Perched on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a fun city to visit. Who can resist sandy beaches, a full slate of festivals, hearty sausages and home-brewed beer, luxury hotels and boutique inns, and historic neighborhoods and cutting-edge architecture? Not to mention the friendly locals.
The largest city in Wisconsin and the 22nd largest nationwide, Milwaukee is often dubbed the “City of Festivals.” The headliner is Summerfest, billed as the world’s largest music festival, which runs for 11 days on the lakefront with live music on 10 stages and the 23,000-seat Marcus Amphitheater. Milwaukee also celebrates its melting-pot heritage with ethnic and cultural festivals—to name a few, consider Polish Fest, Lakefront Festival of Arts, Bastille Days, Festa Italiana, German Fest, PrideFest, Arab Fest, Irish Fest, Mexican Fiesta, and the Holiday Folk Fair. And seeing as Milwaukee is in America’s Dairyland, the Wisconsin State Fair is the place to celebrate agricultural traditions.
Milwaukee boasts historical and architectural landmarks, including the Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion, home of one of the city’s beer barons; the St. Joan of Arc Chapel, originally built during the 15th century; the Charles Allis Art Museum, an English Tudor mansion and former home of the first president of Allis-Chalmers Company; Villa Terrace, an Italian Renaissance-style villa with a view of Lake Michigan and lakefront gardens; City Hall, a landmark of Flemish Renaissance design built in 1895; and Basilica of St. Josaphat’s, the first Polish basilica in North America.
Sightseeing options include the lakefront Milwaukee Art Museum, underwent a $110 million expansion designed by world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava in 2001. The museum’s more than 20,000 permanent holdings include works by Monet, Picasso, O’Keeffe and Warhol. It’s noted for its collections of American decorative arts, German Expressionism, folk and American art after 1960. The Milwaukee Public Museum invites visitors to stroll the Streets of Old Milwaukee and through the tropical gardens of the Puelicher Butterfly Wing, where more than 600 butterflies from around the world take flight. The museum features more than 6 million artifacts and specimens, including the world’s largest dinosaur skull. Also housed in the downtown museum complex is the Daniel M. Soref Planetarium, a $2.6 million planetarium. A non-traditional but popular museum showcases motorcycles, since Milwaukee is the home of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company.
Discovery World is a 120,000-foot museum complex on Milwaukee’s lakefront that connects innovation, science and technology with exploration, environment and our Great Lakes freshwater resources. The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, also located on the lakefront, provides interactive, hands-on exhibits for children ages 1-10. Also worth visiting is the 200-acre Milwaukee County Zoo, home to more than 3,500 exotic mammals, birds and fish, and the Mitchell Park Conservatory, comprised of three geodesic domes that house a tropical rain forest, an arid desert and a seasonal floral display.
A visit to Milwaukee wouldn’t be complete without a brewery tour. Miller Brewing Company offers free daily tours that concludes with samples of “the beer that made Milwaukee famous” outside in the beer garden in nice weather.
As Milwaukee is a northern city, winters can be harsh. Average temperatures are: spring, 52.5; summer, 77.7; fall, 58.6; winter, 29.4. The city has an average of 33 inches of precipitation per year.