34 Reasons to Visit Milwaukee’s Northern Suburbs

There’s a lot to love in the communities of Bayside, Brown Deer, Butler, Cedarburg, Fox Point, Germantown, Glendale, Grafton, Mequon, Menomonee Falls, River Hills, Shorewood, Thiensville, Whitefish Bay.


This story is part of our Best of the Burbs feature from the April Issue of Milwaukee Magazine. To read our full guide to the finest that Milwaukee’s suburbs have to offer, order your copy today


BY ALLI WATTERS, ANN CHRISTENSON, CHRIS DRSONER, ARCHER PARQUETTE, LAURA BENGS, KRISTINE HANSEN, ASHLEY ABRAMSON, JENNA KASHOU, CHELSEA MAMEROW AND RICH ROVITO


Where to Eat

1. Cloud Red

4488 N. OAKLAND AVE., SHOREWOOD

Standard bar fare is not how this 6-year-old rolls. Cloud Red is cloud nine for fresh, from-scratch food, some of which leans veg-heavy and healthyish, while some goes full-on comfort. Diners – who place their orders at the buzzing bar – hit the jackpot with plates ranging from pulled pork nachos to the Indian potato-cucumber bhel bowl. And the weekly specials, including seasonal soups and flatbreads, are often outstanding.

Cloud Red; Photo by Adam Ryan Morris

2. Brandywine

W61 N480 WASHINGTON AVE., CEDARBURG

Named after a type of heirloom tomato, this chef-owned enterprise is particularly deft with its handmade pastas, but you really can’t go wrong with a seasonal small or large plate, especially if it’s beef carpaccio or seared fresh fish. The restored 1862 storefront oozes with historic Cedarburg charm, while the plates have big-city panache. 

Brandywine; Photo by Chris Kessler

3. Crave Cafe

3592 N. OAKLAND AVE., SHOREWOOD

This little counter-service eatery is mostly focused on burgers – and what burgers they are. Weighing in at a respectable one-third pound, the patty is perhaps at its best slathered in Korean BBQ glaze, American cheese, spicy mayo, kimchi and cabbage slaw. But then there’s the Crave burger, which slays with its toppings of melted Swiss cheese, caramelized onion, arugula and white truffle aioli. The crispy seasoned fries are excellent, too. 

4. Daily Taco & Cantina

105 W. FREISTADT RD., THIENSVILLE 

The owners of (currently shuttered) Nepalese restaurant The Cheel opened this terrific homage to the tortilla in late 2020. Whether you order a taco, burrito, bowl, etc., it’s the protein choices that give it gusto, particularly the lamb birria (stew) served with dipping consommé. They also offer five kinds of salsa – which makes eating chips and salsa a real treat – along with deliciously tart, fresh margaritas. 

5. Café 1505 

1505 W. MEQUON RD., MEQUON

Tucked inside the East Towne Square Mall, this longstanding breakfast-lunch spot offers great omelets, quiche and specialty pancakes, plus ace sandwiches and soup of the day. Don’t miss baked goods such as ooey gooey cinnamon rolls and sunshine buns. 


Suburb Surprise

6. Lannon Sunflower Farm

W204 N8525 LANNON RD., MENOMONEE FALLS

Here’s a feel-good pilgrimage to make this summer: Head to Lannon Sunflower Farm for sunflowers you pick yourself. Simply strolling through the sea of towering Helianthuses is therapeutic. Customers can pick up to a dozen for $20, cash only, and must bring their own clippers and container. The season usually runs from late July/early August to early fall. 


Where to Shop

7. Larry’s Market

8737 N. DEERWOOD DR., BROWN DEER 

Sure, many supermarkets are putting more effort into their cheese sections, but there’s still no place quite like Larry’s. It’s not just that the artisan cheese counter in this intimate, friendly shop is stocked with wheels of small-batch dairy divinities from near and far, but everything is so meticulously labeled (with sampling encouraged!), you know it was created by someone whose love and knowledge of cheeses is at the expert level. And you’ll find everything else you need to create an outstanding charcuterie board that will please even the most discriminating gourmand. 

8. Faye’s

EAST TOWNE SQUARE MALL, 1505 W. MEQUON RD., MEQUON

Faye’s has been around 31 years, but it is always current. The inventory is curated with a very discerning eye, meaning that every piece is on-trend. Plus, the sales team is so helpful, it’s like having your own private stylist. 

Faye’s; Photo courtesy of Faye’s

 

9. Bayside Garden Center

400 E. BROWN DEER RD., BAYSIDE

Need a vacation? Wander the greenhouses at Bayside Garden Center, where the houseplant selection is unmatched. Whether you’re looking for familiar favorites or exotic species, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better array of greenery in the Milwaukee area. Plus, the staff are friendly and knowledgeable. 

10. Fifth-Main

174 S. MAIN ST., THIENSVILLE

For pre-owned designer capital-L luxury apparel, Fifth-Main is the place. The prices are steep, but these are collectibles, not plain old used clothes! (Think Oscar De La Renta, Alexander McQueen and Givenchy.) The items are so beautiful that it’s worth a visit even if only to look and dream. 


Throwback

11. Winkie’s

629 E. SILVER SPRING DR., WHITEFISH BAY

A big-box store may have a larger selection, but the whimsy and nostalgia of Winkie’s in downtown Whitefish Bay are enough to make a trip. Downstairs, parse the aisles of toys, games, sports equipment, school and art supplies for kids of all ages (gift-wrapping is always free). Upstairs at the Hallmark, you’ll find a large selection of greeting cards and keepsakes. 

Winkie’s; Photo by Meghan Whan

More Reasons to Go

12. Ozaukee Interurban Trail

RUNS FROM MILWAUKEE TO SHEBOYGAN

From 1907 to 1951, the Interurban Electric Railway route zipped from Milwaukee to Sheboygan. Now a portion of it is a blissful, car-free 30-mile paved bicycle trail whose pit stops include Inventors Brewpub in Port Washington, with its poutine, burgers and house-brewed beer.  

13. Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

1111 E. BROWN DEER RD., BAYSIDE

Hugging Lake Michigan’s shoreline in a residential neighborhood, this 185-acre park boasts 6 miles of hiking trails through wetlands, forests and prairies. Birders flock here – pun intended – with binoculars, on the hunt for the 238 species documented on the grounds since 1974. 

15. Lynden Sculpture Garden

2145 W. BROWN DEER RD., RIVER HILLS

If an outdoor art museum’s your utopia, lace up your hiking boots for a jaunt through this 40-acre garden – Peg and Harry Bradley’s former home – with 50 works by sculptors like Mark di Suvero and Alexander Archipenko. The first Sunday of each month (excluding winter) features guided tours. 

16. The Hounds & Tap

W175 N5645 TECHNOLOGY DR., MENOMONEE FALLS

Pups and people roam freely at this indoor/outdoor dog park and tavern. It breeds community, pampering humans with bar service, TVs, wifi and food trucks and the pooches with pools, play equipment, fresh water and 5,500 square feet of open air. The business also offers daycare, boarding and grooming for dogs.

The Hounds & Tap; Photo courtesy of The Hounds & Tap

17. Mary Nohl House

7328 N. BEACH DR., FOX POINT

Making a pilgrimage to see the Mary Nohl house on Fox Point’s quiet Beach Road has long been a rite of passage for Milwaukee-area art aficionados. The reclusive, prolific artist created a striking world of art (some sculptures figural and life-sized) in her lakeside yard and home – a world of concrete and found objects so otherworldly that Nohl was dubbed “the Witch of Fox Point.” The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center continues to work to preserve the important site, but the property is not open to the public. A better way to view Nohl’s work is to pay a visit to Art Preserve of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan. 

Mary Nohl House; Photo courtesy of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center

18. Fox Point Community Pool

7040 N. SANTA MONICA BLVD., FOX POINT

Looking for a place to cool down on a hot summer day? Grab your folding chair and head to the Fox Point pool. There are lap lanes available for those wanting some exercise, and plenty of space to just relax and enjoy the water. For just $10, you get a whole day of chillaxation.

19. The Garcade 

N85 W15920 APPLETON AVE., MENOMONEE FALLS

There’s no better way to burn a rainy afternoon with a couple of 10-year-olds than plunking down for the all-day, come-and-go access to Gar Nelson’s Menomonee Falls arcade. At your free-play disposal are more than 175 games, from Galaga to Dance Dance Revolution to an awesome array of ultramodern and super-vintage pinball tables. When you and the kids need a break, plenty of dining options are just a quick jaunt away before you stop back for a nightcap. Game on! 


Burb Bites

Academy Award-winning British actor (2015’s Bridge of Spies) Mark Rylance – then known as Mark Waters – attended University School of Milwaukee in River Hills during his father’s tenure as English teacher.

In 1944, the then-rural community of Germantown hosted Camp Rockfield, a two-year home for 500 German prisoners of war. 


Beat of the Burbs

20. Three Cellars

MENOMONEE FALLS

The best beer selection out here.

21. Katherine Kearney Carpenter Park

MEQUON

Just try not to cry at this dog park’s Rainbow Bridge.

22. The Workroom

SHOREWOOD

Fabric stars at this home decor shop.

Photo courtesy of The Workroom

23. Scout Wine Merchants

SHOREWOOD

Belly up to the bar for a snack board.

22. Ally’s Bistro

MENOMONEE FALLS

Those frosted cinnamon rolls – yow!

23. Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve

GRAFTON

A short hike magically transports you to the Oregon coast.

Photograph of Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve by Aliza Baran

24. The Creamy Pig

CEDARBURG

Homemade sausage and frozen custard, a holy alliance.

25. Pastiche Bistro & Wine Bar

BROWN DEER

Snails and cassoulet, ooh la la.

26. Olson House

SHOREWOOD

Scandi home decor goods you won’t find elsewhere.

27. Glacier Hills County Park

HUBERTUS

A stunning view of Friess Lake, a big puddle left by a receding glacier.

28. Foxtown Brewing

MEQUON

Don’t miss the beer cave tour.

29. Kletzsch Park

GLENDALE

Waterfall = natural photo opp.

30. Johnny Manhattan’s

HUBERTUS

It’s all about the steaks.

31. St. Paul Fish Co.

MEQUON

Rock the lobster roll.

32. Tomaso’s

CEDARBURG

Thin-crust pizzas distinguished by cheese applied under the sauce.

33. Zarletti

MEQUON

The wood-roasted pizza with garlic cream sauce is buono.

34. Cocoa Tree Confectionery

MEQUON

Salted. Caramel. Bonbons.


 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s April issue.

Find it on newsstands or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop

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