Milwaukee Musts: La Crème de la Crème of Cream City

No Trip to Milwaukee Is Complete without These Can’t-Miss Places.

Wisconsin is brimming with breathtaking views, Midwestern charm, and, of course, enough cheese to fill Lake Michigan. But if you’re planning on making your way to America’s Dairyland, you can’t leave without at least making a small stop in the state’s biggest city. 

It might surprise you to learn that Milwaukee’s nickname, “Cream City,” doesn’t come from cows but rather the cream-colored bricks that the city started producing in the late 1800s. But whether you’re staying a couple of days or just driving through Milwaukee, there are a few things that you don’t want to miss:

  • City sights — Attractive attractions that are more than just eye-candy. 
  • Interactive history — Learn about Milwaukee and its story as a city. 
  • Food and drink — Two places to stop to refuel. 
  • Crazy collections — Who says museums have to be boring?

Can’t-Miss Milwaukee City Sights 

Milwaukee Riverwalk 

Get Acquainted with the City by Talking a Walk Along the River

River Street | Downtown |

This continuous pedestrian promenade stretches a little more than three miles and connects Downtown, the Historic Third Ward, and Beerline B. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

What better way to get to know a city than taking a long walk (approximately 20 blocks, to be specific)? Well, the Milwaukee Riverwalk lets you do exactly that—without having to worry about oncoming traffic. 

The Riverwalk doubles as an outdoor sculpture gallery with a mix of art pieces commissioned by local artists, including this one: the famous “Bronze Fonz.” Image courtesy of @jasonfeinberg22 on Instagram

Even if you don’t walk the whole thing, the Riverwalk is as convenient as it is scenic—it connects some of the city’s best shops, restaurants, and nightlife. So, put on your walking shoes, and start out your trip on the right foot! 

“This was a beautiful walk with lovely sites to see along the way. It was clean and was a great way to see the city.” -Janet A. on TripAdvisor

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory 

These Domes Are Filled with Mini Ecosystems and Natural Beauty

524 S. Layton Boulevard | Clark Square |
You might have seen botanical gardens before, but you’ve never seen them like this. With three plant-packed domes to explore, Mitchell Park is sure to renew your appreciation of Mother Nature. Image courtesy of Wikipedia. 

Open 365 days a year, Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory will have you seeing green—literally. The Show Dome, the Desert Dome, and the Tropical Dome each boast a specific kind of plantlife splendor for a versatile tour with greenery galore. 

The Show Dome hosts five floral shows every year, the most popular of which include its train show and holiday show. Image courtesy of @katy.marie on Instagram

This family-friendly attraction will undoubtedly add some color to your trip and make for some gorgeous photos. Admission to the Domes is $8 for adults and $6 for juniors ages 6 to 17. Make sure you check the website for any special events or programs the day of your visit! 

“Easy to find, simple admission, plenty of room to meander around throughout the entire building. Each dome has a different atmosphere true to the plants and flowers they're displaying. The paths throughout each dome allow you to actually stop and look at each item without being in the way of general traffic. Just gorgeous.” -Laycee M. on TripAdvisor

Interactive History in The Cream City

North Point Lighthouse

Worth a Stop on Your Drive to the Lake

2650 N. Wahl Avenue | East Side | 
In addition to symbolizing Milwaukee’s rich maritime history as a lakeside city, this iconic landmark makes a gorgeous backdrop for photos. Image courtesy of GM Today

Built with Cream City brick in 1855, the North Point Lighthouse is a historic monument that offers visitors panoramic views of the surrounding area. Climb the inside of the lighthouse, stop in the museum to learn more about the towering relic, and take a stroll around Frederick Law Olmsted’s Lake Park for delightful few hours on your way to Lake Michigan. 

Lake Park is home to more than just one impressive display of architecture: the Lion Bridges are just outside of North Point Lighthouse. Image courtesy of @flaminghotmess69 on Instagram

A part of the National Register of Historic Places since 1984, North Point Lighthouse is a living piece of history that you can not only appreciate from the outside but also explore from the inside. For an $8-admission fee, you can take a tour of the lighthouse year-round on weekends from 1 pm to 4 pm. 

“Really enjoyed the interior historical displays, the beautiful gardens and surrounding area outside, and the climb up to the top. We had a great weather day and had excellent views all around. Extremely friendly and very knowledgeable staff. Parked right on the street nearby. Well worth it to spend time exploring the area.” -Athena P. on TripAdvisor.

Wisconsin Cheese Mart

Stop in This Gourmet Cheese Shop as You Wander Down Old World Third Street

215 W. Highland Avenue | Westown |

Shop high-quality cheeses that have been brought to you straight from the best Wisconsin creameries. With more than 150 varieties of Wisconsin cheese to choose from, you’ll want to take it all home with you. Image courtesy of Getting Stamped

Having opened in 1938, Wisconsin Cheese Mart is so much more than a cheese market—it’s a beloved establishment that has withstood the test of time. Located at the intersection of Old World Third Street and West Highland Avenue, this gourmet cheese shop is filled with edible souvenirs that probably won’t make it all the way home. 

In honor of its 70th anniversary in 2008, Wisconsin Cheese Mart opened the Über Tap Room, a cheese bar that allows you to pair two Milwaukee staples: cheese and beer. Image courtesy of @ambersturgis on Instagram

You’ll be amazed by the world’s largest selection of Wisconsin cheese and can even shop gift baskets that are deliverable to all 50 states. But don’t worry—once you leave, you can order more of the store’s delicious dairy from its website. 

“We visited the cheese mart and WOW! What a market. Just about any Wisconsin cheese is available with plenty of samples. We brought home cheese for friends, and of course, for ourselves. Definitely a place to visit when in Milwaukee.” -Erika H. on TripAdvisor

Milwaukee’s Best Food and Drink

Blue’s Egg

The Best Brunch in Town 

317 N. 76th St. | Bluemound |
Blue’s Egg invites you to indulge in brunch the Milwaukee way—with locally sourced ingredients and New-American style dishes. Image courtesy of Blue’s Egg on Facebook

From breakfast classics like pancakes and French toast to more eccentric fare like ratatouille omelets and roasted mushroom strata, Blue’s Egg has a wide-ranging menu and impeccable taste. And because it proudly supports local farmers and prioritizes sustainable business, your food is always served guilt-free. 

At Blue’s, the menu might start with foods, but it doesn’t end there. Enjoy coffee, cocktails, juice, soft drinks, and, of course, beer. (We’re not saying we usually drink beer for breakfast, but when in Milwaukee, right?)

“We came to Blue's Egg on a recommendation & were not disappointed. My hubby got a Bloody Mary (which came with a side beer) & monkey bread with a candle for his birthday. The serving of hash browns was more like a mountain & the egg selections were eggcellent” -Shelley R. on TripAdvisor

Lakefront Brewery 

Sample Beers at the First Certified-Organic Brewery in America

1872 N. Commerce Street | Beerline B | 
Founded by two brothers in 19887, this craft brewery quickly became a Milwaukee staple. At Lakefront Brewery, not only can you enjoy different types of beer, but the view of the Milwaukee River is pretty cool, too. Image courtesy of Urban Milwaukee

Brewing has long been a part of Milwaukee’s history, and perhaps nowhere in the city is this more palpable than at Lakefront Brewery, an establishment that celebrates both beer and historical preservation. That’s why the brewery houses antique treasures like Bernie Brewer’s chalets and lights that were originally hung at the Plankinton Hotel in 1906.

There’s plenty to do at Lakefront Brewery, from touring the brewery to drinking (and eating) your way through the menu. Having maintained its success for over three decades, it’s safe to say these guys know what they’re doing. 

Lakefront Brewery prides itself on being a local Milwaukee business and supports other establishments of its kind through Local First Milwaukee, a local business alliance that it helped found. Image courtesy of Lakefront Brewery on Facebook

“I've taken the standard Lakefront Brewery Tour twice, and today we did the 3-hour technical tour. What a great experience! We spent 90 minutes on the tour with Ian, who did a great job sharing the history of brewing in Milwaukee, as well as a bit more in-depth explanation of brewing than the standard tour . . . We had a blast!” -Barbara A. on TripAdvisor

Cream City’s Crazy Collections

Harley-Davidson Museum 

Motor Through This Hog Heaven 

400 W. Canal Street | Menomonee River Valley |
This 20-acre campus holds the most comprehensive collection of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and memorabilia. Image courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

As one of Milwaukee’s top tourist destinations, the Harley-Davidson Museum is worth a visit, even if you’re not a motorcycle enthusiast. You’ll see more than 400 motorcycles and artifacts dating back to the very beginning of the company in 1903. 

From May to September, the museum is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm (9 am to 8 pm on Thursdays), and from October to April, it’s open daily from 10 am to 6 pm (10 am to 8 pm on Thursdays). Image courtesy of @viktor1010111 on Instagram

The museum property is huge, and there’s a variety of things to see and do outside of the museum itself—take a walk along the Milwaukee River, marvel at the extent of the company’s impact on lives across the country when you pass by the Living Legend rivet walls, and grab a bite to eat at MOTOR Bar and Restaurant. “

“Don't have to be a Harley owner to enjoy this place. I learned lots from its start. From a baby-barn-sized workshop to a worldwide motor company. A lot of thought went into the displays and museum. Very cool.” -Mark G. on TripAdvisor

National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum 

Check Out the World’s Largest Collection of Bobbleheads

170 S. 1st Street, 2nd Floor | Harbor View |
Browse a mind-bobbling number of bobbleheads from all different genres and time periods at this one-of-a-kind attraction. Image courtesy of National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum

Though it only opened in 2019, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum is quickly emerging as a Milwaukee favorite for tourists and locals alike. The only museum of its kind in the entire world, this versatile collection of bobbleheads makes for a whimsical attraction and a memorable experience for visitors of all ages.  

Open 10 am to 6 pm during the week and 10 am to 5 pm on weekends, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum is every collector’s dream come true. Image courtesy of @emmallleeeee on Instagram

With over 10,000 bobbleheads on display, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum has just about every type of bobblehead that you can think of, from sports players and cartoon characters to celebrities and politicians. And for only $5, you can see them all—plus you’ll get to learn everything there is to know about bobbleheads while you’re at it. 

“The National Bobblehead Museum fills a void I didn't know existed. I enjoyed my time learning about this interesting promotional item. The folks running this museum have a sense of humor, history, and hubris. I wish them well. Recommended. For baseball fans, a must-see.” -MorganSteele on TripAdvisor.  

Have a Blast in the Badger State

Milwaukee will present you with a long list of activities to choose from, and you just can’t go wrong with this inviting Midwestern metropolis. Whether you’re sitting with a cold draft at a brewery, admiring art (or motorcycles and bobbleheads) in a museum, or biting into a piece of gourmet cheese, you’re sure to fall in love with Milwaukee—and leave wanting to come back. 

Albion Skeldon

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