The Best Things to Do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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Photo of Alice Johnston
Food Editor4 August 2020

With a thriving cultural scene, beautiful beaches within easy reach and some of the best cheese in the US, Milwaukee is the kind of city that gets under your skin. Whether you’re heading to Wisconsin for just a few days or longer, prepare to fall in love with this wide-skied city as you check out these top things to see and do.

Harley-Davidson Museum

Museum
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Harley Davidson Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
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If you’ve ever thought a motorbike looked cool, you’re going to love this 130,000sqft (12,077sqm) museum dedicated to the coolest motorcycles of all time. With more than 450 bikes on show, you’re sure to become infatuated with a few. The museum runs through the timeline of the Harley-Davidson brand and has many interactive displays. By the time you leave, you might have decided that disappointing your mother is worth it and that you’ll finally get a motorcycle.

Holton Street Bridge Swing Park

Amusement Park, Architectural Landmark
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Underneath Milwaukee’s famous Holton Street Bridge hides one of the city’s best-kept secrets: a swing park. It comprises a large handful of swings made of halved tires, two full-tire swings and a handicapped-accessible blue plastic swing attached to the underside of the bridge. Unleash your inner child in this secluded and charming spot, where the floor is lined with soft sand, and where wooden benches flank the edges of the park so that you can watch your friends swing to their hearts’ content.

Discovery World

Museum
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WISCONSIN Milwaukee Dream Machine exhibit in technology section of Discovery World museum at Pier Wisconsin
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An interactive science and technology museum, Discovery World will appeal to big and little kids who will love to while away a day here. Two theaters, an aquarium, a fully working sailing vessel and too many interactive exhibits to count mean that this museum should be at the top of your list to visit. One of the most impressive displays is the interactive model of the Great Lakes. Be prepared to leave Discovery World feeling smarter than you did before.

TH Stemper Co.

Shop
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Ever thought about where churches buy communion wafers, golden goblets and statues of the Virgin Mary? Look no further than TH Stemper Co. Selling church supplies, this fascinating shop is well worth a stroll through, and you’ll definitely find an item or two to tempt you. TH Stemper has shelves upon shelves of the kind of goods you’d never thought about buying before, ranging from pulpits and robes in every color to gluten-free communion wafers. Be sure to spend a few hours wandering around the stacked shelves.

Milwaukee Public Market

Market, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Dessert, Seafood, Italian, Thai, European, Northern European, North American, Mexican
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WISCONSIN Milwaukee Interior of Milwaukee Public Market indoor food and produce venue in Third Ward
© Kim Karpeles / Alamy Stock Photo
You’ll find whatever street food you’ve been craving at the Milwaukee Public Market, including cupcakes, sushi, beer, pizza and so much more. There are also regular cooking demonstrations and children’s cooking classes. The market can get crowded during peak hours, so pick your visiting time carefully. Also, don’t forget to wear loose pants because you’re sure to be full when you leave.

Lakefront Brewery

Bar, Gastropub, Pub, Pub Grub, Beer
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Beer lovers, this one’s for you. This famous Wisconsin brewery offers some of the best tours around, with famously entertaining guides. For about $10, you’ll get a tour, four beer samples and a souvenir pint glass. With the brewery’s offerings ranging from a pumpkin lager to organic chocolate stout, you’re sure to find something that tickles your fancy. Once the tour is over, head to the on-site beer hall for classic snacks, including cheese curds and Bavarian-style pretzels.

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