Milwaukee means “Pleasant land” in Algonquian, a perfect phrase to describe the most exciting city of Wisconsin. Even though it’s not on the usual radar, Milwaukee is a city that offers a bunch of interesting sights to travelers, as well as an array of cultural and historical attractions paired with a lot of fun places to explore.
With so much to do and explore in the city, we decided to round up the absolute best things to do in Milwaukee for first-timers in the city. From the epic Harley Davidson Museum to lavish mansions, here’s what definitely needs to be in your itinerary.
Things to do in Milwaukee
1. Harley Davidson Museum
The Harley Davidson Museum is a must for anyone visiting Wisconsin. You can pop by to check out the vast array of bikes on display, but if you’re really into motorcycles, you can also take a tour to quench your thirst for bike knowledge.
It initially opened in 2008 but since then it has housed so many collections that highlight the evolution of Harley’s bike, starting from the designs that are more than a hundred years old.
2. Milwaukee Riverwalk
Milwaukee is a city with an industrial taste to it, but there are plenty of places that offer tranquility as well. Case on point: the Milwaukee Riverwalk. A stroll through this landmark in Milwaukee is a must, but don’t forget to complete it with a meal at the diverse dining options available along the way. If you’re in the mood for shopping or would like to experience the nightlife the city has to offer, this is your go-to place, too!
3. Milwaukee Public Market
Who doesn’t love popping by at a market to grab a few ethnic kinds of cheese, locally sourced wines, and scrumptious seafood? The Milwaukee Public Market is a favorite for locals and visitors alike. You won’t leave empty-handed! Make sure you stop by a Margarita Paradise, a Mexican restaurant that everyone falls hard for.
4. Milwaukee County Zoo
Another interesting place to visit if you’re traveling with kids is the County Zoo of Milwaukee, It’s home to nearly 1800 animals spread over 190 acres. The zoo is well known for being the second birthplace of polar bears in captivity. It is a second home to the largest group of bonobos outside their natural habitat.
5. Milwaukee Art Museum
You cannot leave Milwaukee without visiting its art museum. The building itself is awe-inspiring, and it offers a plethora of artworks created by more than 25000 artists. It’s considered one of the largest art museums in the United States, and there’s really something for everyone: paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, decorative arts, photographs, folk, and self-taught art on display from the 15th century.
6. Henry Myers festival Park
If you happen to be in Milwaukee during the summer, then you must plan to attend the city’s annual festival: Summerfest. Held at the Henry Maires Festival Park, this festival is the go-to spot for those who love art and culture. It’s literally impossible to get bored here as there’s always something fun to do!
7. Mitchel Park Horticultural Conservatory
The Mitchel Park Horticultural Conservatory’s botanical domes are a staple of Milwaukee’s skyline, so you want to make sure not to miss them while in the city. The first dome is filled with tropical plants, making it warm and humid and the perfect home for koi and free-flying birds. The second some houses desert plants, and the third some is decorated seasonally. There are visitor guides and signs along the pathways.
8. Milwaukee Public Museum
Milwaukee Public Museums is the most visited natural history museum in Wisconsin. Home to three floors of exhibits creates to preserve our world’s natural and cultural diversity. This impressive museum is a can’t miss when visiting Milwaukee. Seriously, even if you’re not the museum type, this place is a must.
9. Pabst Mansion
This Flemish Renaissance-style mansion is one of Milwaukee’s most iconic buildings. Once home to a sea captain and beer baron Captain Frederick Pabst, the lavish mansions contains 37 rooms, all uniquely decorated and with their own charm. Don’t leave without buying a hilarious Pabst Blue Ribbon candle in a can as a souvenir!
And that’s our list of the best things to do in Milwaukee! Whether you’re into exploring old mansions or checking out a city’s art scene, Milwaukee has something for everyone!