When you think of summertime in the city, your mind may jump to sunny Los Angeles or the concrete jungle, New York City. Even in the Midwest, Chicago comes to mind - however, I’m here to show you that Milwaukee is one of the most underrated cities in the country. Milwaukee is overflowing with history, culture, and new experiences. Next time you find yourself in the land of beer and cheese, refer to these recommendations for a good time!
The Historic Third Ward, Milwaukee’s creative hub, is my go-to destination. Whether it’s sightseeing, shopping, or dining, this place has it all. Here you will find art galleries, award-winning restaurants, unique specialty stores theaters, as well as office buildings and condos, all enhanced by beautiful architecture.
The Historic Third Ward Riverwalk
Kickstart your day with smooth latte from one of the many cafes in the area (Kickapoo and Colectivo being my personal favorites!). Once energized, you can easily spend the entire morning browsing unique boutiques and everyday favorites like Lululemon and Anthropologie. Also, with the iconic cream city brick and the Third Ward Riverwalk, this is the perfect place for a photo op, where you can capture both the beauty of the river and the city.
Rachel enjoying a cup of latte at the Kickapoo coffee, love the tiles at their counter!
The Milwaukee Art Museum is another classic destination in Milwaukee, and you definitely can’t miss the modern structure when driving along the lakeshore. This museum houses a collection of over 30,000 beautiful works and looking through all the exhibits can easily be a full day’s endeavor. However, if you aren’t looking to buy entry tickets or are short on time, don’t worry because the actual building is a work of art by itself, with its stunning architecture both inside and out (especially when they open the wings!). The beautifully lit lobby is open to all visitors with or without a ticket, and you get a magnificent view of Lake Michigan here. Once outside, there is also a direct walkway towards downtown Milwaukee.
Rachel sitting in front of the Milwaukee Art Museum with its magnificent wings spreading out
Black Cat Alley is truly a hidden treasure. The outdoor art gallery is located in a private alley on the East Side and contains many breathtaking murals painted by dozens of artists from around the world. Make sure to get a photo for the ‘gram, although it may take awhile to get shots of all your favorites, it’s hard to choose! Don’t forget to look down at the koi at your feet. This destination is super flexible and you can stroll through at your own pace.
The Black Cat Alley
Koi Fish mural on the ground at the Black Cat Alley
Afterwards, explore this youthful and energetic neighborhood that surrounds UW-Milwaukee. Start by visiting the cats at Sip and Purr (you might end up with an extra family member on the way home!), let out some pent up rage at AXE MKE, indulge in a slice of Mac & Cheese pizza at Ian’s, then top it all off with a feature at the Oriental Theater.
The Milwaukee Public Market is a unique downtown food destination with many high quality cuisines from around the world, from giftable treats to freshly made foods. Not to mention you can pass the time by shopping from many local artists in the market as well. The best thing about Milwaukee Public Market is that they can satisfy any of your cravings, from a piping hot cup of coffee to the stinkiest (but most delicious) cheese you can smell from a mile away. My go-to stop is St. Paul Fish Company, both a seafood market and restaurant. If you are looking for a refreshing lunch, order the lobster roll. Craving something bursting with flavor and tang? Go for the fish tacos. Overall it’s such a bustling and lively destination,
Of course, you can’t forget that Wisconsin is America’s dairyland, so take advantage of the good weather and grab a scoop of custard or ice cream. In the Walker’s Point area, Purple Door sells delicious ice cream from locally-sourced ingredients. They have a selection of innovative flavors that constantly rotate - most recently I’ve loved rich horchata in a waffle cone. If you fall in love with a particular flavor, you can buy a pint to enjoy at home.
Purple Door Ice Cream store front
Milwaukee is also the land of beer and breweries! You have your pick of a plethora of breweries all coming with beer, food, and an experience like no other. A popular destination is the Lakefront Brewery. This industrial location is right on the Milwaukee River, and has become a Milwaukee Landmark due to its partnerships with local taverns, tours, family style dining, and GREAT beer. Something worth trying are definitely their cheese curds, which are unlike any others. They have a delightfully fluffy and crisp exterior, perfectly breaded with batter instead of bread crumbs.