We think Milwaukee makes an excellent first impression. This list describes some of the city's standouts from an outsider's point of view.

What’s the Best of Milwaukee when you’re new to the city, or even new to Wisconsin? Just a few weeks into their summer at MilMag, we asked our summer interns what they loved about the city so far. Their fresh perspective just might shine some light on some things we full-time residents are taking for granted.


Madaleine Townsend, Ball State University

Historic Church

St. Joan of Arc Chapel at Marquette University

It’s not just the oldest building in Milwaukee but the oldest in the Western Hemisphere to still be used for its original purpose, as it still holds regular Mass today. Originally built in France in the 15th century and brought over the U.S. piece by piece, the chapel holds a lot of history – and refuge for many visitors. Among many of the aspects of the chapel, one of the most famous is The Stone of St. Joan of Arc behind the . Legend has it that Joan of Arc would kneel and pray at the “Joan Stone,” now in a wall behind the altar, then kissed it. Since, the stone has been a few degrees colder than the surrounding stones – a mystery that lingers today.

1250 W. Wisconsin Ave.; marquette.edu

Wedding Photo Location

Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum

Built in 1923 by David Adler and inspired by Italian design, this lakefront mansion has been serving the public for over 50 years. It houses many art exhibits and architectural grandeur, but one element that pulls visitors in is the magnificent Renaissance Garden. Those at Villa Terrace highly encourage wedding parties to use the garden as a spot for photo shoots. From the grand staircase to the aptly named Brides’ Orchard to the Mercury Courtyard, there is no spot on these grounds that wouldn’t make a great wedding photo.

2220 N. Terrace Ave.; villaterrace.org

Photo by Christopher Winters.

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Matthew Martinez, Marquette University (but a Chicago native)

Best Thing Ever

Dachsund Derby at German Fest

They say that we’re living in a golden era of sports here in Milwaukee, with two MVPs in their respective leagues within a year of each other, but I direct your attention to the greatest spectacle of sport that has ever been devised. The Dachsund Derby takes the apex animal, the weiner dog, and pits him against his only worthy opponent: other weiner dogs. The heats are separated by age, and puppies under 12 months are referred to as Lil Smokies. There’s even a costume contest after the races. We’ve missed out on a lot, but we get to coexist with this.

July 26, 2020; registration opens June 1. germanfest.com

Best Cure for Your Ails Under $5

The Beesting at Anodyne Coffee

By what method this beverage was conceived, I am unsure. But I can tell you this: Whoever thought of combining honey, agave and coffee deserves a medal. Morning, noon or night, the Beesting will make you happy, guaranteed. I’ve shown it to a lot of people and none has ever complained.

Multiple locations, anodynecoffee.com

Interior of Anodyne Coffee

Photo courtesy of Visit Milwaukee


Hannah Hoffmeister, University of Missouri

Best Home-Away-From-Home for a Newcomer

Bruegger’s Bagels, Whitefish Bay

I work at Bruegger’s part-time, smearing cream cheese on fresh bagels when I’m not at the magazine. This isn’t an advertisement, though; it’s a genuine recognition that the people I’ve met there are some of the nicest I’ve found in Milwaukee (which is saying something, considering our Midwestern geography). Everyone has made me feel extremely welcome — I’d recommend that a newcomer head that way to hang out with the regulars.

601 E. Silver Spring Dr., Whitefish Bay; brueggers.com

Best Hidden-in-Plain-Sight Park

Klode Park

This tiny park with a sliver of Lake Michigan coast, is the best haven for a peaceful moment on the water. I like the larger trails Downtown for running and biking, but Klode Park offers a beach that’s the perfect size for skipping rocks, dipping your toes in the water or playing catch.

5900 N. Lake Dr., Whitefish Bay

Photo courtesy of Greg Wyder

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Elizabeth Johnson, University of North Carolina

Best Street Art

Sidewalk Adornment

When I arrived in Milwaukee at the beginning of the summer, I immediately fell in love with the murals and sculptures on seemingly every block. In particular, though, I can’t get enough of the koi fish that decorate the sidewalks; their innocuous encouragement makes the final stretch of my evening run that much more bearable.

Best Tip Jar

Stone Creek Coffee – Radio Milwaukee

Every day, this Stone Creek location offers customers choices – not just of its brews but of competing themes for the tip jar. Think Amazon Prime vs. Netflix, or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson vs. rock climbing. Your cash is your vote, a fun way to incentivize taking care of the people who take care of you. The staff here earns it, too. They’re friendly and quick to memorize regulars’ orders.

158 S. Barclay St.; stonecreekcoffee.com

Photo by Adam Ryan Morris


More Best of Milwaukee 2019

Here it is: The cream of Cream City. You chose the winners in dozens of categories, and we added a few that we couldn’t help but chime in on.


“Best of Milwaukee 2019” appears in the September 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning September 2, or buy a copy online.

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