Milwaukee County Attractions
Milwaukee County features the sprawling City of Milwaukee filled with fantastic shopping and dining, remarkable museums and cultural attractions, teams for every sports enthusiast, and family centered activities yet it also includes wonderful suburban communities with beautiful parks, lakes and local activities and attractions.
Known as ‘A Genuine American City’, Milwaukee combines the friendliness of the Midwest with the cultural attractions and amenities of a big city. Milwaukee is nationally recognized for its wonderful museums, fine dining and hotels, professional sports, performing arts, gardens and parks, and a world-renowned zoo. Festivals and celebrations, attracting millions of visitors, are held throughout the year, including the International Arts Festival, Summerfest – a musical festival that attracts nearly 1,000,000 people each year, numerous ethnic festivals throughout the summer, Oktoberfest – a celebration of German and Wisconsin heritage, and finally the Holiday Folk Fair International.
So no matter what you are looking for – priceless works of art, interactive and educational activities for the kids, historical attractions, sports events, great music and dance, fabulous food, or just a quite walk through a park or along Lake Michigan, Milwaukee County has it.
Museums and Historical Sites
Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion
2000 West Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee
Delight in the magnificence of one of Milwaukee’s grandest homes. Built in 1892 by beer tycoon Frederick Pabst, this Flemish Renaissance Mansion was once considered the jewel of Milwaukee’s famous avenue of mansions called the “Grand Avenue”. All of the interior rooms are carefully restored with period furniture, along with the exquisite craftsmanship and details given to the wood, glass, and ironwork throughout the home to create an authentic replica of a Victorian Mansion. Nationally recognized as a house museum. Open 10am-3pm, Monday through Saturday, 12noon – 3:30pm, Sunday. Tours given; museum is also wheelchair accessible.
Milwaukee Public Museum
Humphrey IMAX Dome Theater
800 W. Wells St. (Downtown)
Explore faraway places like Africa, Europe, the Arctic, and South and Middle America. Take a giant leap back more than 65 million years to land of dinosaurs. Gaze at ancient Mediterranean civilizations and see real mummies. Surround yourself with the sounds and feel of a tropical rainforest. Walk the turn-of-the-century Streets of Old Milwaukee. Watch a butterfly wiggle out if its chrysalis and feel the tickle of hundreds of live butterflies in the Puelicher Butterfly Wing, a two-story, glass-enclosed butterfly garden, with an adjacent learning gallery. Visit the new exhibit-Exploring Life on Earth – and discover your place in the web of life on Earth. Through life-sized dioramas, multimedia stations, hands-on laboratories and animatronics, experience the incredible story of life on Earth and how it has changed over time. Daily tours, special exhibits and cultural programming offered throughout the year.
While at the Museum, consider an IMAX movie. It’s edge-of-your-scat excitement and breathtaking realism. This several-story-tal1 theater, complete with digital surround stereo sound will put you right in the middle of the action. Call for films and show times – (414) 319-IMAX. Museum hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Closed Fourth of July, Thanksgiving all Christmas. Street and structure parking available.
Milwaukee County Historical Society
910 N. Old World Third Street, Milwaukee
Experience Milwaukee during the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. Housed within an architectural landmark, the Milwaukee’s Historical Society features a panoramic painting of Milwaukee, firefighting equipment, period replicas of a pharmacy and a bank, and Children’s world – an exhibit that includes vintage toys, clothes and school materials. A research library is also within the museum. Open 9:30am-5pm, Monday through Friday; 10am-5pm on Saturday; and 1pm-5pm on Sundays.
America’s Black Holocaust Museum
2233 N. 4th Street, Milwaukee
Founded in 1988 by James Cameron, America’s only known survivor of a lynch mob attack and author of A Time of Terror, this museum is dedicated to documenting and educating the public on injustices and violence suffered by African Americans and other racial and religious minorities. Open 9am-5pm, Monday through Saturday, year round. Admission.
Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
929 E. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee
Bring the kids for a fun and educational experience at the Betty Brinn Museum. Voted one of the top 10 museums for children by Parents Magazine, the museum is geared toward children under 10 and has the philosophy that constructive play nurtures the mind. Filled with hands-on exhibits and interactive programs, the museum offers families a chance to learn together. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 9am-5pm and Sunday, 12noon-5pm. Admission.
Milwaukee Art Museum
750 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, Milwaukee
Art lovers will enjoy this exquisite museum displaying more than 20,000 works of art including 15th – 20th Century European and American paintings and drawings, sculptures, photography and decorative arts. Some of the featured artists and collections include Georgia O’Keefe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Andy Warhol, the Hall Collection of American Folk Art, and the Flagg Collection of Renaissance artifacts and decorative items. The Art Museum also presents the Sunday Family Series — weekly workshops that combine fun and education for the whole family. Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 10am-5pm; Thursday 12noon-9pm; Sunday 12noon-5pm. Call for schedule of events and special exhibits.
Parks & Nature Centers
Milwaukee County Parks Department
Cities like Milwaukee can offer water sports enthusiasts a little funâ€¦the Milwaukee River flows along a scenic route into the city of Milwaukee, and features a number of low level rapids, and several dams to portage. Access to the river is available at parks and dams along the river and in the city. Within Milwaukee city limits the adventurous can kayak or canoe from below North Avenue to the mouth of the Harbor from a few access points.
Havenwood State Forest
6141 N. Hopkins Street, Milwaukee
Enjoy 217 acres of trees, grass, and wildlife tucked away within Milwaukee’s urban environment. Havenwood Forest features an environmental center and naturalist programs so visitors can learn more about the balance that maintains this park within city limits. There are recreational opportunities for the nature enthusiast including 1 mile of nature trails, 7 miles of hiking trails, 2.5 miles of cross-country trails.
Schlitz Audubon Center
1111 E. Brown Deer Road, Milwaukee
The goal of the Schlitz Audubon Center is to provide Milwaukee residents and visitors with a recreational and an educational look at nature. See nature exhibits, programs and workshops, and explore more than 200 acres of wildlife sanctuary featuring 6 miles of trails for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. While visiting the park take time to climb the park’s 60-foot tower and enjoy the spectacular views of the sanctuary and Lake Michigan. Call for program schedule.
Wehr Nature Center
9701 W. College Avenue, Franklin
Created and maintained by the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, the Wehr Nature Center is a “living laboratory” designed to raise environmental awareness. Field trips, tours, lectures and demonstrations guide you through this special environment and teach visitors about the delicate balance between the woodlands, wetlands, prairie space and lake that make up this area. Call for program and tour schedule.
Mitchell Park Horticultural Domes
524 S. Layton Boulevard, Milwaukee
When visiting Milwaukee be sure to bring your favorite gardener to the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, also known as “The Domes”. The only horticultural structure of its kind, the Conservatory features three enclosed glass structures that are 6 stories high and cover 1 acre of garden space under each dome. Each have their own specialized theme – the Show Dome features five seasonal floral displays each year and each theme dictates the setting, landscape, and design; the Arid Dome features the deserts of the Southwest, Africa, Madagascar, South America, and Mexico; and the Tropical Dome features over 750 species of tropical plants including orchids, economic plants, exotic flowers, lush foliage and beautiful waterfalls. The Domes are open daily from 9am-5pm daily including holidays. Admission.
Boerner Botanical Gardens
5879 S. 92nd Street, Hales Corner
Wander through Boerner Botanical Gardens and enjoy the vivid colors and rich perfumes of the many different flowers and plants. Internationally known as a horticultural showplace, the Boerner Botanical Gardens serve as an educational and leisure center for gardeners and plant lovers. Housed within the 1000 acre Whitnall Park Arboretum, the garden features landscaped collections of perennials, herbs, and annuals; a Rock Garden, the largest ornamental Crab Apple Tree collection in the nation; and over 500 varieties of roses. The Garden House, the Gift Shop and the gardens open daily at 8am until sundown, hours are subject to change. Formal Gardens are closed November through March.
Special Things To Do
Historic Milwaukee Walking Tours
P.O. Box 511220, Milwaukee
History buffs will love the variety offered by Historic Milwaukee Incorporated and their walking tours of Milwaukee. Milwaukee, a city rich in historical and architectural heritage, makes a great backdrop for these fun and informative walks. Guides take you on walks through the many historic districts, and include tours such as “Skywaukee”, a walk through Milwaukee’s glass skywalk system; Riverwalk, a stroll along the banks of the Milwaukee River; celebrate Halloween during the Gargoyles, Grotesques and Dragons Tour and see the many ‘faces’ of Milwaukee’s downtown building; and the one and only Naughty Ladies of Beer Town Tour. There are many more tours offered by Historic Milwaukee Incorporated and each is fun and educational. Call for tour information and schedules. Admission.
Miller Brewery Tours
4251 W. State Street, Milwaukee
Visitors will love to get a true behind the scene look at one of Wisconsin’s best known productsâ€¦Miller Beer. The Miller Brewing Company is proud to host free tours of their brewery and where visitors can see the skill, care and quality ingredients that go into the making of their beers. The brewery tours are informative as well as entertaining and for the entire family. Guided tours are held Monday through Saturday 10am-3:30pm; the gift shop is open 9am-4:30pm. Closed Sundays and Holidays. Fall/Winter hours are in effect October 1 through May 1, so call for hours and times.
Henry Maier Festival Park
414-273-FEST or 1-800-273-FEST
Whether it is food, music, or fun – Summerfest offers entertainment for everyone. This international festival takes place along Milwaukee’s beautiful lakefront and features top and local musicians and performers from James Taylor to Metallica, and is proud to be considered one of the best musical festivals in the world. Call for next year’s festival dates and list of performers.
Music and Dance Ensembles of Milwaukee
Milwaukee Ballet 414-643-7677
Ko-Thi Dance Company 414-273-0727
Florentine Opera of Milwaukee 414-291-5700
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra 414-291-6010
The Milwaukee Ballet, ranked among the top ballet companies in the nation, perform a diverse and inspiring repertoire ranging from the classics to innovative contemporary works. The Ko-Thi Company, an African American arts organization, performs to document, preserve and teach the music, dance and traditional arts of the African, African-American, and Caribbean cultural groups. The Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, known for their powerful performances of classic opera, feature international casts, acclaimed vocalists, spectacular sets and costumes. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, called “One of America’s great virtuoso orchestra’s” by The New Yorker magazine, performs almost 200 concerts annually including classical, pops, family and holiday entertainment. Call for performance schedules.
Points of Interest
Milwaukee County Zoo
10001 W. Bluemound Road, Milwaukee
Adults, kids, and families will look forward to a day at the Milwaukee County Zoo. With each exhibit separated only by hidden moats – predators and their prey seem to live side by side in natural environments. Summer months bring a variety of special animal exhibits that are both entertaining and educational. The zoo is filled with special attractions and activities to keep the children excited the whole day including camel and pony rides, the Northwestern Mutual Family Farm with its petting zoo and interactive exhibits. Visitors can also enjoy a leisurely ride aboard the North Shore Bank Safari Train or on the St. Francis Bank Zoomobile. Open daily year round, May 1 through September 30, 9am-5pm, Sundays and Holidays, 9am-6pm, and October 1 through April 30, 9am-4:30pm. Call for schedule of exhibits, animal feedings, and special events.
International Clown Hall of Fame
161 W. Wisconsin Avenue (Inside Grand Avenue), Milwaukee
The silly side in us all will love to visit the Clown Hall of Fame and learn about famous clowns of the past and present. See clown memorabilia, and historical artifacts including tiny bikes, noisy horns, and big bow ties. The Clown Hall of Fame also includes exhibits of comedy greats like Red Skelton, Lou Jacobs, and Emit Kelly Sr. Open Monday through Friday, 10am-4pm, or by appointment. Call for clown performance schedule. Admission
Mitchell Gallery of Flight
General Mitchell International Airport
5300 S. Howell Avenue, Milwaukee
Aviation and historical enthusiasts will truly enjoy the history of General Mitchell International Airport with a visit to the Gallery of Flight. Exhibits include the story of General Billy Mitchell; replicas of past and present aircraft including the Lawson Airline, the first commercial airliner; the Graf Zeppelin II, the sister ship to the tragically legendary Hindenburg; a 1911 Curtis Pusher, an airplane with the propeller in the rear of the plane; and the present day giant of the sky, the 747. Other exhibits include commercial air memorabilia, early aviation engines and airport beacons. Exhibits do change throughout the year and tours are available. Open daily 8am-10pm.
Milwaukee Conservancy of Music
1584 N. Prospect Avenue, Milwaukee
Built in 1903, the conservancy originally served as a family home. The home has been a music school since 1932 and is listed on Milwaukee’s Historic Register. Each year the conservancy welcomes visitors to the mansion’s elegant recital hall to enjoy over 100 performances including jazz, classical, blues – all instruments, all styles. Many concerts free; call for schedule and information.
Basilica of St. Josaphat
569 W. Lincoln Avenue, Milwaukee
Built more than 96 years ago by Polish immigrants, the Basilica of St. Josaphat is one of 33 basilicas in the U.S. Considered a national landmark, the classic architecture, stained glass windows, and murals pay tribute to Milwaukee’s cultural heritage.
St. Joan of Arc Chapel
Originally built in the French village of Chasse during the mid 15th century, this small Gothic Chapel was brought to the U.S. in 1927 as a centerpiece to a New York Estate. In the early 1960’s the estate was acquired by a Wisconsin family who donated the chapel to Marquette University. The chapel was then disassembled stone by stone, sent to Marquette and then was painstakingly rebuilt. In 1966 the Chapel was dedicated to St. Joan of Arc. Open Monday through Saturday 10am-4pm, and Sunday 12noon-4pm. Closed when the University is closed (including all major holidays). Free tours.