About This Place
As Wisconsin’s largest city, Milwaukee draws millions of visitors every year to its central Midwestern location on Lake Michigan’s western shore. Here, natural beauty combines with distinct cultural and historic Milwaukee attractions to provide visitors glimpses into its rich past. From modern high-rise structures to the bustling waterfront, Milwaukee continues to be a gathering place for those who enjoy history, the arts, leisure and sports.
Europeans, mostly Germans and Poles, came to the city in great numbers during the mid-19th century, settling throughout Milwaukee and shaping its cultural and economic development. These settlers’ imprints are still visible, from the Polish Cathedral-style churches on the South Side to the lasting legacies of Milwaukee beer entrepreneurs like Frederick Pabst and Frederick Miller, both from Germany.
Once a city of breweries (earning it the nickname “Brew City”), Milwaukee remains home to one if its most historically prominent players, the Miller Brewing Company. At Miller Valley, the company's regional headquarters, tours include a brewery and caves where beer was stored before the days of refrigeration.
A diverse mix of visitor destinations abounds in Milwaukee, like the popular Harley-Davidson Museum; while visiting this sleek, 20-acre campus, visitors can view the evolution of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle engine or have a bite to eat at the museum’s spacious restaurant. On the nearby waterfront is the Milwaukee Art Museum, housed in an ultra-modern structure that appears to hover over Lake Michigan; Asian, Haitian and 19th-century European art are part of the museum’s approximately 25,000-piece permanent collection, which includes works by Georgia O’Keeffe, a Wisconsin native. A short distance north of the art museum is Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, a family-friendly venue where visitors explore technology, water and innovation in a series of hands-on exhibits.
Milwaukee's Lakeshore State Park offers several activities along its waterfront, including kayak and canoe rides through the lagoons, or biking along paved pathways. In summer, nearby Henry W. Maier Festival Park is the site of Summerfest, an 11-day music fete billed as “The World’s Largest Music Festival.” Come September, visitors and locals line the bridges along the Milwaukee River and Menomonee River to cheer on rowers during the Annual Milwaukee River Challenge.
Downtown Milwaukee is bordered on the Milwaukee River waterfront by a scenic, three-mile pedestrian thoroughfare. Starting at the largely residential Beerline B neighborhood, the Riverwalk travels Downtown past stores, nightlife and the Bronze Fonz, a statue depicting the iconic TV character. The Riverwalk’s southernmost tip ends at the Historic Ward. Crafted from tropical hardwood, the newest segment of the walkway meanders through the fashionable, renovated Milwaukee neighborhood, where visitors can browse fine art galleries and boutiques.
Renowned for its sports teams, Milwaukee is home to two major athletic venues: Miller Park, where the major-league Milwaukee Brewers play ball on a field of natural Kentucky Bluegrass, shielded from unpleasant weather by a retractable, fan-shaped roof; and the BMO Harris Bradley Center, where fans cheer on the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.