Milwaukee is a hidden gem that often goes unnoticed by travelers, but those who take the time to explore it are in for a pleasant surprise. How do I know this?
I’ve lived here for 15+ years and still love being a tourist in my own city.
With its rich history, scenic lakefront location, and lively culture, Milwaukee has something for everyone. I’ll offer up several suggestions for things to do, and then I’ll share itineraries based on interests to help you plan your day in Milwaukee.
And if you have any questions, shoot us an email! We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have!
Things to Do in One Day in Milwaukee
Tours/Museums for a Day Trip to Milwaukee
I love a good city tour to fill up the afternoon.
Fortunately, Milwaukee has some great tours, whether you want to learn about the city’s history or a quirky collectible.
Here are some of my favorites that we’ve done while being a tourist in our own city.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Burnham’s Block – Saturday’s Only
Unfortunately, this tour is only offered on Saturdays. But I highly recommend this tour if you love architecture and are in Milwaukee on a Saturday.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Burnham Block presents a rare glimpse into the architect’s ambitious venture into affordable housing: the American System-Built Homes. Initiated in the early 20th century, this project was Wright’s response to the demand for beautiful, quality homes at a reasonable cost.
These small homes boast the unmistakable Wright style—horizontal lines, harmonious design, and thoughtful use of space—making them a must-see for enthusiasts of architecture, history, and the evolution of American living.
Historic Milwaukee Tour
If you want to learn about Milwaukee from some of the most passionate tour guides in the city, the tours by the volunteers at Historic Milwaukee are for you.
We’ve done the Historic Milwaukee Downtown Walking Tour and loved learning about the history of the amazing buildings in downtown Milwaukee.
Best Place Beer History Tour at The Historic Pabst Brewery
This is my favorite beer tour in Milwaukee! So, if you love beer and/or beer history, then this one is a must-do.
What makes the Best Place Beer History Tour special is experiencing the amazing preservation of the old Pabst Brewery Complex and hearing the story of how Pabst Brewery became what it is today.
The tour guides are great, and, of course, you start the tour with a beer or soda.
Harley Davidson Museum
I’m not a motorcycle enthusiast, and I’ve explored the Harley Davidson Museum twice in my 15-year Milwaukee tenure. It’s a great rainy-day activity for both locals and visitors.
My favorite part of the museum is its showcase of over 450 classic motorcycles, including “Serial Number One.” There are also several interactive exhibits that really allow you to feel the power of a Harley.
The Harley-Davidson Museum is a ride through history, and we Milwaukeeans are proud to share it with you.
Bobblehead Hall of Fame
Now, a Bobblehead Museum may sound like an odd choice, but it’s like something you’ve never seen. Its location adjacent to the Historic Third Ward makes it a perfect museum to check out on your Milwaukee day trip.
This museum is home to over 10,000 bobbleheads and counting. The bobbleheads range from athletes to mascots and pop culture figures. During your visit, you’ll get a chance to learn about the history of bobbleheads and the story behind how some bobbleheads came to be.
They even have a scavenger hunt if you want to make your visit a bit more adventureous.
Black Holocaust Museum
While it may not be the most uplifting thing you can do in Milwaukee, the Black Holocaust Museum is worth your time.
The America’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee exists to show the resilience and courage of African-American history.
At the museum, you’ll be immersed in an emotional journey facilitated by powerful exhibits, personal narratives, and visual art. The museum’s commitment to education and reconciliation makes it a pivotal cultural institution for understanding the past and fostering dialogue and empathy necessary for a more equitable future.
What I love about this museum is that it is both a reminder of darker times and an inspiring call for change.
Things to Eat for a Day Trip to Milwaukee
You won’t know how delicious frozen custard is until you try it. Just ask the Top Chef Judges who were just in Milwaukee filming.
You can’t leave Milwaukee without getting some fried cheese curds. Here is a list of my favorite places for cheese curds in Milwaukee:
- Lakefront Brewery
- Dairyland (Zocolo Food Truck Park or 3rd Street Market Hall)
- Blacksheep (For Sweet Curds)
- Clock Shadow Creamery (for fresh curds)
Breweries for a Day Trip to Milwaukee
Lakefront Brewery is the quintessential Milwaukee experience. And it’s one of my favorite businesses in Milwaukee.
Opened in 1987, Lakefront Brewery was one of the first microbreweries in Milwaukee. To this day, it remains as it’s most popular. And for good reason.
Lakefront Brewery has solid beers, an amazing beer hall, and a gorgeous patio along the Milwaukee River, and they have a passion for making Milwaukee great. They also have some of the best cheese curds and the best brewery tour in the city.
Supermoon Beer Company
Supermoon Beer Company is for lovers of funky natural fermented beers.
I put this one on the list even though it’s a bit out of the way for a day trip to Milwaukee, as it’s situated in the Bay View neighborhood just south of the downtown area. This is because it has some of Milwaukee’s most talentedly brewed beers.
And if you love beer, you will not want to leave Milwaukee without stopping in their beautiful tap room.
Restaurant Recommendations for a Milwaukee Day Trip
Uncle Wolfie’s Breakfast Tavern
Uncle Wolfie’s Breakfast Tavern is one of my favorite places for an adventurous brunch. While they have the staples, you will also find inventive, sweet, and savory options.
Located in the Brewer’s Hill neighborhood, it’s a great place to start if you plan to hit up Lakefront Brewery in the afternoon or just a great way to start your day.
There is also a cute store, Orange and Blue Co, attached to the restaurant that you can browse while you wait for a table.
Cafe at the Plaza
For a classic breakfast in a historic hotel, make sure to check out Cafe at the Plaza.
Besides the atmosphere, it has some of the most delicious brunch food in the city. Their hashbrowns are to die for! They also have many gluten-free options.
Engine Company No. 3
Located in an old Firehouse in Walker’s Point just south of the Historic Third Ward, Engine Company No. 3 offers farm-to-table tapas-style brunch plates. They also have a killer bloody mary.
Milwaukee Public Market
Head over to the Milwaukee Public Market to grab lunch from one of its various vendors. Some of my favorites are West Allis Cheese and Sausage Shoppe for a sandwich and Bloody Mary and St Paul’s Fish Company for seafood cravings (and its quirky atmosphere).
Bavette La Boucherie
James Beard Nominated Chef Karen Bell has created a lovely restaurant in the heart of the Historic Third Ward. Come to Bavette La Bourcherie for a quick bite or a charcuterie plate. I lived on their charcuterie during COVID-19 and love sitting at their bar for a glass of wine and a snack.
Odd Duck has been a staple in Milwaukee since 2012. And for the last ten years, it has continued to wow its customers.
In their new space in Walker’s Point, they serve an eclectic, ever-changing menu full of shareable plates. I would consider it my favorite restaurant in Milwaukee.
Recently named one of the Top 50 Restaurants in the United States by the New York Times, Birch focuses on creative wood-fired food.
Opened in 2021 after the pandemic, Birch is a solid choice for your Milwaukee dinner.
Milwaukee Day Trip Itinerary Suggestions
One Day in Milwaukee for Food and Drink Lovers
Milwaukee has fantastic restaurants and drinking establishments. Over the years, we’ve been to many bars and restaurants.
Here is how we suggest spending a day in Milwaukee if you want to try the best of the Milwaukee food and bar scene.
If you are an early riser, start with a coffee from Colectivo Coffee on the Lakefront. Enjoy the patio, hang out inside (an old water pump house station), or take your coffee to-go and stroll along the Lake Michigan lakefront for a little exercise.
Brunch at Uncle Wolfies in the Brewers Hill neighborhood. They don’t take reservations, but the food is tasty and a great start to your day.
Sign up in advance for a tour of Milwaukee’s iconic Lakefront Brewery.
If you only do one brewery tour on your trip, make it this one. They aren’t stingy with the samples, and the tour guides are entertaining. There is also a great patio along the river to hang out on after the tour.
Check out Eagle Park Brewery next if you want another drink or food. You can take the marsupial bridge (pedestrian) to cross the river easily. Their beers are unique and delicious, and their food is also great. We have them listed as one of the top breweries in Milwaukee.
Work off some of that food and drink and head down to the Milwaukee Riverwalk. Stroll along the river and find the Bronze Fonz and Gertie the Duck.
Check out the Milwaukee Public Market and shops in the Third Ward. If you want to feel like you’ve been transported to a tiki hut in the Caribbean, definitely check out St. Paul’s Fish Market. It’s one of our favorite places to hang out.
The bartenders are fun, the ambiance is energizing, and the food is delicious as well. If wine is more your thing, don’t miss out on sitting at the Thief Wine Bar. It’s the perfect spot for some people watching at the market.
These are our two favorite restaurants in Milwaukee. And if you don’t make reservations, don’t fret. They both have first-come, first-serve seating at the bar (which is honestly where we normally end up).
Or try making lane reservations at Koz’s Mini Bowl for a fun night of classic Wisconsin mini-bowling.
One Day in Milwaukee for History and Culture Lovers
As the largest city in Wisconsin, Milwaukee is full of history and culture.
With its strong German heritage and beer brewing history, Milwaukee is a great place to learn about the history of beer. It’s also home to many museums that both history and art lovers will enjoy.
Start with brunch at Engine Company No 3 in the Walker’s Point neighborhood. It’s a great restaurant located in an old firehouse.
If you don’t head to the art museum, at least stop by to view the famous wings of the Quadracci Pavillion.
Stroll down the Milwaukee Riverfront and make sure to get your picture taken with the famous Bronz Fonz.
Get your classic German fare at Mader’s located on Old World Third Street. This restaurant will make you feel like you’ve jumped on a plane and landed in Germany. The atmosphere is cozy, and the food is warming.
The Pfister Hotel is one of the coolest hotels in Milwaukee. It’s home to the largest collection of European artwork outside of Europe. And at Blu you’ll get to see downtown Milwaukee from above while sipping on a fancy cocktail.
One Day in Milwaukee for Beer History Lovers
With its rich history, Milwaukee is a great city to dive into brewing history. And there are plenty of options to explore both historical and current breweries in Milwaukee.
The first stop always needs to be brunch. Especially, if you are going to spend your day trying a few delicious beers.
Take a brewery tour.
Lakefront Brewery has been a Milwaukee craft beer staple since 1987. And their tours are a blast. Over the years, we’ve been on this tour multiple times with visiting friends and family. Plus, you get a decent amount of samples throughout the tour.
The tour at Miller Brewery is also fascinating as you get to see a large-scale brewery operation and learn about the history of Miller in Milwaukee.
Pabst Brewery started as Best Beer and later became the beer we know today, Pabst. A tour of Best Place takes you through restored buildings in the Pabst Brewing complex. It’s a great 1-hour tour, and you’ll get an appreciation for where Pabst started and how its brand was revived in the 1990s.
Now if you want to combine beer history with architecture, a tour of the Pabst Mansion is for you. On the tour, you’ll learn about the Pabst family and experience the beautifully restored mansion inhabited by the influential family.
Both Eagle Park and Central Waters have food that won’t disappoint.
With all this beer talk, you may need some food to add to the mix.
Grab some after-dinner drinks at a great beer bar.
Looking for More Milwaukee Suggestions?
Places to Stay in Milwaukee:
Cool Places to Stay in Milwaukee
Things to Do in Milwaukee:
Best Milwaukee City Tours