On the western shore of Lake Michigan, and north of Chicago, lays the largest city of the state of Wisconsin and the 31st largest city of the United States: Milwaukee.
Inhabited for approximately 13,000 years by various Native American tribes, this region has seen some extreme changes over the passing years.
With its population growing substantially from 1835 to 1850, due to the mass arrival of European settlers, most of them of German origins (to the point that the city was often called “German Athens” of America), Milwaukee saw modern progress in the form of a growing steel and iron industry, the labor movement and socialism, slowly becoming the city we all know today.
Here are some of the things you can do while visiting Milwaukee.
History and Landmarks
Visit the beautiful architectural creation of Basilica of St. Josaphat, the imposing Pabst Mansion, Pabst Theater or the outstanding Tripoli Shrine Temple. Also, don’t hesitate in going to the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, in which three bubble-looking domes spring out of the surface, containing an impressive collection of both tropical and desert region plants.
Discovery World, the dinosaur “habitat” held at Milwaukee Public Museum and the inventive Milwaukee Art Museum, with its edgy construction design and broad collection holding approximately 20,000 art works are three other places not to be missed.
If you also happened to remember in the back of your mind that the world-wide known and iconic Harley Davidson motorcycles were conceived in Milwaukee, you are completely right! And for this brand’s loyal fans, enthusiasts or modestly curious, there is a museum displaying more than 450 bikes, including the very first manufactured… ever.
Other spots to be considered are:
- Milwaukee Theater
- City Hall
- Municipal Pier
- Denis Sullivan old ship replica
- Bast Bell Museum
Widely known as a “City of Festivals,” there is undoubtedly always something going on in Milwaukee. Whether it is dancing to the beat of mainstream music and the moment’s top bands and music artists at the annually awaited Summerfest; sticking your eyes on to the screen for 15 days in a row to happily enjoy movie-marathons at the Milwaukee Film Festival; or walking amongst cows, pigs, chickens or rabbits at the Wisconsin State Fair, there are options for everyone. You just have to take your pick!
A picnic enjoying a green environment, a nice walk while drinking coffee, a run next to a good view or joyously lying on the green grass for a while, Milwaukee has a few great parks worth considering for outdoors people.
Enjoy Lake Park’s wonderful expressions of Mother Nature right at the heart of the city; take a stroll around Lake Shore State Park or get aquatic at Bradford Beach or Atwater Park.
For those who feel like going in a relatively short historical road trip, go ahead and explore the remainders of a mysterious ancient village called Azlatan whose golden times date back to the 10th and 13th centuries before being abandoned prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the continent of America. This archeological park is located in the town of Azlatan, an hour away from Milwaukee City.
Venture into the natural limestone cave near Blue Mounds, Cave of the Mounds; visit Broadway legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontane’s Ten Chimneys estate located 35 miles from the city, revive the rural life and times of the 19th century pioneers and immigrants at Old World Wisconsin, or bring famous author Laura Ingalls’ books to life at her Wilder Cabin.
Home to the UW Panther Arena as well as teams such as the baseball Milwaukee Brewers, basketball Milwaukee Bucks, Brewcity Bruisers Milwaukee Rollergirls, Ice Hockey Milwaukee Admirals and indoor soccer Milwaukee Wave, this city is constantly hosting championships and tournaments related and unrelated to these five sports.
Beer and Cheese
The flow of Germans and other Northern European cultures into Milwaukee territory years ago did not come at zero cost. Fortunately, German and Northern European heritage brought in great beer and cheese! Places such as Milwaukee Public Market, Braise Restaurant and Culinary School, Ûber Tap Room and Cheese Bar, Balzac, amongst many others are surely there to offer great cheese plates or cheese-based dishes next to a tasty glass of beer.
If beer is your cup of tea however, head out to Lakefront Brewery, Bavarian Bierhause, the Central Standard Craft Distillery, or join the tours offered by the Miller Brewery, Milwaukee Brewing Co. or Mondo Brothers Riverwalk Brewery Boat Tour.
Bars and Nightlife
Beer on its own is not the only emblematic of Milwaukee’s beverages; there’s Bloody Mary & Beer Back, Sprecher Root Beer, the mix of orange juice and beer that magically turns into a Beermosa, or the Old Fashioned combining brandy, syrup, maraschino cherries, cherry juice plus other limey and fruity ingredients.
And there is no need to drink one of these at a boring regular bar; Milwaukee holds perhaps some of the quirkiest unique bars such as those which name their drinks after pop culture icons, others that offer specialty and vintage cocktails, a few which create so-called “experimental drinks magic,” tiki bars, others offering giant Jenga or ping pong in the midst of countless more.
Off the Beaten Path
Once you’ve experienced Milwaukee at its full (or before) make some time to find its hidden secret gems! Head out to find the Urban Ecology Center for outdoor adventures, get local and pick up some fresh groceries at the Farmer’s Market, walk down funny Brady Street and stumble upon the city’s nicest inhabitants; take note of the number of strange sculptures you can find at the peculiar house of Mary Nohl, or check out the American Science & Surplus for all kinds of bizarre objects.