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SummerFest | © EMR/Flickr
SummerFest | © EMR/Flickr
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How to Spend 24 Hours in Milwaukee

Picture of Kelsey Grace Pfeifer
Updated: 8 September 2017
Milwaukee is a deceptively large city, so trying to knock it out in one day can be daunting. It is an incredibly eclectic and undeniably interesting place, and, from the geography to the coffee, here’s how to take in ‘MKE’ to the fullest.

Wake up with a steaming hot cup

Colectivo Coffee is a Milwaukee delicacy, and there is no better place to have it than on the lakefront of the gorgeous Lake Michigan. The roasts are unique and flavorful, and the shop prides themselves on having a wide range of food as well. There’s phenomenal vegan and vegetarian options, and if the shop is stocked with any Omanhene hot chocolate or chocolate bars—they are a morning must! The café overlooks a small harbor and the sound of Lake Michigan’s waves are the perfect way to start a Milwaukee day.

Grab a hearty lunch at Sobelman’s or AJ Bombers

To Milwaukee locals, the rivalry between Sobelman’s and AJ Bombers almost runs deeper than the rivalry between the Bears and the Packers. Both burger shops are unbeatable, and each has their own quirks that put them above the rest. Sobelman’s Bloody Mary is known worldwide for sporting a literal meal on top of the alcoholic drink, and AJ Bombers is known for sending ‘bombs’ filled with peanuts across the ceiling to their customers. The kitschy experience might be what draws guests in, but the burgers are what keeps them there.

The most amazing Bloody Mary in America, complete with a full chicken! #sobelmans #travelwi

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Take a walk down Milwaukee’s scenic Lakefront Trail

With a belly filled with the best burgers around, the best thing to do is take a light walk to prepare for dinner! There is no better place to see the sights than Milwaukee’s Lakefront Trail. The trail spans roughly three miles and really shows off the best thing about the city—Lake Michigan’s coast. During the summer months, the trail is picture perfect, as it passes everything from harbors to the famous Calatrava Art Museum. There are also numerous events held in the parks along the trail, such as Hurling during Irish Fest, or the Malibu Open Waterski Championships.

Got to hang out in Milwaukee today. Really nice city with a killer waterfront !! #wisconsin #milwaukeelakefront

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Enjoy a top-notch brewery tour

Milwaukee is home to some of the most incredible craft and commercial beers in the world. With the city’s German and Irish heritage, this should come as no surprise. Most of the breweries in the area offer up a free or cheap tour (often with free or cheap libations as well!) and you might learn something along the way. Tourists usually start with the Miller Brewery tour, which is completely free, all ages welcome, and serves the newest home brews at the end. Miller is the crown jewel of Milwaukee, so you’ll rarely see residents drink anything but. That said, if Milwaukee citizens venture out of their comfort zone, it’s usually to pick up something from Lakefront Brewery, which also has a fantastic tour, as it was rated the fourth best brewery tour by TripAdvisor!

Go see a live event

As the afternoon starts to pick up, it’s time to plan for the evening, and there’s no better way to spend one in Milwaukee than with a live event. Most overlook that Milwaukee actually has a professional baseball team, and even fewer realize how easy it is to score last minute tickets to a Brewer’s game. If you’re not feeling the sports scene, the live music in Milwaukee is also bar none. Places like the Miramar Theatre are fantastic to find the next up and coming band. Or, if mainstream sounds better, come to Milwaukee during the greatest time of the year – Summerfest time! The Summerfest Music Festival is genuinely the largest in the world, and definitely has music that everyone will love.

End with a classy dinner

After a day of traipsing around the down and dirty parts of Milwaukee, end the night in style by choosing one of Milwaukee’s famous upscale restaurants. Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro is a definite favorite, as it overlooks the gorgeous Lake Michigan, which can’t be missed during sunset. Harbor House is another local favorite, touting some of the best seafood in the whole city. So while drinking craft beer for hours is fun, sometimes the best way to end a night in the beer capital is by clinking a glass of the finest champagne.

Time to wake up!

After filling a day with all Milwaukee has to offer, it might be hard to leave the city. Maybe pull an all-nighter to see the sunrise over the Lake in the morning! Either way, make sure to grab one more farewell cup of Colectivo before leaving this fair place.