Photo by Ed Bierman

Milwaukee Itineraries

Milwaukee in 48 Hours

Milwaukee: Perfect Family Day

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Milwaukee is: a) a Brew City; b) a City of Festivals; c) a great city on a Great Lake; or d) all of the above. If you guessed “d”, then you know that Wisconsin’s largest city (22nd in U.S.) works hard, plays hard and boasts more than a passing knowledge of beer.

Milwaukee offers fun on the brilliant blue shores of Lake Michigan.

Well-known as the hometown of Laverne and Shirley and Happy Days, Milwaukee pokes fun of its blue-collar image with the “Bronze Fonz,” a life-sized statue of Henry Winkler’s famed sitcom character, which overlooks the Milwaukee River.

Milwaukee History

Milwaukee began as a Native American settlement.  The Potowatomi tribe called it “Mahnawauk,” meaning gathering place.  Others called the largest of the three local rivers “Millioke.”  Merging the names, the city was officially christened Milwaukee in 1844.

Later, waves of immigrants gave the city a distinctly German flair, and this industrial hub came to be known as “Brew City,” as four major breweries pumped more ale than anywhere else stateside.   In 1903, a small factory opened shop to build motorized cycles.

Milwaukee Today

Today, Harley-Davidson still churns out motorcycles, and every five years, enthusiasts roar into town from around the world to enjoy a week long anniversary.  The celebration travels around town, but two large parties are at the lakefront and at the Harley-Davidson Museum.

Harley’s regular fetes would be enough to place Milwaukee on the festivals map, but the city’s lakefront rocks every summer for 11 days, running always from the end of June to the beginning of July, as more than 800 bands take to 11 stages during Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival.  If that wasn’t enough, Irish Fest is the world’s largest Irish festival, German Fest is North America’s largest German festival, and Polish Fest is the largest Polish festival in the United States.  Every weekend, from May through September, there’s a (big) festival or two in town.

About the Beer

While Miller remains the city’s only large brewer, craft breweries thrive.  The bigger craft breweries boast tours, including Sprecher Brewery , Lakefront Brewery, and Milwaukee Brewing Company.  But now, you can also grab an ale and a gourmet bite to eat at Like Minds, get your tap on at Good City Brewing and about a dozen other places.  Not to mention three distilleries, including: Great Lakes Distillery, the state’s first distillery since Prohibition with its own kitchen; Central Standard Distillery, which boasts a fun bar and patio, and Twisted Path Distillery, a small, organic distillery that also runs a cocktail bar/lab with a local bitters company, Dock 18.  Lakefront even hosts a weekly Friday fish fry, with a live polka band and the bubble machine from the old Lawrence Welk show.

See and Do

Though the Bronz Fonz is the city’s most photographed site, the most picturesque is the Santiago Calatrava-designed Milwaukee Art Museum addition, especially the “wings” that soar over the lakefront, opening and closing at noon and 5 p.m. daily.

Set sail on a real schooner, the Denis Sullivan, which docks at the adjacent science-centered Discovery World Museum, wander among the butterflies at an indoor garden at the Milwaukee Public Museum, or smell the flowers at the Domes, or the Mitchell Park Conservatory.

Enjoy a wilder collection at the Milwaukee County Zoo.  Especially enjoyable are the shows and hands-on animal experiences.  Feed the giraffes twice a day, or watch the sea lions and seals dive in the Oceans of Fun show.  In cooler months, an educational tour allows visitors to feed these marine beauties.

Step away from Milwaukee’s attractions to explore the lakefront.   Rent paddle boats, bikes and Segways at Veteran’s Park, catch some rays at Bradford Beach, or just sip a latte at Colectivo Coffee’s coffeehouse located in a renovated water treatment plant, and you’ll know why locals consider Milwaukee a “great city on a Great Lake.”

Explore These Milwaukee Itineraries:

Milwaukee in 48 Hours … Explore the highlights
Milwaukee for Families … Little one’s day out

What it Costs

Abstract Pricing at a Glance

Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We don’t want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.

Price ranges are quoted in $US.

See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$$ => Tickets $26 per person

$ => Rooms less than $100 for a double
$$ => Rooms $200 for a double
$$$ => Rooms $300 for a double

$ => $1-15 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$ => $16-40 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$$ => $41 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)

N/A => Not applicable

$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$ => Tickets $26 per person


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