Perched on Lake Michigan’s western shore, Milwaukee is unpretentious and welcoming.

“Milwaukee is a city that appreciates its heritage while embracing its future,” said Claire Koenig, communications manager for VISIT Milwaukee. “How we use our natural resources, like water, is a great example of this. Our location on Lake Michigan, along with the three rivers that meet in Milwaukee, helped make us home to four of the biggest brewers in the country by the early 20th century. We’ve got a wonderful variety of attractions where you can learn about this history, like Forest Home Cemetery, Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery and Pabst Mansion. Sailing on Discovery World’s replica schooner, the S/V Denis Sullivan, can also help visitors understand Milwaukee’s history as a major port city.”

kayaking on river in Milwaukee
Credit: VISIT Milwaukee/Sara Stathas

Koenig noted Milwaukee is becoming a water technology hub, and the city is using its waterways recreationally more than ever.

“Visitors can rent kayaks and paddleboards to explore our river system, or walk along our award-winning Riverwalk,” she said. “They can play volleyball and relax at our white-sand beaches, and they can cruise our rivers and Lake Michigan on a number of fantastic boat cruises. Water, of course, is still important to our contemporary brewery scene that features over 40 microbreweries and is still home to Miller Brewing Co. Our access to water — along with our picturesque lakefront — is also part of why we’re welcoming more cruise business than ever. This evolving blend of historic and new is part of what makes Milwaukee such a unique destination.”

Milwaukee icons

The Harley-Davidson Museum traces the rich history of the motorcycle company from its humble beginnings in Milwaukee in 1903.

“We refer to it as a Cinderella story,” said Bill Davidson, vice president of the museum. “The company started in a shed in my great-great-great grandfather’s backyard.”

Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee
Harley-Davidson Museum
Credit: VISIT Milwaukee

The extensive collection of motorcycles is presented in the context of American pop culture. Groups can climb aboard a bike or two in the experience gallery.

Miller Brewing Company offers an indoor/outdoor walking tour that covers everything from Frederick Miller’s arrival in Milwaukee in 1854 to today’s high-speed production lines. It’s also possible to arrange a visit or dinner at Historic Miller Caves.

Milwaukee Food & City Tours presents a variety of neighborhood walking or bus tour routes. A variety of durations are available, and all tours are customizable. The Old World Third Street Tour combines German traditions with new culinary delights.

Art all over

A hotel with an Artist-in-Residence program? It’s a real thing at the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. Visitors interact with the artist in the on-site studio.

Milwaukee’s lakefront masterpiece, the Milwaukee Art Museum, offers guided or self-guided group visits.

tour of Milwaukee Art Museum
Milwaukee Art Museum
Credit: David Hoekman/GTM

The art museum’s Burke Brise Soleil is a moveable, wing-like sunscreen resting on top of the vaulted, glass-enclosed Windhover Hall. If weather conditions allow, the wings open at 10 a.m., flap at noon and close when the museum closes.

“The wings have become a symbol of our city, and we’re very proud of that,” said Amy Kirschke, museum educator.

Work and art join at the Grohmann Museum, part of the Milwaukee School of Engineering’s downtown campus. The museum’s art collection is dedicated to the evolution of human work. Sculptures, paintings and works on paper depict everything from farmers and blacksmiths to chemists and factory workers.

New and notable

The Hop electric streetcar system began operation in late 2018. Potawatomi Hotel & Casino is sponsoring free rides for the first 12 months of operation.

Fiserv Forum, the new home for the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team, offers group tickets and pre- and post-game experiences. Private group tours of the arena can be scheduled.

For more information, call VISIT Milwaukee at 414-287-4249 or go to