Travel Guide to Milwaukee
When Vogue named Milwaukee “The Coolest City in the Midwest” in 2018, they confirmed what we have known for a long time. Milwaukee is without a doubt one of the coolest cities in the US. The diverse melting pot of people mixed with the city’s German, Polish, and Italian roots contribute to an eclectic and vibrant culture that is easy to love. In the summer, there are sailboats in the harbor, people sunning on the golden beaches, fireworks every night, and festivals in every neighborhood. Combined with the incredible local cuisine, art culture, and brewing traditions, Milwaukee is obviously our favorite place in the world. Our team at Untapped Tours is excited to show you around this city we love to call home.
Getting To and From Milwaukee
Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport
The Milwaukee Airport (MKE) is located eight miles from downtown. You can take an Uber, Lyft, or taxi from the airport to reach downtown in a matter of 10 minutes. Also, Amtrak has trains and buses that connect MKE Airport and downtown. You can reserve Milwaukee Airport parking online if you want to guarantee your parking spot in advance.
Amtrak Hiawatha has a direct train route that runs from Chicago Union Station to downtown Milwaukee (Intermodal Station). The trip takes around 90 minutes and the tickets are around $50 for a round trip. If you are coming from Green Bay, there is also a direct route on Amtrak that takes around 3 hours and 15 minutes.
Getting Around Milwaukee
Driving around downtown Milwaukee is not nearly as bad as other major cities. Parking is readily available at parking lots and garages located around the popular downtown attractions. However, there are other ways to get around downtown that will be faster and better for the environment.
Walking and Biking
Milwaukee’s downtown is very pedestrian and biker friendly. Milwaukee Riverwalk is a 3-mile pedestrian walkway that connects downtown, Old World Third Street, and the Historic Third Ward. There are bike paths throughout the city and along Lake Michigan. You can rent bikes through Milwaukee’s bike share program, Bublr Bikes.
Milwaukee County Transit has public buses that run throughout downtown and the rest of the county. The routes cover 90% of Milwaukee County. You can download their app to purchase bus tickets, find route information, and track the buses. The buses do not operate 24/7, but it’s close. Routes stop service mostly between 3:00 am and 4:00 am.
The Hop is the new Milwaukee streetcar that connects popular neighborhoods, parks, and attractions. It arrives every 15 minutes between Monday through Friday from 5:00 am to 12:00 am and on Sundays from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Our Favorite Neighborhoods
East Side is the trendy area of the city with a blend of college students, young professionals, and hipsters. Historically, it is the center of Milwaukee’s Italian population. The area is packed with fun options for nightlife like wine bars, indie movie theaters, jazz clubs, and more. The East Side is also home to renowned parks like Lake Park and Riverside Park. Both of these parks were designed by the same person who designed New York’s Central Park.
Historic Third Ward
This historic warehouse district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The neighborhood is artsy and eclectic with an industrial edge. The apartments are known for their funky warehouse and loft architecture. You’ll find local restaurants, hip coffee shops, stylish boutiques, and the famous Milwaukee Public Market. The Third Ward is connected to downtown via the Riverwalk.
Food and Drinks
German immigrants brought their brewing traditions to Milwaukee dating back to the 1840s. As the city grew, Milwaukee became the beer capital of the world and earned the nickname “Brew City.” For many years, Milwaukee was the number one beer producing city in the world. Today, the city is renowned for its craft beers and special microbreweries. You’ll find cozy beer gardens doting the city where you can grab a drink and relax with friends for a while.
The Milwaukee Public Market is a hip indoor market with Wisconsin-specific eats, along with a wide variety of ethnic cuisine, craft drinks, and other specialty goods. Stop for a quick bite to eat or sit down at one of the restaurants located here. This bustling market is a fun place to do some shopping.
Things to Do in Milwaukee
Stroll Along the Riverwalk
The Riverwalk is a pedestrian pathway along the Milwaukee River. It extends from downtown Milwaukee to the Historic Third Ward. It’s a fun walk to see the sites of the city and enjoy local art installations. Take a picture with the Bronze Fonz, a bronze statue of Fonzie from Happy Days.
Milwaukee Art Museum
The Milwaukee Art Museum is situated on Lake Michigan, so not only will you get to enjoy wonderful exhibits, but you can soak in the lakefront views, as well. You will see many works by Wisconsin native, George O’Keeffe, and other works by Claude Monet, Andy Warhol, Frank Lloyd Wright, amongst many others. The museum contains nearly 25,000 works of art, making it one of the largest museums in the United States.
Enjoy a Summer Festival
Festivals are happening almost every day during the summer in Milwaukee. The weather is sunny and warm during the summer, so attending a festival is the perfect summertime activity. Milwaukee is known as “The City of Festivals” due to its large volume of festivals. The largest music festival in the world, Summerfest, happens every year in the Third Ward district. Cultural festivals like Festa Italiana, German Fest, and Polish Fest, also happen every summer.
Oak Leaf Trail
Oak Leaf Trail is one of the terrific free things to do in Milwaukee. The paved path runs throughout downtown Milwaukee and the surrounding county connecting all the major parks. Enjoy biking, walking, running, or rollerblading along Lake Michigan, past popular landmarks, and through picturesque scenery. Then, finish at one of the beautiful beer gardens located along the path.
Explore with Untapped Tours
We have curated our tours to encompass the best that Milwaukee has to offer. It’s perfect if you are with a group of friends, or even traveling solo because you will be sure to make friends along the way. The Brewery Tour includes a visit to four breweries and with two beers at each stop. You’ll get to learn about the passion and motivation of the local brewers and the story behind the beers. The City Tour will take you past all the popular attractions and includes tastings of local Milwaukee foods. Get acquainted with the city, its history, and culture. Learn all the local secrets and hidden gems that will inform more of your visit to this historic city.