Best Things To Do in Milwaukee
In Milwaukee, you'll find your usual assortment of art museums (Milwaukee Art Museum), historic homes (Pabst Mansion) and sports venues (Miller Park). You'll also find interesting areas to meander through like the Victorian-Italianate Brady Street and the Historic Third Ward. And for those into craft beer (and who isn't these days?), the Lakefront Brewery is an excellent way to taste some of Milwaukee's best. And we couldn't forget the Harley-Davidson Museum. It shows, among other things, many bikes from the motorcycle purveyor's history.
Updated August 18, 2016
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Considered by several former visitors as one of the best brewery tours in Milwaukee thanks to its tasty brews and wildly entertaining tour guides, Lakefront Brewery's tours are also one of the best deals around. For just $10, tourgoers can see much of the brewery, enjoy four 6-ounce samples of beer and take home a souvenir pint glass with a beer coupon (good for a free beer at one of several area eateries).
While the brewery's offerings change throughout the year, some previous brews featured include a pumpkin lager, a barley wine, an organic chocolate stout and an India pale ale. And for a true taste of Wisconsin, previous travelers recommend eating at the on-site beer hall after your tour to savor some regional delicacies like cheese curds, Bavarian-style pretzels and Usinger brats. The Friday fish fry is especially popular with locals and tourists, thanks to its pairing of delicious brews and fresh fish with a live polka band.
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Miller Park, which sits about 3 miles west of the Harley-Davidson Museum and 5 miles southwest of downtown, is home to Major League Baseball's Milwaukee Brewers. Although the Brewers may not have the greatest game record, they are certainly beloved by their fans. And whether you're a long-time fan or a first-time spectator, you'll enjoy taking in a game beneath the stadium's retractable roof, which is the only fan-shaped convertible roof in North America. (Thanks to this unique roof, you'll never have to worry about inclement weather, which is a huge perk to many visitors.)
Inside the stadium, visitors will find ATMs, restrooms, phone charging stations, merchandise stalls and food vendors scattered throughout the complex. There are also several all-inclusive areas for larger parties and celebrations during Brewers games, including the luxurious Gehl Club and right field's Dew Deck — which boasts its own 25-foot rock wall.
- #3View all Photos#3 in Milwaukee1.3 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND1.3 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Whether you're a diehard biker or someone who just happens to be in the area, many visitors say the Harley-Davidson Museum is worth exploring. Spread across 20 acres of prime Milwaukee riverfront property, the Harley-Davidson Museum continuously wows travelers with its 12 permanent exhibits and rotating special exhibits, including a recovered motorcycle from a tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011. Some permanent exhibits include a design lab, an engine room and an extensive motorcycle gallery that showcases the evolution of the company's bikes.
For those interested in the nitty-gritty of Harley bikes and history, consider paying $4 per person for an audio headset. Prior visitors said the in-depth narration provided a superb detailed description of everything in the museum. (But if you don't feel like paying extra for a headset, the written explanations provided at each exhibit provide a wealth of excellent context, so you'll still learn plenty, according to previous travelers.)
- #4View all Photos#4 in Milwaukee1.4 miles to city centerHistoric Homes/MansionsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND1.4 miles to city centerHistoric Homes/MansionsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Pabst Mansion — the former home of captain Frederick Pabst (of beer fame) — was just one of a few dozen lavish estates that lined what was then Grand Avenue (so named for its wealthy residents and their impressive homes). Built in 1892, the home became a bastion for the luxe life. Costing $254,614 (or more than $32 million in today's money) to construct, the elaborate mansion includes a carriage house, a pavillion, a greenhouse and a main residence — which boasts 66 rooms, 14 fireplaces and more than a dozen hidden compartments.
And while touring the century-old mansion today, tourists learn all about the Pabst Mansion's construction, as well as the history of the Pabst family and their iconic brewery, Pabst Brewing Company. In fact, the brewery's impact on the family can even be felt within their former residence, where decorative elements like hops bud finials adorn the exquisite grand staircase.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Milwaukee6.5 miles to city centerZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND6.5 miles to city centerZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Spotted hyenas, camels, leopard sharks and three species of penguin are just some of the animals you'll see if you visit the Milwaukee County Zoo. Opened in 1892, the once-small space has expanded to 200-plus acres containing more than 2,000 animals. But this zoo offers more than just animals. There are also a number of rides and attractions (additional fees apply) like a carousel and a safari train, as well as special events that occur throughout the year, such as breakfast with Santa Claus and an elephant appreciation day.
Of all of the zoo's offerings, previous visitors especially enjoyed the Halloween event, Boo at the Zoo, and the Sunset Zoofari, which gives patrons evening access to the animals alongside live music. (However, according to some travelers, steer clear of the zoo's free days. Hoards of people visit during these days, so lines for attractions tend to be long and views of the animals can be poor at best.)
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This art museum, located in downtown Milwaukee on Lake Michigan, gets more praise for its buildings (there are three) than the art it contains. And thats because the Milwaukee Art Museum looks futuristic with its gleaming white suspension bridge, 90-foot vaulted glass ceiling and cantilevered wings. Just make sure to visit on a calm, sunny day. According to past visitors, the Quadracci Pavillion's wings (the Burke Brise Soleil) won't open if it is raining or windy.
Inside, the art is also worth perusing. Within the 341,000-square-foot complex, visitors can browse 30,000 works of art, including one of the largest Georgia O'Keeffe — a Wisconsin native — collections in the world.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Milwaukee3.3 miles to city centerChurches/Religious Sites, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND3.3 miles to city centerChurches/Religious Sites, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Situated a few blocks west of the Kinnickinnic River and about 2 miles south of the Harley-Davidson Museum, the grandiose Basilica of St. Josaphat is worth a visit, even if you're not Catholic. Modeled after Rome's famous St. Peter's Basilica, this Milwaukee religious site was designed by German architect Erhard Brielmaier after the original church burned down in 1889. And like its Roman counterpart, the Basilica of St. Josaphat features a cross-shaped floor plan, as well as a massive copper dome.
Although several former visitors highly recommend attending Sunday Mass here, in order to take in all of the church's beauty, consider going on one of the property's tours, which are offered when Mass is not in session. There is also a small museum in the pavilion's lower level for those looking to learn more about the church's history. Additionally, walking tour brochures are available free of charge.
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