Top 10 Things to Do on a Budget in Milwaukee
With free brewery tours, stunning arts venues and tasty cheap eats, Milwaukee provides plenty of inexpensive ways to fill a Midwest weekend getaway.
Pandemic-related closures or restrictions may be in effect. Please check websites before scheduling a visit.
1) The Hop MKE A relatively recent addition to the city's downtown, this streetcar connects Milwaukee's central train and bus station to many of the city's attractions and hotels. Take advantage of free rides! thehopmke.com
2) Milwaukee Art Museum Meijer sponsors free admission to this striking museum on the first Thursday of each month. If you don't have time for a full-fledged visit, at least stop by at 10 a.m. or 5 p.m. to watch the gigantic architectural "wings" above the Quadracci Pavilion fan open or close. mam.org
3) Milwaukee Public Market A melting pot of ethnic foods and flavors, this marketplace lures crowds to the Historic Third Ward district for lunch and shopping. You'll find fresh produce, sushi, meats, chocolates, baked goods, coffee, oils, vinegars, spices and, of course, cheese. (This is Wisconsin, after all.) milwaukeepublicmarket.org
4) Bradford Beach This Lake Michigan beachfront property attracts a mix of visitors when the temperatures soar. Bring a towel and relax, or get in on a soccer game, sand volleyball, yoga class or Frisbee tossing—there's always some activity. The Bradford Beach House serves brats, beer and ice cream cones; a tiki bar satisfies pina colada cravings. bradfordbeachmke.com
5) Summer concert series Milwaukee is famous for its outdoor summer festivals and events; you can catch live music in al fresco settings all season long. If you're here in late June or early July, snag a one-day Summerfest pass. Through the rest of the summer, Jazz in the Park in Cathedral Square fills the air with soulful sounds on Thursday nights; River Rhythms takes over Pere Marquette Park on Wednesdays; and Chill on the Hill delivers a dose of funk, blues and rock to Humboldt Park on Tuesdays. visitmilwaukee.org
6) Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear Get a fascinating peek at classic Americana with vignettes and displays that include a turn-of-the-century grocery store, a 1920s-era doctor's office and a movie palace at this low-cost museum. The re-created Union Train Depot incorporates audio clips for a you-are-there vibe, and a speakeasy setup gives guests an idea of what life was like in Milwaukee during Prohibition years. chudnowmuseum.org
7) St. Joan of Arc Chapel This little Marquette University chapel has a big history. Originally constructed in France's Rhone River Valley more than five centuries ago, the Gothic chapel was dismantled and moved to Long Island in the 1920s; then it underwent extensive repairs and renovations. It was later given to Marquette University, moved to Milwaukee, painstakingly reassembled yet again and rededicated in 1966. Tours are free, but donations are welcome. marquette.edu
8) Clock Shadow Creamery Using green processes such as geothermal heating, this ecofriendly destination repurposes an old Walker's Point neighborhood site in the heart of the city to turn out tasty ricotta, queso blanco, Brie and mozzarella. Tours ($3; reservations required) are basically a lesson in cheesemaking conducted from the observation room, along with an opportunity to sample some of the wares and a little ice cream. Try to stop by on Wednesday or Friday when the creamery is making cheese curds. clockshadowcreamery.com
9) Grohmann Museum The Milwaukee School of Engineering campus seems an appropriate setting for a museum dedicated to the evolution of human work. Exhibits cover topics including agriculture, skilled crafts, mining, medicine and intellectual trades. The exterior cuts a dashing profile with a steel-and-glass entrance leading to the three-floor facility. Don't miss the rooftop sculpture garden. Admission is just a few dollars. msoe.edu
10) Hilton Milwaukee City Center Location, location, location. From this Art Deco hotel, it's easy to access the lakefront, museums and other downtown attractions. Stay-and-play packages make the best deals. hiltonmilwaukee.com