Are you planning a trip to Wisconsin this summer? Don't miss a trip to Milwaukee. From music festivals to celebrations of international culture, there is something for someone of every taste. Wisconsin native Alina Dix highlights the best features of the city in the summertime, focusing on what you can do with a weekend in Milwaukee.
How to spend your weekend in Milwaukee
It’s safe to say that winter is officially over in Wisconsin and thank goodness! If you’re looking for a short getaway, then Milwaukee, Wisconsin is the place to visit this summer. Whether it’s the middle of the week or the weekend, there is plenty to do and see in 48 hours, though you may find yourself wanting to stay longer. Situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is the largest city in Wisconsin and fifth largest in the Midwest. This city has a long-standing history as a brewery town, but it has more to offer than great brews.
Summer events in Milwaukee
Summer means festivals, parties, tours and amazing weather. Milwaukee’s tourism website outlines all the events that you can be a part of, but locals still have their favorites. If you’re visiting during the week, be sure to check out Jazz in the Park, a free music series in the summer. Held every Thursday at Cathedral Park from June to September, the Happy Hour starts at 5pm with the food/beverage vendors and music starts at 6pm.
If you are a music fan, Summerfest is one of the world’s largest music festivals held every year along the lakefront from the end of June to the first week of July. Unlike other music festivals, Summerfest is inexpensive and offersa variety of other entertainment events besides music. Right before Summerfest and also held at the Henry W. Maier Festival Park is Polish Fest on June 17-19. That same weekend, you can go a few miles north to the Milwaukee Art Museum for the Lakefront Festival of the Arts.
Milwaukee has many international celebrations during the summer. In mid-July, the city honors everything French with the Bastille Day celebration. At the end of July, the Henry W. Maier Festival Park hosts the Festa Italiana and then German Fest the following week.
Another must-see summer event is the Wisconsin State Fair. There are carnival rides and games, animals of all shapes and sizes, and more food than you have stomachs to fill! The cream puff is the fair's specialty and worth a taste.
Even if you’re not visiting during one of these excellent summer events, don’t worry - there’s still plenty to do.
Planning Activities around weather in Milwaukee
The weather in Milwaukee is usually very warm in the summer and it is comfortable to walk outside without layers in the evening. If it’s a bit chilly or rainy, however, and you want to stay inside, then the museums are the place to be. The Milwaukee Art Museum is made up of two buildings (north and south) and houses over 30,000 works of art. The south building is the most recognizable as the Calatrava designed white building that resembles a swan when the wings are open. The north building is the original building and just got renovated in 2015.
Just south of the art museum is Discovery World and it’s fun for the whole family, not just the kids. West from the lakefront, on Wells Street, is the Milwaukee Public Museum, which is known for its recreated version of Old Milwaukee and the Puelicher Butterfly Wing.
What to eat and drink in Milwaukee
Your weekend in Milwaukee wouldn’t be complete without amazing food. Let's break it down by meal for the inside scoop on some of the best restaurants in town:
Café Benelux & Market at 346 N. Broadway is a European style café with a rooftop patio and some of the best breakfast omelets and skillets. If you’re not big on having a huge morning meal and you just want coffee, then head over the Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. at 224 W. Bruce Street.
If you love great pizza and pasta at a reasonable price, Barbiere’s Italian Inn at 5844 W. Bluemound Road is my favorite! I’ve eating here for years, the staff is always friendly and the food is always consistently delicious.
If you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for, consider taking a stroll up and down Water Street to find the perfect pub or restaurant to feed your craving.
If you’re not from Milwaukee, it’s possible you’ve never heard of a Friday Night Fish Fry. If it’s a Friday, then it’s almost a guarantee that which every restaurant you choose will have some kind of fish fry special. If it's not Friday, then I suggest Elsa’s On the Park for the best burgers, appetizers and drinks. The desserts are out of this world too! Elsa’s is across the street from Cathedral Park, so you can catch some Jazz music on Thursday, too.
Brady Street is another great place to be during the summer nights. There are all kinds of restaurants and bars serving foods from around the world. Casablanca has the best Middle Eastern food and hookah with a newly renovated second floor outdoor terrace. Bosley On Brady is less than a block east of Casablanca and brings the food traditions of Key West, Florida to Milwaukee. Or keep walking east to find the perfect spot for dinner on Brady Street or maybe sample a couple of places!
Summer is definitely the best time in Milwaukee! If you have only two days to spend then it’s sure to be a fun packed, memorable two days. But trust me, you’ll be back for more!
This article was written by Alina Dix, a Wisconsin native.