Milwaukee Attractions

Home to Summerfest, the world's largest music festival, and a host of ethnic and cultural events, Milwaukee is a true American city. Old and new worlds blend across the urban landscape from busy downtown corridors to ethnic neighborhoods filled with small shops and eateries. And while Milwaukee still maintains a strong German heritage, it has also embraced the other diverse communities that have come to call it home. Visitors have a chance to explore this eclectic blend of cultures through food, entertainment and a wealth of seasonal events. Recent projects like the expansion of the Milwaukee Art Museum have put the city known mostly for industries like Harley Davidson and Miller Brewing Co. on the national radar. And whether you're enjoying beers at Miller Park or sipping martinis at the High Hat Lounge, you'll find that this city of nearly 600,000 (America's 19th largest) still has a small-town feel.
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Miller Park

One Brewers Way, Milwaukee, WI; Tel. 414.902.4400 or 414.902.4000 (tickets)
Home of the Milwaukee Brewers, Miller Park is a state of the art ballpark. The fan-shaped roof opens and closes to keep fans from the cold, and the Smartvision color video scoreboard is considered one of the best in the country. But if you're not into all the bells and whistles, and really just there for the game, you'll be pleased to discover that there are four levels of front row seating to choose from (top tier seats aren't recommended if you want an especially good view). Bratwurst is the top choice at concession stand and there's plenty of sausage fill up on too. There's lots to see at Miller Park, but be sure to stay in your seat after the sixth inning to watch the Klement's Racing Sausages — a sprint race around the field that features a cadre of runners dressed in 10-foot sausage costumes.

Milwaukee Art Museum

700 North Art Museum Drive, Milwaukee, WI; Tel. 414.224.3200
The addition of the Quadracci Pavilion completed in 2001, made the Milwaukee Art Museum one of the architectural jewels of the new millennium. The awe-inspiring design was created by internationally-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava and is the first of his buildings to be completed in the United States. The futuristic construction houses a portion of the museum's collection and is topped by the Burke Brise Soleil, a pair of moveable wings that span 217 feet and are used to help control temperature and lighting inside the building. Not to be outdone by it's architectural grandeur, The Milwaukee Art Museum's holdings boast one of the most extensive collections of works by Georgia O'Keeffe, a Wisconsin native. Also notable are substantial collections in Haitian, folk, American decorative and German Expressionist art. If you're feeling a bit overwhelmed from all there is to see, stop by "Chair Park" where visitors can test out replicas of original chair designs included in the museum collection.

Pabst Mansion

2000 West Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI; Tel. 414.931.0808
This Flemish Renaissance Revival mansion built during the late-19th Century once belonged to Milwaukee's own king of beer Captain Frederick Pabst. Sold a few years after his death in 1904, the mansion also housed five Archbishops during its ownership by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. In 1978, the Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion, Inc. purchased the property — saving it from demolition — and has worked to restore and preserve the home and it's legacy ever since. Visitors are free to roam the illustrious interior that includes fine examples of woodwork, fixtures, art and textiles from the era when Pabst lived in the home. Architecture and history buffs will enjoy the "behind the scenes" tour (additional fee required) of the Pabst Mansion, where a personal guide will escort them through every corner and crevice of the mansion. While there, don't miss out on the special exhibits that have included installations about the curious (Victorian undergarments) and the creepy (Victorian death customs).

Milwaukee Public Museum

800 West Wells Street, Milwaukee, WI; Tel. 414.278.2702
Considered one of the best of its kind in the country, the Milwaukee Public Museum houses a vast collection of natural and cultural history. Notably, the museum is was the first to create total habitat dioramas — a technique that would later be mimicked in museums across the country — where animals are displayed in their natural environment. The Muskrat Group, the first display of this kind created in 1890, is still on display in the museum. Modeled after the rich landscapes of Costa Rica, the rainforest exhibit features two stories of sights and sounds from the tropics including both animal and plant species, while the Streets of Old Milwaukee exhibit transports visitors back to life in the city at the turn of the century, complete with small storefronts, brick roads and wooden sidewalks illuminated by gas lights. Small creatures fly free in the Milwaukee Public Museum's Puelicher Butterfly Wing — home to hundreds of butterflies, including some rare and exotic species.

Basilica of St. Josaphat

2333 South Sixth Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Tel. 414.645.5623
The historic Basilica of St. Josaphat is by far, one of the most beautiful landmarks in the city. Though the church was completed in 1901, it would be many years later before its magnificent interior would be completed in 1928. One year later, the church was designated as the third Minor Basilica in the United States. Despite indoor and outdoor damage during the 1940s, it still possesses its original beauty: finely detailed oil paintings depict biblical allegory and many of the windows hold the original stained glass. The dome is modeled after St. Peter's in Rome and was built using the same proportions on a smaller scale, complete with similar artistry and rich tones of gold and lapis. Scheduled tours of the Basilica of St. Josaphat take place on Sundays after Mass, though special arrangements can be made for groups who wish to visit on other days.

Old World Third Street

Old World Third Street offers a unique blend of old and new situated close by the Milwaukee River. Originally a German neighborhood, the area is now an eclectic blend of boutiques, specialty shops and restaurants. Its German roots continue to thrive however, and if you're looking for an authentic taste of the Old World, try visiting Mader's German Restaurant — a popular place amongst locals — where you can get your fill of sauerbraten and schnitzel while sitting amidst a sizeable collection of medieval armor, weaponry and stained glass. Pick up treats to take home from world-famous Usinger's Sausage or The Spice House, where hard to find spices are aplenty. Housed in an old savings bank built in 1913, history buffs can learn more about the city's past at the Milwaukee County Historical Society. Escape the buzz of the streets by settling down in Pere Marquette Park. You might even be able to catch a free concert while you're there.

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (The Domes)

524 South Layton Boulevard, Milwaukee, WI; Tel. 414.649.9800
A trio of 85-foot, beehive-shaped domes make up the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, where plants from around the world are cultivated in a naturalistic setting. Two of the glass domes have distinct climates that feature plant life specific to their environments. The Arid Dome is home to a large variety of desert vegetation found in the hot, dry regions of North and South America, as well as Africa. Most notable is the collection of plant life from Madagascar, one of the largest collections in the country. The Tropical Dome replicates a small-scale rainforest, complete with birds and iguanas in addition to a large collection of lush plants. Not to be missed is the Floral Show Dome — a true inspiration for any gardener — that features rotating themes with a historical or cultural motif. The Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory is open year-round, though the Floral Show Dome closes between installations. Call ahead for details.

Milwaukee County Zoo

10001 West Blue Mound Road, Milwaukee, WI; Tel. 414.771.5500
Beginning more than a century ago as a small bird and mammal display, the Milwaukee County Zoo has far exceeded its humble beginnings in Milwaukee's Washington Park. Relocating in 1958, it now spans 200 wooded acres and is home to more than 2500 animals representing 300 species. Creatures from across the globe are represented in both outdoor and indoor exhibits. Many are new and feature animals in elaborately reconstructed naturalistic environments. The Stackner Heritage Farm gives young visitors a chance to get close to animals and see a fully functioning dairy. Especially popular is the entertaining Oceans of Fun show that features seals and sea lions (additional fee required). To get a quick adventure through the Milwaukee County Zoo, hop on the Zoomobile that runs every 15 minutes.

Safe House

779 N. Front Street, Milwaukee, WI; Tel. 414.271.2007
One of Milwaukee's best (un)kept secrets is the Safe House, a spy-themed restaurant and bar. Named after the covert meeting places used by real-life undercover agents, this establishment takes its operation seriously. Finding it can be a bit tricky (Hint: Look for a storefront named International Exports Ltd.) and you'll need a password to gain entry. But have no fear. Patrons not privy to the secret phrase can also get in by completing a spy "test," though shy would-be spies should know that their exploits are being broadcast inside the bar for all agents already inside to see. Once you're inside the Safe House (and it'll be worth it!), enjoy a "spy-cial" dish from the menu or a 007-inspired drink from the bar. Be sure to examine all the special agent paraphernalia that includes surveillance equipment and other high-tech gear. Particularly worth investigation is the fake-cover phone booth where callers can choose from a large selection of background noises when placing an outgoing call.

Betty Brinn Children's Museum

929 E. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI; Tel. 414.390.5437
The Betty Brinn Children's Museum offers hands-on fun for little learners. Opened in 1995, the museum features installations where youngster can explore human anatomy, put on their own puppet show, play musical instruments and much more. Inside My Body Works, children learn the mechanics of the human body as they travel through a digestion tunnel and a model of the human heart. The WBB-TV exhibit gives them the chance to delve into the world of television news production. Here, children can create their own program on a set that includes a video camera, costumes and a control station just the right size for junior broadcasters. Infants and toddlers have their own area to explore inside Betty's Busy Backyard, that includes places to climb, build and play in an age-appropriate space.
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