20+ Best Things to Do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Is Milwaukee the Midwest’s Hidden Gem?

Milwaukee, Wisconsin may be one of the midwest’s best-kept secrets. This underrated, laidback city has a scenic riverwalk, easy access to Lake Michigan, tons of historic buildings, several professional sports teams, and a large variety of breweries serving up refreshing beer. It’s an affordable and down-to-earth city with small local businesses, beer gardens, public parks, cheese curds, and epic summer concerts, making it a great place to visit and unwind for a weekend. Read on for the best things to do in Milwaukee!

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

1. Say “ayyy” to the Bronze Fonz

The Bronze Fonz, an iconic bronze statue honoring the beloved TV character Fonzie, is a must-see for fans of the show “Happy Days.” This nostalgic landmark captures the essence of Milwaukee’s cultural heritage and makes for a great photo op.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

2. Watch a Brewers Game

Whether you’re a die-hard baseball fan or simply looking for a fun outing with friends and family, attending a Brewers game at the historic stadium promises an unforgettable experience. It’s the perfect thing to do on a summer evening.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

3. Grab a Rooftop Cocktail

Journeyman’s rooftop cocktail lounge, The Outsider, offers breathtaking views of Milwaukee’s skyline. Nestled atop the trendy Third Ward hotel, this upscale lounge is perfect for sipping cocktails while watching the sunset.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

4. Grab Italian Treats from Glorioso’s

Glorioso’s Italian Market is a culinary haven for lovers of Italian cuisine. With a wide array of imported cheeses, cured meats, fresh pasta, and specialty items, it offers an authentic taste of Italy right in the heart of Milwaukee. Grab some of your favorite items and have a picnic at the beach.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

5. Swim at Bradford Beach

Bradford Beach has an expansive sandy shore and picturesque views of Lake Michigan. Whether you’re soaking up the sun, playing beach volleyball, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll, Bradford Beach offers a tranquil escape from the city crowds.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

6. Take a Boat Tour

A boat tour is the perfect way to get on the water and see the city from a new perspective. You’ll see some of Milwaukee’s most popular attractions, like the Pierhead Lighthouse and Art Museum. 

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

7. Grab Coffee and Lattes

Collectivo Coffee is a cozy spot for coffee aficionados. Order your latte for a quick grab and go option, or enjoy the outdoor patio and people watching.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

8. Eat Indian Food at Saffron

Saffron Restaurant is known for its bold flavors, aromatic spices, and vibrant colors. The restaurant’s elegant ambiance, traditional Indian flavors and unique cocktails makes Saffron one of my favorite restaurants in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

9. Enjoy Mexican Food from Botana’s

Botana’s Mexican Food offers authentic and delicious Mexican plates. Enjoy refreshing margaritas, sizzling fajitas and traditional tacos. Portions are generous so go hungry.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

10. Sip a Wide Variety of Beers on Tap

Cafe Hollander is a great spot for a relaxed vibe on the outskirts of town. Enjoy a large selection of beers on tap, large sandwiches, and bountiful sunshine on their outdoor patio.

Best Things to Do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Best Things to Do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

11. Enjoy Breakfast at Sweet Diner

If you’re looking for more than just a grab-and-go breakfast, visit Sweet Diner. This popular spot dishes up giant waffles and eggs Benedict with fruit, coffee, and lattes. Each dish is plated beautifully and the meals come decorated with fresh flowers.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

12. Check out the Milwaukee Pierhead Lighthouse

The Milwaukee Pierhead Lighthouse stands as a historic beacon that’s been guiding ships along Lake Michigan’s shores for over a century. This iconic landmark offers a glimpse into the city’s maritime past and provides a great photo op.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

13. Take a Walk at Lakeshore State Park

Lakeshore State Park is a beautiful place to walk around or sit on the lawn and read a book. You’ll need to pay for parking at the state park entrance, or, for a free alternative park at the Milwaukee Pierhead Lighthouse parking lot and walk over. Enjoy views of the bright red lighthouse and the iconic Hoan Bridge. It’s a beautiful place to spend a few hours.

Best Things to Do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Best Things to Do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Best Things to Do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

14. See Picasso at the Art Museum

The Milwaukee Art Museum includes art from Norman Rockwell and Picasso, as well as metal sculptures and beautiful wooden furniture. It also has a large grassy area that runs along Lake Michigan, so be sure to head outside for great views. And depending on what time of day you visit, you may see the museum’s exterior “wings” open and close.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

15. Enjoy Sushi

Screaming Tuna is a great seafood spot for sushi lovers. Sit a glass of sake and enjoy the views of Milwaukee’s skyline and the Milwaukee River.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Best Things to Do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

16. Eat Treats at the Milwaukee Public Market

The Milwaukee Public Market is a fun way to spend an hour or two walking around and checking out what each vendor is selling. You’ll find fresh-baked pastries, vibrant flowers, bouquets, and a wine shop with a bar. Grab something to bring home, or head upstairs to the dining hall to enjoy your treats.

Best Things to Do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

17. Enjoy the Giant Basilica

A short drive from downtown Milwaukee is the Basilica of Saint Josaphat. Built in 1901, this cathedral is definitely worth checking out. It’s striking to have such an incredibly beautiful church in a quiet residential neighborhood surrounded by small homes, gas stations, and coffee shops. It’s free to enter, although you can make a donation or purchase a headset to learn more as you walk around.

Best Things to Do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

18. Sip Beer at Milwaukee’s Breweries

Milwaukee is known for having great breweries. A few of the most popular spots are the Milwaukee Brewing Company, Lakefront Brewery, Good City Brewery, and Milwaukee Ale House. Click here for an extensive list of Milwaukee breweries.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Best Things to Do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

19. Stroll Along the Riverwalk

The Milwaukee Riverwalk is a beautiful way to stroll through Milwaukee and see more of the city on foot. The Riverwalk is a pedestrian path that runs for more than 20 blocks alongside the Milwaukee River. You’ll walk past some of Milwaukee’s best breweries, restaurants, and shops.

Best Things to Do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Best Things to Do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

20. Pick Up Cheese Curds

Wisconsin is of course known for its incredible cheese! Be sure to visit a cheese shop, like the Wisconsin Cheese Mart, and grab cheese curds to bring home. You’ll find a huge variety of cheese, as well as cured meats and savory sweets.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

21. Where to Stay

There are so many upscale hotels in downtown Milwaukee, and many of them are walking distance from the most popular things to do. Some of the more upscale and comfortable hotels I’ve enjoyed staying at are The Iron HorseKimpton Journeyman and Saint Kate.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Plan Your Trip to Milwaukee

Whether it’s appreciating art, savoring craft brews, or enjoying the beauty of the riverfront, Milwaukee offers a variety of fun activities year-round, and it’s super affordable. Looking for more midwest inspiration? Check out my blog posts on La Crosse, Wisconsin, Vilas County, Wisconsin, and Rochester, Minnesota.

One Comment

  • Ingrid

    Thank you for your stay, Kristen! I still can’t believe you fit so many things in your visit — you really know how to hit the best spots! I would only add that if possible, it is best to try at least two kinds of cheese curds during your visit, both regular and fried:) Take care and welcome back again anytime!

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