What to Do When You Visit Milwaukee

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Traveling to new, or even familiar, destinations creates opportunities to break out of your routine. If you’re traveling to Wisconsin, then you’ll find lots of fun things to do in Milwaukee for adults and kids, solo travelers and families. As the largest city in Wisconsin, Milwaukee has so many places to visit, like gorgeous views from the shores of Lake Michigan and a collection of art galleries, outdoor spaces, and delicious restaurants.

After arriving by bus or train in Milwaukee, you can walk or rely on public transportation to get around the city. For a quick tour of popular Milwaukee attractions, take the Milwaukee Trolley during the spring or summer. If you’d rather blend in with the locals, then walk, cycle around with Bublr bike share, or use the Skywalk System that connects the east and west sides of downtown. Whether you’re going out on for a night with your friends or hopping between local cafes and bookstores, you’ll find plenty of transportation options and fun things to do while visiting Milwaukee.

What to See

The Milwaukee Public Museum is one of the best places to start if you enjoy visiting interactive museums. This 15,000 square foot museum includes exhibits from across the world, as well as historical remnants from the streets of old Milwaukee. You can plan your visit before going to make sure that you catch the best exhibits and planetarium shows.

Once you’ve experienced the natural history exhibits, you’ll want to stop by the Milwaukee Art Museum. Their collection includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, prints, drawings, and decorative art dating back to 1888. They frequently have rotating exhibits, including collections by John Singleton Copley, Sam Francis, and many more.

The Charles Allis Museum boasts a family collection of ceramics and art housed within a Tudor-style mansion that captures the best of historical Milwaukee. The best way to get to know a city’s art scene is by visiting local galleries. The Tory Folliard Gallery leads the region in contemporary art and is located in the Historic Third Ward of downtown. Whether you’re visiting the public museum or heading downtown to see local artists, you’ll find artistic inspiration in many Milwaukee places.

Where to Get Outside

Walking around the city, you’ll find a variety of free things to do in Milwaukee, including green spaces, perfect for lounging or having a picnic. The Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory Domes are landmarks that you’ll definitely want to check out in person. Each dome houses unique microclimates, from desert cacti to tropical flowers. If the weather is nice, then you can rent a bike and ride along the Milwaukee River Bike Trail to see the historic sights and get a breath of fresh air.

Where to Eat

Milwaukee is a city with a variety of food options, from hearty breakfast food to affordable local fare. During your stay, make sure to stop by one of Milwaukee’s most popular breakfast spots, Blue’s Egg. Their menu features monkey bread, stuffed hash browns, and unique variations on eggs benedict!

For a taste of local ingredients at an affordable price, visit Bavette la Boucherie, featuring farm-to-table salads and sandwiches. If you want to stop by for a snack, then you’ll also find plenty of cheese and charcuterie for nibbling. The National is the best option if you’re looking for diverse menu, from short rib sandwiches to roasted veggie stacks with cashew pesto. Located in the heart of Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood, the area welcomes its visitors with the unique history and endless list of Milwaukee’s fun staff to do.

Where to Stay & What to Do at Night

Traveling by bus or train to Milwaukee is one of the best ways to travel on a budget, but the other big expense while on vacation is typically lodging. Fortunately, Milwaukee is a city with plenty of AirBnB hosts located downtown. Wellspring is just a short bus ride away, where you’ll find a friendly hostel on an organic farm. Located along the Milwaukee River, this is the perfect base to visit the city during the day and then come home to the quiet of nature at night.

If you’d prefer to stay in downtown Milwaukee, then you’ll find a fun and friendly nightlife. Milwaukee is home to many unique and creative bars. Braise, which is the only community-supported restaurant in the city, is a great place to experience local culture. Tour the iconic Great Lakes Distillery and sample the local spirits. The tasting room is open to the public every day, and has a large patio that is filled during the spring and summer.

Looking for more things to do in Milwaukee at night? Aside from grabbing a drink at above two local spots, you can also dance the night away at The Get Down, Milwaukee’s funk and soul dance party. Once you’ve danced until exhaustion, catch a movie at Oriental Theatre – Milwaukee’s popular independent theater. And make dive bar Wolski’s Tavern your last stop – if you stay until it shuts down for the night, you’ll get a free, much-coveted “I Closed Wolski’s” bumper sticker.

From museums to dance clubs, Milwaukee has something for everyone. If you’re looking for fun or free things to do in Milwaukee, then you won’t have to look too far. The museums, restaurants, and bars are enough to keep you busy during your stay. Let us know about your favorite Milwaukee spots in the comments below!

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About the author
Austin Bay

Austin Bay

As a Northern California native, Austin's favorite trips begin and end in the mountains. He's always on an adventure to find new running trails and stay somewhere long enough to get to know people.
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