Milwaukee celebrates its German heritage (brews and brats, anyone?) while also making the most of its Lake Michigan location with beaches, boat tours, sailing and waterfront museums. Check out our picks for what to do, where to eat and where to stay in Milwaukee.

By The editors of MidwestLiving.com
Updated April 01, 2021
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Due to possible pandemic-related travel restrictions, please check destinations' websites for the current status of attractions, events, restaurants and lodgings.

Do

Bradford Beach Bring a towel and relax, or get in on soccer, sand volleyball or a yoga class. Beachside snack bars make it easy to find ice cream and drinks. bradfordbeachmke.com

Brewery heritage Experience the city's brewing heritage with local beer and snacks, like a sausage flight, at Lakefront Brewery. Sprecher Brewing Co., which makes root beer and other craft sodas as well as beer, offers tours. Check online to see when Miller Brewing Company will resume tours.

Discovery World Eighteen exhibits encourage exploring science and technology at the waterfront museum. discoveryworld.org

Festivals A city that celebrated its heritage through festivals is hoping to revive some of its signature events in 2021, including Irish Fest and the Wisconsin State Fair. Summerfest is expected to move from summer to fall (September) 2021.

Fiserv Forum The $524 million sports and entertainment arena opened in 2018, providing a 17,500-seat home for the NBA's Bucks and a venue for performers like Justin Timberlake. Check the website for upcoming events. fiservforum.com

Grohmann Museum Paintings and sculptures at the Milwaukee School of Engineering chronicle the evolution of organized work in areas such as agriculture, skilled crafts and mining. msoe.edu

Harley-Davidson Museum The 20-acre campus is a must-see for its hands-on exhibits and nine Harleys to "ride" past farms and rivers. h-dmuseum.com

Harley-Davidson Museum gas tank exhibit
Harley-Davidson Museum
| Credit: Courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

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.  historicthirdward.org

Historic Milwaukee Inc. Walking Tours Passionate volunteers lead the preservation society's architectural tours. historicmilwaukee.org

The Hop MKE The streetcar connects Milwaukee's central train and bus station to many of the city's attractions and hotels. thehopmke.com

Milwaukee Art Museum Glass ceilings soar 90 feet above visitors to the postmodern Quadracci Pavilion. A $34 million expansion and renovation brightened galleries displaying highlights of the 30,000-piece collection. mam.org

Milwaukee Art Museum
Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Boat Line Double-deckers ply the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan for sightseeing. mkeboat.com

Milwaukee City Tours New options include Around the Ward in 90 Minutes and a Streetcar Lunch Tour. milwaukeefoodtours.com

Milwaukee Public Museum Discover what the city was like during the 1880s in The Streets of Old Milwaukee exhibit. Or walk through Africa or Living Oceanmpm.edu

Miller Park Catch the Milwaukee Brewers in this major-league ballpark with a retractable roof and reasonably priced tickets. brewers.com

National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum Temporarily closed due to the pandemic as of April 2021. The world's largest collection of pop culture nodders (6,500-plus) opened last year, starring Babe Ruth, Flo the Progressive Insurance saleswoman and more. bobbleheadhall.com

Old World Third Street This former German community has restaurants, 19th-century storefronts and cobbled streets. Usinger's, a fourth-generation business, sells over 70 sausage varieties. usinger.com

Pabst Mansion Beer baron Frederick Pabst built this 1890s Flemish Renaissance mansion; the restored home hosts exhibits and tours. pabstmansion.com

RiverWalk The 3-mile path along the Milwaukee River winds past restaurants, shops, pubs and outdoor art. visitmilwaukee.org

Riverwalk
Riverwalk

Sea Dog Sailing From May through September, the 38-foot Quinn Marie sails from McKinley Marina.  seadogsailingmilwaukee.com

Eat

AJ Bombers Peanut shells litter the floor and crayon graffiti decorates the walls of the burger joint, which delivers nuts via overhead "bombers." ajbombers.com

Balzac Mismatched chairs, cherubs and taxidermy set a fun mood for wine and sharing small plates. balzacwinebar.com

Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro Chef Adam Siegel delivers seasonal French cuisine at this pastoral spot along Lake Michigan. lakeparkbistro.com

Blue's Egg It's hard to beat the Classic Benedict with piles of ham and poached eggs, but we love the goat-cheese- stuffed hash browns, too, at this lively brunch spot. bluesegg.com

Braise About 400 Wisconsin farmers supply the ingredients for the braised dishes that will please discerning palates. braiselocalfood.com

Cafe Benelux With 40 pages of beers to choose from, you're sure to find one to go with your European-style meal of mussels and mac 'n' cheese with Brie. cafebenelux.com

Colectivo Coffee This local coffee cafe serves tasty cookies, huge yogurt parfaits and sandwiches, plus offers free Wi-Fi and great joe, of course. You'll find 10 local branches, but our favorite is the one along the lakefront in the historic Milwaukee River Flushing Station. colectivocoffee.com

GoodKind This cozy Bay View tavern serves comfort foods, like fennel-rubbed spare ribs and spicy crab pasta with pepperoni. goodkindbayview.com

Harbor House Waterfront dining shows off Lake Michigan views and seafood such as rainbow trout, salmon and lobster. harborhousemke.com

Kopp's Frozen Custard Locals call this frozen custard their fave. kopps.com

Mader's Open since 1902, Mader's art and antiques turn dinner into a gallery visit. The sampler features three German classics, including Wiener schnitzel. madersrestaurant.com

The Mecca This Deer District bar caters to sports fans with dozens of screens throughout the space and elevated takes on bar food classics, like the Mecca Burger Nachos with brisket burger and cheese. themeccamke.com

Sanford James Beard Award-winner Justin Aprahamian creates seasonal fare—like a cucumber gazpacho with lemon cream or pear compote with Maytag blue cheese—at his fine-dining spot. sanfordrestaurant.com

Uncle Wolfie's Breakfast Tavern Milwaukee's new favorite brunch spot in Brewer's Hill is best known for the BELTCH: Bacon, eggs, lettuce, tomato and cheddar on sourdough with sambal aioli and potatoes. unclewolfies.com

Sobelmans At the classic, blue-collar Milwaukee bar, we love the Sobelman Burger, topped with Swiss, cheddar and American cheeses; bacon; fried onions; and fried jalapenos. sobelmanspubandgrill.com

Stack'd Bar Burgers, beer and milk shakes go high-class at a slick Fifth Ward bar. The German Stack is a potent mix of beer brat patty, raw onion, spicy mustard and sauerkraut. stackedbar.com

Third Coast Provisions The porthole in the front door hints at the seafood specialties: dishes such as king crab and sweet leek bruschetta, lobster pot pie, and chargrilled oysters. thirdcoastprovisions.com

The Vanguard It's the place to go for housemade sausages, with more than two dozen options for classics, as well as chef-selected toppings. vanguardbar.com

Stay

The Brewhouse Inn and Suites Gleaming copper brewing kettles anchor the lobby in the refurbished Pabst Brewery Complex, which has 90 guest suites and an on-site pub. brewhousesuites.com

Brewhouse Inn and Suites
Brewhouse Inn and Suites

Hilton Milwaukee City Center The lakefront, museums and other downtown attractions are easy to access from this Art Deco hotel.  hilton.com

Hotel Metro A 63-suite Art Deco boutique lodging downtown offers a variety of accommodations including pet-friendly suites, spa suites and conference suites. hotelmetro.com

The Iron Horse Hotel An edgy yet welcoming downtown hotel mixes biker-inspired decor with sophisticated guest rooms. theironhorsehotel.com

The Kimpton Journeyman Hotel To encourage local exploration, the hotel lends guests customized leather backpacks, as well as custom bikes. Come back to relax at The Outsider rooftop bar or Tre Rivali restaurant. journeymanhotel.com

Pfister Hotel Opulent architectural details, antique furniture and an artist in residence combine with modern comforts in the 1893 Romanesque Revival hotel. thepfisterhotel.com

Saint Kate Arts Hotel The former Intercontinental Hotel has an artsy new personality, with a ukulele, record player, colored pencils and drawing paper in every room. saintkatearts.com

Wisconsin
Saint Kate Arts Hotel
| Credit: David Mitchell

For more information visitmilwaukee.org