Midwest Living Review
Several beaches, parks and greenspaces line the east side of Milwaukee, providing lots of public access to the city's Lake Michigan waterfront. Bradford Beach is one of the most popular, a 30-acre county park off Lincoln Memorial Drive on the city's near north side. With traffic whizzing by, it's not a particularly bucolic setting. But with parkland to the north and south, a grassy hill to the west and the vast horizon of Lake Michigan to the east, it's a pleasant place for urban dwellers to relax on a nice day. Bradford has a large, clean sandy beach area monitored by lifeguards in the summer. Swimming isn't really the main attraction here, though -- except on the hottest days; Lake Michigan is too chilly for most. A well-used paved bike trail runs the length of the park and continues north and south for miles along the lakefront. Two dozen sand volleyball courts get lots of use. The Bradford Beach House concession stand rents volleyballs, soccer balls and a beanbag-toss game (Most are inexpensive or even free, but you'll need to swipe your credit card as a deposit.) Another concession rents jet skis and jet-boat rides. There are a few picnic tables and park benches around, but plan to bring a beach chair or towel for sitting. The Bradford Beach House concession sells decent fast food, including subs, pizza, tacos and snacks, as well as soda, beer and wine. It's well worth the 10-minute walk south, though, to the Northpoint food stand. Run by the Bartolotta Restaurant Group -- long-standing Milwaukee restauranteurs. This stand serves great burgers, sandwiches, salads and such using fresh, high-quality ingredients. Burgers are made from fresh, not frozen, beef; vanilla custard is made with Madagascar vanilla beans. In other words, not your usual snack-shack fare. Parking (free) is mostly along Lincoln Memorial Drive, so you may have to walk five or 10 minutes on a busy summer day. The beach has typical damp-and-sandy public restrooms, but no changing rooms or showers.