Hoan Bridge from the water

10 Essential Milwaukee Summer Experiences

Seize your summer with this seasonal bucket list.

Summer technically stretches from June 20 to September 22. But those 12 weeks can slip away faster than sand through fingertips, so we’ve created this bucket list to help readers take advantage of summer in the city while it lasts.

 1:  Put your fest foot forward

Milwaukee isn’t called the City of Festivals for nothing. You’ll have plenty of chances to get your fest on, whether you’re interested in art, music or local culture.

Bradford Beach on Milwaukee’s lakefront. Photo by Adam Ryan Morris.

 2:  Take the plunge

The east and west coasts don’t have a monopoly on beautiful beaches. Set aside some time to cheer on a championship volleyball game at Bradford Beach or watch waves lap against the sand at Atwater Beach.

 3:  Plant yourself in one of the city’s many beer gardens

The first beer garden to open in the United States after the repeal of prohibition, Estabrook belongs on any summer bucket list. But many other sudsy spots have since sprouted up throughout the city and are equally worthy of your attention.

Estabrook Park Beer Garden
Estabrook Park Beer Garden

 4:  Soak up some sun during your morning commute

Wisconsin Bike Week runs June 1-11. But you can get your daily dose of exercise, and vitamin D, by biking to work all summer long. Check out our handy bike guide to learn more.

Road bikes in action. Photo by Sean Drews.

 5:  See stars – under the stars

Gone are the days when families would spend their Friday and Saturday nights in the summer at the local drive-in theater. But every year, parks throughout the city still screen outdoor movies. Nearby Waukesha presents family-friendly movies on Monday nights too.

Photo by Len Villano

 6:  Hit the road

There’s so much going on in Milwaukee that you could stay within city limits all summer and still find something new to do every day. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t venture further afield at least once, even if only for a day trip to Lake Geneva or a weekend getaway in Door County.

 7:  Perfect your patio game

Take your weekly brunch to the next level by dining at some of the city’s finest restaurant patios. Or enjoy evening drinks at The Outsider, which made our Best of 2016 list for its stiff drinks and not-too-stiff, nine-story breeze.

Photo by Adam Ryan Morris

 8:  Root, root, root for the home team

Whether or not you’re a die-hard baseball fan, you’ll likely find an afternoon spent chomping cracker jacks at Miller Park well-worth the price of a ticket. Special promotions run throughout the season too.

 9:  Listen up

You’ll have many chances to catch live musical acts throughout the summer, whether you’re interested in low-key neighborhood events like Jazz in the Park or the nationally renowned Summerfest.

Leon’s vanilla and strawberry and Kopp’s chocolate. Photo by Adam Ryan Morris

 10:  Cool down over frozen custard

We may not be called the Cream City for our love of custard, but we might as well be. Kopp’s, Leon’s and Gilles all claim loyal fans, but there are plenty of other sweet spots around town too.     



Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.