15 Free Things to Do in Milwaukee Before the End of Summer

Simply the best things to do around town for the best price — $0.00.

The Autumnal Equinox is on September 22. But there’s plenty to do before summer is over. And, if you follow this list, you won’t have to spend much to do it all.

Music and festivals

Brady Street Festival

July 28
Brady Street (duh)

With stages sponsored by 88Nine, Absolut, Bud Light, David “One Call, That’s All!” Gruber and Wisconsin Dairy Farmers, this street fest is going to bring a diversity of acts to the Lower East Side. There’s also going to be can’t-miss tricks from Division BMX throughout the day, pro wrestling matches at 4 p.m., and a nighttime performance from the The Milwaukee Flyers tumbling team


Multiple dates
Multiple locations

There’s a mess of festivals across the metro area, not just in Henry W. Maier Festival Park. Lionsfests across the county nail that neighborhood festival vibe, from classic cars and dinners in South Milwaukee at the end of July, to the polka mass and carnival rides over Labor Day weekend in Oak Creek.

Bay View Bash

Sept. 15
Kinnickinnic Avenue, between Potter and Clement

Rock music? Check. Performers for kids? Got ’em. Food trucks? Of course! Hipsters? Without a doubt.

Rendering courtesy of the Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee Bucks arena grand opening and block party

Aug. 26
901 N. Fourth St.

It’s not up for debate anymore. The Milwaukee Bucks are on the up. And the christening of the team’s new arena, newly dubbed Fiserv Forum, will be celebrated with a block-wide party. Attendees can get a sneak peek of the stadium two months before the team’s 51st season tips off, and two weeks before superstar comedian Kevin Hart performs.

Free days

Get in the know. Below we’ve listed some of the tricks for getting into MKE locales without costing a cent, even though they usually have a fee.

Milwaukee Public Museum

On the first Thursday of every month, everyone gets in for free, courtesy of Kohl’s. The only dates remaining this summer are Aug. 2 and Sept. 6.

Boerner Botanical Gardens

Wander the gardens free of charge on the first Tuesday of the month for county residents.

The Domes

Every Monday, from 9 a.m.-noon, the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory is open to the public, but only if you have a Milwaukee County ID.

Milwaukee County Zoo

Okay, so all of the zoo’s free days are technically over for the summer, but there are three more remaining in 2018: Oct. 6, Nov. 3 and Dec. 1.

Milwaukee Public Museum’s “Weapons: Beyond the Blade” from fall 2017. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Public Museum.


Public displays

Multiple locations

Milwaukee may not be awash with murals and sculptures like some American cities, but you can enter a world of color if you know where to look. Sculpture Milwaukee is back for its second year, with 21 sculptures on display along Wisconsin Ave. through Oct. 21. Black Cat Alley features a constantly-changing collection of street art between the Oriental Theatre and Colectivo in the Northpoint neighborhood. For a wider look of the city, check out MKEMuralMap.com.

Haggerty Museum of Art

530 N. 13th St

Since 1984, Marquette University has housed one of the few free fine arts galleries in Milwaukee. From now until August, exhibitions will be done display featuring Wisconsin artist Elsa Ulbricht and work from Nohl fellows. And starting Aug. 17, Sable Elyse Smith’s “Ordinary Violence” and Kirsten Leenaars’ “(Re)Housing the American Dream: Freedom Principles” will fill the space.


There’s something free going on in Milwaukee almost every weeknight in the summertime.

Jazz in the Park

Thursdays until Aug. 30
Cathedral Square Park

It’s been going on since May, but Jazz in the Park is a staple of Thursdays in Milwaukee, and it’s absolutely free. Of course, if you want to spend some dollars on food trucks or drinks you’re welcome, but we find music from the likes of Cache MKE (Aug. 2) and the Chicago Tribute Anthology (Aug. 30) is best enjoyed with a homemade picnic on the grass of Cathedral Square.

Chill on the Hill

Tuesdays until Aug. 28
Humboldt Park

Unlike Jazz in the Park, Chill on the Hill has a much more varied lineup of acts, from the tongue-in-cheek rockers of Camel Toe Truck (July 31) to 21st-century throwback act Xposed 4heads (Aug. 14).

UWM Manfred Olson Planetarium

Multiple dates
1900 E. Kenwood Blvd.

There are five dates left to see the stars up close. Stargazing will be held on Friday, July 27 and Wednesday Aug. 29, and there are three more free AstroBreaks planetarium shows on three Wednesdays: Aug. 15, Sept. 12 and Sept. 19 — the last two AstroBreaks will focus on the always puzzling topic of “Space Weather.”

Musical Mondays

Mondays until Aug. 27
Lake Park

Music in the Park is finally of drinking age. The weekly concert series turned 21 in 2018, and its musical tastes fit that bill, offering more refined acts like the Chicago Samba Quartet (July 30) and Bernstein covers from Racine’s Wendy Hill & Kurt Ollman (Aug. 27). For kid-friendly events, stop by Lake Park on Wednesdays until Aug. 8.

Free shows at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino

Varies weekly
1721 W. Canal St.

You don’t need to spend big to enjoy the amenities at Potawatomi. Almost every day there will be a free concert, with twice-weekly performances from the multitalented cover-man Al White.


Sometimes the best (and cheapest) things are the simplest. Check out this article about the best places to run (or walk) and bike. Or, find a quiet spot to chill within the city itself.




Adam is a journalist who recently returned to his Wisconsin home after graduating from Drake University in December 2017. He interned with MilMag in the summer of 2015 and has been a continual contributor ever since. Follow him on social media @Could_Be_Rogan