Three rivers and Lake Michigan meet in the Cream City—a geographical quirk that makes for big summer fun. Of course, visit in the off-season, and you can see the champion Bucks play. Win-win.
couple on the Milwaukee Riverwalk
Credit: Kevin J. Miyazaki

My Perfect Day

Fuel up with a bagel brunch at Allie Boy's before renting a boat at the Milwaukee Kayak Company. Many people paddle north into downtown on the Milwaukee River, but I like going westward onto the Menomonee and Kinnickinnic.

After an industrial stretch, the scenery turns leafy and peaceful. Dock at Harbor View Plaza for a break, then keep paddling to Barnacle Buds, a riverside bar with a Key West vibe. 

I like to think all that exercise merits a treat. Turn in your kayak and stroll to the Walker's Point neighborhood for dinner at Zócalo Food Park—and a Door County Cherry cone at Scratch Ice Cream.

Bucket List


This 3-mile path along the Milwaukee River winds past restaurants, shops, pubs and art, including the Bronze Fonz (an homage to Henry Winkler's Happy Days character).

Harley-Davidson Museum

The revamped 20-acre campus offers a great dose of Americana and is a must for Harley fans. Exhibits include a chance to take a virtual "ride" on a hog.*

Milwaukee Public Market

In the lively Historic Third Ward, browse spices, sweet treats and wine, plus nosh on fresh seafood, tacos or vegan comfort food. 

inside the Milwaukee Art Museum
Credit: Kevin J. Miyazaki

Milwaukee Art Museum

Among the 30,000 masterpieces is the Quadracci Pavilion, an architectural marvel topped with 217-foot "wings" that open, flap and close each day (weather permitting).

people watching basketball game at Fiserv Forum
Credit: Kevin J. Miyazaki

Fiserv Forum

A concert venue and home to the NBA's Bucks, this glitzy arena anchors a lot of cool development, including one of the city's beer gardens.

Where to Eat

Start the day with tricked-out hash browns, end it with lobster—and in the middle, watch out for flying peanuts.


It's hard to beat the Classic Benedict with ham and poached eggs at Blue's Egg— but hash browns stuffed with goat cheese? Sold.


Peanut shells litter the floor and crayon graffiti decorates the walls at A J Bombers, a fun burger joint where overhead "bombers"deliver peanuts.


The waterfront Harbor House combines Lake Michigan views with New England-style seafood, such as scallops, sea bass, salmon and lobster. 

Worth the Splurge

At Sanford, James Beard Award-winner Justin Aprahamian creates seasonal fare—like a cucumber gazpacho with basil cream or pear compote with blue cheese—plus dishes influenced by his Armenian heritage.

Ardent chef-owner Justin Carlisle grew up on a Wisconsin farm and serves inventive multicourse meals that never feel pretentious. The place is tiny, with only about 20 seats; try to snag one with a view of the open kitchen.

Good Brews

In the 1800s, Miller, Pabst and Schlitz made Milwaukee beer-central. A few newer can't-miss breweries: Eagle Park, Lakefront and Hacienda.

It's a Date!

Oui, Bastille Days is back (July  14–17, 2022). One of the largest French fetes in the U.S. takes place  in Cathedral Square Park. Expect live music, a global market, chef and wine demos, French and Cajun cuisine, roaming buskers, and a 43-foot-tall EiffelTower replica.

Family Hits


Kopp's Frozen Custard has been dishing out cold treats and jumbo burgers since 1950. Look for the custard Flavor of the Day. (They rotate dozens of varieties.) 


Check out Discovery World science center's flight simulator, a 3D tour of Earth, Les Paul's House of Sound, and a touch tank full of sharks and stingrays.

family at Bradford Beach
Credit: David Nevala

Budget Pick

The free Lake Michigan sandscape of Bradford Beach is a summer hot spot. Bring a towel and relax, or get in on soccer, beach volleyball, yoga or Frisbee.

Where to Stay

Built in 1893, The Pfister Hotel is a grande dame of lodging, offering luxury stays amid Romanesque Revival architecture and the largest Victorian art collection of any hotel in the world.