The Best Beaches in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Bradford Beach in Milwaukee has an activity for everyone
Bradford Beach in Milwaukee has an activity for everyone | © Buzzshotz / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Alice Johnston
Food Editor4 August 2020

With its fresh air and refreshing water, everybody loves to be at the seaside, or in this case, the lakeside. This list of the best beaches in Milwaukee will inspire you to grab your bucket and spade and hit the sand, or grab a surfboard to catch some waves. Whether you like bustling vibes or a peaceful atmosphere, there’s a beach for you here.

Atwater Park Beach

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Slightly off the beaten track, this quiet, family-friendly beach is an excellent choice if you want to avoid the crowds. It features a big playground for the kids and the large Spillover II sculpture for the culture-hungry adults. The beach is accessible by climbing down several flights of stairs (or a long, winding paved path), so don’t leave your flip-flops in the car because you’ll need them for your descent. Also, bring your surfboard because the waves here are to die for.

Bradford Beach

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Airplanes draw heart in the sky and fighter jets fly through it, Milwaukee Air Show, Bradford Beach, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

Bradford Beach is among Milwaukee’s most popular beaches, with the public flocking here as soon as the mercury starts rising. With lifeguards on duty seven days a week, it also has great amenities nearby – frozen custard, anyone? Thanks to funding efforts, Bradford Beach got a makeover in 2008, diverting the bacteria-laden stormwater runoff that used to cover the sand. Today, it’s a beautiful beach open to all.

South Shore Park Beach

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Located in Bay View, south of downtown, this tranquil beach offers the best views of Milwaukee. While the adjacent South Shore Park is often bustling with children, the shoreline provides some peace and quiet. For even more ease and enjoyment, the newly added South Shore Terrace has a selection of post-swim snacks and drinks, making this beach well worth the visit. Get ready to listen to the waves lapping against the shoreline.

Tietjen Beach at Doctors Park

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USA. 03rd May, 2016. Double-crested cormorants fly over the water as the sun rises over Lake Michigan off the shores of Doctors Park in Bayside on May 3, 2016. At dawn and twilight, cormorants are passing silently overhead in seemingly endless formations
© Tribune Content Agency LLC / Alamy Stock Photo

Tietjen Beach is a secluded option named after local George Tietjen, the founder of the Milwaukee County Lifeguard Corps. Trails lead through the land above to the beach – a beautiful approach to the water – and as it’s only 20 minutes from downtown Milwaukee, it’s easily accessible. Whether you like sand or pebbles, you’ll be happy here, as this beach has both. It’s just large enough that you’ll never feel crowded, and if you want to explore more, the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is nearby, which has tons of natural beauty.

Grant Park Beach

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Grant Park might just be the second most popular beach in Milwaukee. An outdoor enthusiast’s dream, the beach is near hiking trails, a golf course and outdoor event space. You’ll struggle to choose what to do – swim or practice your golf swing. With convenient parking, great eateries nearby, smooth sand as far as the eye can see and plenty of space to breathe, you’ll feel as though you’re truly on vacation in the city – but also on the beach.

McKinley Beach

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If you like to do your own thing, head over to McKinley – a five-minute walk from nearby Bradford Beach. It might be smaller, but it’s just as nice. There are usually fewer people here, and it benefits from tennis courts and a nearby playground. Fantastic views, a relaxed atmosphere and beautiful sand complete the picture. Let’s go and hit the beach.

These recommendations were updated on August 4, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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