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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.