Looking for a weekend getaway from Chicago? We can’t recommend Milwaukee enough! It is a short drive from Chicago, it’s on the shores of the Great Lakes, and there are plenty of fun, family-friendly things to experience. We’re sharing our favorite 14 fun things to do in Milwaukee with family or friends.
Family-Fun Activities in Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin is a highly underrated city to visit! We’ve taken family getaways in spring, summer, fall, and winter seasons and it never gets old. It’s only an hour and a half from Chicago, and the activities that we found are as diverse as our interests.
📍2400 N Lincoln Memorial Dr
There are countless fun things to do in Milwaukee. Did you know that Milwaukee has accessible beaches? It’s true! Bradford Beach is the perfect place to go in the summer if you’re looking for a fun-filled beach day.
We walked along the shore. But you can go boating, swimming, and even play some beach volleyball.
Plus, there are tons of great restaurants in the area that can be reached with a short walk. Some great nearby restaurants include Pizza Man Milwaukee, BelAir Cantina Downer, and Crossroads Collective!
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
📍1111 E Brown Deer Rd, Bayside
If you’re wondering what to do in Milwaukee and you love the outdoors, head to the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center.
There are tons of outdoor places waiting to be explored by you, including walking trails, forests, and even wildlife. Be sure to head to the top of the observation tower. The views were breathtaking to us. Admission is free for members, $8 for adults, $5 for ages 3-17, veterans, and active-duty personnel.
📍101 W. Pleasant (along the river)
In spring and summer, we always take a stroll along the Milwaukee Riverwalk is easily one of the best things to do in Milwaukee if you like being outdoors.
This path follows the Milwaukee River and offers some of the best views for three miles throughout the city. This is the perfect way to exercise and explore Milwaukee. We love to be there for the sunrise or sunset!
American Family Field
📍1 Brewers Way
There’s no better way to learn about an area’s culture than by seeing a sports game. American Family Field is home to the Milwaukee Brewers, the city’s Major League Baseball Team.
This is one of the more unique MLB stadiums in the United States, as the roof can close, keeping both the players and the audience warm when it gets too cold!
Make sure to catch a Brewers game, one of the most fun things to do in Milwaukee for sports enthusiasts.
Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward
📍525 East Chicago Street
Walking around and exploring the Historic Third Ward is one of the most fun things to do in Milwaukee. This is one of the trendier and more hip areas of the city, filled with restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and art galleries.
Historic Third Ward is also known for having some of the tastiest food.
Henry Maier Festival Park
📍200 N Harbor Dr
Henry Maier Festival Park is located right along the river and hosts all of Milwaukee’s greatest events.
This is the perfect place to go, either during the day or in the evening. Some of the most popular events held here include German Fest and Summerfest! Make sure to purchase tickets in advance.
Milwaukee Art Museum
📍700 N Art Museum Dr
The Milwaukee Art Museum opened in the nineteenth century and is filled with more than twenty thousand different art pieces. If you’re wondering what to do in Milwaukee and you’re an art fan, head here!
This museum is most well known for having a lot of great pieces by Georgia O’Keeffe. The building is beautifully designed and sits on the shore of Lake Michigan. Admission is $19 for adults, $17 for seniors/students/military, ages 12 and under are free.
Milwaukee’s Public Market
📍400 N. Water St.
For all of your shopping needs, make your way to the Milwaukee Public Market, easily one of the best things to do in Milwaukee.
This public market is filled with tons of great places to buy all kinds of food. In addition to buying items like cheese or produce to bring home, you can also purchase fully cooked meals if you’re hungry.
📍400 W. Canal St.
What makes this museum truly unique is its extensive collection of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, spanning over a century. We saw vintage classics and custom bikes. It was an absolute marvel to see the evolution and craftsmanship of these bikes.
📍1000 N. Broadway
Shhhh. We found another museum that you’re going to love. Grohmann Museum in Milwaukee is a hidden gem that art enthusiasts and history lovers should not miss.
What sets this museum apart is its focus on the portrayal of the evolution of human work through art. The collections showcase stunning paintings, sculptures, and other artworks that depict professions and industries.
📍500 N. Harbor Dr.
If you’re wondering what to do in Milwaukee with kids, go to Discovery World! This fun, interactive museum is the perfect place to educate children while also allowing them to be involved with the exhibits.
Throughout the museum, there are aquatic animals, fun exhibits to climb on, and more. Tickets range from $14 to $20, ages 2 and under are free.
Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory
📍524 S Layton Blvd
This gem in Milwaukee should be on your list of things to do. There are 3 domes for visitors to peruse. The Show Dome, Tropical Dome, and Arid Dome each maintain a distinct climate and setting for the florals and fauna on display.
There is free parking in the lot and a small gift shop inside. Admission is only $7 for adult residents of Milwaukee County or $8 for non-residents with Children 5 & under are free.
📍2000 W Wisconsin Ave
The original home of the family who started the Pabst brewing empire is now a historic landmark in Milwaukee! This home, which was built in the 1890s, is one of the more popular museums to visit in the area.
The interior is still decorated as it was historically, and guided tours are available. Tours range from $5 to $20 (depending on age and tour package).
Also, taking a brewery tour is among the top fun things to do in Milwaukee, allowing you to experience the renowned craft beer culture that the city is famous for.
📍1111 Vel R. Phillips Ave
This venue has an amazing atrium and hosts extraordinary talents like the musical artistry of Mary J. Blige, comedic delivery of Jim Gaffigan, and artistic performances of Cirque du Soleil.
The state-of-the-art arena is also home to the Milwaukee Bucks where sports fans can enjoy the comfy seats and refreshments over an exciting game. After a few visits, we are pretty sure there is not a bad seat in the house!
Hopefully, this article of the best things to do in Milwaukee has helped you plan your next trip to this epic city! No matter what time of year you visit, you’re in for a real treat.
Just make sure to book your reservations well in advance, especially if you’re planning your trip for the peak summer season!
Final Thoughts on Things to do in Milwaukee
Milwaukee is a great destination for a weekend getaway from Chicago. There is a multitude of fun things to do in Milwaukee, from exploring the arts scene to enjoying lively festivals and events.
The drive is about 1.5 hours and the road trip always brings excitement in the air for us. If you are driving from Chicago, make a stop at Mars for some cheesy snacks or the OH Danish bakery. It’s worth it!