The Milwaukee Experience: Your Ultimate Travel Handbook

Discover Milwaukee

Nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan, this vibrant city welcomes visitors with open arms and a wealth of attractions to explore. From its rich brewing heritage, celebrated through brewery tours and tastings, to its thriving arts scene showcased in museums and galleries, Milwaukee offers something for every traveler. Visitors can stroll along the scenic Riverwalk, marvel at the iconic architecture of the Milwaukee Art Museum, or catch a game at the historic Miller Park. Whether you’re taking in a summer concert at Summerfest, exploring the historic Third Ward district, or simply enjoying a leisurely bike ride along the lakefront, traveling to Milwaukee promises an unforgettable experience filled with warmth, charm, and Midwestern hospitality.


Best time to visit
Best places to visit

Three Fun Facts about Milwaukee


Birthplace of Harley-Davidson

The iconic motorcycle company, Harley-Davidson, was founded in Milwaukee in 1903. Visitors can explore the Harley-Davidson Museum to learn about the company’s history and view vintage motorcycles.


Cream City Brick

Many of Milwaukee’s historic buildings are constructed from a unique cream-colored brick, known as “Cream City brick.” This distinctive building material gives the city’s architecture a characteristic appearance.


Laverne & Shirley

The popular sitcom “Laverne & Shirley” was set in Milwaukee and filmed at various locations around the city. The show, which aired from 1976 to 1983, followed the comedic adventures of two roommates working at the fictional Shotz Brewery.


Must See Attractions

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Milwaukee Art Museum

Speciality Museum

Known for its iconic Quadracci Pavilion designed by Santiago Calatrava, the museum boasts a vast collection of over 30,000 works of art spanning ancient to contemporary periods.

Milwaukee Public Market

Shopping & Dining

Located in the historic Third Ward district, this bustling market offers a variety of local produce, meats, cheeses, and prepared foods, as well as artisanal products and gifts.

Harley-Davidson Museum

Speciality Museum

This museum celebrates the history and culture of the legendary Harley-Davidson motorcycle company, featuring exhibits on motorcycle design, culture, and innovation.

Milwaukee County Zoo


Home to over 2,000 animals representing 300 species, the zoo offers a variety of exhibits, educational programs, and family-friendly activities.

Milwaukee Riverwalk

Shopping & Dining

Stroll along the scenic Riverwalk, which stretches for miles along the Milwaukee River, passing through downtown and historic neighborhoods, with shops, restaurants, and art installations along the way.

Pabst Mansion

Speciality Museum

Tour this beautifully preserved Victorian mansion, once home to the Pabst brewing family, to learn about Milwaukee’s brewing history and the life of the Pabst family.

Lakes Near Milwaukee

Lake Michigan

2400 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr. Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53211

While technically not a lake in the traditional sense, Lake Michigan is a massive freshwater body that borders Milwaukee to the east. Its expansive shoreline provides opportunities for fishing, boating, swimming, and beachcombing. Milwaukee’s lakefront is a popular destination, featuring parks, trails, and stunning views of the water.

Distance from Milwaukee: 3 miles
Watersports, picnicking, hiking, camping

Pewaukee Lake

Pewaukee Lake, Waukesha County, Wisconsin

Located about 25 miles west of Milwaukee, Pewaukee Lake is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and water sports. It’s known for its excellent walleye and muskellunge fishing, as well as bass, northern pike, and panfish. The lake has public boat launches and fishing piers, making it accessible to anglers and recreational boaters alike.

Distance from Milwaukee: 22 miles
Boating, watersports,

Okauchee Lake

Okauchee Lake Waukesha County, Wisconsin

Also situated west of Milwaukee, Okauchee Lake is one of the largest and most popular lakes in Waukesha County. It offers a variety of recreational activities, including fishing, boating, water skiing, and swimming. Anglers can target a range of fish species, including largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, and panfish.

Distance from Milwaukee: 32 miles
Boating, water skiing, swimming

Secret Fishing Destinations Near Milwaukee

Oak Creek

1311 E Drexel Ave, Oak Creek, Wisconsin 53154

This quiet stream south of Milwaukee offers opportunities for trout fishing, particularly brown and rainbow trout. The stretch below the Oak Creek Power Plant is known for its year-round trout fishing due to the warm water discharge from the plant, which creates favorable conditions for trout.

Fishing: Shoreline
Brown trout, rainbow trout

Fox River (Waukesha County)

Fox River Trail, Waukesha, Wisconsin 53189

About a half-hour drive west of Milwaukee, the Fox River in Waukesha County offers fantastic fishing for smallmouth bass, northern pike, and walleye. This scenic river provides ample opportunities for both bank and boat fishing.

Fishing: Shoreline, kayak
Smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye

Rock River (Jefferson County)

Rock River Dr, Jefferson, Wisconsin 53549

A bit further afield, the Rock River in Jefferson County is worth the drive for anglers seeking a variety of fish species. Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, catfish, and panfish are all plentiful here, providing diverse fishing experiences.

Fishing: Shoreline, kayak
Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, catfish, panfish

Top Hiking Trails Within 1 Hour of Milwaukee

Oak Leaf Trail

South Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53172

The trail is a beloved recreational gem that winds its way through the city’s urban landscape, offering residents and visitors a scenic pathway for walking, jogging, biking, and skating. Originally conceived in the 1930s, the trail has since evolved into a comprehensive network of interconnected paths, offering access to some of Milwaukee’s most iconic landmarks and natural attractions.

Distance: 3.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 
32 m
Time to Complete:
1 hour

Grant Park Nature Trail

Seven Bridges Trail, South Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53172

As part of the larger Oak Creek Parkway system, the Grant Park Nature Trail offers stunning views of Lake Michigan’s shoreline and the picturesque Seven Bridges ravine, where cascading waterfalls create a serene atmosphere.

Distance: 1 mile
Elevation Gain: 
27 m
Time to Complete:
30 minutes

Bugline Trail

Bugline Trail Head, Bugline Trail, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin 53051

Originally a railroad corridor, the trail now spans approximately 16 miles, inviting walkers, joggers, cyclists, and nature lovers alike to explore its beauty. Lined with lush greenery, vibrant wildflowers, and occasional glimpses of wildlife, the trail provides a refreshing retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Distance: 16.5 miles
Point to point
Elevation Gain:
114 m 
Time to Complete:
5.5 hours

Best Golf Courses in Milwaukee

Brown Deer Park Golf Course

7625 N Range Line Rd, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53209

Situated within the city limits of Milwaukee, Brown Deer Park Golf Course offers a classic parkland layout designed by George Hansen. This public course has hosted professional golf events, including the Greater Milwaukee Open (now the PGA Tour’s AmFam Championship), and provides a challenging yet accessible experience for golfers of all abilities.

Holes: 18
George Hansen

Visit their website for more information

Whistling Straits

N8501 Lakeshore Rd, Sheboygan, Wisconsin 53083

Located about an hour north of Milwaukee in Sheboygan, Whistling Straits is a world-renowned golf destination designed by Pete Dye. The Straits Course has hosted multiple major championships, including the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup, and features stunning views of Lake Michigan and rugged terrain reminiscent of Irish links courses.

Holes: 36
Pete Dye

Visit their website for more information

The Bog

3121 County Rd I, Saukville, Wisconsin 53080

Located in Saukville, just north of Milwaukee, The Bog offers a scenic and challenging golf experience amidst rolling hills, wetlands, and native grasses. Designed by Arnold Palmer, this 18 hole championship course features a mix of wooded and open holes, providing a test of skill and strategy for golfers.

Holes: 18
Arnold Palmer

Visit their website for more information

Tips on Renting a Vacation Property in Milwaukee

Start Early

Begin your search for vacation rentals well in advance, especially if you’re planning to visit during peak tourist seasons or for major events like Summerfest. This will give you a better chance of finding the perfect property that fits your preferences and budget.

Define Your Needs

Consider what amenities are essential for your stay, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, kitchen facilities, parking availability, and proximity to attractions or public transportation. This will help narrow down your search and find a property that meets your requirements.

Communicate with the Host

Reach out to the property owner or manager with any questions or concerns you may have before booking. Clarify details such as check-in/check-out procedures, house rules, cancellation policies, and any additional fees or charges upfront to avoid misunderstandings later on.

Be a Responsible Guest

Treat the vacation rental with respect and follow any house rules or guidelines provided by the host. Communicate promptly with the host if any issues arise during your stay, and leave the property in a clean and tidy condition upon checkout.

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Jet Skiing

Traveling to Milwaukee offers a rich tapestry of experiences, blending historical charm, vibrant culture, and picturesque landscapes along the shores of Lake Michigan. As the largest city in Wisconsin, Milwaukee boasts a dynamic urban landscape framed by a diverse array of neighborhoods, each with its own character and attractions. From the historic Third Ward with its cobblestone streets and trendy boutiques to the laid-back vibe of Brady Street filled with eclectic cafes and bars, Milwaukee invites exploration at every turn.

One of the city’s most iconic features is its brewing heritage, evident in the numerous breweries dotting its landscape. Visitors can embark on brewery tours to learn about the city’s beer-making legacy, sample local brews, and immerse themselves in the lively atmosphere of taprooms and beer gardens. Beyond beer, Milwaukee’s culinary scene offers a delectable journey through its diverse flavors, from classic Midwest comfort food to innovative farm-to-table cuisine served in chic eateries and cozy diners.

For those seeking cultural enrichment, Milwaukee delivers with its array of museums, galleries, and performing arts venues. The Milwaukee Art Museum dazzles with its striking architecture and impressive collection spanning from antiquity to contemporary art. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Public Museum offers immersive exhibits exploring natural history, world cultures, and science. Theater enthusiasts can catch a show at the historic Pabst Theater or enjoy live performances at the Marcus Performing Arts Center.

Nature lovers will find solace in Milwaukee’s abundant green spaces and scenic parks. From the lush landscapes of Lake Park to the panoramic views of Lake Michigan from Bradford Beach, outdoor enthusiasts can hike, bike, or simply unwind amidst the city’s natural beauty. The Milwaukee RiverWalk provides a picturesque pathway along the riverfront, lined with cafes, public art installations, and scenic overlooks.

In summary, traveling to Milwaukee promises an enriching experience filled with history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether strolling through its vibrant neighborhoods, savoring its culinary delights, or immersing oneself in its arts and entertainment scene, Milwaukee captivates visitors with its unique blend of Midwestern charm and urban allure.

Frequently Asked Questions about Milwaukee

The best time to visit Milwaukee is during the summer months (June to August) when the weather is warm and there are numerous outdoor festivals and events happening.

The Third Ward and Brady Street neighborhoods are popular for shopping and dining in Milwaukee, offering a variety of boutiques, restaurants, and cafes.

Visitors can get around Milwaukee using public transportation options like the Milwaukee County Transit System buses and the Hop streetcar, as well as rideshare services and rental cars.

Yes, you can take day trips from Milwaukee to destinations like the charming town of Cedarburg, the scenic Kettle Moraine State Forest, and the beautiful shores of Lake Geneva.

Milwaukee is located about 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of Chicago, and the drive typically takes around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic.

Popular events and festivals in Milwaukee include Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival, as well as Polish Fest, German Fest, and the Milwaukee Film Festival.

Yes, Milwaukee offers a variety of accommodations ranging from luxury hotels to budget-friendly motels, with options available in the downtown area as well as surrounding neighborhoods.

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