In a city as unique and dynamic as Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it should come as no surprise that the range of things to do is just as diverse. From breweries and ballparks to lighthouses and cheese everything, there's no shortage of ways to stay busy (and very well-fed!) in Brew City.
But what if you had just 24 hours in this exciting Midwestern city? How could you spend a day in Milwaukee to be sure you see the very best of what it has to offer?
Read on for some insider suggestions, whether you’re visiting for the first time, returning once again, or heck, even if you're a local.
P.S. - if you gave us some side eye at "exciting" and "Midwestern" in the same city, trust us — you can find adventure anywhere.
8 Ways to Have a Perfect Day in Milwaukee
1. Milwaukee Public Market
One of the oldest farmers’ markets in the entire country, the Milwaukee Public Market has been serving Wisconsinites for 125 years! In addition to showcasing fresh local produce and artisan goods, the market also boasts an impressive array of foods including Indian, Italian, Mexican, BBQ, and sweets.
Black Sheep Creamery is a local favorite, serving up Wisconsin classics: beer and cheese curds. The Chocolate Fish is another must and if you stop by, it's basically blasphemy to get anything other than a chocolate-dipped waffle cone.
Upstairs, there's a ton of seating and workspaces available to anyone and bonus — free wi-fi. Stroll around and grab some goodies downstairs, then head up to the lofted upper space to get some work done (or just people watch).
On your way out, don't miss the unique photo ops in the form of giant, colorful sculptures just across the street.
2. Tour Milwaukee’s Best Restaurants
You'll quickly learn that lots of things center around food and drink in Milwaukee. That's due, at least in part, to the city's large German population, a result of several waves of immigration during the 1840s and 1850s.
Fortunately, this heavy cultural influence means there's always something amazing going on with Brew City's food scene. One of the best ways to experience it is taking a tour with Milwaukee Food & City Tours as part of your day in Milwaukee!
Food tours are a great way to immerse yourself in the history and culture of a city. And with so many amazing restaurants and breweries in Milwaukee, there’s no better way to do so than with a bite (or three) of the local flavor!
Milwaukee Food & City Tours offers a variety of tours including walking, bus, and street car options. There are pizza tours, brunch tours, chocolate tours, and of course, tours dedicated to the city's beer and cheese culture. Curd tour, anyone?
Photo credit: Stadium Journey
3. Catch a Game
Milwaukee is one of those few cities that's fortunate enough to have two professional sports teams, the Brewers (baseball) and the Bucks (basketball).
Both teams play right in the city, so it's always convenient to catch a home game. Even better, during their respective seasons, several local bars and breweries run shuttles to the games so patrons can responsibly imbibe while cheering on the home team.
Every once in awhile, timing aligns to where both teams have home games on the same day. If you can work it out, plan a day in Milwaukee for one of these times. The energy in the city is so vibrant and unique! Milwaukeeans have a ton of hometown pride, and this is one time when it really shines through.
4. Clockshadow Creamery
It's no secret that the dairy industry, and cheese specifically, is one of the most important industries in Wisconsin as a whole. Most dairies are out in the rural countryside, though, not in major cities.
One notable exception is Clockshadow Creamery, Milwaukee's one and only cheese factory. The urban creamery introduces you to what fresh cheese curds are really supposed to be like (so squeaky!) and offers an up-close-and-personal look into the entire cheese-making process.
Stop by for a variety of fresh cheeses (including uber-fresh curds 2-3 days a week!) and other dairy products or schedule a tour. Note that tour availability is subject to change, as Clockshadow is a small family-owned business, so be sure to check the website before heading over!
While you're there, round out your day in Milwaukee by stopping into Black Sheep MKE for their waffle-battered breakfast curds (YES!) and MobCraft, a super unique brewery that crowdsources all its flavors! This neighborhood, Walker's Point, is full of hidden gems!
5. Mitchell Park Domes
This very unique destination is one of the best places to head for a day in Milwaukee! Part botanical gardens, part living museum, and part nature preserve, the Mitchell Park Domes have a little something for everyone.
There's a Desert Dome, a Tropical Dome, and a Floral Show Dome, which changes several times throughout the year. In the winter, you can expect a whimsical wintry wonderland, while in the spring, this dome comes alive with colorful blooming tulips, hydrangeas, and many others.
Close to downtown, "the Domes" offer a great family-friendly option for Milwaukee's frequent rainy days. Even when you can't get outside, you can (sort of!)!
6. Go to a Museum
With Milwaukee's rich culture, it's no surprise the city has an impressive array of museums and galleries, covering everything from art and history to music and science...and motorcycles.
The one and only Harley-Davidson Museum is a unique must, but other popular choices include the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Milwaukee Public Museum, which boasts the largest public collection of Native American artifacts in the world.
The Discovery World Museum and the Charles Allis Art Museum are also highly recommended, and one of Milwaukee's most unique and important museums is America's Black Holocaust Museum. This tiny but mighty museum will open your eyes to a dark but crucial part of American history and is a wonderful use of part of a day in Milwaukee.
7. Lakefront Trail
Lake culture is obviously a pretty core aspect of life in Milwaukee, with its location directly on the shores of magnificent Lake Michigan.
The 10-mile Lakefront Trail is a wonderful way to get a taste of why people love this city. Whether you take the entire path or just walk or bike a section of it, you'll get spectacular views of the water, parks, lighthouses, and the city skyline.
You can start anywhere along the trail, but some of the most popular places include the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Milwaukee Public Museum, and the Milwaukee Harbor. If you have a day in Milwaukee in the summer, stop off at Potawatomi State Park, which has a beach, beach volleyball courts, a marina, and swimming areas.
In the winter, you can experience something truly unique to the Midwest: urban snowshoeing and cross-country skiing! These activities are typically associated with the mountains, but you can actually experience them during a winter day in Milwaukee.
8. Milwaukee Breweries
Milwaukee's nickname "Brew City" comes well-earned. The city is routinely named to Wall Street's annual list of America's "drunkest cities" (and actually, fun fact, typically Wisconsin cities make up at least half of the top 20!). Here's the thing, though: Milwaukeeans are proud of their culture deeply rooted in beer and the city celebrates it.
As the saying goes, "When in Rome..." so it goes without saying that one of the best things to do during a day in Milwaukee is hit at least a couple of breweries.
Many offer formal tours, but you can also simply pop into breweries when your schedule allows. We highly recommend taking the famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) Lakefront Brewery tour and then sampling some flights at breweries around town.
Local favorites include MobCraft, which we mentioned earlier, City Lights, and Broken Bat, which has legit batting cages. Sounds a bit dangerous, we know, but we're sure it's totally safe! Miller, Pabst, and Milwaukee are all here, too, of course. You can also sign up for a brewery crawl to sample several places in one easy itinerary.
Finally, be sure to download a Brew City Beer Pass from Visit Milwaukee if you plan to hit any breweries! This totally free pass offers discounts at several dozen Milwaukee breweries and best of all, it's digital, so you have it at your fingertips on your phone! Example deals include BOGO beers, discounts on appetizers, special flight pricing, and even merch.
So, are you feeling inspired to plan a day in Milwaukee? After all the tasty food and drinks we just wrote about, we sure are!
Be sure to commemorate your Milwaukee visit in a unique way with a special souvenir. Travel Tokens from The Wander Club are a wonderful example! We mentioned the Milwaukee City Token earlier, but we also have State Tokens and State Park Tokens as well!
Create your one-of-a-kind bundle paying homage to all the places you visit, add them to the Token Holder of your choice, and voila! - you've got the best travel souvenir around!