Things to do in Milwaukee, WI

More About Milwaukee

Once known primarily as a beer-making town, Milwaukee today has only one major brewer, Miller. Never fear, though — the city of beer still has numerous taverns, bars, pubs and microbreweries. The Water Street Entertainment Center is alive and hopping with taverns, restaurants and, of course, brewpubs. Another highlight is the artsy Third Ward, a restored warehouse district that's now a National Historic Landmark featuring terrific dining, a lively nightlife scene, art galleries and antique shops. Other popular attractions include the outstanding Milwaukee County Zoo, the Midwest Express Center, and the Milwaukee Public Museum, one of the nation's finest. NBA fans can catch a Bucks game and baseball fans can cheer on the Brewers at Miller Park. Visitors can hop aboard several fun cruises on either Lake Michigan or the Milwaukee River. The city also has several great festivals, notably Summerfest and the Great Circus Parade. And no visit would be complete without sampling the two foods Milwaukee is best known for — frozen custard, a premium ice cream treat that you'll find all over town, and the fish fry, available throughout the week at most restaurants, and everywhere Fridays.

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Milwaukee is known for...

Five of Milwaukee's most unique features and characteristics.

1. Beer:

Today, the city is home to only one major brewery, a little company called Miller. Still, there are a few craft breweries in the area that offer higher gravity beers and more personalized tours, and there are certainly more than a few bars where you can wet your whistle. The Milwaukee Ale House and the Water Street Brewery are two of the prominent places where you can go to sample craft beers from around the country, though there's no shortage of dive bars, pubs, and lounges that offer ample selections in their own right.

2. Riverwalk:

Where as many cities that boast a riverfront developed it after, or in conjunction with, their downtown areas, Milwaukee's famous Riverwalk was actually responsible for the development of much of its downtown. This continuous, 3-mile pedestrian walkway stretches through the entirety of Milwaukee's vibrant downtown into its Historic Third Ward district. Along the way, make sure you pay a visit to the Bronze Fonz (a statue commemorating Fonzie of Happy Days fame) and keep an eye out for the 18 bronze medallions created by elementary kids from Milwaukee depicting their visions of the river.

3. Cold:

Pack the parka if you're headed to Milwaukee in the winter. Or fall. Or early spring. Milwaukee can get cold. Next to Minneapolis, Milwaukee has the coldest average annual temperature in the country. This can be in large part due to cool winds that come in off of nearby Lake Michigan, a phenomenon aptly called "lake breeze" by locals. Because of the cold weather, the best times of year to visit Milwaukee are far and away the summer and early fall, the latter of which sees the occasional Indian Summer. An upside to Milwaukee's climate: when it's warm out, the city comes to life at all hours, and everyone is out and about doing things. 

4. Festivals:

Milwaukee has made a distinct effort to brand itself as the "City of Festivals," and not without good reason, the most prominent of which is Summerfest. Set along the lakefront and drawing around a million visitors to its 12 stages each year, Summerfest is officially recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest music festival in the world. This gargantuan event spans 11 days and features over 700 bands, and has seen such performers as the Doors, the Beach Boys, the Steve Miller Band, Paul Simon, and Eric Clapton. It's the perfect summation of how the city that sees hard winters knows how to have a blowout during the warmer months. 

5. Food:

Milwaukee has an immigrant heritage that is long and strong, and no where is this evidenced more clearly than in its dining scene. Neighborhoods like those surrounding Old World Third Street boast some of the best and most authentic (and often most upscale) German and Mediterranean restaurants in the region, while South Side and the Fifth Ward offer high quality but budget Mexican and Latin American cuisine. Milwaukee Street is a main drag for trendy dining options, and it sports a lively nightlife to boot.