19 Surprising Reasons To Visit Milwaukee Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin might not be the first thought when it comes to a vacation destination…but it should be. This little jewel of a city is located about 100 miles north of Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan. It is a big enough town to have amazing professional sports (including the world champion Milwaukee Bucks) yet small enough to feel like everyone might just know your name when you walk into the corner bar. 

19 Surprising Reasons To Visit Milwaukee Wisconsin

Downtown Milwaukee has been a resurgence in the last few years. It is a hip, happening place to be now. There are chic restaurants, fun things to do, a fabulous riverwalk and so many unique shops you won’t find anywhere else. Whether you want to explore the great outdoors, taste some of the most delicious food you’ve ever had, or experience fantastic artwork, visit Milwaukee Wisconsin to find it all.  

Top Things To Do In Milwaukee

Thinking about going to visit Milwaukee Wisconsin? This Midwestern jewel is a fantastic hidden gem for families.

1. Explore the Deer District Deer District

1111 Vel R. Phillips Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53212

One of the hottest new areas in Milwaukee to eat, drink, and play is the Deer District. Built on the 30 acres surrounding Fiserv Forum, the new home of the Milwaukee Bucks, this neighborhood is filled with restaurants, entertainment, events, and more.  

2. Take Historic Pabst Brewery Tour Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery

When in Milwaukee a brewery tour is a must!
The tour comes with a pint of anything on draft (if you’re 21+)!

917 W. Juneau Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53233


To really experience old-world charm and Gemütlichkeit at its finest, join us for a Pabst beer history tour at Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery. The roots of the Pabst Brewing Co. run deep in Milwaukee’s proud brewing history and visitors should definitely experience this side of Milwaukee. Relive colorful history of how Milwaukee became Brew City on this tour.

Experience Best Place in a historic Pabst Brewery building dating back to 1880. Entertaining beer history tours include the history of the Pabst Brewery, vintage TV beer commercials, and a tour featuring CaptainFrederick Pabst’s original office, ornate banquet halls, tavern and gift shop. Cold Beer…Cool Place!  

3. Visit the Wisconsin Black Historical Society and Museum

When you visit Milwaukee Wisconsin don't forget to spend time learning about the different ethnicities that make the city great.

2620 W. Center Street, Milwaukee, WI 53206 Wbhsm.org   

The Wisconsin Black Historical Society and Museum is located on the corners of North 27 and West Center Streets in a historic building (of course) that houses some of the most interesting stories Milwaukee has to tell. It opened its door and its heart to the community in 1987 and has been making a difference ever since.

Based on the premise that people who know their history will grow to love and appreciate themselves more, the Society is striving to create a bright future out of a heart-breaking past.  Be prepared to learn a lot about the history of Black people in Wisconsin and how they helped create the amazing tapestry that is Milwaukee.

Check out more places to learn about unique aspects of American history.

4. Explore the Bronzeville Neighborhood

2714 N Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53212

The Bronzeville Cultural and Entertainment District was the primary African-American economic and social hub of its time. Bronzeville brought all ethnicities together to celebrate African-American culture -highlighting jazz, blues and the arts between the early 1900s and the 1960s. Today you will find annual festivals that celebrate the strong roots of jazz and the arts in the neighborhood. The main thoroughfare, Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, is lined with African American-owned businesses. Enjoy the diverse dining and shopping establishments on this street and throughout surrounding neighborhoods like Harambee and Halyard Park.  

5. Check out Doors Open Milwaukee

Open Doors Milwaukee is a unique offering visitors should take advantage of.

235 E. Michigan Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202  historicmilwaukee.org/doors-open

Doors Open Milwaukee is a public celebration of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods, architecture, and history. These events, which happen throughout the year, offer behind-the-scenes tours of commercial buildings, art galleries, urban gardens and more throughout Milwaukee’s downtown and neighborhoods. Rather than a formal tour, I recommend stopping at the following open locations:

  • Alice’s Garden Urban Farm
  • Sanger House Gardens
  • Sherman Phoenix
  • Urban Ecology Center in Washington Park
  • Milwaukee City Hall

6. Ride the Hop 

Burns Commons, 1300 N. Franklin Pl, Milwaukee, WI 53202 thehopmke.com

Take a roundtrip on Milwaukee’s new streetcar, The Hop. Feel free to hop on and off to explore the locations you pass on your ride. It’s a fun way to get out of the cold and experience more of downtown Milwaukee.

7. Catch a game at American Family Field

Amfam Stadium is such a cool place to watch a game!
My family and I had a ball cheering on the Brew Crew.

1 Brewers Way, Milwaukee, WI 53214 Amfamfield.com

American Family Field (formerly Miller Park), is commonly referred to as “Am-Fam Field”. It is the home of the Milwaukee Brewers and sports a super cool retractable roof. Watching a baseball game in an indoor stadium was such a cool experience. If you aren’t visiting during baseball season, you can still set up a private group tour to see the behind-the-scenes of this ballpark. 

8. Explore Sculpture Milwaukee 

The Milwaukee Riverwalk is absolutely beautiful.

250 E. Wisconsin Avenue Suite 1800, Milwaukee, WI 53202 Sculpturemilwaukee.com

Sculpture Milwaukee is a non-profit organization transforming downtown Milwaukee’s cultural landscape every year with an outdoor exhibition of world-renowned sculpture. This artsy event is interesting for everyone! It really serves as a catalyst for community engagement, economic development, and creative placemaking.

9. Experience Bay View


Just south of the city on the coast of Lake Michigan, Bay View is a hip and eclectic neighborhood popular with families and young professionals alike. Home to one of the city’s most popular bar districts, it’s also a hotbed of local art and creativity with gallery nights, a thriving farmers market and maker fair, and one of the city’s most beloved neighborhood parks. From record shops and great music venues to craft beer and dining, Bay View combines city fun with a charming neighborhood feel.

10. Visit the Milwaukee Art Museum.

700 N Art Museum Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202 MAM.org

You may not think that this beer-loving Midwestern town has a good art scene, but you would be wrong. The Milwaukee Art Museum was founded in 1888 and has a collection that contains nearly 25,000 works of art. The art is not only found inside the museum either. “Unprecedented in American architecture, the Burke Brise Soleil is a moveable, wing-like sunscreen that rests on top of the Museum’s vaulted, glass-enclosed Windhover Hall” says the museum’s website.

Don’t Forget the Amazing Food in Milwaukee

When you visit Milwaukee Wisconsin you must have time to eat your way through the town.

Milwaukee is known for a few things…and almost all of them can be eaten. Cheese. Frozen custard. Beer. Brats. You really can’t go wrong eating some of Milwaukee’s locally-made foods. There are WAY too many places to put in one list but I wanted to give you some yummy examples. Check out these places for a delicious meal in and around Milwaukee.

11. The MECCA Sports Bar & Grill

1134 Vel R. Phillips Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53203  themeccamke.com

Spacious, modern sports bar offering cocktails, draft brews and hearty American eats. This is a typical sports bar with lots of TVs but in a more trendy environment. 

12. Bottle House 42

421130 N. 9th Street, Milwaukee, WI 53233 Bottlehouse42.com

Bottle House 42 is an approachable and modern restaurant that shares space with a working brewery because…Milwaukee.  The building that houses the restaurant was once building number 42 on the PabstBrewing Company campus. Bottle House 42 serves upscale brewhouse favorites and a selection of great beers and craft cocktails. The restaurant boasts a large living plant wall and is covered by a glass atrium.

13. Centraal Grand Cafe and Tappery

2306 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53202 Cafecentraal.com

Cafe Centraal’s focus is its extensive collection of Belgian-style beers and all-day “cafe menu” of entrees, sandwiches and salads inspired by the cafes of northern Europe. If you want a more hipster beer-drinking experience, this is the place for you.

14. SweetDiner

Sweetdiner is a delicious way to start the day in Milwaukee.

239 East Chicago Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202 sweetdiner.com

Nestled in the heart of Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward, Sweetdiner serves up American brunch and lunch classics in a vibrant and cozy setting. I loved the local ingredients used. Everything was so fresh. And the pancakes…OMG!

15. Crossroads Collective

2238 N. Farwell Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53202 crossroadscollectivemke.com

Unlike food courts or a public market, Crossroads Collective is a Food Hall. It’s a destination. An experience. It offers locally-made options from individual vendors. It’s been called Milwaukee’s “foodiest” food hall. 

16. Milwaukee Public Market

The Milwaukee Public Market was such a cool find.

400 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202 Milwaukeepublicmarket.org

Come to the Milwaukee Public Market for grocery shopping for a fancy dinner party, a hearty lunch you won’t soon forget or foodie items that may or may not make it all the way home. There are plenty of seating upstairs and outside for those who want to enjoy the hot, delicious food made right on site. I decided to pop in for a quick look and didn’t want to leave!

17. Coffee Makes You Black

2803 N Teutonia Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53206 facebook.com/CoffeeMakesYouBlack

Their motto is “In the Community, for the Community”. Coffee Makes You Black provides a place with a cultural café” that embraces the culture of the African diaspora. They want people of all ethnic backgrounds to come to a warm welcoming atmosphere. Get a little diversity in your visit and check out this cool coffee shop.

18. Kopps Frozen Custard

Frozen custard from Kopps is an absolute must.

Multiple locations kopps.com/

A trip to Milwaukee is not complete without eating some frozen custard. My family and I have been known to plan our days around which location has the best Flavor Of The Day. My personal favorites are the Turtle sundae (those gigantic pecans…OMG) and of course the fried cheese curds. You might not leave Milwaukee once you try those two things. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about them!

19. Sail Loft Restaurant

Having a Friday fish fry is a Milwaukee tradition.
Having a Friday fish fry is a Milwaukee tradition.

649 E Erie St, Milwaukee, WI 53202 milwaukeesailloft.com

One of the things you are going to want to eat in Milwaukee is a Friday Night Fish fry. Here, the fish fry includes crispy fried lake fish (usually cod), hot thick-cut fries and German potato salad. If you want a beautiful place on the Milwaukee River to eat a traditional fish fry, Sail Loft is the place to go. Ask for a table outside and enjoy some fantastic views.

Where To Stay: Hyatt Regency Milwaukee

When you visit Milwaukee Wisconsin the Hyatt Regency is a great home base.
Credit: Hyatt.com

If you want to elevate your stay in Milwaukee and be within walking distance of just about everything,, the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee might be the place for you. I adored this downtown hotel and the oversized rooms. The hotel also offers pet-friendly rooms, suites to fit larger families, market-to-table dining, and a Starbucks in the lobby. Need you ask for more?

Milwaukee is a fantastic city for families. It offers unique cultural activities, unbelievable food and a relaxed, casual vibe that welcomes everyone. Check out this Midwestern jewel in 2022!

Disclosure: Maria visited Milwaukee in September 2001. Parts of her trip were comped by VisitMilwaukee.com. All opinions are her own.

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19 Surprising Reasons To Visit Milwaukee Wisconsin
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