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Milwaukee [1] is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin, United States. The city's population is 602,782 with an estimated total of 1,689,572 in the Milwaukee metropolitan area (2006). It is the 22nd largest city in the U.S. and is located in the southeastern portion of the state on the western shore of Lake Michigan.


Milwaukee has a long and turbulent history, at least for an American city. From the first time Europeans settled there have been large and often violent divides in the city. These settlers built three dueling settlements (Juneautown, Kilbourntown, and Walker's Point) around what is now Downtown. Especially the two former communities where extremely competitive and defiantly created two non-aligning street grids, to this day this is why 1st street is West of the Milwaukee River downtown and the reason that many of the city's bridges cross the Milwaukee River diagonally (connecting the two girds). As waves of immigrants arrived in Milwaukee they tended (and tend) to form communities in specific areas. Today the city remains largely segregated (after violent racial conflicts in the 1960s) with low rates of social and economic mobility among many demographics.

Milwaukee is home to some of America's most instantly recognized corporations such as Miller Brewing and Harley Davidson. Harley holds an enormous celebration on every fifth anniversary attracting riders (and celebrity riders such as Jay Leno) by the millions to Milwaukee each time. The 110th anniversary will be held in 2013.

Milwaukee was once the home to four of the world's largest breweries (Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst, and Miller), and was the number one beer producing city in the world for many years. Despite the decline in its position as the world's leading beer producer through the loss of three of those breweries, its one remaining major brewery, Miller Brewing Company remains a key employer by employing over 2,200. This has earned the city the nickname "Brew City" and its identification with and fondness for the stuff remains strong as ever.

Milwaukee has advertised itself as the "City of Festivals," especially emphasizing an annual summer party along the lakefront called Summerfest [2]. Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as "the largest music festival in the world", Summerfest attracts about a million visitors a year to its twelve stages. Smaller ethnic festivals throughout the summer celebrate Milwaukee's strong German, Native American, African-American, Italian, Irish [3], Greek, Serbian, Croatian, Latino, Arabic, Asian, French and Polish heritage.

Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 27 31 40 54 65 76 80 79 71 60 45 32
Nightly lows (°F) 13 17 26 36 45 56 62 61 53 42 30 19
Precipitation (in) 1.7 1.4 2.6 3.4 2.8 3.4 3.6 3.5 2.9 2.4 2.4 2.1

Check Milwaukee's 7 day forecast at NOAA


Weather patterns in Milwaukee can fluctuate daily, with often little consistence in temperature or conditions. In general six months of the year are cold, overcast and wet. Because the winters are long and cold, (making Milwaukee the second coldest major city in the country), the springs can be just as likely as wet, cold and miserable. It is not unheard of to get snowfall in early April! Now one begins to understand why there are so many bars, bowling alleys and festivals in Milwaukee... The best time to visit is by far in the summer or the early fall during Indian Summer when the whole place comes to life and everybody is outside!

Get in

There is an array of almost every transportation mode thinkable to get to Milwaukee. The cheapest way is by bus, but many travelers prefer the comfort and convenience of air, boat, car, or train travel. Chicago, a major transportation hub, is less than 100 miles (161 km) away.

By Plane

General Mitchell International Airport

Milwaukee is served by General Mitchell International Airport (IATA: MKE), [4]. Southeast of the city.

Direct international flights are offered multiple times daily from Canada, and seasonally from Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Other international travelers will have to connect or fly to Chicago and take ground transportation.

Ground Transportation:

Alternative airports

Chicago's main airports—O'Hare International Airport (IATA: ORD) or Midway Airport (IATA: MDW)—can be cheaper or easier alternatives, especially for destinations not served from Milwaukee. There is a direct shuttle from Chicago O'Hare Airport to Milwaukee Intermodal Station run by Wisconsin Coach Lines [15]. $26. It is possible take a CTA 'L' train from either of the Chicago airports to Chicago Union Station ($2) and then go on to Milwaukee with either bus or Amtrak saving time or money in some cases. With ideal timing you can make it from Midway to Downtown Milwaukee via rail in under 3 hours from landing. However, many flights arrive at Chicago after or near the time that shuttle or rail service end for the day. Greyhound does offer late runs to Milwaukee from their Downtown depot, in case of a late arrival in Chicago, but is not for the faint of heart. Greyhound also has a few buses each day from the Cumberland CTA Blue Line station, just two stops outside of O'Hare on the eL.

By train

Amtrak [16] serves downtown and an airport station. The newly remodeled Milwaukee Intermodal station offers connectivity to inter-city bus services and is located downtown a short distance from many attractions and hotels.

The Hiawatha [17] has 7 daily round trips to Chicago. It offers the quickest travel time to Chicago, power outlets at your seat, a quiet car, and snack & beverage service. It runs between Milwaukee Downtown Intermodal Station, stops at Milwaukee Mitchell Airport, Sturtevant(Racine) WI, Glenview IL, and arrives downtown Chicago Union Station. $22.

The Empire Builder [18] has 1 daily round trip from Chicago through Milwaukee to Seattle/Portland, via Central Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Fargo, Spokane and many other smaller cities. The Empire Builder only stops at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station. Passengers wishing to reach Mitchell Airport must change trains to the Hiawatha at Milwaukee Intermodal Station. 'Weekly Special' Internet fares can be found for $120 to Portland and $40 from the Twin Cities.

By car

I-94 comes in from Madison to the west, and continues to Chicago to the south.

I-43 will get you to the city from Green Bay from the north, and continues south-west to Rockford.

By boat

The Lake Express [19] is a modern high speed ferry that operates several daily trips across Lake Michigan to Muskegon, MI. The ferry docks on the south side of the port near Bayview. No winter service.

By bus

Milwaukee has a competitive bus market. The city is served by seven interstate bus lines daily. Book a few weeks ahead online for the best prices. Most buses stop at or across the street from the Milwaukee Intermodal Station (where all trains stop as well) on St Paul Street on the south edge of Downtown Milwaukee. Chartered tours of Milwaukee are also arranged from cities in the region. There are also casino charters from across the Midwest.

A summary of bus fares, frequencies and services including the lowest internet fare, the walk-up ticket price and how often the buses run:

Chicago lowest Chicago walkup Chicago frequency Minneapolis lowest Minneapolis walkup Minneapolis frequency wifi 110v outlets
Amtrak² $22 $22 7x day $40 $52-$68 1x day No Yes
Badger $45 $53 4x week Some No
Greyhound $10 $16 8x day $36 $61 5x day No No
Ind. Trails Yes Yes
Jefferson $34 $53 1-2x day Some No
Megabus $1 $20³ 2x day $1 $52³ 2x day Yes Yes
Wisconsin $26 ($39) $26 ($39) 14x day No No

²Train. AAA, ISIC, SA, Senior (walk-up) discounts: Chicago $18, Minneapolis from $44. ³Tickets must be purchased via internet or telephone($3 fee).

Get around

Getting around in Milwaukee is easy. Block numbers are consistent across the city, including most of the suburbs, starting roughly where the Milwaukee and Menominee rivers meet. All numbered streets run north-south, increasing in number as you head west from 1st Street. Most named streets go east-west, with the notable exception of streets east of 1st St. Standard blocks are 1/8th of a mile long north to south, and 1/12th of a mile east to west.

By public transit

Milwaukee County

Milwaukee's bus system, MCTS [20], has an extensive coverage area (85% of Milwaukee County) and core routes with very frequent service. Outlying suburbs have shorter hours, slower and less-frequent service. Express buses called "Freeway Flyers" provide excellent service from park and ride lots across the county to Downtown as well as to Brewers games and festivals saving you the hassle of traffic, parking and worries of drunk driving. Express buses called "UBuses" respectively offer service to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Most routes run from about 5AM until at least midnight.


As of January 2010

Drivers only accept exact cash fare. If you do not have exact change, you will not have any choice but to pay extra (although you can get a refund later, its not worth the effort). Drives do not sell passes or tickets. Passes and ten ride ticket packs are only available from outlets displaying an MCTS sticker. (Mostly grocery stores.)

Cash or ticket fare includes a one hour transfer, get a transfer-ticket from the driver while paying. Showing this transfer will allow you to board as many buses as you wish before the time runs out.

There are currently no audio-visual stop announcements. (An automated system should be back in place sometime in 2011.) If you need any information don't hesitate to ask the bus operator for help. Most drivers know the city well and will be happy to give you directions or call your stop.

Tourist "Trolley"

Trolley Loop [21] is a frequent scheduled tourist bus loop (themed as a trolley) sponsored by local businesses. Rides are free though service is seasonal.

Regional Services

By bicycle

Milwaukee was awarded bronze status from the League of American Bicyclists in 2004 and again in 2009. A bike map is available from the city [25] or for sale at local shops. Weather permitting, Milwaukee is a very pleasant place to bicycle. There are several separated bike lanes and network of leisurely trails called the Oak Leaf Trail. Some are even limited access paths (think: bike freeway) as well as 65 mi (105 km) of on-street bike lanes and 75 mi (121 km) of signed bike routes (the city aims to raise that number to several hundred miles of on-street bike lanes as streets are re-paved).

Bicycle Rentals and Tours

Bicycle Shops are also often willing to do rentals, and also sell high-quality products that are often locally made:

It is fairly easy to find a used bike in good working condition at local thrift stores, which is much cheaper than renting if you are going to be staying in the city for any length of time.

All MCTS buses have bicycle racks which are free to use with bus fare, so if you get tired, lost, the weather turns bad or whatever you can hop on the bus.

By taxi

While there are plenty of taxis to meet demand, do not expect to simply flag one down. With the notable exceptions of queues at larger hotels, the airport, train- and bus stations, largely attended events and most of the downtown area, you should call for one. They are not cheap. The number one company is Yellow Cab (+1 414 271-1800), with phone numbers of other taxi companies available here: [32]

In the warmer (and occasionally the colder) months there are alternative ways of getting point to point.

By car

While it is possible to use the bus to go to many suburbs, some tourists prefer driving. Parking outside the Downtown/East Side is overall a non-issue. Traffic conditions may vary, especially in the next few years during the reconstruction of the city's main freeway interchanges.

Parking Downtown and in some business districts (on the East Side, in some suburbs) costs money. Keep you eye out for electronic meters: there will be a number on a post at each space, and you need it to pay at a machine down the block (cards accepted). Visitors parking overnight on City streets should call the city at +1 414 286-8300 by 1 AM to request parking permission.


Peek into a portion of the Archives, never before open to the public, and home base to more than 450 motorcycles, and hundreds of thousands of artifacts that the Archives team can pull from for Museum exhibits.



Prohibition and Al Capone

The Brew City was hit hard by prohibition, a huge section of the local economy was shut down and thirsty Milwaukeans couldn't drink thier sorrows away. In the 1920s Chicago gangster activity came north to Milwaukee during the Prohibition era. Al Capone, noted Chicago mobster, owned a home in the Milwaukee suburb Brookfield, where moonshine was made. The house still stands on a street named after Capone.

Breweries are integral to Milwaukee's image, although the number of large scale operations dwindled in the last decade, the nick name "the Brew City" still rings true, and microbreweries are booming. In several spots around the city, the smell of yeast from the beer factories is quite strong. Milwaukee was once the home to four of the world's largest breweries: Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst, and Miller. For many years it was the number one beer producing city in the world. Of those four only Miller remains.

Brew Pubs



There is a wide spectrum of theater and concert venues in Milwaukee.


Milwaukee has memorable moments in sports history, with the Brewers and Bucks most likely to interest travelers. Home run slugger Hank Aaron hit most of his home runs in Milwaukee (as a member of the Braves, who have since moved to Atlanta). Additionally, the Bucks are the youngest team to ever win an NBA title.

Neighborhood visits


Milwaukee's has one of the best public parks systems in the country


Boat Tours

There are several Lake Michigan and Milwaukee River tourboat operators.


A January 2000 study from McGill University in Montreal ranked Milwaukee 6th in a list of U.S. and Canadian cities with the highest number of college students per 100 residents. University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Marquette University, Alverno College, Cardinal Stritch University, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Mount Mary College, Wisconsin Lutheran College, Concordia University Wisconsin, Lakeland College.


Milwaukee is home to several Fortune 500 companies; in fact, the metropolitan region (defined as the Milwaukee-West Allis-Waukesha area) was "ranked number five in the nation when measuring the number of Fortune 500 companies as a share of the population - just behind the number four Minneapolis-St. Paul region in Minnesota" [77]. The area has a wide employment base, with companies ranging from high-tech and specialty manufacturing firms (GE Medical, Harley Davidson) to retail and finance corporations (Kohl's, Northwestern Mutual).

Milwaukee Area Fortune 1000 Companies (As of 2004 ranking)

The Milwaukee-Racine metropolitan area was also rated one of the Top 20 Hot Cities for Entrepreneurs in 2005 [93].



Old World Third St. along (and just west of) the Milwaukee River provides a richer variety of restaurants and also many of the more upscale restaurants (and clubs) in town. Traditional Germanic and Mediterranean foods are the highlights. Brady St., on the Northeast side, also has many nice restaurants and shops and consists of relatively inexpensive but high-quality restaurants, bakeries, and bars. Milwaukee St., between Wisconsin and Wells Sts., offers many trendy and top rated restaurants in the city as well as an upscale nightlife for the after dinner drink. List of locations that Milwaukeans selected as their favorites viewed here [94].



On the East Side, you can head over to the intersection of North and Oakland Avenues, where you'll find local favorites like Beans & Barley (healthy/organic), Pizza Man (burned to the ground in early 2010), Von Trier's (German), the BBC (bar & grill), and the Twisted Fork (pasta). Louisa's is also a great Italian restaurant.

A bit farther up Oakland Ave near Locust Ave. (near the UW-Milwaukee Campus), you'll find an exciting variety of restaurants like the Oakland Trattoria (Mediterranean), Sharazad (Middle Eastern), Lula's Cafe (East African), Thai Kitchen, and Oakland Gyros (Greek).



There's no shortage of night life in the Brew City. Milwaukeeans spend more (per capita) on entertainment than the citizenry of any other major American city, and you can bet that a good percentage of that entertainment is served in liquid form.

Trendy night life areas include Water Street, Milwaukee Street, and Old World Third St. in the heart of the city's downtown area, Brady St. and North Ave. on the Lower and Upper East Sides, respectively, and National Ave. to the south. RiverWest, a local hipster enclave, also offers a large variety of artsy drinking holes. Finally, Bay View has several bars scattered throughout the neighborhood, but many are located along Kinnickinnic Ave.

The city is also the unofficial Capital of the Corner Bar; no matter where you go in Milwaukee, there's sure to be a neighborhood bar only a few blocks away.


Visitors to Milwaukee find it easiest to stay in or near downtown, where most of the city's hotels are located. Milwaukee doesn't have any youth hostels, but the city has an array of hotels to meet most budgets. There is a small bed and breakfast district on the Westside.

Cheap hotels can be found on the Near South Side as well as as the North Side, the quality of these tends to reflect the average quality of life in the areas these are in, hence may not be up to the standards of relatively affluent travelers.

More generic cheaper hotels are located outside the urban city. For instance, there is a strip of budget hotels on College Ave. near Mitchell International Airport. Near most interstates you can also find chain hotels.

Bed and Breakfast

There are several B&Bs located on the Westside next to downtwon Westtown neighborhood and Marquett University. These are in grand late 19th Century mansions:

There are also some B&Bs located elsewhere:



North Side

There are a few family-run motels along Appleton Avenue to the Northwest:

South Side




Hilton Milwaukee City Center 509 W Wisconsin Ave +1 414 271-7250 +1 800-HILTONS http://www.hiltonmilwaukee.com/ An Art Deco tour-de-force built in 1927, a grand hotel of legendary proportions. The hotel's ballrooms, with their vaulted ceilings, city views, and period fabrics, echo the magnificence evident throughout this showpiece. Fully restored, it is burnished to its original 1920s classic grandeur with the addition of enhanced infrastructure and state-of-the-art amenities for business and pleasure. With 730 well-appointed guest rooms in the heart of Milwaukee's Westown, the Hilton is adjacent to the Midwest Express Convention Center.

Hotel Metro 411 E Mason St +1 414 272-1937 +1 877-638-7620 http://www.hotelmetro.com/ Milwaukee's hippest boutique hotel. They offer a variety of different room types (including luxury spa suites, pet-friendly suites, and meeting suites), as well as amenities such as 24-hr concierge and room service, and a great location just blocks from the Water Street entertainment area, downtown museums, the theater district, and the RiverWalk.

InterContinental Milwaukee 139 E Kilbourn Ave +1 414 276-8686 +1 888-ICHOTELS +1 414 276-8007 http://www.intercontinentalmilwaukee.com/ In the heart of downtown and in the city’s Arts and Financial District. This property underwent an intensive renovation that extended to all areas of the hotel including lobby, guest rooms, restaurants, meeting and banquet rooms. The hotel’s spacious lobby showcases beautiful marble and woodwork, but with modern feel and amenities that meet the brand's standard. The hotel’s 220 guest rooms afford spectacular views of the Milwaukee River, the bustling Theater District, or nearby City Hall.

Iron Horse Hotel 500 W Florida St +1 414 374-IRON +1 888-543-IRON info@theironhorsehotel.com +1 414 755-0084 http://www.theironhorsehotel.com 100-year-old downtown warehouse transformed into a modern luxury boutique hotel, blocks from the Midwest Airlines Convention Center and across the bridge from the new Harley-Davidson Museum, in one of Milwaukee’s last intact warehouse districts. A one of a kind upscale hotel geared for business travelers and motorcycle enthusiasts alike.

Pfister Hotel 424 E Wisconsin Ave +1 414 273-8222 +1 800-472-4403 info@pfisterhotel.com http://www.thepfisterhotel.com/index_2.asp?sourceid=/ Milwaukee's most famous and luxurious hotel, which has been serving visiting VIPs since 1893. Blocks from all of downtown's most exciting attractions, including the Art Museum and the Historic Third Ward. Even if you can't afford to stay, it's worth your time to take a walk through the building and explore the spectacular lobby, or check out the museum's impressive art collection.



Many community and neighborhood oriented weekly papers are offered for free in cafes and coffee shops in addition to the major ones listed below.

Stay safe

Milwaukee can be a very fun and enjoyable trip, but like any large city, Milwaukee is not free the problems that come with its size. Though virtually all tourist destinations in and around Milwaukee are as safe and accessible during the day and night, common sense should always apply. As a general rule one should be sure to be aware of their surroundings regardless, especially in areas unknown to yourself. In general, for a city of its size Milwaukee has always been a relatively safe place.

The Downtown, Third Ward and East Side communities are typically the most clean and safe areas within Milwaukee. Also, the Fifth ward continues to experience a urban renewal much due in part to its relative location to the Third Ward, though some caution is advised after dark.

The west and south sides of Milwaukee also offer interesting tourist opportunities that include Milwaukee's famous Basilica and Frank Lloyd Wright's Greek Orthodox church. Crime can happen anywhere; don't let geographic stereotypes dictate your travels.

Generally speaking, the near north, northwest and South sides have the highest violent crime rates in the city. With some exceptions, these areas should be avoided. In particular, the area bounded by I-43 on the east, Capitol Dr. on the north, North Ave. on the south and Sherman Blvd. on the west is especially dangerous.


Also, the suburbs of Ozaukee, Waukesha, and Racine Counties have a reputation for being politically and socially conservative. It's your best bet just to go with the flow here. If you are a LGBT visitor displays of affection will turn heads in these areas. Some suburbs are even more conservative than the rural parts of the state! Milwaukee is not as socially liberal as Madison, although people in Milwaukee are overall tolerant of each other, even if many of the assorted social and ethnic groups tend to avoid each other. The city is becoming more and more progressive and integration is a hot topic.

Get out

Cedarburg is a well-known small town located 20 miles north of downtown Milwaukee in Ozaukee County. It's downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the hot of many popular festivals throughout the year. Take I-43 to well-marked Cedarburg exits.

Related Information


A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [99].

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.

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