Like any region, the Milwaukee area has its own unique flavor. But it’s also more familiar than you might expect. With high-end dining and arts, MLB and NBA teams, unique museums, and a penchant for the outdoor festival, Milwaukee holds its own against larger cities.
Sports & recreation
Fiserv Forum, a $524 million state-of-the-art arena, recently opened in downtown Milwaukee. It’s home to the Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Milwaukee Bucks and the Marquette University men’s basketball team.
But it also hosts concerts, with major artists like Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, the Eagles and Metallica performing there in the first few months of operation.
“It adds a different element to Milwaukee that I think we didn’t already have,” said Kristin Settle, director of communications at VISIT Milwaukee. “And you still have places like Miller Park competing for acts and performances, like Billy Joel’s only Midwest stop is at Miller Park (on April 26).”
Miller Park is home to the Milwaukee Brewers, who went deep into the playoffs last year.
And if you’d like to get active yourself, Milwaukee has plenty of options.
The Milwaukee Yacht Club, Milwaukee Community Sailing Center and South Shore Yacht Club offer lessons and camaraderie, or you can grab a paddle and go.
“The thing that’s nice about Milwaukee’s waterways is that they are open to the public,” Settle said. “There are a ton of public boat slips in the marina, in the river, so you really can have access to the water, whether that’s from a kayak or a paddle tavern.”
If golf’s your thing, you’re in luck. Drive an hour in any direction, and you’ll hit 75 courses.
Erin Hills, near Hartford, hosted the 2017 U.S. Open, and Whistling Straits in Sheboygan held the 2015 PGA Championship and is prepping for the 2020 Ryder Cup.
Yes, Wisconsin is known for beer and cheese – and you’ll find plenty of breweries in the area – but it’s more than that.
For one, Milwaukee hosts 12 James Beard Award-nominated chefs, three of whom have claimed the national prize. New from Beard-nominated chefs Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite, who brought Dandan and EsterEv to the city’s diners, is the critically acclaimed Fauntleroy.
“We’re seeing chefs try new things and really focus on that only-in-Milwaukee experience,” Settle said. “Food is the last analog experience you can have.”
And while some chefs are keeping it fresh, others are serving up treasured Wisconsin traditions such as the supper club. The Hob Nob in Racine is among the tried and true purveyors of prime rib, fish fry and brandy Old Fashioneds.
Have you seen the beautiful “sailboat” on Milwaukee’s lakefront, at the end of downtown thoroughfare Wisconsin Avenue?
It’s actually the Milwaukee Art Museum, which
flaps its sails three times a day and often hosts traveling exhibitions to accompany its permanent collection.
Milwaukee also has a natural history museum, an aquarium and science museum, a children’s museum, and a museum paying homage to the homegrown Harley-Davidson Inc.
The performing arts are thriving, with Broadway smash hit “Hamilton” coming to the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts this season and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra set to complete its new performance space downtown.
From opera to elephants, Milwaukee has plenty to offer the cultural explorer.
Milwaukee is known as the City of Festivals for a reason. It’s the home of Summerfest, the World’s Largest Music Festival, a 10-day extravaganza at Henry Maier Festival Park on the lakefront.
When Summerfest isn’t going on, the festival grounds play host to a different festival most summer weekends, from Irish Fest to Mexican Fiesta. And there are plenty of other street festivals celebrating everything from strawberries to beer.
“Milwaukee is home to over 30 festivals, and those are not limited to the summer. It’s a year-round thing,” Settle said.