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. 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.
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. Let us be your local guides to our hometown.
If you’re looking for things to do in Milwaukee, this list is a great place to start, we hand-picked these top 77 attractions and local gems – however, it’s only the fraction of what’s available on any given day in Milwaukee.
Things to do THIS Weekend in Milwaukee (July 19th-21st, 2019)
This section of our Milwaukee Guide is for things happening only this weekend. For more things to do all year long, keep reading to check out our full list of attractions below. We also have an itinerary for the perfect weekend in Milwaukee if you’d rather have us do more of the planning – you can find our Milwaukee Weekend Guide here!
One of the biggest things happening in Milwaukee this weekend is Festa Italiana on 7/19-7/21 at the lakefront grounds. The Brewers are away this weekend, but there are plenty of other activities going on in Milwaukee.
1. Festa Italiana
Head down to Milwaukee’s Italian-inspired festival taking place all weekend long at the Henry Maier Festival Grounds along the lakefront in Milwaukee. As with any good Itilian festival, there will be plenty of food and wine, a marketplace, and lots of entertainment.
- Friday July 19 – 3pm-12am
- Saturday July 20 – 12pm-12am
- Sunday July 21 – 12pm-11pm
- Address: 200 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202
- Cost: $10 if purchased in advance or $13 at the gate
- Full List of events and schedules
*** 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 Frozen Custard:
- Kopp’s (see map for 3 locations) – There are lots of places that make frozen custard, but this is hands down our favorite. Get a scoop of the flavor of the day and a second of the vanilla in a dish (or a cone if that’s your thing). The burgers are also good here. It’s a quirky place, not fancy – but this is Milwaukee comfort food at it’s finest.
- Leon’s (see map) – 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.
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.
Top Rated Things to do in Milwaukee
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
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
Milwaukee Public Market
A truly Milwaukee experience. The Public Market is 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, we guarantee it’ll be a challenge to figure out what you want!
Address: 400 N Water St, Milwaukee
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!
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, it’s also a ton of fun!
Address: 929 E. Wisconsin Ave. Milwaukee
Home of the Milwaukee Brewers with a retractable roof. 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.
Address: 1 Brewers Way, Milwaukee
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, 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!
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!
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
Usinger’s sausage has been a staple of Milwaukee Cuisine for over 100 years. Started in 1880 by Frederick Usinger in 1880, 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
For all the cheese lovers out there. It started out as a small-time cheese shop in 1938, it’s expanded into a leading Wisconsin Cheese retailer.
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 wonderful deliciousness!
Address: 215 W. Highland Avenue, Milwaukee
Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (The Domes)
Three geodesic domes each with their 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 amazing 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
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
Aayyyy! 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
Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear
A quirky look at the late Avrum Chudnow’s collection of early 20th Century Americana. A fascinating, and educational look at the world of the 1900s.
Address: 839 N 11th St, Milwaukee
The collection here is dedicated to the evolution of human work. A fascinating idea, and one that is well worth a few hours wandering. Also, this museum is housed in Milwaukee School of Engineering’s Campus, which is worth another wander. Take an afternoon and explore!
Address: 1025 North Broadway, Milwaukee
St. Joan of Arc Chapel
The oldest building in Milwaukee, by far. Built in the 15th century and the current heart of Marquette University. St. Joan of Arc Chapel was brought onto Marquette Campus in the 1960s and has resided there ever since. St. Joan of Arc Chapel is a fascinating aspect of Milwaukee, and Marquette University, history.
Address: 1250 W. Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee
Milwaukee Pierhead Lighthouse
Head to the photogenic lighthouse still in use located in Downtown Milwaukee, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon!
The home of Captain Frederick Pabst, of Pabst Breweries. It housed parties, weddings, and 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 things to do in Milwaukee, make sure to stop here to see a piece of Milwaukee history.
Address: 2000 W. Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee
The Pabst Theatre, also known as Milwaukee’s Jewel Box, was built in 1895 by Captain Frederick Pabst and designed in the style of great opera houses. This is a centerpiece of Milwaukee’s downtown theater district, as still keeps a busy, busy schedule.
Make sure to check it out on your way through Milwaukee and see if you can catch a show or performance. We suggest grabbing a drink or bite to eat at Mo’s Irish Pub which is two blocks away.
Address: 144 E Wells St, Milwaukee
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.
1010 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, Milwaukee
Summerfest June 26-30 & July 2-7, 2019
One of the premier things to do in Milwaukee. Summerfest if the world’s largest music festival. It spans 11 days with 11 stages. There are over 800 acts and more than a thousand performances.
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
Milwaukee’s most complete city tour! They cap the passenger list at 14, to ensure the experience has a personal feel. There are several options from a 3 hour “Milwaukee” tour to several quirkier ones such as brewery tours and some stops at a creamery. Each tour will be a unique experience!
Always wanted to try out some rock climbing? Or are you an avid climber who’s just looking for the next challenge? Adventure Rock has some of the best bouldering and climbing challenges around. Plus, they just opened an enormous new facility. Check it out for a little adventure in your next Milwaukee stop!
Address: 2220 N. Commerce St, Milwaukee
You’re in a team of 4-10 players and you have a goal, to escape the room! You’ll have to work together to solve puzzles, find keys, and figure out lock combinations in order to get out of the room before time is up! This is a great way to spend an afternoon and a ton of fun. There are a variety of themed rooms and all of them are great. Make sure to check them out!
Address: 3333 N. Mayfair Rd. Suite 314, Milwaukee
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
Best Places to Stay in Milwaukee
Iron Horse Hotel Milwaukee
One hundred years ago the building was a warehouse. Now it’s an upscale hotel created with 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.
500 W. Florida St, Milwaukee
Pfister Hotel Milwaukee
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.
424 E. Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee
Ambassador Hotel Milwaukee
The Ambassador is all about 1920’s grandeur. From the first glimpse of its neon sign and Art Deco facade, the Ambassador lives up to its reputation. With a beautiful interior full of timeless elegance, the Ambassador is all about relaxation and comfort in the most respectable of ways.
Address: 2308 W. Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee
Aloft Hotel Milwaukee
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
Knickerbocker Hotel Milwaukee
The Knickerbocker is a restored, classic boutique hotel located lakeside. It retains much of its old world charm while still providing a modern and efficient stay for the more business-minded travelers.
Its location puts it in prime walking distance for many of the festivals that Milwaukee hosts throughout the year. Each room and suite is unique with styles varying from French Country to Victorian. Every stay at the Knickerbocker is going to be a unique, and wonderful experience.
Address: 1028 E. Juneau Ave, Milwaukee
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
Leon’s Frozen Custard
A Milwaukee landmark since 1942. Leon’s is one of the great places to get 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.
Address: 3131 S. 27th St, Milwaukee
Kopp’s Frozen Custard
The other fantastic custard place in Milwaukee. They have some truly out of this world flavors and some super great burgers. There have two flavors of the day as well as vanilla and chocolate custard. Plus, there is a sign of 101 reasons to come to Kopps. Which is great. Check it out!
Address: 18880 W. Bluemound Rd, Brookfield
A German restaurant that calls back to Milwaukee’s roots. Mader’s is an institution. Kennedy and Reagan ate here as well as a whole slew of politicians and other famous faces. Mader’s is a place to feel the pulse of the city, and check out some great German cuisine!
Address: 1041 N. Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee
Odd Duck is inspired by local ingredients and has a menu designed to be shared, tapas style! There is some fantastic food here, and the menu is always changing. From the moment you walk it, the Odd Duck is a unique experience that will absolutely blow you away.
Address: 2352 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee
Places to Drink in Milwaukee
Koz’s Mini Bowl
It has four mini bowling lanes! It’s the last Duckpin Bowling Lane in the U.S. There are some fantastic prices and a fun atmosphere (check out the lion) that make this a truly Milwaukee experience.
Address: 2078 S. 7th St, Milwaukee
A low-key bar that serves has some great nightly offers. Happy hour runs from 2-7, Monday through Friday. Also, if you stay late enough. You’ll get an “I closed Wolski’s” Bumper Sticker.
Address: 1836 N Pulaski St, Milwaukee
Home of the oldest certified bowling alley in the U.S. This is a treasure. 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. Make sure to check it out.
Address: 2042 W. Lincoln Ave, Milwaukee
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 night spots 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!
Address: 233 North Water Street, Milwaukee
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 spy and ridiculous slammed together with alcohol.
If you’re seeking things 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
If you’re here in the warmer months, make sure to check out some of the beer gardens (“biergartens” in German) in the area. It’s a great place to grab some German food and brews, and relax in a communal setting. It’s everyone’s favorite thing to do in Milwaukee!
Here is a couple of the most popular:
- Hoyt Park 1800 N Swan Blvd, Wauwatosa
- Estabrook Beer Garden 4600 Estabrook Pkwy, Milwaukee
- Beer Garden at Hubbard Park 3565 N Morris Blvd, Shorewood
Based off of European grand café’s the whole idea is a comfortable place to meet with friends over espresso, a meal, or a strong beer. Hosting a truly spectacular beer menu with hundreds of brews and a phenomenal kitchen, this is a place for every taste.
Address: 7677 W. State St, Wauwatosa
Breweries & Distilleries in Milwaukee
One of the best brewery tours in Milwaukee. 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
Related Post: YOUR guide to the best brewery tours in Milwaukee
Milwaukee Brewing Company
This is one of Milwaukee’s gems. A craft brewery creating a great beer that, in addition to being delicious, will make you laugh. 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!
Address: 613 S 2nd St, Milwaukee
Looking for a fun place to spend an afternoon this weekend? Then head down to MobCraft which has one of the most fun taprooms in the city! Sample an extensive sour beer list and you can actually submit a beer recipe to be made by the brewmasters at MobCraft. They are the first crowdsourced brewery and every month they brew up a beer submitted by the public! This brewery is located in a fun and up and coming area of town and is worth putting on your list of things to do in Milwaukee!
- Address: 505 S 5th St, Milwaukee, WI 53204
It’s Miller Time! Get a personal tour guide through the history of Milwaukee beer and wander through 155 years of brewing history. Explore this fascinating large-scale brewery and iconic label in beer history.
Address: 4251 W. State St, Milwaukee
The home of PBR! One of the definitive things to do in Milwaukee – 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
Great Lake Distillery
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 product. The total fee is $10.
Address: 616 W. Virginia St, Milwaukee
We all know Sprecher from their award-winning root beer that can be found everywhere. But, did you know they also make beer? Come on by and check out this Milwaukee treasure, and some of the secrets you may not have realized about it. They have a tour that you have to book ahead of time. Afterward, you can sample any of their 20 beers and 10 sodas!
Address: 701 W Glendale Ave, Milwaukee
Don’t forget to PIN ME!
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!
Written with the help of Corwin Holzman-Crass. He has his own blog here. Check him out for adventures in karate, travel, writing, and everything in between.This post may contain affiliate links, see our disclosure