Outdoor markets, warmly lit downtowns, cozy restaurants, cheerful locals... there is something special about American…
There’s tons of totally fun, zero-stress things to do in Milwaukee
San Francisco, Chicago and LA all get a lot of attention and for very good reasons, but lately I’ve been really loving the smaller and emerging cities like Milwaukee. It’s an easy city to get around, great & friendly people, not expensive and you can actually check off a lot of the “must sees’ in a matter of days and not feel hurried, exhausted or overwhelmed. Here’s how to make the most of your weekend in the Brew City.
Stay (or Party) at the Iron Horse Hotel
This 100-year-old warehouse turned modern luxury hotel isn’t just the most stylish place to stay, but the most fun. Built in 1907 as Berger Bedding Company, the Iron Horse now offers 100 loft-style guest rooms, complete with luxurious pillow-top beds, big windows, exposed brick walls, wood timbers and walk-in rain showers.
Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, go for the food and drink scene. You could do a decadent dinner or Sunday brunch at Smyth (think elevated meat-and-potatoes fare), or grab a craft cocktail and snack at the hotel bar (pretzel bites and cheese curds encouraged!), Branded. If weather permits, the Yard offers the best patio in town. To really embrace the ‘Sconnie lifestyle, order their Fashion & Clash cocktail, their version of an old fashioned made with Korbel brandy, cherry, orange, cinnamon and bitters.
Go to a Brewers Game
If you’re heading to Milwaukee during baseball season, a trip to Miller Park is a must. Though the stadium is great, it’s the tailgating scene that steals the show. Arrive early with your grill, brats and a cooler of cold ones in tow for a pre-game party. Wisconsinites love playing bags (or cornhole, depending on where you’re from), and are usually pretty darn friendly. See if you can weasel your way into a game or two– bribing with a beer never hurts.
Hang Out at the Milwaukee Art Museum
With over 30,000 works of art, the MAM offers the largest art collection in the state. The 341,000-square-foot Museum includes four floors and over forty galleries of art are rotated regularly with works from antiquity to the present in the Museum’s far-reaching Collection. The Museum also holds one of the largest collections of works by Wisconsin native Georgia O’Keeffe. Be sure to check out the Burke Brise Soleil, a moveable sunscreen with a 217-foot wingspan that unfolds and folds twice daily.
Check Out a Friday Fish Fry
Fish fries are a cultural phenomenon in Wisconsin, and if you’re there on a Friday, you HAVE TO GO! (Yes, I am shouting!). Nearly every restaurant in town offers a fish fry on Fridays, and of course some are better than others. Though places might put their unique spin on the menu, you’re mostly looking at a battered cod or perch served with potato pancakes, apple sauce, coleslaw and tartar sauce. I love Thrillist’s roundup of the best fish fries in town. Trust me, you’ll be happy at any of them.
Tour a Brewery
Channel your inner Laverne and Shirley at one of Brew City’s many breweries (c’mon, how do you think they earned that nickname?). A favorite is Lakefront, founded in 1987 and located right on the Milwaukee River. They run tours daily, with 60 spots available per tour. You can buy your ticket ahead of time online (for $9-10 a pop, depending on the day), or try to nab one on the spot. These guys do an excellent Friday fish fry, complete with polka band. You know you wanna go.
Visit the Harley-Davidson Museum
Even if you’re not a biker, there’s just something special about the Harley-Davidson Museum. Check out over 450 motorcycles and artifacts, dating back to Serial Number One, the oldest known Harley-Davidson motorcycle. If you’re into factory tours– and let’s be honest, who isn’t?– opt for their two-part Steel Toe Tour, which offers admission to the museum, plus a trip by shuttle to the Harley-Davidson Pilgrim Road Powertrain Operations facility.
What are some of your favorite things to do in Milwaukee? Share in the comments!