14+ Fun and Cheap Things to do in Milwaukee in Winter

Intro: Things to do in Milwaukee in Winter

Searching for fun and affordable things to do in Milwaukee in the winter? It can be difficult to find weather-friendly activities in one of the coldest states in the U.S., but Milwaukee surprisingly makes it easy during the winter months. Milwaukee is known worldwide for its historic buildings, scenic river walk, and endless craft breweries. As the state’s largest city, it’s home to 600,000 people and offers plenty of hidden gems, fun events, and museums that are fun for the whole family. In addition to this, it also boasts multiple professional sports teams, cultural attractions, and the best cheese in America (if not the world). Sorry France, that’s just a fact!

photo of the Milwaukee city skyline from the Brewhouse Inn and Suites Hotel

How to Get to Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Although the winter months are indeed cold in Milwaukee, it’s still the best time of year to visit (in my personal opinion). Flights are often cheaper, and you don’t have to deal with the influx of tourist crowds that the city typically experiences during the warmer months. Milwaukee is home to the General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) that is less than six miles from downtown. There are a number of great and affordable flight routes to Milwaukee out of most major U.S. airports. I flew from Nashville International Airport (BNA) to Milwaukee for a cost of $245USD round trip. You can find great flight deals to Milwaukee on websites like Expedia, Skyscanner, and Way Away (10% off a WayAway Plus membership). However, you can even land some great last-minute flight deals on Google Flights if you want a quick weekend getaway. Just be sure to bring your warmest coat!

Where to Stay in Milwaukee: Brewhouse Inn & Suites

Milwaukee offers thousands of great accommodation options for hotels and apartment rentals on Booking.com. If you’re looking for an amazing mid-range option, the 4-star Brewhouse Inn & Suites is the perfect choice. Formerly the original Pabst Brewery, the hotel is located in Milwaukee’s famous Brewery District, which is one of the most convenient spots to book a stay. The property still showcases many of the old brewery’s original features today. These include massive iconic copper brewing kettles and more than 300 stained glass window of King Gambrinus (patron saint of beer). All suites have soaring ceilings, large steel beams, exposed brick walls, and full kitchenettes. Additional perks include complimentary high-speed WiFi, a daily complimentary continental buffet breakfast, exercise room, and business center.

Brewhouse Inn & Suites is located in the up-and-coming Brewery District, so it is within close walking distance to many of the city’s top sights. The property is also a stones throw away from the Entertainment District and the Milwaukee Brewing Company. Across the street, guests can also find the food hall at Eleven25 at Pabst that is a two minute walk away.

The Best Way to Explore Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I discovered that while you can easily rent a car for an affordable price, it’s very easy to get around Milwaukee without one. Uber, Lyft, and taxi cabs are available, and there are buses that run via the MCTS throughout downtown. The Milwaukee Streetcar, known as The Hop, takes riders on a 2.1 mile route through the city’s busiest neighborhoods. It’s free to ride, and operates seven days a week. The city is also easily walkable, especially in the downtown area. I personally felt very safe walking around during the day in most neighborhoods I explored. However, it is always best to remain vigiliant no matter where you are or how safe you feel. 

14+ Fun and Cheap Things to do in Milwaukee in Winter

Choosing to vacation in Milwaukee for your winter break is a great idea. As one of the coldest destinations in the U.S., the Greater Milwaukee Area is full of fun and affordable Milwaukee winter activities, both indoor and outdoor. Read below for my personal recommendations of more than 14 fun and cheap things to do in Milwaukee in winter!

1.) Hitch a Ride at the Harley Davidson Museum

It’s not a visit to Milwaukee without going on a tour of the Harley Davidson Museum. It’s easily one of the best attractions in the city, and I knew I wanted it to be my first stop considering it was my first time visiting! Home to the most famous motorcycle manufacturing company in the world since 1903, Milwaukee upholds this longstanding classic American culture. The Harley Davidson Museum is an experience. In fact, it’s more than just a museum, but rather an entire 20-acre campus. 

Guests can walk through two floors of one-of-a-kind Harley memorabilia and witness hundreds of rare preserved bike models (many originals). Some of the most well-known items include “Serial Number One,” the oldest known Harley bike, and the bike originally owned by Elvis Presley. Some exhibits are regulated rotated, while others like the Engine Room, the colorful Tank Wall, and the hands-on Experience Gallery are permanent. Plan to spend at least two hours at the campus to get the full Harley Davidson experience.

3.) Savor Burnt Ends and Beer at Motor Restaurant

One of the first things I made a point to do on my first day in the city is try some of its famous barbecue. After exploring every nook and cranny of the Harley Davidson Museum, that’s exactly what I did! Across the street from the Harley Davidson Museum is  Motor Restaurant. The only Harley Davidson restaurant in the world, the on-campus restaurant offers riverfront dining in a classic Harley atmosphere. Some menu highlights include the “FATBOY Burger”, and their coveted “Burnt Ends“. Make sure to try a barrel-aged cocktail or a flight of local beer (the “Spotted Cow” was my favorite!)

4.) Marvel at the Milwaukee Art Museum

An iconic piece of architecture that is worthy of a tour is the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM). One of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s most prized modernist works, the MAM consists of three buildings and houses more than 25,000 pieces of art. The most notable building of the three, the Quadracci Pavillion, has a vaulted 90-foot glass ceiling and a 217-foot wingspan that folds and unfolds twice a day. It features a pedestrian suspension bridge that connects the MAM to the city. A few of the most well-known pieces of art inside of the MAM include the painting of Saint Francis of Assisi in His Tomb, and the largest collection of work by Wisconsin native Georgia O’ Keefe. The grounds of the museum provide stunning views of Lake Michigan from the back, as well as the Cadahy Gardens by Dan Kiley at the front. 

If you are traveling with kids and want to spend a full day exploring more museums, consider visiting the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum.

4.) Stroll Through the Milwaukee Public Market

Milwaukee is home to one of “America’s Best Public Markets” with the existence of the industrially chic Milwaukee Public Market. Providing everything from cheeses, produce, and baked goods, it’s a hot spot for both locals and tourists to get one of a kind groceries, gifts, and more. And the best aspect to visiting the Milwaukee Public Market is the free admission! Home to more than 20 local vendors, the vast selection of high quality selections of ethnic and artisan goods is some of the most impressive in the nation. Stop in to enjoy some warm beverages like hot chocolate from Kehrs Candies. If you’ve craving something sweet, order dark chocolate Sea Salt Caramelbites and chocolate covered orange peels.

5.) Sip a Flight of beer at Milwaukee Brewing Co.

Since 1997, Milwaukee Brewing Co. has used only the finest local ingredients to craft sustainable and innovative brews. Due in large part to the city’s access to fresh water from Lake Michigan, ice, and agriculture, MBC’s brews are some of the most well known throughout Wisconsin. Year round, they offer unique beer selections that include IPA’s, Amber Ales, Cream Ales, Golden Lagers, and wheat beers. They also create special seasonal ales exclusive only to MBC. While there, pair a beer flight with a basket of cheese curds and ranch dressing, along with the “Funky Chicken” sandwich with pimento cheese and hot honey. Want to check out more than one brewery? I recommend this guided brewery tour with snack to taste the best that Milwaukee has to offer!

6.) Order a Blue Ribbon Burger at On Tap

History and beautiful architecture aren’t the only draws to the Brewhouse Inn & Suites property. It’s also home to a new on-site restaurant, On Tap.

Offering 14 Wisconsin draft beers and more than 40 craft and imported beers, On Tap is a top spot in Milwaukee to grab an after-game brew or a classic Midwest dinner. The gastropub features thirty-foot ceilings, exposed cream city brick walls, and other unique historic architectural details. Favorite menu items at On Tap include the Beer Cheese Soup, and the “Toastie with the Mostie” grilled cheese with onion jam. My personal menu favorite was the Blue Ribbon Burger. It’s filled with short ribs cooked in PBR, a 1/2lb. Angus Burger, bleu cheese, porter onion jam, and fried onion strings. Yes please!

7.) Take a Ride on The Hop

One mode of transport definitely stands out from the rest is The HOP. It’s the city’s very own fleet of street cars that takes passengers through the heart of downtown Milwaukee. The HOP makes the city easier to navigate and connects some of Milwaukees most visited neighborhoods. Completely free to ride, each of the five street cars are 67 feet long and carry between 120 to 150 passengers. Service runs every 15 minutes during peak times, and every 20 minutes during off peak hours and on weekends. The route takes passengers in a loop from the Milwaukee Intermodal Station and Downtown to the Lower East Side and Historic Third Ward neighborhoods.

8.) Stroll down the Milwaukee Riverwalk

An easy and scenic way to explore the city on foot is to stroll down the Milwaukee River Walk. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the river walk connects three riverfront neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are the Historic Third Ward, Downtown, and Beerline B. Along its path, you’ll find some of the city’s best shops, bars, breweries, entertainment, and restaurants.  It’s also home to an outdoor art gallery called the RiverSculpture! that includes a mixture of abstract art and a total of 20 sculptures. Be sure to stop on the Riverwalk Bridge for an epic skyline photo. 

9.) Order a Halo Halo Dessert at Meat on the Street

From slow cooked pork to coconut chicken, to garlic rice and lumpia rolls, Meat on the Street is a can’t-miss for Filipino food lovers. I would go as far to say it was one of my favorite places I dined at during my time in the city! The best item on the menu isn’t savory, but sweet. The “Halo Halo” is a 14-layer milkshake-snow-cone like dessert that contains homemade Ube ice cream, Flan, coconut shreds, sweet white beans, jello, and more. If you want to explore more of the city’s food scene, I recommend booking a guided walking food tour. You’ll be sure to try some amazing snacks and dishes!

10.) Admire the Architecture of St. James 1868 Church

This Gothic Revival-styled Episcopal church built in 1867 remains an iconic symbol in Milwaukee’s history. As the oldest stone church remaining in Milwaukee, it’s a proud member of the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it hosts hundreds of luxury weddings each year in two separate historic wedding venues. It’s considered one of the best event venue spaces in the region with a 2,200 square foot English style outdoor courtyard. Simply walk by and take in the architecture, or take a peek inside. 

11.) Enjoy Cozy cocktails and small plates at The Diplomat

Considered a “Top 30 Restaurant in Milwaukee” The Diplomat has some of the most surprising ingredient combinations. It’s a great place to go if you are looking for a great time, good company, and even better food and cocktails!

For dinner, start with one of The Diplomat’s many posh handcrafted cocktails. I drank the “Red Pajamas” with High West Double Rye, Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco, maple syrup, and lemon juice. For savory items, don’t pass up the Salt Cod Hashbrown or the Trout Grenobloise. Keep in mind that the menu at The Diplomat changes regularly, so the items mentioned in this post may not necessarily be available at the time of dining.

12.) Friday Fish Fry at Lakefront Brewery

Enjoying an indoor fish fry is a classic winter activity and a decades old tradition in Milwaukee. One of the best places to enjoy a tried-and-true Midwest fish fry in the city is no doubt at Lakefront Brewery. This spacious brewpub is the first certified organic brewery in America, and the first brewery to produce a government approved, gluten-free beer. To date, they offer nearly two-dozen types of beer from IPA’s, Ales, Lagers, Stouts, to seasonal beers and more. In addition to trivia night and live music, the Beer Hall at Lakefront serves up some of the best fried cod in the city.

13.) Take home bag (or two) of “Squeaks”

If you’re sad that your time in Brew City has to come to an end, you can always take the best of the city with you. At most of the airport gift shops, you can purchase a bag of cubed cheese, also known as “squeaks”. This cheese is used to make the city’s famous fried cheese curds, and goes for $9 for a large bag. Choose from cheddar, mozzarella, Colby Jack, or Monterey Jack. So why are they called “squeaks” exactly? Each curd is made up of tightly-woven protein mesh that’s held together by calcium. When it rubs across the enamel of your teeth, it squeaks. The more you know.

14. Visit One of Milwaukees Local Parks

One of the most fun things to do in Milwaukee in winter is visiting the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory. Of all the beautiful local parks you can visit throughout the Greater Milwaukee area, this one is a must. The Mitchell Park Domes make for a fun indoor activity. Additionally, they are a great spot for nature lovers and flora enthusiasts. The three Domes are open year-round, Monday through Wednesday. The floral displays inside are changed five times a year. Ticket prices vary but all are under $10USD, providing an affordable and unique experience for a winter trip. If you want to spend some time outdoors, head to Grant Park for a winter hike. Alternatively, you could go to Read Arrow park for ice-skating. You can of course rent your own ice skates at Red Arrow Park. However, it’s free if you bring your own set of skates!

Things to do In Milwaukee in Winter: Know Before You Go

In addition to world-champion cheeses and beer, Milwaukee is home to some of the most diverse cultures in the U.S. Below are some helpful  “Brews City” facts to know before you go:

  • The U.S. is home to plenty of top winter destinations. However, Milwaukee averages 48.7 inches of snow each winter, which increases your chances of experiencing a winter wonderland! While extreme winter weather and storms are things to be mindful of when planning your trip, lower temps and white powder make for the best ice skating, snow tubing, cross country skiing, or ice fishing (if outdoor adventure is your thing!)
  • Prefer to stay indoors? If you don’t mind a ghost or two, Milwaukee is a great place to take a private city ghost tour. In fact, it’s the most haunted city in Wisconsin! Rumor has it that the fires of 1892 stirred up some ill will, especially at the Pfister Hotel.
  • Always try to eat local to support local businesses! Wisconsin ranks second in the country after California for its number of organic farms — and 73 percent of Milwaukee’s restaurants are locally owned. The city has a fantastic food scene, so take advantage of it!

This post contains affiliate links for flights, hotels, and tour experiences. I may make a very small commission if you book travel using my personal links. This comes at no additional cost to you, and helps me continue to make free recommendations for travel brands I love that I think you will love too!

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If I learned anything during my recent trip to @visitchatt, it’s that there’s so much more to the city than meets the eye. It’s home to some of the most popular attractions in the US, sure, but it also boasts plenty of hidden gems and unique local experiences. Add these 5 locations to your Chattanooga itinerary (you won’t regret it!):

- Tennessee Aquarium @tennesseeaquarium. Home to more than 12,000 animals representing close to 800 species, it features two sections (Ocean and River) and is one of the largest aquariums in the U.S.
- 1885 Grill @1885grillstelmo. This southern coastal restaurant specializes in fresh seafood, high quality steaks, and comforting soul food. Order their wings with Carolina Gold BBQ!
- Rock City Gardens @seerockcity. Located on Lookout Mountain, Rock City Gardens features a 4,100-foot Enchanted Trail with incredible rock formations, magical caves, native plant species, waterfalls, and a panoramic view of Seven States!
- Massey’s Kitchen @masseyskitchenlookout. This Mediterranean inspired restaurant just opened in June and is Chattanooga’s new hot spot. The food is incredible and their outdoor patio is perfect for dining al fresco. Order the baked feta 🤤
- The Read House Hotel @readhousehotel. This historic jazz era hotel from the 1870’s has hosted famous people including Oprah, Winston Churchill, Walt Disney, and Elvis Presley. It’s even rumored to have a permanent guest — a ghost in room 311!

Keep an eye out for Part 3 and let me know which location you would visit first! 🇺🇸 {ad} #hosted
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If you’re looking for the perfect end of summer U.S. vacation destination, Chattanooga, Tennessee is it. @visitchatt 🇺🇸 

I recently spent a few days exploring this lively town for the first time, and unsurprisingly found so much to love about it. If you’re planning a trip to the U.S. soon — or you live here and want to explore more of your own backyard — you won’t regret putting it on your travel bucket list. 

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📍Ruby Falls (@rubyfallscave) Millions of years old but discovered in 1928, it’s the largest underground waterfall in the U.S., and is located more than 1,120 feet under the surface. 
📍Wildflower Tea Shop & Apothecary (@wildflowerteashop) This whimsical vegan-friendly coffee and tea shop stocks a wide variety of loose leaf teas and herbs and other locally made products. I recommend getting the Iced Chocolate Chai with oat milk for a cold treat!
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📍Walnut Street Bridge. With a 1/2-mile span, it’s one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world and provides amazing view of the riverfront. 

Which location would you visit first? Let me know in the comments below, and stay tuned for parts 2 + 3! 
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Welcome to one of the most underrated southern cities in the U.S.: @visitchatt! 

While most travelers flock to Music City year after year, just a couple hours drive southeast you’ll find a true gem hidden in the lively city of Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

Here’s some fun facts about the “The Scenic City”:

✧ MoonPies were invented here! These graham cracker marshmallow sandwiches are covered entirely in melted chocolate and are so delicious.

✧ It’s home to the Incline Railway, one of the steepest passenger railway lines in the world!

✧ Chattanooga boasts one of the largest collections of American art in the country at the Hunter Museum. 

✧ One of the world's longest pedestrian bridges can also be found in Chattanooga.

I’ll be sharing more from my time in @visitchatt, and you can also see what I experienced there by clicking on my Chattanooga highlight badge above.

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