7 Reasons to Visit Waukesha

Take a look at Waukesha’s many charms, from a theater to a small-plates mainstay.

OVER 100 YEARS AGO, Waukesha was known as a spa town, its so-called healing waters earning it the nickname Spring City. Today, the water that better springs to mind is the Fox River, which runs through an old-timey, walkable downtown boasting everything from small plates to accessible parks and hiking trails.

1. Burlap & Lace Marketplace

272 W. MAIN ST. 

This 7000-square foot space is home to 120 vendors, mostly local artists selling handmade treasures. You’ll find everything from home decor, clothing and jewelry to furniture and bird houses. This month, artists will be making ice sculptures outside the store for Waukesha JanBoree’s ice-sculpting contest. 

Photo courtesy of Burlap & Lace Marketplace


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2. Raised Grain Brewing


Known for an evolving selection of house-made beers, this taproom-restaurant features as many as 36 on tap – standing favorites like Paradocs Red IPA as well as rotating seasonal brews. Pair a pint with live music on Wednesdays, trivia on Thursdays, brewery tours on Saturdays or “Stretch & Sip” yoga class on some Sundays. 

Photo courtesy of Raised Grain Brewing

3. Waukesha Civic Theatre

264 W. MAIN ST.

Well known for its plays, musicals and concerts, as well as its children’s theater, this is one of the longest-operating community theaters in the county. Phase one of a $4 million expansion (which includes a renovated lobby and new rehearsal spaces) is set to be completed in February – just in time for its production of Rent in March.

Waukesha Civic Theatre; Photo by Anne Kenny for Waukesha Civic Theatre

4. Fox River Park 

W264 S4500 RIVER RD. 

The five hiking trails here traverse 257 acres of Wisconsin woodlands and wetlands nestled along the Fox River. Connect to the bisecting Fox River State Trail to continue your adventure, or stop at the park’s natural play area with slides and climbing features built into the landscape – a unique draw for kids and families. 

Insider Tips

From Emily Phillips financial adviser and partner with Drosner Phillips Ristau Group at Baird


Emily Phillips; Photo by Aliza Baran

5. Tofte’s Table


Phillips loves sipping a craft Manhattan by the window during a fresh winter snowfall while waiting for a crusty perch fry in this relaxed but upscale restaurant.

6. Retzer Nature Center

S14 W28167 MADISON ST. 

Grab a hot beverage from one of Waukesha’s many local coffee shops – Phillips likes to hit The Steaming Cup, Mama D’s Coffee or Mountain Top Coffee – and hike the newly revitalized Discovery Trail, or catch a show at the Horowitz-DeRemer Planetarium.

7. Rochester Deli 

143 W. BROADWAY   

Start with a fresh sandwich – it’s known for a stellar Reuben and great panini – or from-scratch soup and end with a handmade pastry. Phillips enjoys an after-lunch stroll to the Carroll University campus, a few blocks south. 


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

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