You only have one day in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and still don’t want to miss any things to do and highlights during your city trip? No problem at all with the travel tips and BIG5 checklists from JOURNICATION! This Milwaukee travel guide shows you with maps the route to the best places within Wisconsin’s biggest city. In addition to my personal experience report, you will receive recommendations on the best hotels, restaurants and photo spots in Milwaukee and an overview of the costs. You will see, in 24 hours in Milwaukee, there are more sights to discover than just the Art Museum and Lake Michigan shore. Let’s go for a perfect day in Milwaukee in 2021!
What do you learn in this article?
BIG5 Things to do in Milwaukee
You don’t want to miss any sights? Find all the tips and your checklist for the city trip to Milwaukee here:
BIG5 Milwaukee – Speed Date
The Milwaukee Art Museum is a remarkable building you should not miss out! Great architecture!
The winter weather. Full stop.
Plan out your day. The city is walkable, but not small enough to see everything in one day. Research festivals and activities beforehand to avoid crowds OR catch the party. Rent a Bublr bike to see more.
Skip the tours. You can do Milwaukee on a budget.
Don’t tell your mother:
Go too far off the beaten path. Just like any major city, there are dangerous areas.
BIG5 Milwaukee – Rapid Fire Q&A
- Are the winters really that bad? – Yes. If you don’t like cold weather, avoid the winter months.
- How far is Milwaukee from Chicago? – It is just 90 minutes drive.
- What’s Milwaukee like? – It’s often referred to as the “Mini Chicago”. It’s a major city with small-town vibes and friendly people.
- Is Milwaukee dangerous? – No. It’s just like any major city, there are areas outside the tourist map that should be avoided. Be mindful at nighttime.
- Is Milwaukee family-friendly? – YES! There are plenty of activities to do with kids. E.g. Milwaukee Zoo.
BIG5 Milwaukee – Orga
Best travel time for Milwaukee
The best time to travel to Milwaukee is summertime, June through September. The temperatures stay in the mid-70s to low 90s (20-30 Grad Celsius). Autumn is also beautiful for photos as the leaves change. September-October is “jean-jacket” weather, perfect for walking or biking the city.
Arrival & Departure in Milwaukee
Visa: Check here whether you need a visa for USA with your passport
- Flight: Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (IATA: MKE) is just 10 minutes from downtown via text or Uber.
- Bus: There are many bus services that service to Milwaukee. Greyhound is a great option for affordable and quick trips. Bus service starts and ends at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport.
- Train: If you are coming from Chicago, the Amtrak train is a good option. Trains lead to Milwaukee Intermodal Station.
- Car: Street parking ranges from $.75/hour to $2.00/hour. Parking is free on Sundays and limited areas on Saturdays. Read parking signs carefully.
Next it goes to … Chicago
Accommodation / Hotels in Milwaukee
Recommended location: it’s best to stay in the heart of downtown nearby all the attractions, especially if you are limited on time.
- Budget: Hampton Inn Milwaukee Airport (1200 West College Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53221; from € 79) – great hotel in the city center with an exercise facility and swim pool in the indoor
- Budget: Knickerbocker on the Lake (1028 East Juneau Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53202; from € 85) – great hotel in the city center with a full kitchen in every room, Knick Salon, Spa features massage services and Skincare
- Medium: Holiday Inn Express & Suites (115 Discovery Drive, Brookfield, WI 53045; ab 143€) – tolles Hotel in der Innenstadt mit Fitnesscenter sowie kostenlosem WLAN im gesamten Gebäude
- Medium: Aloft Milwaukee Downtown (1230 Old World Third Street, Milwaukee, WI 53212, double room from 250€) – trendy riverside 3-star hotel with contemporary rooms and pool. Allows pets. Ranked high for location, cleanliness, and service.
- Noble: Saint Kate The Arts Hotel (139 East Kilbourn Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53202; from € 322) – great hotel in the city center with four onsite restaurants and two bars and 24-hour room service is available
- Noble: SpringHill Suites by Marriott Milwaukee Downtown(744 Vel R Phillips Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53203; from € 379) – great hotel in the city center with a private bathroom flat-screen TV and air conditioning
Price Level in Milwaukee
In USA you pay with Dollars ($)
Withdraw money: there are ATMs located throughout the city for convenience. Most gas stations, banks, and convenience stores have ATMs available. Search for your bank to avoid fees.
Beer indicator: average cost of a beer is $5 (not including tip).
Cost of a taxi: the basic fee is $2.75, the kilometer price is $1.56. $21.00 is charged per hour for waiting time. Download Uber or Lyft for a more affordable, safe option.
Restaurants, Bars & Cafés in Milwaukee
- Milwaukee Public Market: marketplace for great coffee, lunch options, and souvenirs, home to 20+ local vendors.
- Uncle Wolfie’s Breakfast Tavern: breakfast or brunch option at this cool, old-school tavern.
- La Dama: artistic spot with modern, regional Mexican cuisine.
- Celesta: great lunch spot for vegetarian and vegan travelers.
- Good City Brewing: Milwaukee is known as “Brew City” for its thriving brewery culture. Check out Good City Brewing for local craft beer and delicious eats.
- Colectivo: Milwaukee-based coffee, if you want local coffee, head to Colectivo!
BIG5 Milwaukee – Activities
- Explore Milwaukee’s street art: check out Black Cat Ally for a free, outdoor art gallery.
- Cruise around on a Bublr bike: rent a bike from the many stations around the city. Explore downtown and along the Lake Michigan pathway. ($3 per 30 minutes)
- Go to a Bucks or Brewers game: for a local experience, go to a Milwaukee sporting event. ($22-$102 for Bucks game, Brewers tickets start at $9)
- Tour the Milwaukee Art Museum: one of the largest art museums in the world, it contains nearly 25,000 works of art. ($19 for visitors ages 13-64, $17 for students and seniors, free for kids)
- Milwaukee County Zoo: 200-acre wildlife park, a great activity for kids. ($14.25 for adults 13+, $11.25 for kids ages 3-12, $12.75 for seniors 60+, free for infants ages 0-2, $15 for parking)
BIG5 Milwaukee – Photo spots
- Milwaukee Lighthouse
- Veteran’s Park for a photo-perfect picnic
- Milwaukee Riverwalk
- Atwater Beach for a gorgeous sunset photo opp
- Black Cat Alley to check out the best murals in town
BIG5 Milwaukee – Things to do off the beaten track
- Swing Park to swing underneath Milwaukee’s Holton Street bridge.
- Explore Shaker’s Cigar Bar
- Mitchell Domes, a unique botanical garden with three giant domes
- National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum filled with over 10,000 bobblehead dolls
- Holler House, the oldest certified bowling alley in the US
BIG5 Milwaukee – Culinary Journey
- Cheese curds, cheese appetizer served with ranch dressing
- Summer sausage, Milwaukee is the major producer and consumer of sausage and bratwursts
- Cream puff, famous treat at the Wisconsin State Fair
- Fish fry, battered and fried perch or walleye served with tartar sauce and coleslaw
- Frozen custard, frozen dessert similar to ice cream
BIG5 Milwaukee – Communication
In the US, you speak English
- thank you – thank you 🙂
BIG5 Milwaukee – Helpful Websites / Links
- Official website of Milwaukee for events, updates, etc.
BIG5 Milwaukee – Overview map for your city trip
A perfect day in Milwaukee 🇺🇸 – here is your overview
Best suited for screenshots 📷📝
Your morning in Milwaukee
- Grab a coffee at Colectivo, Kickapoo Coffee, or Holey Moley Coffee (Alderaan is right near the Riverwalk)
- Start your day walking along the Milwaukee Riverwalk
- Walkto Milwaukee Public Museum
- Pabst Mansion (if time)
Your afternoon in Milwaukee
- Get lunch at Milwaukee Brat House for delicious German food and a local beer
- Milwaukee Art Museum
- Walk to the Third Ward, a neighborhood filled with restaurants, shops, and murals.
- Pritzlaff Building
- Grab a snack at Milwaukee Public Market
Your evening in Milwaukee
- City Lights Brewing Co.
- Bryant’s Cocktail lounge (take an Uber to oldest cocktail lounge in the city) or walk to Stella’s
In addition to the BIG5, I have summarized the things to do in Milwaukee and the circular route for you in an overview map:
Click on the icon at the top left to use the full range of map options!
Explore the best things to do in Milwaukee in one day
Only have one day to explore Milwaukee? No worries, I’ve got your back. Milwaukee is a hidden gem of the Midwest as well as the perfect day trip from Chicago. Wherever you’re traveling from, this guide is for you.
Milwaukee is an epicenter of art, culture, good food, and history. A city that has something for everyone, perfect for families, solo travelers, and couples. Experience it all in just one day.
Below is a more in-depth dive into a perfect day in Milwaukee. This itinerary was created with convenience in mind, everything is walkable if not stated. Remember to wear comfortable shoes and pack snacks and a reusable water bottle.
Things to do in Milwaukee in the morning
I recommend starting your morning early. Grab a coffee and quick breakfast at one of the many local coffee shops on your way to the Milwaukee Riverwalk. Alderaan is right near the Riverwalk, otherwise Colectivo, Kickapoo, or Holey Moley Coffee are all great options.
Take photos along the Milwaukee Riverwalk and enjoy the beautiful views. Next, head to Milwaukee Public Museum nearby which opens at 9am. I recommend going early to avoid crowds, especially on the weekends. The Milwaukee Public Museum has over 4 million artifacts of natural and human history.
If you have some extra time before lunch, walk to Pabst Mansion, home of Milwaukee’s pioneer brewing family built in 1892. Tours available, $14 admission for adults.
Things to do in Milwaukee in the afternoon
Get lunch at Milwaukee Brat House for delicious German food, possibly a local beer. Order a Milwaukee staple, bratwurst. For vegetarian or vegan travelers, instead check out Celeste.
Next, walk to Milwaukee Art Museum, one of the largest art museums in the world. This museum houses over 30,000 works of art from the 19th-20th century. The architecture of the building makes the museum one of the best photo spots of Milwaukee.
The close-by Veteran Park is a great place to take a break in the nature and offers stunning views over Milwaukee Skyline and the Art Museum.
Optional: if you want to check out Black Cat Alley up north, you’ll have to grab an Uber or rent a bike.
You’re more into motorcycles than modern art? Then you’ve come to the right place in Milwaukee! In the city center you’ll find the Harley Davidson Museum, which brings the more than 100-year history of the famous bikes to life. Look forward to over 450 Harleys in the more than 12,000 square meter building complex.
After an art tour, walk on over to the Third Ward, a neighborhood filled with restaurants, local shops, and street murals. Check out Pritzlaff Building and snap a photo of this beautiful historic building. Stop by Milwaukee Public Market, grab a snack or a Milwaukee-themed souvenir.
Things to do in Milwaukee in the evening
You are looking for the best Milwaukee sunset spot? Go to Lakeshore State Park for a nice view on the Milwaukee skyline during sunset. Great alternatives are Kilbourn Park and Atwater Beach for gorgeous sunset photo opportunities.
To end a perfect day in Milwaukee, I’d recommend getting a brew and some grub in Brew City. There are a couple different breweries nearby, one being City Lights Brewing Co. If you’re looking for a romantic evening, head to Onesto for homestyle Italian fare. Another option: La Dama for excellent modern Mexican cuisine.
If you’re in the mood for after-dinner cocktails, head to Bryant’s Cocktail lounge, the oldest cocktail lounge in Milwaukee. Another option: Stella’s, a cocktail bar nearby.
Prost to your Milwaukee adventures! There is plenty to see and do in Milwaukee, I hope you enjoy your time there. For more Midwest adventures, check out 75+ Places to See in Midwest, USA. This article is published in cooperation with Courtney from Courtney the Explorer Blog.
You’re looking for more destinations in the United States? Go on reading with US Road Trips – Travel Blogger’s Highlights