Top Things to Do in Milwaukee | Midwest Living

Top Things to Do in Milwaukee

In just one weekend, you can explore an 1892 beer baron's mansion, browse a high-end art festival along Lake Michigan, and go for a virtual ride on a vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
  • Milwaukee Art Museum

    More than 20,000 works take visitors on a chronological tour of art from the 13th century to the present. The postmodern Quadracci Pavilion, completed in 2001, houses a grand reception hall (left), temporary exhibits and a cafe. The pavilion's 217-foot exterior wings, which open twice a day, have become the city's visual icon. (414) 224-3200;


  • Harley-Davidson Museum
    Photo by Ginger Crichton

    Harley-Davidson Museum

     This 20-acre campus is a must-see for riders and a worth-the-trip spot for the curious. It tells the story of a scrappy Milwaukee company that began in 1903 as a motorcycle innovator and has evolved into a brand that embodies the feeling of wind in your hair. Hands-on exhibits let gearheads tinker with old engines, a "Rebels and Outlaws" display shows how riders gained that rep, and a movie room lets you board one of 10 Harleys and "ride" along Midwest farms and rivers.

    Motorcycle fans also can take a free one-hour tour of the famed Harley-Davidson Factory in nearby Wauwatosa; you'll see powertrains being assembled and tested. Tour information


  • Photo: Courtesy of Summerfest

    A city of festivals

    Milwaukee is a party town. The city's largest and best-known festival is Summerfest (left), which brings hundreds of rock, pop, country and blues acts to play on 11 stages ( The Wisconsin State Fair near Milwaukee also is a big draw (be sure to sample a cream puff, a state fair tradition) ( And Milwaukee hosts many annual festivals that celebrate the city's diversity, including Polish Fest, Bastille Days, Greek Fest, Festa Italiana, German Fest, African World Festival, Arab World Fest, Irish Fest and Mexican Fiesta.

    More Milwaukee special events

  • Discovery World

     In an airy white building that juts out into Lake Michigan, this museum provides hands-on ways to learn about science and the environment. Les Paul's House of Sound, a recent addition to the museum, explores the history of the electric guitar and lets visitors craft their own songs (


  • Brewing legacy

    Pabst Mansion Beer baron Frederick Pabst built this 1890s Flemish Renaissance mansion (left); the restored home hosts exhibits and tours ( 

    MillerCoors Milwaukee Brewery Take a free one-hour walking tour to see the steps of the brewing process. The brewery, one of the world's largest, is on land originally purchased by Miller founder Frederick J. Miller in 1855 (

  • Explore and shop

    RiverWalk This 3-mile area has evolved into a great place to grab a bite in a brewpub, admire the city's architecture and shop along the Milwaukee River (left). RiverWalk also cuts through Pere Marquette Park, which has summertime fireworks and weekly concerts. 

    Historic Third Ward A 12-square-block neighborhood of 1890s warehouses now holds boutiques, galleries, cafes and the Broadway Theatre Center. A highlight: Milwaukee Public Market, a collection of specialty food growers and shops selling goods and serving lunch and dinner. Read Midwest Living's review. (414) 273-1173;

    Old World Third Street This former German community has restaurants, 19th-century storefronts and cobbled streets. Two highlights: Usinger's, a fourth-generation business selling 70 sausage varieties, and the Spice House, a purveyor of high-quality spices and herbs.


  • Photo: Courtesy of Milwaukee Brewers

    For baseball fans

    Miller Park Catch the Milwaukee Brewers in this major-league ballpark (left) with a retractable dome and reasonable tickets. Also, behind-the-scenes tours take visitors to the dugout, luxury suite level and other areas (


  • More on Milwaukee

    For more ideas on what to do in Milwaukee, as well as recommendations on where to eat and stay, see our Milwaukee trip guide.


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