- Food, drinks, art, and more fun things to do in Milwaukee
- When in Milwaukee …
- Embrace winter (or whatever the season when you visit)
- Walk along the lakefront at Veterans Park and McKinley Marina
- Walk in Lake Park
- Admire Milwaukee art
- Public art
- Art on the Riverwalk
- Cathedral Square Park
- St. John the Evangelist Cathedral
- Joshua Glover historical marker
- Hang out in the Third Ward
- Eat, drink, and be merry
- Where we wined and dined:
- Where we stayed:
- More about Milwaukee:
- PIN for later!
- Related posts:
Food, drinks, art, and more fun things to do in Milwaukee
Milwaukee is a great place on a great lake and there are great reasons to visit in any season. And I’m not completely biased even though I was living in Milwaukee when I met Mr. TWS, a Wisconsin native. Here are some suggestions for things to do in Milwaukee, a city about 90 miles north of Chicago.
When in Milwaukee …
Embrace winter (or whatever the season when you visit)
I actually like spending time in winter climates and have many fond memories that go back to my youth in the Chicago area. Does Mr. TWS enjoy winter? Not so much, but he loves Milwaukee and braced himself for walks down memory lane in the city where we met.
Walk along the lakefront at Veterans Park and McKinley Marina
Start at the McKinley Marina for a nice walk along Lake Michigan.
It’s a very different scene in the summer when you’ll see boats of all kinds sailing out on Lake Michigan, but the exercise in the brisk winter air and views of the city — downtown (shown above) and East Side (shown below) — make a walk on the lakefront a fun activity.
Walk in Lake Park
On a bluff above the lake is Lake Park (see map here) with paved winding paths perfect for strolls or jogging. Enjoy the day with locals walking their dogs or enjoying vistas of the lake from benches along the way. Look for the North Point Lighthouse (shown in the photo below).
Admire Milwaukee art
There are many diverse art museums and galleries in Milwaukee. I’ll refer you to a previous post about Milwaukee art for information about a few must-see places. There are also public art paintings and sculptures to keep an eye open for as you go around the city.
This colorful and striking mural by renowned artist Shepard Fairey — “Voting Rights are Human Rights” — is located at 759 N. Milwaukee St.
Art on the Riverwalk
The Milwaukee Riverwalk that runs 20 blocks from north to south passing by numerous restaurants, bars, and shops also features permanent and temporary sculptures on both sides of the river. Perhaps the most well-known of these is the “Bronze Fonz” (shown above) depicting Henry Winkler as The Fonz of the Happy Days television series. Here’s a map to follow for the sculptures.
Cathedral Square Park
Cathedral Square park is one of my favorite areas of downtown Milwaukee. It is a lovely urban park with a small playground and art installations, surrounded by restaurants, offices, shops and the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
St. John the Evangelist Cathedral
For many years, we’ve stepped into St. John the Evangelist Cathedral for a few minutes (usually when there were not services) to reflect and enjoy the peacefulness. On this visit, we happened to arrive just as a school choir was getting ready to sing before the mass began. We stayed a bit to hear the lovely voices.
Joshua Glover historical marker
Don’t miss the Wisconsin State Historical Marker at the corner of E. Kilbourn Ave. and N. Jackson St. commemorating Joshua Glover, a runaway slave from Missouri who sought freedom in Wisconsin in 1852. His apprehension (due to the Fugitive Slave Act), imprisonment in Milwaukee, and ultimate release by supporters aided abolitionist sentiment in the state and lead to the state supreme court saying that the Fugitive Slave Act was unconstitutional.
Hang out in the Third Ward
The Third Ward, a booming district south of downtown, has really become the place to be since our early days in Milwaukee. Redevelopment has transformed neglected buildings and warehouses along the Milwaukee River into upscale condos, an array of shops, galleries, restaurants, and a large public market.
Eat, drink, and be merry
It’s not just about brats and beer in Milwaukee. So mix up some classic fare with fine dining when you’re here. A few years ago, I took a Milwaukee food walking tour in the Brady Street area that will give you some ideas, too.
Where we wined and dined:
Oggie’s at Hotel Metro, 411 E. Mason St. — We really enjoyed our meal at this restaurant in our hotel that features international chef-inspired takes on Midwestern dishes. Start with the garlic bread!
Saint Kate, 139 East Kilbourn — This is an arts hotel with a bustling bar and restaurant with live music. We ordered Sweet Potato Pierogi and Caesar Salad from the bar menu while enjoying entertainment and the cool weekend scene.
Saz’s State House, 5539 W State St. on the city’s west side — BBQ Baby Back Ribs and other hearty meat dishes are specialties. For our lunch, we kept it simpler with salads and their very popular mozzarella sticks (prepared in wonton wraps).
Elsa’s on the Park, 833 N Jefferson St — Elsa’s is a sentimental favorite of ours for drinks and delicious casual food options. My favorites are the All-American Grilled Cheese and the burgers. Mr. TWS likes the Ahi tuna salad. There are plenty of other choices, too. It’s a stylish place and art is a key element. On this visit shortly after Valentine’s Day, hearts were the art on the walls (as shown reflected below in geometric mirrors behind the bar).
The Harp Irish Pub, 113 E Juneau Ave. — In an area that is known for bars, it’s a great choice for Guinness and its location on the Milwaukee River. It’s especially a treat to sit outside in nice weather. It draws a younger crowd, but I think that everyone can feel comfortable here.
Ma Fischer’s, 2214 N Farwell Ave. — Come here for a good, hearty, breakfast. It’s an old-time favorite of ours with a lively atmosphere and lots of locals.
The Brewery, 1101 N Water St. — Beer fans will love this place (wine choices aren’t the best), but their tasty food is also a draw. Mr. TWS was really impressed with his fish fry and I had a delicious burger on a perfectly-toasted bun. We were there on a quiet mid-afternoon, but there’s plenty of action here on game days and at night.
Where we stayed:
Hotel Metro, a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel, 411 E. Mason St. — We both loved this hotel for the central location downtown, great service, spacious room, and onsite Oggie’s Restaurant.
More about Milwaukee:
I think that Milwaukee is a city for all seasons. There are many art, music, and theater venues such as the Performing Arts Center, Pabst Theater, and more; annual events like Summerfest and ethnic heritage festivals; restaurants and bars for everyone; major sports arenas; and plentiful outdoor recreation locations in the city and the environs for all types of weather activities.