101 Things to do in Milwaukee: A Local’s Guide

“Oh, you’re from Milwaukee? I’m sorry.”   It’s one of Kristin Wiig’s most classic lines from the movie Bridesmaids, to a Milwaukeean! Because there’s definitely not anything to be sorry about.  Milwaukee is amazing!  There are endless things to do in Milwaukee, each one more unique than the next.

101 Things to Do in Milwaukee

From busy cityscapes to quiet parks, Milwaukee has it all.  Within this list, you’ll find something to do for every mood, occasion, and person in your family.  Looking for something to do with a friend coming into town?  With this many ideas, you’ll have trouble narrowing it down!  Please note that the items on this list of things to do in Milwaukee are in no particular order.

Museums & Memorials

101. Milwaukee Public Museum – The city’s natural history museum, containing more than 4 million specimens! Notable exhibits: the free-roaming butterflies in the Butterfly wing, the Streets of Old Milwaukee European village, and the Crossroads of Civilizations focusing on Africa, Europe, and Asia.

100. Milwaukee Art Museum – Housed within the beautiful Quaddracci Pavilion (referred to commonly as “The Calatrava,” by Milwaukeeans, after its designer Santiago Calatrava), are 25,000 works of art. Feast your eyes on paintings, sculptures, photos, drawings, and decorative art from their vast collection.  Probably one of the most popular things to do in Milwaukee!

99. Betty Brinn Children’s Museum – A hands-on museum full of interactive learning for those 10 and under and their grown-ups. Children are immersed in different environments throughout the museum, as they role play through many careers, communities, and scenarios. Stop by for a day of learning, making, and doing.

98. Discovery World – A lakefront science and technology center for the curious at heart. Interactive exhibits for all ages, from technology to freshwater science. View the Denis Sullivan which sits in the water outside – a replica 19th Century three-masted Great Lakes schooner!

97. Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum – A beautiful Italian-Renaissance style home turned museum, situated right on the bluffs of Lake Michigan. Stroll through the charming Mercury Courtyard and then peruse the current exhibitions within.

96. North Point Lighthouse and Museum – Decommissioned in 1994, this lighthouse and its keeper’s quarters is open to the public for tours and visits. View artifacts that tell of a time when the Great Lakes were an extremely important aspect of water travel and commerce.

95. America’s Black Holocaust Museum – A museum dedicated to bring awareness to the harmful legacies of slavery in America. Dedicated to Remembrance, Resistance, Redemption, and Reconciliation.

94. Harley Davidson Museum – Harley Davidson has more than 100 years of history rooted in Milwaukee. Exhibits and behind-the-scenes tours are available for all ages to learn from a number of artifacts.

93. War Memorial Center – A memorial created to “honor the dead by serving the living.” They host a variety of educational experiences and tours to help tell the stories of our nation’s veterans.

History

92. Pabst Mansion – Tour the home of Milwaukee’s pioneer brewing family. Captain Frederick Pabst’s home is an architectural marvel as well as a representation of Milwaukee’s brewing history. When it was sold in 1908, it became home to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee for over 60 years. As of 1975, it has been on the National Register of Historic Places and open to the public for viewing ever since.

91. Milwaukee County Historical Society – Created in 1935 to collect, preserve, and make available artifacts which represent important aspects of Milwaukee’s history. The museum lives in the bones of a historic bank building and holds more than 60,000 Milwaukee artifacts which tell the stories of the city.

90. Iron Horse Hotel – A 100-year-old mattress warehouse…turned into a beautiful boutique hotel. History meets luxury at this locale.  It sits along a historic yet active railroad, and the train that would race down it was known by Native Americans as “iron horse.”  They also host extravagant themed parties open to the public, if you’re looking for exciting things to do in Milwaukee!

89. The Pfister – Another luxurious, yet iconic hotel in downtown Milwaukee. The architecture inside is truly extraordinary and drips with opulence. The Pfister opened in 1893 as “Grand Hotel of the West” and has served as a temporary home to many visiting dignitaries, athletes, and celebrities throughout the years.  Also ghosts. Haunted?

88. Brewery Tours – Milwaukee’s history is deeply rooted in brewing and has always been what the city is most famous for in general, even before it was officially a city. Breweries are a hugely important component of the city’s culture and have been an unquestionable staple in Milwaukee’s infrastructure since the 1800s. Visit Pabst, Miller, Sprecher, Lakefront, or many of the other 30 breweries in the area to take tours and learn about the history of Brew City.

87. Shaker’s Ghost ToursHangman Tours, which all begin at Shaker’s, are probably the quirkiest way to learn about the city.  Shaker’s itself is known to be haunted, and you bet there’s a tour based around that. Then you can take other walking tours to learn about some of the more of the macabre stories from Milwaukee’s history. Netflix actually featured the Cream City Cannibal tour as one of the eight most unique adventure tours in the world on their show “Dark Tourist.” Your guide will take you on a walk through the infamous stomping grounds of Jeffrey Dahmer.  Perhaps one of the creepiest things to do in Milwaukee?

Restaurants & Foodie Hangouts

Among the many things to do in Milwaukee are fantastic eateries!  With over 1,500 restaurants in Milwaukee, you will surely be able to find something that suits you.

86. Top 10 Milwaukee Restaurants

85. 20 Best Burgers in Milwaukee

84. Top 12 Taco Spots in Milwaukee

83. Top 15 Spots for Vegetarian Food in Milwaukee

82. Top 11 Brunch Spots in Milwaukee

81. Best Frozen Custard Spots in Milwaukee

80. All Female Foodie Restaurant Coverage

79. Milwaukee Food Tours – Hop aboard a bus that will take you all over the city to try different local spots and show you things to do in Milwaukee! Choose from a slew of different themed tours, themed by different parts of the city to different types of cuisine.

78. Food Halls – Stand-alone restaurants aren’t the only thing on our radar nowadays! There are many different venues and food halls that house multiple, if not dozens of eateries in under one roof.  The most famous being the Milwaukee Public Market. Eleven25 at the Pabst, Sherman Phoenix, and the Grand Avenue Mall – future home of The Avenue, are all food halls that should be on your list of places to stop.  Drexel Town Square in Oak Creek is not a hall, but definitely a great place to eat at local businesses in the suburbs!

Horticultural

77. Mitchell Park Domes – The only place in Milwaukee where you can experience a desert, a tropical jungle, and floral gardens all in one place. Well, each in their own dome.  The Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory consists of three unique domes with unique weather which caters to the type of foliage which lives inside.  The three giant domes are a truly unique landmark known to Milwaukeeans.  The three domes are one of the most iconic things to do in Milwaukee!

76. Boerner Botanical Gardens – 12 gardens display thousands of beautiful plants and flowers throughout the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Whitnall Park. They also are hosts of the fabulous China Lights show in the fall, where lantern displays of all shapes, sizes, and colors light up the paths throughout the gardens.

Shopping

75. Milwaukee Themed – Every Milwaukeean needs a quirky t-shirt that represents their home!  Or are you visiting and need a souvenir to bring home to remember this awesome city?  Try Milwaukee Home, Brew City Brand, or Urban Milwaukee for Milwaukee themed clothing, home goods, and accessories.

74. Antique, Vintage, & Thrift Stores – Milwaukee is home to tons of shops which gives truth to the saying that one man’s trash is another’s treasure! A few notable places to find your next gem are Antiques on Pierce, Retique (the higher-end Goodwill spin-off in the Third Ward), Cream City Restoration, and the Habitat for Humanity ReStores located throughout the city.  There are actually dozens of these types of stores scattered throughout the city – you could make a day of it!  So if you’re looking for things to do in Milwaukee, rummaging around through all the incredible antique finds can be exciting!

73. Clothing & Accessories – Milwaukee is not short on unique shops to find your next look. Clothing, gifts, and accessories can be found at a number of places – Lela, SoHo by Stephanie Horne, Access Boutique, to name a few.

72. Home Goods & Gifts – For the home, the office, or to give to a friend, a few great places to find goods from near and far would be The Waxwing, Orange & Blue Co., Sparrow Collective, URSA, Inspired, Mod Gen, or Broadway Paper.

71. Books – Everyone loves a quiet stroll through a bookstore! Boswell Book Company and Voyageur Book Shop would be good places to start.

70. Farmer’s Markets – Brick and mortar shops aren’t the only places to find what you’re looking for.  Milwaukee has a number of amazing Farmer’s markets throughout the warmer months, downtown as well as in the suburbs.  Westown Farmer’s Market, East Town Market at Cathedral Square, South Milwaukee Downtown Market, Greenfield Farmer’s Market, and Tosa Farmer’s Market are worth stopping by, among many others throughout the area.  And for things to do in Milwaukee in the winter? There is also Winter Farmer’s Market which takes place at The Domes during the typical farmer’s market off-season.

Music, Theater, Entertainment

69. The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts – The perfect location to see Broadway tours, the Milwaukee Ballet, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Florentine Opera, and more.

68. The Pabst Theater – See performances and concerts alike in this European Opera style center.

67. Turner Hall Ballroom – This National Historic Landmark is a beautiful setting for a special event (the annual Harry Potter themed Yule Ball) or one of the many of an eclectic mix of shows.

66. The Riverside – Another awesome venue, affectionately named for its position along the river. Comedians and musical artists frequently perform at this spot.

65. Milwaukee Repertory Theater – Providing professional theater for the city, the Milwaukee Rep produces more than 600 performances annually ranging from the classics to musicals, to new and contemporary work.

64. The Fireside – Dinner and a show? A short drive to Fort Atkinson will lead you to a magical night of dinner theatre.  They have achieved many awards in food, service, and theatre.

63. The Rave –  The historic Eagles Ballroom inside of the Rave has hosted many stars over the years.  Their 25,000 foot dance floor has seen a lot of fans in its day!  The Rave itself is seven levels, with eight independent clubs housed inside.

62. Avalon Atmospheric Theater – With 12,000 fiber optic twinkling stars above, you can watch the newest movies to hit the screen. It was built in 1929, but had been out of commission for many years until its 2014 renovation.  Now it stands as the last atmospheric theater in Milwaukee. Stop by for a Saturday classic where brunch is served – two things to do in Milwaukee in one!  Oh, and make sure to try out their restaurant, Mistral!

61. The Oriental – This East Side theater opened in 1927 and is said to be the only movie palace to incorporate East Indian artwork. It is operated by Milwaukee Film and still plays the latest and greatest as well as the timeless classics on its screens.

60. Broadway Theatre Center – Home to the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, the Skylight Music Theatre, and Renaissance Theaterworks, there will always be a show to see here! Located right in the Third Ward.

59. ComedySportz – Visit the Milwaukee location for a night of hilarious improv comedy.  Not only can you go and watch the performances, or “matches,” unfold, there are opportunities to learn improv yourself as well.

Sports

58. Miller Park – The ultimate destination for a baseball fan looking for things to do in Milwaukee. Tailgating at a Milwaukee Brewer’s game is one of the first activities that comes to mind when asking a Milwaukeean what’s the best thing to do in the summer!  The arena was built in 2001 to replace County Stadium, complete with a retractable roof that has the ability to open and shut depending on weather conditions for the game that day.  The stadium also hosts a variety of concerts and events, as well as the occasional graduation ceremony.  Fun fact, you would need 4,655,926,995 baseballs to fill Miller Park!

57. Fiserv Forum – Not only is it the new home for the Milwaukee Bucks and their fans (and the Marquette Golden Eagles), it lives on a 30-acre entertainment block that will end up being the largest development undertaking in Milwaukee history. Fiserv Forum itself is a state-of-the-art arena for sports and entertainment, and its surrounding area is already a hotspot of activity in the downtown area.  The area has recently become a hub for things to do in Milwaukee!

56. UWM Panther Arena – Built in 1950, this arena’s namesake is University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. It hosts a variety of other events, such as Milwaukee Admiral’s hockey games, Milwaukee Wave soccer games, Brew City Bruisers roller derby events, concerts, circuses, motorsport events, and more.  It finished renovation in 2016 and is a great place to see a show or sports event.

55. Pettit National Ice Center – This Olympic training center has a speed-skating oval that is frequently open for public skating. There is also a track that borders the ice rink for runners as well.

54. The Rock – This sports and entertainment complex is a place where fun can be had all year long! Baseball at the Major League replica fields in the warmer weather and a slew of snow sports to participate in during the winter (skiing, snowboarding, and tubing to be exact).  Also, they have the Umbrella Bar which is a great place to hang and catch the beautiful view and a concert!  They also host Yoga at the Rock at the Umbrella Bar during the warmer months.

53. Axe MKE – Yes, it is exactly as it sounds.  The trend sweeping the nation – axe throwing.  You won’t know how good you are unless you try!  With 12 axe throwing lanes, there are plenty of chances to attempt to hit a bullseye.  One of the more unique things to do in Milwaukee!  They are easily able to accommodate both walk-ins and reservations alike.

52. Adventure Rock – An unforgettable indoor rock-climbing experience. Adventure Rock has more than 27,000 square feet available to climb, with trained experts to help climbers master the walls.  They have day rates, lessons, leagues, and camps for kids.

51. Cool Waters Aquatic Park – Swimming, water slides, obstacles, and a zero depth entry pool provide a place to cool off in the summer for all.

50. 4Seasons Skate Park of Milwaukee – An indoor skate park with ramps for beginners as well as professionals.  Skateboarders, in-line skaters, and BMX bikers frequent this spot to practice their sport.

The Great Outdoors

49. Lake Michigan – Lake Michigan itself is probably one of the most identifiable features of the landscape of Milwaukee.  The Art Museum, Discovery World, Lakeshore Park, and tons of other attractions sit on its lakefront, as well as many of the suburbs and parks.  Things to do in Milwaukee on the lake are endless!  Trout and salmon fishing are a hugely popular attraction for fisherman and tourists on Lake Michigan.  When driving across the Hoan Bridge, the lake and its never-ending horizon are often compared to the expansive view of an ocean.  Swimming to the other side is not a possibility (for most) on this Great Lake!

48. Schlitz Audubon Nature Center – If you are a birdwatcher or lover, The Schlitz Audubon and its six miles of hiking trails is designated as an Important Bird Area! They are also home to several Birds of Prey, which are available for viewing for the public very often. There are plenty of nature hikes available here along the Lake Michigan shores and a viewing tower.  They also have an ADA accessible trail.  Their education center is also popular for visitors and host camps for learning about wildlife.

47. Urban Ecology Centers – There are three! Riverside Park, Washington Park, and Menomonee Valley are all home to information and resources for learning about the environment.  The centers serve many schools in their surrounding areas as well as the public.

46. Milwaukee Riverwalk – Built in the 90s to increase public access to the Milwaukee River, the Riverwalk is the perfect place to talk a stroll through Milwaukee while being on the water! It is a continuous pedestrian walkway that extends from the Historic Third Ward to near Brady Street.

45. Lakeshore Park – Wisconsin’s only urban state park.  It is an awesome place to take a walk along the Lake Michigan shore, while still in view of Milwaukee’s skyline! Lakeshore Park is also continuously undergoing prairie restoration, which is a unique feature for a park so close to a bustling city.

44. Lake Park – A beautiful park with an illustrious history, being enjoyed since 1889. Plenty of green space and a beautiful view of Lake Michigan.  It’s home to North Point Lighthouse, Lake Park Bistro, a playground, picnic areas, and 18-hole golf course, community center, and more.

43. The Seven Bridges at Grant Park – Take a trip down to the suburbs and visit South Milwaukee to take a leisurely stroll through Grant Park and the Seven Bridges. Spoiler alert, there are far more than seven bridges at this point, but the name still stands.  It has been referred to as one of the best kept secrets of things to do in Milwaukee, since many who do not live in the area are not even fully aware of its existence.  Still, the hiking trail and beach are heavily trafficked by those who are regular visitors.  It’s home to a Ferch’s snack bar as well!

42. Bradford Beach – The hotspot for things to do in Milwaukee during the summer!  A super popular spot for volleyball games and beach lounging.  While Lake Michigan may not be exactly…swimmable…there are lifeguards on duty 7 days per week in the summer for those willing to take the plunge. The beach is still a huge attraction for those wanting to play volleyball or soak in the summer sun.

41. Bender Park – This park in Oak Creek is a lovely place to enjoy Lake Michigan. They have a boat launch available to the public and lots of charters for those who do not own a fishing boat.  There is a long fishing pier as well, which is often enjoyed by walkers for a great view of the lake and beach, after hiking their lake bluff paths.  Plenty of parking available.

40. South Shore Park – Many different attractions at this park! View the beautiful skyline of Milwaukee at the one-of-a-kind South Shore Terrace. The open-air kitchen and beer garden are built in a historic 1930s bathhouse, where you can sit outside directly in view of the lake.  It’s also operated by the Milwaukee County Parks system, which means that proceeds go straight back to the community.  The pavilion at South Shore Park is commonly rented as a beautiful location for weddings.

39. Veteran’s Park– A hub of watersports and rentals, Veteran’s Park is an asset of East Town. Their lagoon is perfect for paddle boating, kayaking, paddle boarding – with rentals for all available. There is also a kite store and plenty of green space for flying.  The Oak Leaf trail also connects to this park for biking or walking.

38. McKinley Marina – Milwaukee County’s only public lakefront marina. There are 655 slips with many amenities included.  Even if you do not own a boat, it is a cool sight to see on the water during a walk!

37. Hank Aaron State Trail – This trail is named after one of Milwaukee’s best baseball players, Hank Aaron. The trail connects the lakefront to 94th Place, which connects the Milwaukee/Waukesha county line. There are countless notable destinations to be visited and things to do in Milwaukee along the 14 mile trail – Lakeshore State Park, Potawatomi, and Miller Park to name a few!

Seasonal Events

36. Summerfest – The biggest music festival in the world held annually for 11 days in the summer. It’s a huge deal in Milwaukee!  11 stages, over 800 acts, over 1,000 performances.  Nearly a million people visit this insane festival every year, making it one of the most popular things to do in Milwaukee!  Whether you’re going to hear a band, to eat the food, or to take in the vibes, it’s the biggest event Milwaukee throws. It is located at Henry W. Maier Festival Park, which hosts other festivals throughout the year like PrideFest and many ethnic festivals.

35. Wisconsin State Fair – Milwaukeeans are lucky enough to have the State Fair grounds in their backyard. While State Fair Park holds a variety of exhibitions throughout the year, the State Fair itself is the most epic.  You have numerous animal exhibitions, a concert at the Main Stage every night, other free live music, enough fried food and Cream Puffs to satisfy you for a year, the Wisconsin Exhibition Center, and the Spin City amusement ride and game area. Also on site, the Milwaukee Mile Speedway will be reopening again in the summer of 2019.

34. Jazz in the Park at Cathedral Square – A free, outdoor summer music series held every summer at Cathedral Square Park. A stage is set up mid-park, and jazz-lovers come to set out their picnic blankets to watch the show and indulge in food and drink.

33. Newaukee Night Market – This hugely successful free outdoor night market on Wisconsin Ave happens once per month in the summer.  Food vendors, local shops, artists, and performers set up for this event.  People flock to this event, as everyone is looking for outdoor things to do in Milwaukee in the warmer months!

32. Milwaukee Film Festival – A public film festival in the fall screens hundreds of films from all over the world. An immersive experience to show the power of visual storytelling.

31. Church Festivals – You can hardly go a weekend in the summer without stumbling upon a church festival. Typically, you’ll find food, rides, games, and music.  As soon as they set up, they’re gone.  So drop by if you find one!

30. Lakefront Festival of Art – This festival has been bringing art-lovers together for over 50 years on the grounds of the Milwaukee Art Museum. It’s three days of celebration for artists of all kinds.  Find paintings, ceramics, fiber art, metalwork, jewelry, and more available for purchase.

29. Holiday Folk Fair International – This festival rolls around during the holidays every year and celebrates the heritage of people living in southeastern Wisconsin. Music, food, dance, and art are all on display at this three-day event. Over 20 different ethnic menus are available to select from.  If you’re looking for things to do in Milwaukee to celebrate your heritage, you can find it here!

28. Lux Domes in the Third Ward – Benelux has a gorgeous rooftop, why just make use of it in the summer? In the winter months, you can rent a Lux Dome with friends and feast on a number of different options.  Cheese and charcuterie boards, oysters, and desserts are available inside of your very own dome!  Sip on hot chocolate as you view the beauty of the Historic Third Ward through the clear dome surrounding you.  Oh, and yes they are heated.

27. Christkindlmarket – German holiday market in the heart of the city. Right next to Fiserv Forum, you can pretend you are traipsing through the streets of a winter market in Europe. Grab some pierogis and gluhwein and celebrate the holidays in this charming little atmosphere.  This Christmas themed market is one of the cutest wintry things to do in Milwaukee!

26. Ethnic Festivals – Milwaukee is home to an array of ethnic festivals celebrating the heritage of Milwaukeeans. Bastille Days is a weekend of French fun at Cathedral Square. Festa Italiana, Polish Fest, German Fest, Irish Fest, Mexican Fiesta are all hosted on the Summerfest grounds during the summer. You’ll find Greek Fest at State Fair Park.  The Taste of Egypt occurs in Oak Creek.  India Fest in Humboldt Park.  At each festival, you can try different ethnic foods and experience cultures other than that which you are accustomed to.

Miscellaneous

25. Lynden Sculpture Garden – More than 50 sculptures reside at this 40-acre sculpture garden. This merge of art and nature welcomes all visitors.

24. The Bronze Fonz – Featured prominently on the Milwaukee Riverwalk, this emblem of Milwaukee pop culture is a must-see attraction. Arthur Fonzarelli, “Fonzi,” was an iconic character on the 1950s Milwaukee-based TV show, “Happy Days.” His statue stands for fans to visit and take photos with.

23. The Swing Park – Under the Holton Street bridge is a swing park known by locals. If you’re waiting on a reservation on Brady Street or you are en route to Lakefront Brewery on the other side of the river, it’s worth swinging by!

22. Foamation Tour – The Original Cheesehead Factory hosts a few different tours to learn all about the iconic “Cheesehead!” “The Cheddar” tour will give you all the info you need about the inner-workings of the factory, while “The Holey Cow” tour will allow you to make your very own Cheesehead to take home.

21. Milwaukee County Zoo – Milwaukee’s zoo is HUGE and home to over 3,100 mammals, fish, reptiles, and amphibians. They host a variety of special events throughout the year – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel a la Carte at the Zoo (for the foodies), Boo at the Zoo, Egg Day, Family Farm Weekend, Brunch with Santa, just to name a few!

20. Pin-It Live – Love DIY? Are you a Pinterest fanatic?  This space allows crafters to get together or drop in for a variety of do-it-yourself creative projects.  They also serve beverages, so it’s the perfect location for a date night or group outing.  A great spot if you’re looking for artsy things to do in Milwaukee.

19. Flowers for Dreams – Things to do in Milwaukee that give back?  Each bouquet at Flowers for Dreams supports a local charity.  The company originated in Chicago, but has been hosting pop-ups in Milwaukee for years.  They recently opened their brick and mortar Walker’s Point location, where you can order flowers that help to make a positive impact in the community.

18. Punch Bowl Social – Right across from Fiserv Forum is the ultimate source for a night of entertainment. Self-described as an adult playground, they truly do have something for everyone.  Think bowling, giant Jenga, private karaoke rooms, giant Scrabble, vintage arcade, foosball, and more.  Not to mention a vast menu with different offerings available at any time of day. The perfect stop before or after a Bucks game, or to get together with friends.  It’s one of the newer things to do in Milwaukee, and will surely be a hit for years to come due to its close proximity to the Bucks!

17. Black Cat Alley – This award-winning outdoor art gallery on Milwaukee’s East Side is one of the coolest places in town. Perfect for an impromptu photo shoot or simply a walk to take in the art!

16. Potawatomi Hotel and Casino – Aside from the obvious, Potawatomi is also a hub for entertainment and food in Milwaukee. Their event center and their theater host countless concerts and comedy shows. They have several different dining options – from sushi to steakhouse.  And they host some of Milwaukee’s biggest foodie events of the year. They’re home to Milwaukee’s annual Chili Bowl, where restaurants compete for the best chili in town and proceeds go to the Hunger Task Force.

15. Up-Down Arcade Bar – This nostalgia-based bar hosts more than 60 arcade games from the 80s and 90s. Pinball, skee-ball, Nintendo 64… the options are endless for game lovers looking for things to do in Milwaukee. All games cost 25 cents.  Food and drink also available.

14. Float Milwaukee – Take a dip in a Floatation tank and reap the benefits of the equivalent of eight hours of deep sleep! The tanks at Float Milwaukee diminish light and sounds, leading to ultimate relaxation as you float in 10 inches of water with 900 lb of dissolved Epsom salt, enabling you to float effortlessly.

Day Trips & Scenic Drives

While there are a million things to do in Milwaukee, a short drive can take you to a variety of other sights worth seeing!

13. Downtown Cedarburg – “Quaint” would be the perfect word to describe this historic area of Cedarburg. Less than a 30-minute drive from Milwaukee will bring you to a small town with cute restaurants and shopping.  They also host various festivals throughout the year, such as “Strawberry Fest” and “Wine and Harvest Fest,” which are huge draws to the area.

12. Cave of the Mounds – This National Natural Landmark is about two hours west of Milwaukee, but totally worth the trip. It’s a natural limestone cave that is often referred to as a “jewel box” because of the variety and color of its crystal formations.  A truly unique geologic formation!

11. Old World Wisconsin – Less than an hour on the road will get you to the site of Old World Wisconsin, which tells the stories of Wisconsin’s immigrant past. 60 historic structures let you truly envision what life was like from the 1840s-1910s! The structures have been painstakingly dismantled and reassembled here for visitors to experience and view for years to come.

10. Lake Geneva – This resort town is a hop, skip, and a jump from Milwaukee. The hustle and bustle of the summer months are filled with lake and other outdoor activities.  You can take a walk around the 26 miles of the Lake Geneva Shore Path past historic estates and through different types of terrain.  Shop your heart out in downtown Lake Geneva, or spend a weekend at the Grand Geneva Resort.

9. Holy Hill – During the scenic 40-minute drive from Milwaukee to Holy Hill in Hubertus, it would be the perfect opportunity to check out the changing fall foliage. Once you arrive, you can visit the viewing tower to overlook the miles of surrounding lakes and trees. The Holy Hill Basilica is a special place of pilgrimage for Roman Catholics, as it is home to the shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  More than half a million sightseers, hikers, and worshippers alike enjoy the beautiful scene every year.

8. Lapham Peak – Part of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak is a great place for hikers of a variety of skill levels. It’s about a 45-minute drive from Milwaukee to 17 miles of glaciated topography (formed 10,000 years ago) that has different trails great for hiking, biking, or cross-country skiing.  There are different “loops” of distances for different skill levels.  The Ice Age Trail also passes through this area.  Their 45-foot viewing tower is the highest in Waukesha County.  Lapham Peak also has a stage for various events throughout the year.

7. Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve – Drive about 40 minutes north of Milwaukee to Grafton, where you will find this beautiful undeveloped bluff land bordering Lake Michigan. Birdwatching, fishing, hiking, and picnicking are all welcomed at Lion’s Den Gorge.

Getting Around

6. The Hop – Milwaukee’s newest and arguably grandest form of transportation is The Hop. The city’s streets were in ruins for years in preparation for this modern streetcar that travels along a 2.1-mile course.  You can use it to get from the Intermodal Station on St. Paul, through the Third Ward and downtown, all the way to the East Side.  Thanks to Potawatomi, the first year of riding is free to all. After that (fall of 2019), fare will be $1 and tickets will be purchased off-vehicle.  Hop on to try out one of the newest things to do in Milwaukee!

5. Sightseeing Boat Tours – There are plenty of ways to float down the Milwaukee River! Boat tours such as the Edelwiess and the Vista King host short tours that can sometimes include dinner and drinks.  There are even some rides with live narration if you’re new to Milwaukee!

4. Lake Express Ferry – Hop aboard to get the perfect shortcut from one state to another! The Lake Express high speed auto passenger ferry is a fun and quick way to get from Wisconsin to Michigan.  The port is right here in Milwaukee and ends in Muskegon, Michigan. It takes about 2.5 hours to sail from one state to another.

3. Pedal Tavern– Arguably the greatest group activity around. With the help and steering of your driver, the 16 passenger pedal tavern is one of the most fun ways to see the city.  They are ranked #1 in tours for the Third Ward and Milwaukee. Hop from one Milwaukee establishment to another, and get exercise while doing it! You really have to pedal to get up those hills!

2. Paddle Tavern – Same as the Pedal Tavern, but you’re on the Milwaukee River! You and 14 friends can paddle up and down the river together while taking in the sights of the city.  Book a private tour or hop aboard one of the public tours.

1. Bublr Bikes – Greater Milwaukee’s nonprofit bike share program. There are Bublr bikes everywhere for you to access for a small fee.  Ride for as short as 30 minutes or get yourself an annual pass.  Stations are located all over the city.  Pick up a bike in one spot, and drop it off in another that’s close to your destination.  If you’re looking for things to do in Milwaukee that will keep you moving, here’s a great one.  And the name?  If you’re new here, we call water fountains “bubblers.”  So let’s just assume that cute Milwaukeean moniker is where Bublr found its name!

As you can see, there is no shortage of things to do in Milwaukee!

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