Milwaukee. Don’t forget to get some gooey fried cheese curds too!
- Address: 1900 W. St. Paul Ave, Milwaukee
Related: Best Burgers in Milwaukee
15. Try Frozen Custard
First thing – don’t call it ice cream, it’s Frozen Custard! Frozen Custard is the only dessert that matters in Milwaukee.
Our picks for Best Frozen Custard in Milwaukee
If you ask three locals their favorite place to get frozen custard, you’ll probably get three different answers. However, most locals would agree on a few places
Kopp’s Frozen Custard
There are lots of places that make frozen custard, but Kopp’s is hands down our favorite. They have two flavors of the day as well as vanilla and chocolate custard. Get a scoop of the flavor of the day and a second scoop of the vanilla in a dish (or a cone if that’s your thing). The burgers are also some of the best burgers in Milwaukee. It’s a quirky place, not fancy – but this is Milwaukee comfort food at its finest.
- Address: (see map for 3 locations)
Leon’s Frozen Custard
A Milwaukee landmark since 1942. Leon’s is one of the great places to get frozen custard in Milwaukee. They have daily flavors and serve a pretty great sandwich. Open year-round, make sure to check it out if you get a sudden sweet tooth.
This one is probably a bit far south for visitors staying downtown, but it’s a fun old-school neon-clad drive up with some pretty top-notch frozen custard.
- Address: 3131 S. 27th St, Milwaukee (see map)
16. Old World Third Street
Old World Third Street is home to some of the oldest buildings in Milwaukee. This is a blast from the past and a wonderful way to take a step into the German influences of Milwaukee.
Though the buildings are old, there are some spectacular contemporary restaurants and bars that fill the street. Make sure to check out some of what Old World 3rd Street has to offer!
Usinger’s sausage has been a staple of Milwaukee Cuisine for over 100 years. Started in 1880 by Frederick Usinger, it’s currently in its 3rd generation of family ownership and still producing and distributing some of the most delicious sausages you’ll ever have.
- Address: 1030 N. Old World 3rd Street, Milwaukee
17. Holler House – Bowl the Oldest Lanes in the U.S.
Home of the oldest certified bowling alley in the U.S. This is a treasure. The pins are not set by one of those fancy machine-thingys, at the Holler House, they set every pin by hand. If you want to play, call ahead, as they have to round up some local kids to set pins for you. But this is a taste of old-world glory with the tin roof and fun feel. Bowling entusistists and those in search of the wonderfully quirky – this is your place. Don’t miss this wonderfully old-timey thing to do in Milwaukee.
- Address: 2042 W. Lincoln Ave, Milwaukee
18. Visit A Milwaukee Beer Garden
Get a feel for Milwaukee’s German Heritage with a trip to one of the many Beer Gardens found all around the city in the County Parks. If you’re here in the warmer months, make sure to come and have a mug in the peaceful parks. It’s a great place to grab some German food and brews, and relax in a communal setting. It’s a favorite thing to do in Milwaukee for both locals and visitors!
Here are a couple of the most popular beer gardens in Milwaukee:
- Estabrook Beer Garden – 4600 Estabrook Pkwy, Milwaukee
- Beer Garden at Hubbard Park – 3565 N Morris Blvd, Shorewood
- South Shore Terrace – 2900 S Shore Dr, Milwaukee
19. Pabst Mansion
The home of Captain Frederick Pabst, of Pabst Breweries. It housed parties, weddings, funerals, and even the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee for more than sixty years. Since then, it has housed artwork and functions of all kinds. It’s one of the iconic Milwaukee sights, make sure to stop here to see a piece of Milwaukee history.
- Address: 2000 W. Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee
20. Jazz in the Park
If you visit in the summer, make sure to check out Milwaukee’s free summer concert series that takes place every Thursday from June through the first weekend of September!
- Address: 825 N. Jefferson St, Milwaukee
- More info and Schedules for Jazz in the Park
21. Brady Street
Running nine blocks from Lake Michigan to the Milwaukee River. Brady Street showcases some fascinating stores and quirky corners of Milwaukee. One of the best things to do in Milwaukee is make sure to take a walk down it, no matter the time of year!
There are tons of restaurants and bars to keep you busy all day long. Don’t forget to get a hot dog at the Dogg Haus!
It’s a SPY BAR!! If you don’t know the password, you have to undergo a series of challenges at the door. All of which are televised to the other patrons in the bar. If you do know the password, don’t tell anyone. It’s a city secret. The Safehouse is everything vintage spy, shaken and not stirred. The martinis are even served via an air tube delivery system to run around the restaurant area.
If you’re seeking something to do in Milwaukee that is a little different, this is your answer. There are hidden doors, spy games, and a noir-tinged martini menu that make this a great place to visit!
- Address: 779 N Front St, Milwaukee
23. Veteran’s Park
A bustling site for races, festivals, and music Veteran’s Park always has something going on. And in the rare case, it’s a quiet night. It’s right along the lake and makes for a beautiful walk.
- Address: 1010 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, Milwaukee
24. North Point Lighthouse
Get a glimpse back in time to the maritime roots of Milwaukee at one of the city’s most iconic lighthouses. North Point Lighthouse has been guiding ships along lake Michigan since 1888.
- Address: 2650 N Wahl Ave, Milwaukee
25. Great Lake Distillery Tour
While in Milwaukee we are more known for our beer than booze, a few excellent craft distillery call the cream city home too.
A small-batch distillery that creates fine liquors using old-world methods. They use local ingredients as much as possible, which makes each product unique and a true piece of Wisconsin! Tours are available, and they last about an hour with a tasting of a flight of 6 products. The total fee is $10.
- Address: 616 W. Virginia St, Milwaukee
Don’t forget to PIN ME for later!
Our city might not boast the biggest skyline or blow you away with raw natural beauty, but don’t underestimate Milwaukee – it’s actually a pretty cool city with a lot to offer.
This is only a list of the smallest sliver of what’s available any day in Milwaukee. It’s some of our favorite things, and the places we enjoy most. If you have some ideas or thoughts, make sure to tell us. We hope you enjoy your adventures in Milwaukee!
Originally written with the help of Corwin Holzman-Crass, a Milwaukee local who blogs on adventures in karate, travel, & writing.
This Milwaukee guide is now updated and adapted by Hannah & Adam who are now back home living in Milwaukee, WI.This post may contain affiliate links, see our disclosure