There are plenty of exciting things to do in Milwaukee, whether you live there or are visiting. Wisconsin’s largest city is situated beautifully on Lake Michigan with lots of historical buildings, festivals, and parks. It’s best to visit this city in the summer, but there are still many one-of-a-kind indoor activities to enjoy year-round. So, what Milwaukee activities can you add to your bucket list?
#1 – SummerFest
SummerFest is Milwaukee’s annual music festival, located right on Lake Michigan. It’s named the “Largest Music Festival in the World” as it hosts 800 bands on 11 stages over the course of several weeks. The usual attendance is between 800,000 and 900,000 people. On top of the wide variety of live music, there are plenty of other activities, such as dining and shopping. You can also ride a ferris wheel or sky ride in between shows. It’s a popular summer event that you won’t want to miss, especially if you love concerts.
#2 – Milwaukee Art Museum
The art museum itself is already a piece of art. It’s a tall, winged structure that looks out on Lake Michigan, and it’s impossible to miss. It’s one of the largest art museums in the world, holding about 25,000 works of art across four different floors. It has a wide collection of classic pieces and modern collections. The gorgeous entryway is often used as an event space or a special exhibit area, thanks to its incredible view of the water. It’s a peaceful and enjoyable way to spend your day in Milwaukee.
#3 – Discovery World
Located right beside the Milwaukee Art Museum, Discovery World is one of the more interactive things to do in Milwaukee. It’s a science and technology museum, with many interactive exhibits for people of all ages. At Discovery World, you can get up close to aquatic animals, learn how certain machines are made, and interact with fascinating science experiments. For hands-on learners, it’s certainly the most exciting museum to see. And like the art museum, it has a beautiful view of the lake and the city.
#4 – Mitchell Park Domes
The Domes are a warm, beautiful attraction, no matter what the weather is like outside. Each of the three dome-shaped structures showcases a variety of plants from different climates. One is a desert climate, another is a rainforest, and the third is for special events, which changes seasonally. The special event dome has shows like a Christmas-themed display and a train show. It’s a quick walk-through event, but it’s a gorgeous must-see activity. Plus, it’s an excellent place for a photo opportunity.
#5 – Sculpture Walk
For years now, the busy Wisconsin Avenue has been home to an assortment of unique sculptures. Every year, the road showcases new sculptures from various artists. If you love art, but would rather spend the day outside, this is a great, affordable alternative to the art museum. On the Sculpture Milwaukee website, you can even download a map or audio tour to make your adventure more exciting. The best way to enjoy these sculptures is to start on West Wisconsin and then walk toward Lake Michigan, or vice versa.
#6 – Milwaukee Public Museum
While it’s not interactive like Discovery World and not on the water like the art museum, the Milwaukee Public Museum has a lot to offer. It’s a history museum with three stories of fun exhibits, including a special exhibit on many occasions. You can walk through the rainforest, see massive dinosaurs up close, and even walk through a butterfly garden. Plus, one of the exhibits unique to Milwaukee is the streets of old Milwaukee, where you can take a walk down what Milwaukee was once like. Also, if you feel like watching a film, there’s an IMAX and planetarium too. There’s something for everyone at this museum, regardless of the weather outside.
#7 – Harley-Davidson Museum
There’s no shortage of interesting museums in Milwaukee, and the Harley-Davidson Museum is perfect for riders and motorcycle enthusiasts. You can view the many Harley-Davidson vehicles, which were made right in Wisconsin. You will also get to see exactly how these motorcycles were made. If you’re dying for more information about motorcycles, the Harley-Davidson factory is also about 20 minutes away in Menomonee Falls. There, you can get tours and see the production process in action.
#8 – The SafeHouse
The SafeHouse is a lesser known Milwaukee attraction, but it’s certainly worth a visit. It’s a spy-themed bar and restaurant that’s hidden in an alley. You need to know the secret password to get in, but if your friends won’t tell you, there’s another way in. The staff will ask you to do something silly, such as the chicken dance, to get in without a password. Then, once inside, you can explore the many quirks of this establishment and see others embarrass themselves upon entry thanks to the TV screens located throughout. While exploring, you might even discover what the secret password is. Then, when you’re ready to leave, there’s also a secret way to exit too. While a bit intimidating at first, it’s ultimately a fun experience for first-time guests and Milwaukee residents.
#9 – Milwaukee County Zoo
The Milwaukee County Zoo is a large, beautiful zoo with over 190 acres. It’s home to over 1,800 animals, from penguins to otters to elephants. Most animals have both indoor and outdoor exhibits, so it’s exciting to visit year-round. It’s also known for its special events, including a life-like dinosaur exhibit and a sting ray petting experience. On top of the many animals to look at, there’s dining, a train that goes around the park, and a rope course. If you’re an animal lover, you could spend all day visiting the many amazing creatures.
#10 – Pabst Mansion
What city would be complete without an old mansion to tour? The Pabst Mansion was once the home of Captain Fredrick Pabst, who founded the Pabst Brewing Company. It was built in 1842, and cost $254,000 at the time. You can tour this mansion to get a closer look at its remarkable architecture and furnishings. It has a total of 37 rooms, which have 14 fireplaces and over a dozen hidden spaces. On top of the main house, it has a carriage house, pavilion, and a greenhouse. Throughout the tour, you’ll learn the history of the family and their brewery. It’s sure to give you an eerie, yet charming vibe while learning a little more about this city’s past.
#11 – Milwaukee Riverwalk
If you want an event that won’t cost a penny, the Milwaukee Riverwalk is always a relaxing way to spend the day, especially during summer. The Riverwalk is a two-mile path that takes you along the Milwaukee River. It’s the best way to see most of the city without having to drive down the busy streets. Along the path, you’ll find lots of restaurants with patios and many permanent sculptures like the famous Bronze Fonz. You can also use the Riverwalk to travel from one attraction to the next.
#12 – American Family Field
The American Family Field, formerly known as Miller Park, is Milwaukee’s massive baseball stadium, which can be seen right off the freeway. Even if you’re not a sports fan, going to a Brewer’s game can be an exciting environment, filled with snacks, shopping, and lots of fun events for the kids. It’s exciting to walk around the building and tailgate before the game. One of the unique features of this structure is the convertible roof, which opens when the weather is pleasant. If you love sports, but not baseball, you can also check out a Milwaukee Bucks basketball game at the Fiserv Forum.
#13 – Wisconsin State Fair
Finally, the Wisconsin State Fair is located right along the freeway just like the American Family Field. It’s one of the best things to do in Milwaukee, especially during the summer. It has something for everyone, including food, animals, shopping, rides, and concerts. It usually lasts for multiple weeks, with over a million people attending each year. For most families, it’s an essential place to visit during the summer. When the State Fair is not going on, the Wisconsin State Fair Park hosts other events too.
There’s never a dull day in this city. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing indoor activity or a busy outdoor event, there are plenty of things to do in Milwaukee. Even if you’ve lived in Wisconsin your whole life, these thirteen activities are sure to bring you joy. So, what will your next adventure bring?
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