12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions And Popular Things To Do In Milwaukee (2023)
Milwaukee is the gorgeous and coolest Wisconsin city. It is located on the convergence of Lake Michigan and Menomonee, Kinnikinic, and Milwaukee Rivers. While the waterfront is the most common draw here, there are endless other things to do and observe in the city. Being Wisconsin’s largest city, Milwaukee is home to museums, historic buildings, zoos, gardens, parks that altogether making it a hub of tourism.
From the Harley-Davidson Museum to Old-world Wisconsin and the Pabst Mansion, here you will find an assortment of tourist attractions. There are options to choose from indoor affairs to outdoor gorgeousness depending upon interest and seasons. Keeping aside the city’s splendid Riverwalk pedestrian path, we have compiled a list of other places and activities Milwaukee is popular for.
Top-Rated Tourist Attractions to Visit in Milwaukee
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1. The Harley-Davidson Museum
A trip to Milwaukee is incomplete if its itinerary does not include exploring the Harley-Davidson Museum. The city gained its fame from the legendry Harley-Davidson business, and this iconic museum is an honor to that. The museum currently is home to over 450 motorcycles and artifacts, including the oldest Harley bike, “the Serial Number One.” There are 11 permanent exhibits and several rotating exhibits attracting bike lovers of every kind. Another highlight here includes a Harley recovered from the 2011 Japan Tsunami. Guests can either take an audio tour or go the regular way for exploring the museum. The best part is, guests can even jump-start several Harley bikes outside the museum and learn how it feels.
2. The Milwaukee Art Museum
Presenting the excellence of art, the Art Museum in Milwaukee is a must-visit place. The museum building in itself looks futuristic with cantilevered wings, a gleaming white suspension bridge, and a 30-meter vaulted glass ceiling. The museum complex is spread over 341000 sq. ft and is home to over 30,000 artworks. The collection here revolves around European and American art, from old to contemporary. What draws tourists the most here is the classic combination of art and architecture. The entire setup is so grand and attractive that it is difficult to focus on one place at a time. Located in downtown Milwaukee during night hours, the museum also offers a spectacular overview of Lake Michigan.
3. The Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory
Also known as the Domes, the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory is located in the western part of the city. The conservatory has three huge glass domes, each of which spans 85 feet high and 140 feet in diameter. When built back in 1959, the conservatory was the first of its kind. These domes are home to tropic plants from across the globe. Not just a few hundreds, but they are in thousands of counts. From the common flowering plants to the rare of the rarest tropics, you can find almost any plant you can think of at the conservatory. Some of the popular attractions here are the five seasons show and the 12000 species of rainforest plants. The Horticultural Conservatory is operational year-round from Wednesday to Sunday for an entry fee of just $5.
4. The Pabst Mansion
A historic landmark, the Pabst Mansion is undoubtedly a top-rated tourist attraction in Milwaukee. This jewel from the past was built in the year 1892 in a grand Flemish Renaissance Revival style. Inside the building, you can find period furnishings and décor. The mansion from inside includes 37 rooms, 14 fireplaces, and over 12 hidden compartments. Further, there’s also a carriage house, a greenhouse, and a pavilion. It takes nearly 3 hours to explore the entire mansion, and this journey indeed is filled with history. Visitors can either take a self-guided tour or, if interested in information, guides too are available. Going back, there’s also a souvenir shop with a unique selection of things to buy.
5. Boerner Botanical Gardens
Located in Milwaukee County, 20 minutes from its downtown, is the Boerner Botanical Gardens, a peacefully gorgeous place. This botanical garden is home to a dozen of themed gardens housing over 1000 plants. Some of these gardens were laid back in the year 1930 and since then is growing notable plant life. The place operates from late April through early November, and some professional horticulturists maintain it. During winters, the gardens remain closed. Here, some of the highlights include a peony, rose, annual, perennial, and a rock garden. This is a must-visit place in Milwaukee for anyone looking for a nice walk amidst beauty and peace. If you are a fan of plants and nature, you are going to fall in love with this place.
6. The Milwaukee County Zoo
One of the largest Zoos in the United States, the Milwaukee County Zoo is a top-rated tourist attraction of Milwaukee. It is spread over 190 acres and is home to 1,800 animals. The Zoo has also earned a reputation for its bonobo breeding program and for the second birth of polar bears and siamangs. Most of the thousands of animals one sees here are rescued, whereas a few of them are born and brought up here. Despite its extensive animal collection, the Zoo is a hit over kids of Milwaukee. The Zoo houses an animal petting area, fun safari train, penguin viewing area, camel rides, and whatnot.
Along with that, they also organize fun and engaging event throughout the year. Some of the highlights include a fun breakfast with Santa Claus. Paid entries run throughout the year; however, they also offer seasonal free admission days.
7. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church
The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s last works. It is known as a National historic landmark and also an architectural wonder. The church building from the outside resembles a spaceship or an alien with a toothy smile. What views you capture depends upon the angle you observe from. One can either go for a church tour or attend any of the regular church services. Some of the popular events here include Greek Fest and the Easter celebration. The church transforms gloriously into something straight out of Greece during those times. From the views to vibes, everything here is enjoyable and admirable.
Popular Things To Do When In Milwaukee
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8. Plan a Full Day Trip To Old-World Wisconsin
Old-world Wisconsin is an open-air museum and a fascinating tourist place in Wisconsin. It is located 45 minutes southwest of Milwaukee, in a small neighborhood village known as Eagle. The site is home to 65 historic pioneer-era buildings and very realistic recreation of the pioneer’s life. Along with the building, the entire area remains lively with customed staff that are involved in activities bringing illustrations to life. Guests, too, here can contribute to chores and cooking and playing, crafting, and trading. While the exploration will begin from present times, it will slowly take you back to the early 1900s and eventually to the mid-1800s. There is so much to do, learn, and observe that everyone can find a spot of engagement here, from kids to older adults. Though the place operates throughout the year, the best time to visit here is during Christmas festivities and year-end events.
9. Attend the Elegant Farmer’s Autumn Harvest Festival
For anyone who is interested in living an authentic farm experience, the Farmer’s Autumn Harvest Festival in Milwaukee is an event for them. The event is organized in Mukwonago, a village within half an hour from Milwaukee. Guests can go for corn mazing, apple picking, train, pony & hayrides, and several other fun-filled activities during the event. The festival organizes every year in the month of October, though the date may shuffle. The Farmer’s market also has a permanent Smilin’ Barn Café.
Undoubtedly, this café deals in some of the most lip-smacking delights, especially the cider donuts and chicken pies. If you happen to miss the event, you can still visit the Farmer’s market year-round from morning to evening.
10. Watch The Wings Open from Reiman Suspension Bridge
You may have visited the Milwaukee Art Museum multiple times, but did you ever observe it from a distance? Yes. When in Milwaukee, reach the waterfront sharp at 10 in the morning (ideally 5 to 10 minutes early). Exact at 10, the sails of the Milwaukee Art Museum open up. They are basically a wingspan of a Boeing 747 that opens up every morning with the opening hour of the museum. The views of the same are so graceful that you may fail to distract your vision for a minute. For doing the same, stand right at the center of the Reiman Suspension pedestrian footbridge. Especially if you are a Milwaukee local, it is one of the musts to do things in the city.
11. Just Eat And Drink In Downtown Milwaukee
Milwaukee has some great food and drinks (who does not know its beer). Especially downtown Milwaukee is an ultimate destination for foodies and drink lovers. There are multiple world-class bistros, cafes, cocktail lounges, gourmet coffee houses, and local food joints at the waterfront. Or you can also head towards the Historic Third Ward neighborhood, Walker’s Point, and Brady Street. While information about some four tours is available online, some tours offer secret dishes and destinations that revel only on location. When in the city, do try some cheese, beer, and corn, the State’s favorite.
12. Discover the Forest Home Cemetery
Located on the South of the city, the Forest Home Cemetery is Milwaukee’s priceless and peaceful treasure. It is not just the final resting place of over lakh individuals but is also a gracious outdoor location. It is filled with thousands of trees, sun-graced grass, fountains, a lake, small bridges, and gorgeous floral gardens. Everything here is so nicely maintained that you would come back time and again, one’s a visitor. The city has miles of walking paths open for visitors throughout the year. Besides the cemetery, there’s also a splendid Gothic structure, a visit-worthy site. The cemetery offers much to do, from paying respect to Milwaukee elites to soaking in the beauty of nature.