1. Atwater Beach
(Capitol and Lake Drive, Shorewood) is a family-friendly and slightly secluded beach. The large playground area and somewhat controversial sculpture Spillover II make it hard to miss when traveling on Lake Drive. The long stretch of sandy shoreline is accessible only by climbing down five flights of stairs (or a long winding paved path). The Milwaukee Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has even been using Atwater Beach as a training ground for surfing.
2. Bradford Beach
(2400 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., Milwaukee) – This is a recreation and party-lover’s paradise. It was also named one of the top ten urban beaches in the country by USA TODAY in 2016!
Bradford got a major facelift back in 2008 thanks to public and private funding that diverted bacteria-laden storm water runoff from the sand. A tiki bar and concession stand managed by SURG restaurant group, volleyball leagues and tournaments, and North Point Custard Stand just up the block, cause people to flock to this beach as soon as the weather rises above 60 degrees.
This is also the only beach with lifeguards on duty seven days a week from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
3. Tietjen Beach at Doctors Park
(1870 E. Fox Ln., Fox Point) – This secluded spot on the north shore is a little trickier to find than some of the other beaches, but the reward is you won’t have to fight off any crowds to find a spot in the sand, littered with drift wood and skipping stones.
4. Grant Park Beach
(100 S. Hawthorne Ave., South Milwaukee) – If your style is to work up a sweat before you hit the beach, Grant Park is the perfect spot for you. Hike the Seven Bridges Trail or play a round of disc golf and then descend the stone stairway to the sandy beach. There are also volleyball courts and leagues, as well as concessions at this beach.
5. Klode Park Beach
(5900 N. Lake Dr., Whitefish Bay) – This small, family friendly beach is covered in small stones rather than sand, so it’s better suited for rock skipping and exploring rather than sun bathing. The adjoining park has a large playground and tennis courts.
6. McKinley Beach
(1750 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., Milwaukee) – Just south of Bradford Beach, this smaller beach is much less crowded and caters more to families. There’s a hut for Jet Ski and scooter rentals right between McKinley and Bradford beaches, if you’re feeling adventurous.
7. South Shore Park Beach
(2900 S. South Shore Dr., Milwaukee) – Located in Bay View, south of Downtown, the expansive South Shore Park is always filled with kids, but if you hit up the sandy beach you’ll find tranquility and beautiful views of the city.
The newly added South Shore Terrace, right behind South Shore pavilion, is open Wednesday to Sunday and a great place to grab a beer, soda and snack post-beach bathing.
If you’re brave enough to bear the frigid water temps, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check the cleanliness of the water here before you dive in. Now get out and enjoy these beautiful beaches before the fleeting summer months are just a distant memory.