I thought that my friends who are coming to Milwaukee from out of town for our wedding #bricetomeetyou would love a few suggestions they can use for either extra days in town, or even in the gap between our wedding ceremony and reception. Completely unrelated to the wedding, this is a great guide for anyone who is like Tommy or I (active foodies who love to explore local culture) who may be traveling to Milwaukee for the first time and looking for suggestions! Check out What to do in Milwaukee in the Summer!
Wow, remember that time that I said that I should be able to write a wedding-related post each Wednesday (#WeddingWednesday) until I got married, and then I didn’t write any for a long time? Haha, oops! I guess I underestimated how time-consuming wedding planning from a distance can be, especially while preparing for out-of-town guests for Tommy’s bachelor party a few weekends ago, then going on a few trips myself, including the bachelorette party! I plan to write a whole post on the bachelorette party, but here’s a funny video from one trip, plus one of my favorite pictures from the bachelorette party!
The look on her face was absolutely priceless! So glad I went, especially since I got to spend a lot of quality time with my family and friends AND do my makeup trial, but also pretty glad to come home to weather that’s about 40 degrees warmer…. and the bachelorette party was AMAZING, but that’s to be expected when you take some of the most amazing women ever and place them in wine country!
Ok, let’s move on – here’s a list of suggestions of the best things to do in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (according to Tommy and I)! Here’s exactly What to do in Milwaukee in the Summer!
First of all, since our wedding is during Summerfest, especially the 50th anniversary of it, that would likely be my first recommendation! I would say it would probably be a little too much to try to squeeze in between the ceremony and reception, but definitely something to consider for anyone staying a couple extra days before or after! If you’ve never heard of it, it is the world’s largest music festival. It’s ten days long and held right on Lake Michigan. There are tons of stages that are free for anyone who paid admission (around $15), and a headliner each night for an extra fee. We’ve seen great acts like Hall & Oates, REO Speedwagon, and Nelly (haha – am I dating myself) on free stages, and plan to see Red Hot Chili Peppers, who are headlining! Here’s a link to their website and schedule!
If you’re not reading this because you’re a wedding guest, and your trip is during Summer, but not Summerfest, I highly encourage you to still check out what may be happening on Summerfest grounds, as Milwaukee has festivals just about every weekend there, most of which are ethnic festivals with incredible food! Here’s a link to a calendar of Milwaukee events and more ideas of What to do in Milwaukee in the Summer!
If you don’t want to go into Summerfest, or nothing is going on at the grounds when you come, another thing we’d recommend was going to the lakefront and taking a walk! There’s beautiful walkways, and you could even walk to the Milwaukee Art Museum, which is particularly famous for its architecture!
If you keep going North of the Art Museum, you can find Bradford Beach, which was one of Tommy’s favorite places to go when the weather was warm. He loved playing volleyball there, and I loved watching him play, reading, or taking advantage of the drinks available at the bar! Bradford beach on a great day could pass for an ocean, so if you don’t get a lot of ocean time, this is highly recommended to either play volleyball or hang out!
Continue heading North of Bradford Beach, and you can find Lake Park, which was right across from our front yard the last year we lived in Milwaukee. It’s a beautiful place to relax and get in touch with nature, and it also has one of our favorite restaurants for when we wanted to splurge or treat ourselves – Lake Park Bistro (French Food)!
Speaking of food, since Tommy and I are foodies, I find it prudent to make a little list of some of our favorite restaurants.
- We frequently ate at Café Hollander on Downer Avenue, because Tommy worked across the street at Athletico. It’s delicious, and if you’re not near Downer, there are lots of other locations around the city, or variations that are similar restaurants owned by the same group, like Café Centraal and Café Benelux.
- To meet our farm-to-table needs, we loved going to Odd Duck in Bay View, which has a great selection for vegetarians as well. It’s tapas style, just to warn you in case you’re starving!
- Honey Pie was also a favorite restaurant, which was also farm-to-table, but more of a comfort food offering. It’s in the same neighborhood as Odd Duck (Bay View), which is really fun to check out. Also, as the name implies, they have DELICIOUS PIES!
- This is technically just outside of Milwaukee in Wauwatosa, but we also loved getting the closest thing we could to Soul Food (we have taken many trips to South Carolina and Georgia and loved them) in Milwaukee at Maxie’s Southern Comfort. Their sister restaurant, Blue’s Egg, is a MUST for brunch!
- Tommy loved getting in touch with his (half) Irish roots at County Clare. The atmosphere is really cool and home-y, and they often have live music. It’s a bar/restaurant in a hotel, but doesn’t have a hotel feel!
- We’d be deceiving you if we left off some of our favorite treats. If you’ve never tried frozen custard (a richer form of ice cream), please do yourself a favor and head to Kopp’s. There are three locations, and whenever we are going to be in Milwaukee, we stalk their Flavor Forecast to see what days are a must to go! For me, I also love Simma’s for their cheesecake!
- If you’re going to Milwaukee, you have to get cheese and beer! There’s a cool place called Clock Shadow Creamery to take care of your dairy needs, and our favorite brewery tour is the MKE Brewing Company tour. If you’re not a beer drinker, but prefer the harder stuff, the Great Lakes Distillery tour is super cool!
- If you like multi-tasking (and other types of food, wine, and fun gadgets), we love the Milwaukee Public Market, where you can find something for everyone (including super decadent triple dipped malted milk balls that are hard for me to resist)!
If you’d like to wander around fun neighborhoods and explore without such specific recommendations, we loved the 3rd Ward, the 5th Ward, Bay View, and Brady Street. We loved North Avenue (and that’s where we met), but I’ve heard a lot of places on North Ave have closed, so you may want to wait for its rebirth before you visit again!
We also have spent some good times in The Domes, which are three separate biomes that have plant life (and some animals) from different areas of the world. They have cool events there, too (we once spent Valentine’s Day at a concert there), as well as a great Winter farmer’s market, so it is really cool!
If you’re into sustainability like I am, the Urban Ecology Center is really cool! Another destination for lovers of sustainability is Growing Power, which was started by one of Time’s People of the Year, Will Allen!
Of course, if you can get tickets, we’d recommend a Brewer’s game… But that might be an obvious answer! For something more active on the sporty side, we used to climb walls at Adventure Rock, but this is more in the suburbs!
If you’d like a cocktail, there are TONS of options, but a few of our favorites are Bryant’s (an old fashioned lounge with dressed up bartenders where you’re expected to have manners), Blu (on top of the legendary and haunted Pfister Hotel, with the best view of the city), and Rogues Gallery, which is a combination of an art gallery and bar, with an amazing patio. Fun fact: the owner of Rogues has helped me raise THOUSANDS of dollars for the Susan G. Komen foundation for the 3-Day walks I’ve done. If you go in, ask for Nate and tell him I sent you!
Mandie used to work at Shakers, a haunted cigar bar with delicious food and drinks. If you’re up for that (or a ghost tour, or spending the night in a haunted penthouse), this is the place to go! Maybe you could even book the penthouse instead of getting a hotel room… But then you have nowhere to go if you get scared and leave! I had some interesting experiences here, but find myself continuously going back!
Well, you should be pretty well-equipped with what to do in Milwaukee in the summer! Let me know what you do and what you think!
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