Smart and sleek? Yes! Prententious? Never! A healthy affection for its working-class roots (and love of its brewing heritage) gives this museum-filled city a fun-not-fussy attitude.
Snap a photo of the Bronze Fonz (from TV’s Happy Days) on the RiverWalk.
Grab a slice of hot pizza at Pizzeria 3301 after the Palermo’s Pizza Factory Tour.
The Historic Third Ward encompasses a 20-square-block neighborhood of boutiques, galleries and cafes. One highlight: Milwaukee Public Market, an indoor collection of specialty vendors.
Relish dinner at Coquette Cafe, known for coq au vin, before turning in at The Iron Horse Hotel (from $179).
Plate-filling pannenkoeken (a cross between a crepe and a pancake) at Cafe Benelux tastes even better when topped with banana and nutella.
The 20-acre Harley-Davidson Museum campus is a must-see for its hands-on exhibits and nine Harleys to “ride” past Midwest farms and rivers.
Art-lovers appreciate the 90-foot-high vaulted ceiling and 217-foot moveable sunscreen wings that sweep over the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Novice painters work closely with more experienced artists to create their own masterpiece at Splash Studio in the Third Ward.
Craft beers and burgers pair at casual-cool Stack'd Burger Bar.
Some festivals, such as Irish Fest and German Fest, reflect the city’s heritage, but the largest and best-known is Summerfest (see "One Big Party," below).
Staying another night? The luxe Pfister Hotel blends 19th-century architecture with modern comforts (from $159).
Colectivo Coffee serves smoked salmon breakfast sandwiches and great joe.
Learn about Pabst Brewing Company on two tours: See Frederick Pabst’s 1890s Flemish Renaissance Pabst Mansion, and learn the history of Pabst beers at Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery.
Scope out architecture and views from Lake Michigan on a cruise with the Milwaukee Boat Line.
If you haven’t filled up on hot dogs at a Brewers baseball game in Miller Park, stuff yourself with wild game or grilled trout at Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub.
More information: (800) 554-1448; visitmilwaukee.org
Five great places to take in culture
1 Milwaukee Art Museum The main wing, called the Quadracci Pavilion, is a work of art itself, with soaring 90-foot glass ceilings in the Windhover Hall. Check out feature exhibitions here as renovations breathe new life into other galleries. (414) 224-3200; mam.org
2 Mader’s Open since 1902, Mader’s wealth of art and antiques turns dinner into a gallery visit. The recipes are as German-centric as they come; try the Wiener schnitzel. (414) 271-3377; madersrestaurant.com
3 Marcus Center for the Performing Arts Broadway and off- Broadway shows find a home here, as do kids’ activities and community events. (414) 273-7121; marcuscenter.org
4 Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra For more than 50 years, the orchestra has garnered critical acclaim. This year’s lineup includes Beethoven's Fifth and Casablanca. Can't make a show? Download digital concert recordings. (414) 291-7605; mso.org
5 Pabst Theater Patrons take in ballets, concerts and comedic acts, and soak up history in this building originally owned by Frederick Pabst. (414) 286-3663; pabsttheater.org | (414) 902-2103; milwaukeeballet.org
One big party
More than 800 artists and 900,000 fans converge in Henry Maier Festival Park for Summerfest. Past performers at this massive 11-day, 11-stage celebration starting in late June have included Bonnie Raitt, Lady Gaga, Ziggy Marley and REO Speedwagon. summerfest.com