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Milwaukee is a vibrant city with plenty of odd and eccentric corners that conceal all kinds of thrills and secrets.
This list of Milwaukee’s top attractions and hidden gems is a beautiful place to start if you’re looking for things to do.
These are the Milwaukee attractions that we recommend to all of our visitors.
You probably already know that Milwaukee is well-known for its beers and beers, but the state’s largest city has much more to offer.
The city has cutting-edge galleries, theaters, and performance spaces, including the recently built Bradley Symphony Center.
Two of the city’s most significant annual events are held on the lakefront: Summerfest, one of the greatest music festivals in the world, and the Wisconsin State Fair, which has been held there for more than 170 years.
There are many excellent public parks in the city that you can explore, as well as Bradford Beach, a much-liked summer destination.
Sports fans will enjoy attending Milwaukee Bucks games at the Fiserv Forum and Milwaukee Brewers games at American Family Field.
Continue reading to know what things to do in Milwaukee.
1. Things To Do in Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on the western shore of Lake Michigan, is just 90 miles north of Chicago.
The largest city in the state is located near the mouth of the Milwaukee River, which is joined inside the city limits by the Menomonee and Kinnikinic rivers.
One of Milwaukee’s main attractions is the magnificent Riverwalk pedestrian route, which is fun to explore day or night.
However, the city’s biggest claim to fame may be that it is the home of the renowned motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson.
Of course, Milwaukee served as the setting for the popular 1970s television program Happy Days.
A fun, cost-free activity is to look for the renowned “Bronze Fonz” statue of the title character.
You may discover the best locations using this list of Milwaukee’s top attractions and fun activities.
1.1. Milwaukee’s Lovely Lakefront Brewery
One of the most beautiful downtown sections in any American city is the Lakefront Brewery area of Milwaukee.
The War Memorial Center, which honors the victims of WWII and the Korean War, should be one of the most notable landmarks you include on your waterfront promenade.
The well-known Summerfest, an annual music festival held at Henry Maier Festival Park on Milwaukee’s lakefront, attracts hundreds of musicians.
1.2. Harley-Davidson Museum
The Harley-Davidson Museum, one of Milwaukee’s most popular attractions, is also one of the city’s oldest industries.
In 1901, William S. Harley, Arthur, Walter Davidson, and a German engineer created the world’s first motorcycle in this location.
The rest, as they say, is history, which is currently on display at the superb Harley-Davidson Museum. Mass production began in 1903 after that.
The earliest Harley, “Serial Number One,” is among the more than 450 motorcycles and artifacts that make up this wonderful family attraction.
A store, a fun-themed café, and intriguing displays about the people who created the machines are among the other delights.
If possible, to the museum during one of its “bike evenings,” when its proud owners frequently display hundreds of Harleys, many of which have been customized.
1.3. Milwaukee Art Museum DR
The outstanding Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM), founded in 1888, is home to more than 20,000 artworks from antiquity.
With a tall, retractable structure resembling wings perched on its roof, the lakeside building is an architectural masterpiece resembling a sleek ship and an aircraft hybrid.
Seeing its numerous European, American, modern, and contemporary works is one of the highlights of a visit.
These include fine photographs, drawings, prints, and Asian and African collections.
One of the city’s notable museums is the Charles Allis Art Museum, housed in a lavish Tudor-style villa built in 1911 and features American and European art pieces from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Haggerty Museum of Art has a collection of more than 2,000 works, many of which are Old Masters and the villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, which was constructed in 1923 in the design of an Italian Renaissance villa.
A fascinating collection of artworks illustrating the development and expansion of human ingenuity in connection with work can be found here.
1.4. Milwaukee County Zoo
Come here if you’re seeking family-friendly activities in Milwaukee.
The Milwaukee County Zoo, one of the major zoos in the US, is home to 1,800 animals that live there permanently, some of whom were even born there.
These animals include polar bears, gorillas, and cheetahs.
The beautiful 200-acre zoo offers a robust teaching program and entertaining seasonal activities.
The zoo has developed a reputation for its bonobo breeding program, resulting in one of the largest captive collections of these adorable pygmy chimpanzees.
Along with moose and deer, there is a striking exhibit of North American wildlife, including grizzly, polar, and black bears.
Highlights for kids at the complex include an animal petting area, a raptor show, a sea lion show, a penguin viewing area, a walk-through aviary, camel rides, and the entertaining Safari Train. This miniature steam train travels the entire area.
1.5. Boerner Botanical Gardens
Boerner Botanical Gardens, which can be reached by a short 20-minute drive from downtown Milwaukee, features five lovely formal gardens that date back to the 1930s: a peony, rose, annual, perennial, and rock garden.
Other gardens have been added to the original ones, notably those for lilies, herbs, and shrubs.
A fascinating test garden with American hostas and other flower types is also there.
The nearby nursery is also worth a visit; it’s a nice spot to promenade after all that flower gazing.
1.6. Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory
Three incredibly distinctive enormous glass domes at the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory in the western part of the city house plants from the tropics and the desert.
They were the first of their kind when they were constructed in 1959, and their architectural design is impressive as well, with each dome measuring 140 feet in diameter and 85 feet tall.
Mitchell Park, with its three substantial glass greenhouses, is known as “The Domes” and is home to various plants.
There are thousands of exotic plant species in two glass domes, replicating tropical and desert conditions.
The tropical dome has exotic birds flying around that are twittering, giving off a rainforest vibe.
The third dome portrays several habitats and the changes shown throughout the year.
Without ever leaving Milwaukee, you may spend one day in a Japanese garden and the next in a Spanish Hacienda.
1.7. Performing Arts
If you’re interested in cultural activities like classical music and theater, you should put the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts on your itinerary.
The Milwaukee Ballet and Broadway shows are held at this exquisite venue, built in 1969 and recognized for its Brutalist architectural design.
The First Stage Children’s Theater, which provides a variety of entertaining programming that both young and old will enjoy, is also located there.
Several movie theaters and an outdoor stage for seasonal performances are also available at the center.
1.8. Milwaukee Public Museum
Be aware of the name’s apparent simplicity. Spending a few hours at the Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) perusing its extensive collections and displays is a great idea.
Highlights include the “Streets of Old Milwaukee” exhibit, which highlights Milwaukee’s past, as well as unique natural history exhibits with life-size dinosaurs and a replica of a tropical rainforest.
A village with replicas of European homes displays about the continents of Africa, Asia, and the Arctic, and various diorama scenes depicting the local indigenous populations are among the museum’s other popular permanent exhibits.
The planetarium-style shows performed in the six-story Dome Theater are worth the additional admission fee.
1.9. Old World Wisconsin Ave
The Old-World Wisconsin open-air museum is located near Eagle, a 45-minute west of Milwaukee.
This intriguing tourist destination features 65 historic pioneer-era buildings designed in the national architectural styles of the region’s early inhabitants, including those from Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Finland.
Costumed employees and reenactments make it an enjoyable and accurate depiction of pioneer life.
Other features include the opportunity to play classic baseball utilizing the sport’s original rules and gear and summer camps and workshops.
Due to its numerous holiday activities and exhibitions, the museum is also a well-liked holiday destination.
1.10. Milwaukee Public Market
The historic Third Ward neighborhood is home to the Milwaukee Public Market.
The Milwaukee Public Market, one of the area’s top attractions, is where locals, farmers, artisans, and tourists converge to purchase delectable fresh local food, stock up on necessities, engage in people-watching, or meander.
Various treats are available, including baked goods, meats, soups, veggies, seafood, cheese, wine, spices, coffee, and sweets.
If non-edible products are what you’re looking for, you can find flowers, clothing, and other souvenirs.
The area to relax, take a break, and munch on some of the delectable delights you just purchased is the Palm Garden, which is located on the second floor.
Additionally, the market frequently hosts well-liked food demonstrations. The market is open every day.
1.11. Milwaukee Riverwalk
An excellent and distinctive way to get to know Milwaukee is to stroll along the two-mile Riverwalk by the Milwaukee River.
You can take a pit stop along the route at one of the many fantastic eateries or brewpubs.
The Milwaukee Riverwalk has been transformed into an outdoor gallery where you can see the most recent artistic movements in the city thanks to several public art shows.
The city’s history is explained via numerous bright signs along the Riverwalk. Numerous yearly civic events, including River Rhythms and the Milwaukee River Challenge, are held in the Riverwalk area.
The Milwaukee Riverwalk area connects three of Milwaukee’s most intriguing neighborhoods: downtown, the historic Third Ward, and Berline B.
1.12. Discovery World
Visitors to Milwaukee’s Discovery World can participate in a wide range of thrilling and engaging excursions.
The center’s emphasis on science and technology makes tallying difficult and scary subjects enjoyable and approachable.
These are only a few illustrations of the dip you might see here. Learn weird facts about the human body, figure out what makes robots and other complicated equipment work, and learn about Morse code and the wireless telegraph. The whole family can engage in a dynamic educational experience at this facility.
The whole family can engage in a dynamic educational experience at this facility.
Visit Discovery World any day of the week to check out the many attractions that make learning more pleasant.
1.13. Grohmann Museum
The Grohmann Museum houses a distinctive collection of works of art that date from 1580 to the present.
These masterpieces were initially gathered by Eckhart Grohmann, who gave the collection to MSOE in 2001.
The man at work is the collection’s name because the paintings show the changes in his work over time.
Paintings, for instance, show the typical farmer in his pasture alongside miners, glassblowers, and blacksmiths.
The paintings begin to depict men using machinery throughout the Industrial Era or represent factory employees and men going about their everyday business next to large trains as labor advances in time and technology.
You may relive a much simpler time by seeing this excellent museum before learning about the workplace’s changes.
Any visitor would be happy to take this fascinating journey.
1.14. Milwaukee Food and City Tours
With the assistance of an insider, you can get a feel for Milwaukee.
Milwaukee Food & City Tours will take you to hidden areas of the city that many residents are unaware of.
The business specializes in Milwaukee food, but while you sample the best pizzas or try the most well-liked Milwaukee beers, it also provides tidbits of knowledge and anecdotes about the city’s culture, history, and architecture.
You can select from six walking tours that take you through various neighborhoods and sample German, Polish, Italian, or Irish cuisine typical to those neighborhoods.
Or you could do it while relaxing on a luxurious bus. Bring your appetite and get ready for some serious eating in both situations.
1.15. Brady Street Milwaukee
Enjoy a stroll along Brady Street and take in the exquisite architecture of the 1850s through the 1930s.
This is one of Milwaukee’s most ethnically varied neighborhoods thanks to early immigrants from Germany, Poland, Ireland, and Italy who settled here.
You can find anything interesting on this street because it has the city’s best bars, cafes, shops, restaurants, and taverns.
The Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan are both reached by the streets.
The thriving, locally owned businesses are passionate about offering the neighborhood both commonplace and unique goods.
1.16. Manfred Olson Planetarium
The Manfred Olson Planetarium was established in 1965 by a University of Wisconsin—Madison physics professor.
Visitors will be interested in this planetarium today, especially those interested in science.
A dynamic visual experience is offered by the facility’s digital projectors and other visual effects.
Visit the Manfred Olson Planetarium if you’re seeking family-friendly activities in Milwaukee.
The planetarium has interesting astronomical artifacts, and the outdoor deck has an observatory.
During the stargazing sessions, you can use telescopes to view planets, stars, and other astronomical wonders.
1.17. Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
In 1995, the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum began welcoming visitors.
Since then, it has given the neighborhood access to priceless educational materials designed especially for kids.
The primary goal of the museum is to support kids’ healthy growth.
It is an interactive museum with various activities and exhibits that promote essential skill development, increase children’s self-esteem, and teach young people the value of teamwork.
Special programs at the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum assist families with special needs and low income.
Always check the schedule of events to see what is happening this week, as the activities and exhibits are constantly changing.
1.18. North Point Lighthouse Museum
Your passport to learning about Milwaukee’s contribution to the regional Great Lakes maritime operations is the North Point Lighthouse Museum.
The museum exhibits items, records, and works of art from the lighthouse and its many keepers.
A Fresnel lens is prominently displayed in the museum, with a thorough explanation of how it functions.
Along with personal scrapbooks and wreckage artifacts, it includes panels describing and illustrating the lighthouse keepers’ history, responsibilities, and heritage.
The North Point Lighthouse Museum brings the fascinating history of this period to life. The museum’s hours are subject to change, so double-check before visiting.
1.19. Lynden Sculpture Garden
Harry and Peg Bradley once lived at the Lynden Sculpture Garden.
They welcomed visitors in May 2010 so everyone could take in the peace and beauty that had made these 40 acres of woodlands famous.
While the inside galleries host contemporary exhibits that feature thought-provoking paintings and other works on paper, the lovely lakeside park is peppered with intriguing sculptures.
There are interactive activities and educational programs available at the Lynden Sculpture Garden.
1.20. Palermo’s Pizza Factory Tour
Pizza has to be the one food people worldwide can be enthusiastic about.
Everyone can sample some incredibly excellent, fresh, hand-tossed pizza at Palermo’s Pizza Factory Tour.
The Palermo’s Pizza Factory Tour offers excellent pizza and insightful information about how their pizzas are made.
You will see the factory floor from above and discover interesting historical information about the business.
After learning all there is to know about Palermo’s Pizza, take a seat and indulge in one of their delectable creations. For times and dates of their tour, visit their website.
1.21. Old World Third Street
Some of Milwaukee’s oldest structures are in Third Street’s Old World neighborhood.
This is a throwback and an excellent opportunity to experience Milwaukee’s German influences.
Despite the age of the buildings, the street is lined with unique boutiques and restaurants. Don’t forget to explore some of Old World Third Street’s offerings!
Usinger’s sausage has been a mainstay of Milwaukee cuisine for more than a century.
Frederick Usinger founded the business in 1880, and the third generation of his family now owns it. It continues to make and sell some of the tastiest sausages you’ve ever had.
1.22. Wisconsin State Fair Park
The park is available all year and was built as a permanent location for the long-running Wisconsin State Fair.
Many of the city’s events and shows, including sporting and entertainment competitions, are held there.
August is when the Wisconsin State Fair, which has been held annually for more than 170 years, is held.
Wilborne 30 has stages for music and performances, food and drink vendors, shopping marketplaces, rides, and attractions; the show is packed with activities.
The Original Cream Puff, the fair’s decadent official snack enjoyed here for nearly a century, must be tried.
1.23. Milwaukee City Hall
Milwaukee City Hall still plays a significant role in the city’s skyline despite being flanked by other higher and more contemporary structures.
The structure, which took several years to complete and has a height of 393 feet, is still among the most prominent but significant of the 19th century.
When it was finished, it was the tallest habitable structure in the nation. Its design was a fusion of Flemish and German Renaissance Revival styles.
Free tours of this well-known building in Milwaukee’s historic East Town district are provided on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month during the summer, allowing tourists to see the stunning bell tower and peruse the elegant interior.
2. Final Words
We live in Milwaukee, but we’re not simply overly enthusiastic locals who believe everything about their hometown is terrific; we’ve visited the world and can distinguish the great attractions from the average ones.
These are the Milwaukee attractions that we recommend to all of our visitors.
On your weekend visit to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, stroll down the river past fantastic stores, cafes, and restaurants; see the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory and check out the hip Historic Third Ward.
The Milwaukee County Zoo, the Manfred Olson Planetarium, the Milwaukee Public Museum, Discovery World, and the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum are some of the best activities in Milwaukee.