02 May 15 Awesome Urban Adventures in Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is located on the shores of Lake Michigan, one of the five great lakes in the northern United States. It has a fantastic culture, and you will find lots of beer, cheese, meats, motorcycles, and more. It is also filled with many fantastic urban adventures! Last summer, I had a chance to spend several adventure filled days exploring the city, and I participated in everything from biking adventures, sailing, kayaking, a festival, giant bounce houses, sporting events, museums and even a food tour.
Here are 15 of my favorite adventures in the city of Milwaukee and we definitely suggest adding at least a few of them to your itinerary when you visit!
1. Kayak the Milwaukee River
The Milwaukee River runs right through the heart of downtown Milwaukee, and exploring the river on a kayak is a great way to get a new perspective of the city. Milwaukee Kayak Company offers kayak rentals that launch on the banks of the urban water trail—from their docks you can head out on the Milwaukee River and paddle towards downtown, or you can make your way over to the Menomonee and Kinnickinnic Rivers.
2. Ride on the Milwaukee Pedal Tavern
Imagine peddling down the road on a bike that happens to also be a bar–that’s exactly what you get when you ride on Milwaukee’s Pedal Tavern. You can go with your own crew of friends or hop on a group tour. Bring your own beer and bar hop your way through the city while your driver takes the wheel.
3. Bike with Bublr Bikes
Milwaukee has a large network of ride share bikes called, Bublr Bikes, and they are a great way to explore the city on two wheels. The city offers a wide range of bicycle friendly trails that take you through the city, parks and along the water. Check out a bike from one of the over 50 stations and drop it off at any Bublr Bike location when you are done!
4. Join a Food Tour with Milwaukee Food & City Tours
I love being able to spend a couple of hours sampling the local cuisine while learning about a city—it’s a great way to taste some of the iconic dishes without going overboard on every meal! We hopped on a tour with Milwaukee Food and City Tours and in addition to learning a bit of history about Milwaukee, we sampled plenty of Bloody Mary’s, smoked meats, breakfast burritos, chocolates and more! They offer several tours ranging from a Bloody Mary Brunch Tour, to a Cedarburg “Sweets & Treats” Tour to a Historic Third Ward Tour among others. I’d love to check another tour on our next visit!
5. Take a Spin Class at Spire Fitness
If you want to get your sweat on in a fun environment, Spire Fitness is the place to be. The spin class I attended was so much more than just a fitness class—the lights were down low, black lights were glowing and the music was pumping! Even though I’m not a morning person, the 6 a.m. class definitely got us to start our day on a high note with energy, excitement and great tunes.
6. Explore the Milwaukee Public Market
The Milwaukee Public Market is an iconic site that just can’t be missed. Shop at local vendors, grab a coffee, or order food at some of the delicious eateries. You can find anything from chocolate to cheese curds to t-shirts and even kitchen gadgets. Wandering around and exploring the stands will leave your mouth watering, so be sure to arrive hungry!
7. Hike at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
To get a dose of nature, make your way just north of the city to the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, where you can find wildlife such as a variety of rehabilitated birds including owls, eagles and raptors. In addition to the wildlife, the nature center is also home to 6 miles of hiking trails and beautiful views of Lake Michigan from a lookout tower. The trails offer gorgeous views of the property and surrounding area and take you through forests, prairies, wetlands, ravines, shoreline and bluffs.
8. Tailgate at a Milwaukee Brewers Game
Milwaukee is famous for its tailgating, so heading to a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game is a must. Arrive early and set up your tailgate with food, drinks and yard games, then kick back and mingle with your friends and neighbors. Once the game starts, head inside the stadium for some baseball and don’t forget to watch for the Famous Racing Sausages!
9. Be a Spy and have a Drink at the Safe House
For an evening of espionage and spy training, head to the bar called Safe House. In order to get inside, you’ll need a secret password or a good sense of humor. Those without the password will have to pass a test by following silly instructions at the door, all while being broadcast on TV’s placed inside for everyone to see! We had to touch a nose that wasn’t ours and spin around in a circle…awkward and slightly entertaining all in one. Once you get inside, you can order spy themed drinks and explore a range of puzzles and interactive exhibits throughout the bar. Oh, and don’t forget to head into the ladies’ room for a peek at Burt Reynolds—move the heart and your friends won’t be disappointed, trust me!
10. Act Like a Kid at Bounce Milwaukee
Giant bounce houses, laser tag and arcade games aren’t just for children anymore! Make you way over to Bounce Milwaukee after 9:00 p.m. for some adult only fun and act like a kid again. Not only will you have free range of the bounce houses, rock wall, laser tag, arcade games, and massage chairs, you will also find a full bar and some seriously delicious food. The menu is made up of fresh, healthy and locally sourced food, and you can order salads, pizza, tots, wraps and more!
11. Sail on Lake Michigan
Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes, Milwaukee offers plenty of ways to enjoy the water. Hopping on a sailboat with Sea Dog Sailing is a great way to spend time out on the lake. We went for an afternoon sail and were rewarded with sunny skies, a cool breeze, calm waters and a fantastic view of the city!
12. Take a Brewery Tour: Lakefront Brewery
A brewery tour is a must when you visit Milwaukee, and the Lakefront Brewery is the place to go. With each tour, you get several samples of beer that you can sip on before, during or after the tour. And this isn’t just any old brewery tour. All the tours are run by comedians, so the experience is filled with jokes and funny commentary all while learning about the company and their brewing process.
13. Run the Sky Trail Explorer Ropes Course & Zip Line at the Milwaukee County Zoo
To explore Milwaukee at new heights, head over to the Milwaukee County Zoo and jump in a harness for the Sky Trail Explorer Ropes Course and Zip Line. In addition to the typical zoo activities, you can shimmy your way across rope obstacles and across zip lines—just don’t look down because the top of the course reaches heights of 45 feet!
14. Visit a Museum or Three
There are plenty of museums in Milwaukee, and during my two visits, I made it to three of them: MAM (Milwaukee Art Museum), Discovery World and the Harley Davidson Museum. Each of the museums had something interesting to offer and I enjoyed all of them in different ways. The MAM showcases a wide range art from ancient to modern, and some of the items you will find on display are paintings, artifacts, sculptures and photographs. Discovery World is more of a science and technology museum, but it does offer plenty of fun for all ages; I had a blast testing out the nail bed, checking out the infrared sensors and playing with all the interactive exhibits. Last but not least, the Harley Davidson Museum isn’t just for motorcycle lovers. We are not passionate about bikes, but the history, stories and exhibits we saw at the museum were fantastic and definitely worth exploring!
15. Attend a Festival: Summerfest
Milwaukee is called the “City of Festivals”, and it is home to a large variety of events each year. One of the most popular is Summerfest, and it also happens to be the one I attended last summer! Summerfest is the world’s largest music festival—it spans over 11 days and over 800 performers take the stage each year. It was a treat to attend and the firework show was top notch!
Special thanks to Visit Milwaukee for organizing and hosting me on all of these amazing adventures in Milwaukee. As always, all opinions are our own.