Milwaukee is a city that is filled with exceptional culture, warm friendly Midwesterners and natural beauty. Whether you are visiting friends and family, taking a vacation, or here on business this city offers a lot more than what you may think. Birthplace of the famous Harley Davidson Company, home to many spectacular architectural buildings and a beautiful sculpture garden; this city is begging to be explored. Discover the Safe House; one of the best secret places to visit in America where you can live out the spy fantasy you have been harboring for years. Sing along with a pipe organ, visit the apes or stop and smell the flowers; discover the best of Milwaukee with these 10 things to see and do in this city.
10. Milwaukee Art Museum
The structures alone that are known as the Milwaukee Art Museum are a good enough reason to visit this spot; the stunning white marble and gorgeous lake views will knock your socks off. Along with the 9-foot vaulted glass ceilings and white suspension bridge are four floors of rotating art exhibits and an excellent in-house café serving delicious local food. Housing over 20,000 works of art this museum has put Milwaukee on the map. From antiquity to present, from 15th century paintings to 20th century sculptures; the museum is known for its collections of American Art. Photographs, self-taught art, paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings are all part of the exhibits. Visitors should check the website for any special exhibits, performances or lectures that are going on during that time as these are a must-see. Immerse yourself in culture and history as you walk through these buildings that are so often referred to as the “belly of a whale”. Experience one of the most talked about places to visit in the city.
9. Milwaukee County Zoo
Just a short 15 minute drive out of the city is a once small zoo that has turned into a haven for lion cubs, hyenas, camels and many more. Now home to over 2,500 animals this 300 acre zoo welcomes visitors from all over the world. Not only are the animals spectacular but the zoo offers high ropes courses, zip lines and camel rides in certain seasons. Visit the giraffe exhibit to get up close and personal with these majestic animals as you stand atop a tower and feed them right from your hand. Or visit the birds of prey show to watch these birds take flight and learn more about each species. From families of apes to Humboldt penguins; any animal lover will find pleasure in visiting here. With reasonable admission costs, this zoo is a paradise for kids of all ages and adults alike and is a must stop in Milwaukee; whichever season you may be visiting in.
8. Eat at Organ Piper Pizza
Bring the kids for a fun-filled evening of great pizza, live music and plenty of games to keep them occupied. A dying breed; the Organ Piper Pizza is one of the last remaining pizza joints in the country that features live pipe organ players. Not only does the musician play the organ but controls other quirky instruments around the restaurant too such as ducks and disco balls. Fresh pizzas piled high with fresh ingredients are complimented with appetizers, sandwiches and an excellent children’s menu. Whether you are celebrating an anniversary, birthday or you just want to request a song, these extremely talented musicians will take your request and make sure you are impressed. A surreal shrine of Americana, unchanged since the 1970’s offers up great musical talent, cheap beer, delicious pizza and enough arcade games to keep you and the kids amused for hours. Chucky Cheese look out; Organ Piper Pizza is rocking this city.
7. Visit the Safe House
If you don’t know the password you can’t get in to this ever popular restaurant; unless you go through numerous silly tests and do crazy things that are being watched inside by all the patrons. Established in 1966 this restaurant is wall to wall decorated with spy things, disfiguring mirrors, games and trick doors. Featured on the History Channel as one of the best secret places to visit in the United States and used a backdrop for such movies as Major League; a trip to Milwaukee wouldn’t be complete with a stop here….if you can find it. From martinis that are shaken via a pneumatic tube that travels around the whole restaurant to a secret exit door through a phone booth that costs you a quarter but is so worth it, this gem of a place is totally spy worthy. The food is decent, service is impeccable and skits can be requested for a small fee. The restrooms feature a double mirror, a piece of the Berlin Wall and many other secrets we are obliged to keep. Due yourself a favor and get into your spy role and visit the Safe House while in this city for an unforgettable experience.
6. Catch a Ball Game at Miller Park
This state of the art stadium is home to the Milwaukee Brewers and if you happen to be in town during the baseball season; this is a great stopping point in the city. With reasonably priced tickets, great tailgating, plenty of dining options and a retractable stadium roof; catching a game is one of the most beloved things to do here. If you really want to catch glimpses of the stadium make sure to sign up for one the tours that will take you through the dressing rooms, press box, clubhouse, dugout and other behind-the-scenes attractions. The best part about seeing a ball game here is the chance to witness the famous racing sausages. Direct your eyes towards the field before the seventh inning to watch the five sausage mascots take to the field in a race to sausage stardom. What was once an animation on the video screen is now a live foot race between these 6 foot sausage mascots; get yourself ready to laugh and cheer along with them. Baseball fan or not; this stadium is truly a spectacle and a must visit while in Milwaukee.
5. Lynden Sculpture Garden
Over 50 monumental sculptures are set amongst 40 acres of park, lake and woodland designed to promote the appreciation of art and environment. With no set walking paths in place; this garden is designed to be explored by foot; in whichever direction you choose and however long it takes you to discover these amazing outdoor pieces of art. From the polka dot cows that appear to be grazing in the grass to the bronze lovers strolling hand and hand, the collection of art is truly impressive. Self-guided tours are available everyday while guided tours are only available on Sundays. Inside the house you will also find displays of art and make sure to check the calendar on the day you hope to visit as events are held throughout the year. The beautiful pond that is home to sunning turtles and jumping fish combined with the lush flowers that are in bloom makes the Lynden Sculpture Garden a nice peaceful destination while in Milwaukee.
4. Visit the Miller Brewery
One of the free things on our list of things to see and do in Milwaukee; visiting the Miller Brewery is a must stop in this city. Not only is it free but informative, fun and educating. Parking at the gift shop will give you first access to your free admission ticket and wrist band. A photo op with a Miller cowboy hat and then you will head off on your way through the brewery for your guided tour. The humorous and knowledgeable tour guide will lead you through the historical brewery on a tour that takes you through the bottling room, the impressive historic brew house, the cave and the beer garden. Throughout the tour you will have an opportunity to ask questions and take plenty of photos. At the end of the tour enjoy three large samples of Miller beer; some of which is only available in Wisconsin. A great way to spend a couple hours, learn more about this huge historic brewery and all at the price of “free”.
3. The Fireside Dinner Theatre
One of the Midwest’s premier dinner theaters is located right in Milwaukee and has been in business for over fifty years. Superior dining, outstanding gift shops and professional Broadway musicals have catapulted this motorcoach attraction into the number 3 spot on our list. Great views from the seats and exceptionally friendly staff make this attraction even more enjoyable. The buffet is quite a hit at this dinner theater and Thursdays are one of the best nights to go; although if you head to a mid-day performance prepare yourself for a pretty spectacular brunch. The performers are all professionals with a lot of them coming from New York City and you can expect high quality acting, singing and dancing. Couple that with the amazing sets they produce and you have one heck of a show. Head in early to browse through one of the many stores and enjoy this in-round theater and all it has to offer.
2. Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (The Domes)
Although these domes look like modern pieces of architecture they are in fact over sixty years old and are a must visit on any trip to Milwaukee. Three domes make up Milwaukee’s living landmark; each housing a variety of plants and flowers from around the world. Whether you visit during the summer or winter; these domes are always thriving. The three domes are separated by different habitats. The desert dome includes some of the finest collections of cacti, succulents, and shrubs. Unique geometric shapes, bizarre trees and swollen roots can all be found in the desert dome coming from places such as Madagascar, Africa and the Canary Islands. Over 1200 species of tropical plants can be found in the Tropical Dome along with tropical birds and rainforest plants; some which you may have growing at home! The floral show dome is an ever changing dome five times a year with seasonal displays ranging from Christmas to Halloween to fantasy to historical. Stroll through this beautiful oasis and discover lush beauty all year around in the Mitchell Park Horticultural Domes.
1. Harley Davidson Museum
One of the top tourist destinations in Milwaukee is the Harley Davidson Museum. Celebrating over 100 years of Harley Davidson’s; this museum is home to over 450 motorcycles and artifacts including the first ever produced Harley Davidson motorcycle. From the engine room to the design room to a wall of gas tanks there is no shortage of displays to explore here. The exhibits and artifacts along with the educational videos will take you through time from the early stages of advertising to the culture behind the brand. The working restoration shop gives you an inside look into the bikes that are not on display. Towards the exit the opportunity awaits for visitors to sit on many of the bikes on display from many different eras and take some incredible photos. Imagine the power of these beautiful machines, learn how this highly successful company came to be and spend hours exploring this wonderful museum in the city where this iconic American brand was born.