Featured Photo by Summerfest

Milwaukee Bucket List Experiences In The Milwaukee River Valley​!

The state of Wisconsin has small towns, river towns, rural areas, and farmland, each with its own whimsical charms and experiences, but it’s also home to bigger cities offering a little bit of everything the state cherishes. One of these great cities is Milwaukee, located in southeast Wisconsin on the border of Lake Michigan and at the confluence of three rivers, the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic. Milwaukee is Wisconsin’s largest city and features great outdoor, cultural, and recreational experiences due to its proximity to several bodies of water and its rich history of diversity. Given the size of the city, it can be hard to take it all in on one visit, but here are a few bucket list experiences that are a must when visiting Milwaukee.

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Milwaukee takes great pride in Wisconsin food and beverage traditions, in fact, the city does its best to create over-the-top food creations celebrating their german and overall Wisconsin culture. Cheese curds, brats, bloody marys, and beer are classically Milwaukee. The Wisconsin Cheese Mart is a great place to grab take-out cheese curds and a few packages of uncooked curds, while Lakefront Brewery serves up curds dipped in beer batter from one of their own lagers. A stop at the Milwaukee Brat House will satisfy both your bratwurst and german beer needs with a uniquely Milwaukee twist. Finally, you should end your food adventure with a visit to Smoke Shack Milwaukee, where the Bloody Jack is made with Jack Daniels and spiced with barbeque sauce, or Sobelman’s Pub & Grill, nicknamed the Original Bloody Mary Bar serving up bloodys topped high with garnishes and extras including mini burgers, bacon, cheese, and a whole fried chicken.

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Known as the City Of Festivals, Milwaukee is a haven for parties all year long. Of all the festivals, Summerfest is the world’s largest music festival and a Milwaukee bucket list experience featuring 11 days of festing and over 800 musical acts on 11 different stages right on Lake Michigan. Another great experience in Milwaukee is the Wisconsin State Fair held every August, where rural and urban Wisconsin values come together for a week and a half of state fair fun and food. Cultural festivals are also popular in Milwaukee, as the city takes pride in celebrating the diversity and history of the region at festivals like Bastille Days, German Fest, Pridefest, Bronzeville Week, and Irish Fest each year.

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In Milwaukee, you’ll have access to four different bodies of water, Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic Rivers, so make the best of your trip and plan for some fun on the water. If you love a hands on adventure, rent a jet ski from Wheel Fun Rentals to ride the waves on Lake Michigan, or a pedal boat, kayak, or stand-up paddle boat. You can also set out sailing with Sea Dog Sailing for a day sail or sunset cruise in the Milwaukee Harbor. If paddling a river is more your style, you can explore all three Milwaukee rivers in a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard from either Milwaukee Kayak Company or Brew City Kayak. A final way to enjoy fun in the sun in Milwaukee is by relaxing on the beach. Milwaukee is considered the “Third Coast” and features great sandy beaches on Lake Michigan like Bradford Beach, Atwater Beach, and South Shore Beach.

Mesabi Trail

Milwaukee is a hub of culture and diversity, and exploring exhibits at one of the city’s many museums is a great way to learn and experience the heritage and history of the area. One bucket list museum experience is The Harley Davidson Museum featuring the past, present, and future of the Harley Davidson motorcycle company, founded in 1903 in Milwaukee. Another must-visit museum is the Milwaukee Art Museum where you’ll see world class art and amazing architecture right alongside beautiful Lake Michigan. A final museum you may be interested in, especially if you’re traveling with kids, is the Discovery World Science and Technology Center. Kids and adults alike will have a blast learning and interacting with the exhibits including the Reiman Aquarium and Great Lakes Future exhibit.

Iron Range

With a beer history and culture as rich as Milwaukee’s, it would be a shame not to explore the multitude of breweries and taprooms that inhabit Brew City. The best way to learn about the history of brewing in Milwaukee, and taste some of the best beers, is to head out on a brewery tour. A great tour to start out with is the Miller Brewery Tour, which takes you through over 160 years of brewing history in Milwaukee with the Miller Brewing Company, including the old underground beer chilling caves and the historic Bavarian-style Miller Inn. Another great historical beer tour is at the Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery where you’ll see and learn about the former Pabst brewery and sample local and Wisconsin-brewed beers in an authentic, German atmosphere. You can also find some great modern tours that celebrate the current state of beer in the city at MobCraft Beer Brewery & Taproom, The Bavarian Bierhaus, The Explorium Brewpub, Lakefront Brewery, and the Milwaukee Brewing Company.

I am a student, aspiring writer, and avid reader of books. My favorite things in the world are my German Shepherds and hiking in Colorado.
Maeve Miller

Writer , River Travel Magazine