Your Milwaukee Summer Bucket List

There are 99 days from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Here’s the ultimate guide for making the most out of each and every one of them.

Find a Fest

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Photo courtesy of Summerfest

What are you looking for?

If you want something exotic

Polish Fest

June 15-17

Every ethnic festival has food and music, but where else can you see four royal white tigers? They are on loan for the weekend from a zoo in Poland. There’s also a youth piano competition named after Chopin and folk artists demonstrating traditional crafts.

If you want to eat

Greek Fest

June 22-24

You might not be able to pronounce all the delicacies, but at least learn to say “gyro” properly (“yee-ro”) before you visit this delicious festival. Rides, music and dancing are also featured at State Fair Park.

If you want something unique

Bastille Days

July 12-15

Storming the Bastille on the streets of Downtown and saying “fromage” for a pic at the 43-foot Ei el Tower replica are rites of passage here. But the international marketplace is the best attraction, with jewelry, accessories, art, home goods and more.

If you want authentic culture

Festa Italiana

July 20-22

The Italians take traditions seriously: a Catholic Mass, complete with a procession of patron saints; flag throwers from Florence; and daily performances by the Florentine Opera. Save your appetite for the cannoli-eating contest.

If you want to drink

German Fest

July 27-29

Practice saying “Prost!” before you drink your way through this festival full of German beer, wine and spirits. And think your wiener dog is a winner? Enter him in the Dachshund Derby and doggie costume contest if you’re not up for imbibing.

If you want to hear great music

Irish Fest

Aug. 16-19

Celtic rock might not be your fave, but hearing it live is totally different. Local and international performers play many styles of traditional Irish music, folk, Irish bluegrass, Americana and more, plus plenty of charming dance troupes.

If you want to dance

Mexican Fiesta

Aug. 24-26

The Hotwheelz car and motorcycle show with classic and low-rider cars is a display like no other, but people flock to Fiesta for the salsa dancing. Demonstrations and a contest are open even for amateurs. When in doubt, swing your hips and move your feet fast.

If you want to see some art

Indian Summer Festival

Sept. 7-9

The Circle of Art exhibit at Indian Summer Festival showcases the history and culture of Native Americans. Plenty of artwork will be for sale as well. The Yellow Bird Apache dance group is not to be missed.


June 19 marks what just might be the occasion most worth celebrating anywhere: the end of slavery in the United States. The annual festival is one of Milwaukee’s most vibrant gatherings.

Here’s how Juneteenth Day stacks up, by the numbers:


The year slavery was abolished


Years Milwaukee has celebrated the festival

30-50 thousand

People the one-day festival attracts


Blocks the celebration stretches out on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive


Vendors with food, health information, arts and crafts, a job fair and more


Scholarships and prizes the Miss (and Little Miss) Juneteenth Day Pageant will award to local teens

Beyond the beaten path

Croatian Fest

July 21

Any carnivore will go crazy at this free festival that features roasted lamb, pork and chicken, sold by the pound at Croatian Park in Franklin.

Armenian Fest

July 22

Kebobs aplenty, traditional dancers and more demonstrate how Armenian traditions are distinct from other Middle Eastern cultures. The free festival takes place at St. John the Baptist Armenian Orthodox Church.

Puerto Rican Family Festival

Aug. 5

Milwaukee’s second-largest group of Latin Americans are from “La Isla del Encanto.” Explore the culture at this Humboldt Park celebration with family activities, music, food and dance, in addition to a home run derby competition.

India Fest

Aug. 18

Bringing a little taste of Bollywood to Bay View, India Fest adds a fire show to its list of attractions at Humboldt Park. “India Idol” and a talent show, plus lots of great food, round out this fun, family-friendly event.

Best of the ‘Burbs: Suburban Fests

Cedarburg’s Strawberry Festival

Scottish Fest-Milwaukee Highland Games

June 2

Show off your muscles in the heavy events competition, including the Scottish hammer throw, or watch ax throwing and archery demos, among other feats of skill and strength. Tosa’s Hart Park will be a sea of tartan for one day only.

Thiensville-Mequon LionFest

June 8-10

The famous rotisserie chicken dinner is a big draw, but you can’t beat bingo with cash prizes and $20 unlimited carnival rides at Thiensville Village Park.

Cedarburg’s Strawberry Festival

June 23-24

The 33rd annual event honors the humble summer fruit. You’ll find hundreds of vendors selling art and edibles.

Delafield Block Party

July 13-14

This family-friendly festival downtown has hiking, biking and shopping during the day, live music and food at night.

Cudahy Lions Sweet AppleWood Festival

July 20-22

Daily meat and booze raffes, a Neil Diamond tribute singer and Polka Mass on Sunday take place at Cudahy Park for this truly Wisconsin festival.

Port Washington Fish Day

July 21

Go big or go home could be the theme of Port Fish Day, which has the world’s largest one-day outdoor fish fry. A carnival, arts and crafts, classic car show, fireworks and a parade make this family day as American as apple pie.

Dog Day at Drexel

July 13-14

Even your furry friends deserve some fun in the sun. Oak Creek’s newest development, Drexel Town Square, hosts a festival with dock jumping, a costume contest, agility demonstrations and pet products.

Tosa Fest

Sept. 7-8

Tosa Fest has something for everyone. From a camel and petting zoo to live music with local headliners Sam Llanas, King Solomon and the WhiskeyBelles, Tosa Fest is sure to impress.

Keep an eye out for the Kettle Corn Cowboy

Summer takes its sweet precious time getting here. Milwaukee’s Kettle Korn Cowboy counts the days in kernels. Using a long wooden stirring paddle in hands covered with heat-resistant mitts, Doug Gutenkunst cooks this sizzling sweet-salty festival staple in a hefty cast-iron cauldron while hungry fans gather round for samples and the cowboy’s trademark ballyhoo. When the fluffy kernels are ready, this buckaroo rings an iron dinner bell and yells, “Yahoo!” Gutenkunst has embraced this persona for two decades now, ever since he left a job in the insurance industry. Look for him at Jazz in the Park, farmers markets and other events.


Going Solo

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Going Solo

Take a bike ride on the Oak Leaf Trail – Riding solo on the trail affords a different view of the city. Check out what’s up at the Urban Ecology Center. Head south along the lakefront and skip stones at the small beach at Lakeshore State Park.

Explore a new neighborhood – See how Vliet Street in Washington Heights or National Avenue in Walker’s Point have been transformed. Travel by foot, unfettered by anyone else’s agenda. Pack a journal and a camera (a real one, not your iPhone) for your field notes.

Rent a kayak and paddle down the river – Tune into the quiet of the river while floating through the city. Even the aqua-phobic can feel secure going it alone in a kayak. Rent one through the Milwaukee Kayak Co., paddle at your own pace and enjoy.

Spend the afternoon at Atwater Beach – Bring a chair, a good book and lunch, and enjoy our gorgeous lake. By August, the water temp should be around 70, so wear your swimsuit. Save some energy for the end of the day, when you’ll climb 131 steps to get back to the street.

See a matinee at the Oriental Theatre – Escape the heat and lose yourself inside the dark (and historic) theater. Starting in July, Milwaukee Film will be running the show, so expect three times the number of titles on screen, along with much-needed restoration.

Learn at the Central Library – Marvel at the Neo-Renaissance architecture or research a new skill. Explore the building bottom to top, from the tessera mosaic tiles to the green roof. Free docent-led tours take place Saturdays at 10 a.m.

Treat yourself to a spa service at Institute of Beauty and Wellness – Students at the Institute (327 E. St. Paul Ave.) need bodies to practice on, so the price is right. To book a service:, 414-227-2889.

Shop the Third Ward – Unique boutiques on Broadway like Edie, SoHo, Francesca’s, Lela and Anthropologie help you stand out. Or pick up something for your living space at MOD GEN, Broadway Paper or Inspired.

Geek out on arcade games – 1983 was a great year for video games. Also the name of a new Milwaukee “barcade,” 1983 has 22 classic games and four pinball machines. At only 25 cents a pop, that’s a cheap afternoon.


With the Family

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With the Family

Fireworks Kite FestivalJuly 3 – The best way to get good seats for the fireworks while traveling with a gaggle of kids? Get to the lakefront early and spend the day flying a kite in Veteran’s Park. The fest starts at 11 a.m. and will last until dusk.

Science Saturdays at Discovery World – Sneak in something educational during your kids’ summer break. Free demonstrations and experiments take place every Saturday from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Milwaukee Air and Water ShowJuly 21-22 – The U.S Air Force Thunderbirds are the main attraction, but will be joined by the Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet Tactical Demonstration Squadron and the P-8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft. 

Live at Peck Pavilion Sunday Band ConcertsJuly 29, Aug. 5 and 19; 2 p.m. – The Marcus Center presents a family-friendly and free music series, including the Kids from Wisconsin youth ensemble.

State Fair Daily Parade, Aug. 2-12 – Two undeniable truths: Kids love parades and silly street performers. Find both every day of the Wisconsin State Fair starting at 3 p.m. (2 p.m. on the fair’s final day).

Snooze at the ZooAug. 8-11 – What could be more exciting for a kid than going to the zoo? Sleeping at the zoo! The Zoological Society even provides dinner and a movie, a campfire and s’mores: a real camp-out, only wilder. 

Rockin’ Jump Indoor Trampoline Park – Let the kiddos burn off some energy (and get your workout in, too) on 33,000 square feet of bouncy surfaces. There’s also dodge ball and soft foam cubes.

Shalom Wildlife Zoo – If getting up close and personal with animals is your style, you’ll want to wander around Shalom Wildlife’s 100 wooded acres. Kids even get to feed the animals.

Highway 18 Outdoor Theatre – About an hour from Downtown, this drive-in will transport you to the 1950s. Open every day in summer, it shows family-centric double features on a 90-foot screen, starting at dusk.


Daytime / Nighttime

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Encounter wild animals at Havenwoods

6141 N. Hopkins St.

The easiest (and flattest) place to stumble across wildlife in the city of Milwaukee is this 237-acre state forest on the Northwest Side that, in years gone by, was once the site of a prison and a dump. Slowly and with great effort, students and other workers blazed walking trails and replanted the area with tens of thousands of trees. Turkeys and deer took up residence, and Lincoln Creek now feeds a pond teeming with life. According to staff at Havenwoods, the creek began simply as a farm ditch in the 1930s and grew as more land around the site was developed and paved over, increasing runoff.

Explore the ruins at Aztalan State Park

N6200 County Road Q, Jefferson

Until about 1600, city-dwelling Native Americans could be found across the Midwest and the Southeast. One of the northernmost of these people’s towns was roughly midway between present-day Milwaukee and Madison. Early archaeologists named the place after the Aztecs, because some of the mounds and burial sites were tall and squarish. More modern archaeologists describe a hard-bitten community where life was crowded and cold. An enduring mystery surrounds the identity of the “Princess” of Aztalan, a young woman buried with thousands of shells, beads and other precious things. What made her so special? She may have been royalty, or the subject of mystical beliefs. Whatever her reason for veneration, she rests today at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

Find the burial mound at Lake Park

Just southeast of Locust Street and Lake Drive

One of the few remaining Indian burial mounds in Milwaukee County can be found at Lake Park, to the north of the Lake Park Golf Course and the lawn bowling courts. A low plaque marks the rise, which was most likely meant to “overlook” Lake Michigan. According to Mark Dudzik, state archaeologist for the Department of Natural Resources, native mounds were often built near overlooks, and this one is no exception. The Lake Park mound is estimated to have been built between 300 B.C. and 400 A.D. as part of a village near the lake and most likely contains burials, he says. How many isn’t known. The city once had many such mounds, but early Milwaukeeans demolished nearly all of them to make way for development. “There were scores of them,” Dudzik says.

Shape Up: A Pro’s Tips for Outdoor Workouts

I often take boot camp classes out to Klode Park, where we utilize the park benches to do multiple exercises like step-ups, tricep dips and push-ups. You can do two variations of pushups: one where your hands are on the bench or one where your feet are on the bench. Another exercise with benches is the single leg lunge with the back leg on the bench. To increase the intensity, you can add a hop to the lunge. Besides using a bench, hills or stairs are a great option for cardio. I also tell a lot of my moms that if their kids are playing on the jungle gym, play with them. It’s a great way to get a workout in.

— KATIE NICKEL, Fitness Director, Jewish Community Center, as told to Matt Hrodey

Her Way: Storming the Bastille Without Breaking a Sweat

I would never miss the Storm the Bastille run, not even at 100 degrees. And I haven’t – not for 28 years. My friends and I always meet at the Eiffel Tower for a glass of wine and a croissant before starting. We haven’t run the course in years, preferring instead to walk and talk, so we line up in the back. From there, we have the best view of the great costumes – people dressed up in fish net tights and berets, carrying baguettes. When the gun goes off, we barely notice, being so busy chatting, but we’re off through the East Side. We’re often so busy drinking beer one of my friends brings in a backpack and gabbing away that we barely notice the course pass by. After we cross the finish line, we without fail rejoin the Bastille Days festival, enjoying post-run champagne and pastries. That’s the key word here: enjoy. If you’re not enjoying the Storm the Bastille run, you’re doing something wrong.

— MILLY STRAWN, as told to Anna Miller

Try it! Lawn Bowling

The best tended grass in the city can probably be found within the two fenced-in lawn bowling courts in Lake Park. Here, the 60- some member Milwaukee Lake Park Lawn Bowling Association – including both national competitors and newcomers – keeps the sport alive in the city. Aspiring lawn bowlers can come to the open house on June 8 and, with an association membership, join in as many league events as they want.

Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Lake Park Bowling Association

Glorianne Mather, avid lawn bowler and director of adult education at Journey House, explains what the sport is all about.

What’s the objective? What are you trying to do? There’s a little white ball at the end [of the court] called a jack. You want to get as close to that as you can. The jack is set at the beginning of the game. Sometimes it’s really short, and sometimes it’s really long.

Is it at all like regular bowling? No. The balls are weighted so they don’t bowl straight. They bowl in a curve, depending on how you hold them. There are different sizes, if you have a smaller hand.

Is it mandatory to wear white? We have people of all shapes and sizes, and you don’t have to wear white. Sometimes for tournaments people wear white to make it more official-looking, but you can dress as casually as you want.


Three reasons to go to a park after dark

Friends of Lakeshore State Park Bonfire

Sidle up to a bonfire on one of the most gorgeous lakefront locales. Bring a few of your besties, and be sure to make your own pudgy pies and s’mores. Just remember, no alcohol at this free event – just plenty of good, old-fashioned fun.


WHEN: Wednesday, June 20 from 7-9 p.m.

WHERE: Lakeshore State Park, 500 N. Harbor Dr.



Boerner Botanical Gardens’ Wednesday Night Garden Walks

Prepare to learn a lot about plants on these night hikes, as each is led by a horticulture expert and is free but with a suggested donation. Each week also features a new fl oral topic, this year including roses, annuals, and daylilies.


WHEN: Every Wednesday, 6-7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Boerner Botanical Gardens, 9400 Boerner Dr.



Outdoor Movies at Veterans Park

Enjoy a flick alfresco – for free! The show begins at dusk, but get there early to stake your spot. Bring a picnic and blanket, and enjoy the fun. The county sponsors movie nights in other parks around town, too. Check the website for more info.


WHEN: Some Saturdays throughout the summer

WHERE: Veterans Park, 1010 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr.



Catch a Wauwatosa in ’Tosa!

Fireflies illuminating the night sky are one of the many magical displays Mother Nature provides in the summer months, and off

er another great reason to spend time in a park after dark. We suggest a visit to Hart Park to enjoy these tiny wonders. It’s located in Wauwatosa, a Potawatomi word for firefly (literally translated, it means “flash flash fire that flies”). And the Menomonee River provides the habitat these insects prefer. Fireflies start to appear sometime in May, depending on the temperature. By late June, they should be out in full force. Catch them if you must, but consider releasing them at the end of the night to help ensure that there will be fireflies for us to observe and enjoy for generations to come.


Download a time-lapse photo app for your phone. Then, instead of bringing home a jar of bugs, capture some images to share with friends.


Highbrow vs. Lowbrow

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How do things compare at the ‘country’ outposts of two leading city clubs?

University Club of Milwaukee

WHAT TO EXPECT: The University Club merged with Tripoli Country Club in Brown Deer, giving members access to an 18-hole golf course, five outdoor tennis courts and a 25-meter lap pool (adjacent to a faux sandy beach).

WHAT’S THE VIBE: Tartan carpeting and gold chandeliers in the Windmill Tap, but the locker rooms are the place to be; the men’s has a full bar, vaulted ceilings and wood-paneled “lockers,” while ladies host a book club in theirs.

BEST REASON TO JOIN: Pool activities, including “Flick ‘N Float” nights and the annual synchronized swimming show

BE FOREWARNED: Many members are part of third-generation families, so it may be tricky to find your place.

REGULARS INCLUDE: “Wisconsin Foodie” Kyle Cherek and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra violinist Frank Almond

Wisconsin Club

WHAT TO EXPECT: The Wisconsin Club’s “country” outpost on West Good Hope Road caters to 1,500 members with six newly refurbished tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, dining and an outdoor pool (with a slide for kids).

WHAT’S THE VIBE: Très Francais, with vintage French posters and dark woods driving the clubhouse décor.

BEST REASON TO JOIN: Alfresco theme nights like Garden Party (everyone dresses in white; activities including cigar rolling and Cuban music)

BE FOREWARNED: Tuesday is the club’s “dog days of summer” night at The Turn, a four-sided, rotunda-like bar. (A plus or a minus, depending on your feelings towards canines.)

REGULARS INCLUDE: Former baseball commissioner Bud Selig and lawyer David Gruber



Grab a stack of magazines and a thermos of iced tea, and kick back on the beach in your own cabana – chairs included – available for rent at Grant Park Beach.

Splish-splash the day away at the Tosa Pool at Hoyt Park. Take full advantage of the waterslide, then treat yourself to some Sassy Cow ice cream and feel like a kid again.

Settle into an Adirondack chair, sip a crisp sauvignon blanc and enjoy some fresh seafood from the raw bar. On the patio at Harbor House, you’ll be gazing at Lake Michigan, but feeling as if you’re in the French Riviera.

Grab an open space on the concrete steps outside the Kopp’s Frozen Custard Brookfield, Glendale or Greenfield locations and bliss out on a burger, followed by a scoop of whatever happens to be the wacky flavor of the day.

For a weekend-morning tutorial on Milwaukee’s early German settlers, sign up for Historic Milwaukee’s guided jaunt down Old World Third Street (during German Fest, July 28 and 29).

This Sunday morning boozy brunch walking tour folds in five six-ounce pours of the city’s best bloody marys. Definitely leave the high heels at home – even in sneakers, remaining vertical could prove challenging.

Germantown’s Old Heidelberg Park gets lit – literally – at the Brew City Cigar Festival (Aug. 18). Each $175 ticket comes with serious swag ($175 worth of premium stogies).

If smoking is your thing, enjoy yourself in air-conditioned splendor at Potawatomi Casino, where the tribe is not bound to uphold the statewide ban on indoor smoking.

Tee off like Tiger at the 36-hole Whistling Straits – host site for the 2020 Ryder Cup – where the landscaping is so gorgeous, it can make it difficult to focus on your game.

At Prairieville Park in Waukesha, you’ll feel like a giant as you putt your way through a world where lots of things are cute and small (hello, tiny houses!)

Artists from across the U.S. in disciplines as varied as woodworking and jewelry-making bring their unique works to Lakefront Festival of Art (June 15-17), on the grounds of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Digging for treasures gives you a high? You might stumble upon a gem among Elkhorn Antique Flea Market’s 500 vendors (June 24 and Aug. 12, at Walworth County Fairgrounds).

Big-name acts (Lou Gramm, Foreigner’s former lead singer, croons on July 14) perform at Gathering on the Green in Mequon’s Rotary Park. Lawn seats start at $40.

Snuggle up with your friends – and hundreds of strangers in Cathedral Square – at no cost during the weekly Jazz in the Park series, every Thursday night.

No cookie-cutter sedans allowed in Veterans Park during the Milwaukee Concours d’Elegance, a world-class juried show featuring classic examples of elegant, luxurious cars (Aug. 5).

Every Thursday night during summer, classic-car enthusiasts motor up to Wayne’s Drive-In in Cedarburg for Classic Cruise Night. Enjoy a hot dog and fries while you drool over all that metal.

Charter a private sail onboard the 38-foot yacht Quinn Marie – be a skipper or indulge in #yachtlife with Capt. Bob at the wheel – through Sea Dog Sailing.

Pack all your friends onto a Tiki-pontoon rental (Kanaloa Tiki Lounge) for a two- or four-hour spell and sip mai tais as you cruise around the waters of Downtown Milwaukee.

Wherefore art thou come summer if you’re a Shakespeare fanatic? Optimist Theatre performs King Lear via its annual Shakespeare in the Park free shows at the Peck Pavilion.

Burlesque? Oh, yes! Vaudeville? Heck, yeah! The nationally touring Dead Man’s Carnival performs the first Friday night of each month at Miramar Theatre. (June 1, July 6, Aug. 3).

Channel your Lady Mary with the Milwaukee Croquet Club, which meets Tuesday nights in Lake Park and also hosts Friday night socials. Hint: Wear all white.

After a grueling game of disc golf (similar rules as golf, but using a Frisbee) at Estabrook Park, celebrate your win at the adjacent beer garden. Bottoms up!

Which waterfront shanty suits your style?

Barnacle Bud’s

WHAT TO EXPECT: Picnic tables butt up against the river and drinks are served in Mason jars.

WHAT’S THE VIBE: It’s Key West and Jimmy Buffett all the way, with twinkly lights overhead and nautical ropes tied between wooden posts. Part of the adventure is finding the place (tucked behind a boat-repair facility).

INSIDER TIP: In good weather, the wait for a table can be long. But if you’re just there to drink, head around the corner to the side bar, where you can often snag a stool immediately.

BE FOREWARNED: Vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free? Your main menu option is French fries. This is meaty meat burger (and fried fish), all the way.

The Twisted Fisherman Crab Shack

WHAT TO EXPECT: Picnic tables and cute yellow Adirondack chairs, with a raised deck-like platform. There’s even some sand for you to dip your toes into.

WHAT’S THE VIBE: A little bit of Nantucket, by way of Gilligan’s Island. The kitchen shows signs of aspiration, with seafood entrees that skew beyond fried perch to include delicacies like Dungeness crab and mussels in wine sauce.

INSIDER TIP: You need not wait for perfect weather. If it’s a chilly or windy summer night (Hello, this is Wisconsin!), there is tons of seating inside or under the walled tent.

BE FOREWARNED: Live reggae music can seriously wreck conversations with fellow diners on Friday and Saturday nights.



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Big Gay 5K

DATE: Thursday, June 7

Show off your pride on this scenic course that weaves through Veterans Park. Proceeds benefit the Milwaukee Gay Sports Network and AIDS charities.

Wisconsin Trail Assail – Father’s Day

DATE: Saturday, June 16

Bond with Dad while challenging your endurance on this race in Menomonee Falls.

Tails on the Trail: Run/Walk for the Animals

DATE: Saturday, June 23
DISTANCE: 5K, or 1-mile walk

This is the race for animal lovers! Proceeds benefit the Wisconsin Humane Society, and plenty of pooches gather along the Veterans Park course.

Storm the Bastille

DATE: Thursday, July 12
DISTANCE: 5K run, 2-mile walk

With runners dressed in berets and carrying baguettes, a 9 p.m. start time, and a pretty much mandatory pre-race glass of wine, this is the ultimate fun run.

Cream Puff 5K

DATE: Wednesday, July 18
DISTANCE: 5K run, 1K walk

Get psyched up for the Wisconsin State Fair (which starts Aug. 2) with a course that winds through the grounds and a finish line that serves your first official cream puff of the year.

Brewers Community Foundation 5K Famous Racing Sausages Run/Walk

DATE: Saturday, July 21

Run with the Famous Racing Sausages, jog onto the Miller Park field and enjoy a complimentary beer and hot dog at the finish!


Hank Aaron State Trail 5K

DATE: Saturday, Aug. 11

This race honors one of Milwaukee’s best trails in style, and rewards its racers with post-run root beer floats and burgers.

The Olympian 5K/10K

DATE: Saturday, Aug. 11

Supporting the Wisconsin Senior Olympics, this all-ages race takes place primarily along Racine’s lakefront.

MPS Run Back to School

DATE: Saturday, Aug. 25
DISTANCE: 5K run, 1.5-mile walk

This race brings the school year back in style with a course winding through Washington Park and proceeds benefiting MPS youth recreation programs.


UPAF Ride for the Arts

DATE: Sunday, June 3
DISTANCE: 5, 12, 25, 45 and 70 miles

Sign up, if only for the thrill of riding a bike across the Hoan Bridge.

Fat Tire Tour

DATE: Saturday, June 16
DISTANCE: 15-20 miles

This event joins two great Milwaukee loves – bikes and beer – on a route that’s kept a surprise until the day of the race and features five bar stops.

Polish Moon Ride

DATE: Friday, June 22
DISTANCE: 8 miles

This family-friendly ride puts the emphasis on fun, weaving at a slow pace through Milwaukee’s historic Polish neighborhoods with police and polka music escorts.

Colectivo Coffee Bean Classic

DATE: Sunday, July 22
DISTANCE: 35, 60, 85, 105, 110 or 120 minutes

Racers who conquer these challenging mountain bike courses are rewarded with access to a Colectivo coffee bar with a range of hot and cold brews.

Riverwest 24

DATE: Friday, July 27-Saturday, July 28
DISTANCE: 24 hours

This event makes 24 hours of biking laps of the same circuit through Riverwest enjoyable, thanks to the hyped crowds and offbeat “bonus checkpoints.”

Wisconsin Women Century Ride

DATE: Saturday, July 28
DISTANCE: 25, 45, 65, 85 and 105 miles

This women-only ride pedals through the scenic northern Kettle Moraine and features excellent post-race festivities.

Ride Across Wisconsin

DATE: Saturday, Aug. 11
DISTANCE: 105 and 175 miles

Traveling from Dubuque to Kenosha, this event should be on all local cyclists’ must lists, what with its fantastic scenery and robust post-race festivities.

Project Echelon Omnium

DATE: Saturday, Aug. 11-Sunday, Aug. 12
DISTANCE: Time-based

Centered in downtown Delafield, this circuit-based event is perfect for racers of all abilities.

Hitting 4 the Cycle

DATE: Saturday, Aug. 25
DISTANCE: 25 miles

 Starting and ending at Miller Park, this race is made for leisurely and competitive bikers alike, has tailgating post-ride, and includes tickets to that night’s Brewers game.



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Cool Reads


Paris by the Book

By Liam Callanan

This haunting mystery about a family of book lovers is beautifully written and thoughtfully plotted. Plus, it’s set in Paris – read it and travel to the French capital without leaving Milwaukee.


Raising the Dad

By Tom Matthews

Matthews blends comedy and tragedy to paint a vivid portrait of a dysfunctional but not irredeemable American family. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll want to hug your closest relative.


The Book of M

By Peng Shepherd

In the not-too-distant future a strange plague is sweeping the globe – people everywhere are losing their shadows, and then their memories. This lyrically written work of magical realism follows a husband and wife, one of them shadowless, as they search for answers.


How to Stop Time

By Matt Haig

This time-traveling romance novel gives new meaning to the phrase “’til death do us part.” The (secretly immortal) main character, Tom Hazard, has experienced plenty of adventure and intrigue. But he just wants a normal life, and a mortal woman to share it with.


Sometimes I Lie

By Alice Feeney

If you liked Gone Girl, you’ll love Sometimes I Lie. The story centers on Amber Reynolds, who wakes up in a hospital and can’t quite remember how she got there. She has a feeling her husband knows what happened, though.


How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us

By Michael Pollan

The New York Times named The Omnivore’s Dilemma one of the 10 best books of 2006. And Boswell buyer Jason Kennedy expects Pollan’s latest effort, about the science behind psychedelics, to be another big seller. And yes, the author did drop acid while writing the book.


Daughter in Retrograde

By Courtney Kersten

Kersten, a native of Eau Claire, moved to California years ago. But her heart clearly still belongs to the Northwoods. The country roads and corner bars of her hometown come to life in this bittersweet memoir about coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.


The Adventures of Bob and Downtown Milwaukee: A Tale of Tails

By Shawna Nicols

Nicols says she made the book, which chronicles a day in the life of her family dog, to honor the memory of her late stepfather, Joe Weirick. And she’s donating proceeds to Key to Change, an anti-homelessness initiative championed by Joe and by Nicols’ mother, Beth Weirick.

Three Places to Curl Up with a Good Book

1. Colectivo Bay View

There’s plenty of seating inside this popular coffee shop, including a few comfy couches and chairs. But you can’t beat the swinging benches that flank its patio. Order something caffeinated, to help avoid rocking yourself to sleep.

2. McKinley Beach

You can bury your nose in a book and your toes in the sand at this secluded Lower East Side beach. Take a break to ponder what you’ve read while strolling the shoreline. When hunger strikes, Northpoint Custard is only a short walk away.

3. Pfister Lobby Lounge

Not a sun worshipper? Make this cozy lounge in the Victorian-era hotel your hideaway. Depending on the hour, you might get a piano serenade, too. It’s a particularly apropos setting if you’re reading Edith Wharton or Henry James.


Eat Something / Drink Something

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Food Trucks Worth Following

Drift, photo by Brad Ryan


This 3-year-old enterprise’s decadent Liège-style waffles are easy to find. On Saturday mornings, Press’ team sets up indoors at Hawthorne Coffee Roasters (4177 S. Howell Ave.; 8 a.m.-noon). They also set up by tent or charming 1962 vintage camper trailer at the South Shore and Tosa farmers markets. On Sundays, they’re at the Shorewood farmers market. Press’ crispy, buttery Belgians come plain or with multiple sweet or savory toppings. Owners Aaron Rosko and Emily Thomas use a homemade brioche dough, adding the trademark pearl sugar which caramelizes the exterior and leaves wonderful lumps of sweetness inside. That’s why they’re great plain, but you if you love extra-sweet, try lemon curd, blueberry compote and whipped cream. $5-$8. Full schedule at

Meat on the Street

The truck came before the food court location in an apartment building on the old Pabst Brewery grounds. It was a sticky-hot summer night that I hungrily demolished a pork adobo bowl, one of the great Filipino specialties of this brother-sister business. Try the binakol bowl (a coconut chicken soup) or the brunch bowl (rice, seasoned pork, over-easy egg). New items this year include “halo-halo,” an ice cream-mixed fruit dessert. $4-$8. For the truck’s whereabouts: check its Facebook page.

Iron Grate BBQ

This year the County Parks’ traveling beer garden has a power food partner in Iron Grate, which has signed on for Friday nights and Saturdays (Fri 5-9 p.m., Sat 11 a.m.-9 p.m., weather dependent). It’s a big coup for the parks and as much a reason to head to the garden as the beer and weekend live music. Expect some tummy rumbling aromas emanating from owner Aaron Patin’s wood smoker. The menu includes various pork products – including hot links, pulled pork sandwiches and a meat-and-two-sides combo – as well as Frito pie and a snack plate of homemade meat sticks and summer sausage, cheese curds and pickles – which sounds perfect combined with the pretzels also for sale at the beer gardens. $8-$15.

Drift MKE

In summer 2017, this mobile café serving meat pies and Anzac biscuits occupied a regular Third Ward spot – a parking lot just south of Café Benelux. This summer, owner Rachel Hawken is working on establishing a permanent base for her New Zealand-inspired trailer in that spot (330 N. Broadway). In spring, Hawken was busy jumping the city-mandated hurdles in hopes of opening the “perma truck” in June. She’s shooting for daily hours and a beachy vibe, complete with a steel-wood canopy and decorative surfboards. I like that the menu is still focused on easy, breezy handhelds, like the Thai chicken curry pie, steak and cheese pie, puddings and gooey chocolate Afghan biscuits. Full espresso drink menu, too. $3.75-$8.50.

Falafel Guys

The Thiensville-based restaurant sends out its mobile emissary from (weather depending) spring through fall, generally hitting the weekly summer food truck events: Tuesday (Schlitz Park), Wednesday (Westown Farmers Market), Thursday (Milwaukee County Courthouse), Friday (U.S. Bank Center). The menu focuses on four sandwiches (chicken shawarma, breaded eggplant, chicken schnitzel and, of course, falafel). All come in a warm pita with hummus, tahini, pickles and cucumber salad. $7-$9.

Trend: Alcohol-Free Mocktails

SWEET BUT NOT TOO CLOYING, then try: Easy Walker Rishi Raspberry Green Tea, lime, ginger beer. Shaken, served highball style ($7). At Jazz Estate, 2423 N. Murray Ave.

FOR A SMOKY KICK, then try: How The West Was Won, with house-made pomegranate grenadine, fresh lime juice, chipotle chile, and Tajín (a Mexican chile lime salt). At Merriment Social, 240 E. Pittsburgh Ave.

Photo courtesy of Finks

CREAMY AND CITRUSY, then try: Designated Pirate, with Giffard orgeat (almond) syrup; fresh lemon, lime and orange; and a dash of non-alcoholic peach bitters. At DanDan, 360 E. Erie St.

A POLYNESIAN TWIST, then try: Coast Guard Grog, with grapefruit juice, West Indies-style falernum (an almond-ginger syrup) and water. At Finks, 1875 N. Humboldt Ave.

Our Favorite Roofs and Patios


310 E. Chicago St.

Late last summer this East Side bar finished transforming an old parking lot into an intimate 700-square-foot patio/ deck with multiple styles of seating, and a gas fi re pit. Parent company Mojofuco (which also owns the BelAir Cantinas) hired Rinka Chung Architecture to do the job. This summer they’ve added a projector screen and various outdoor games for a distraction other than the cocktails, which range from Manhattans to specialties such as the Dirty Sprite.

The Outsider

Kimpton Journeyman Hotel, 310 E. Chicago St.

The rooftop of this nine-floor Third Ward hotel is as lush as you can imagine – umbrella-shaded cushioned furniture, a panoply of flora and a full-service bar. If the view isn’t distraction enough, various games such as a shuffleboard court may lure you in. No wonder there’s usually a line outside the lobby elevator. The Outsider has its own “sips and snacks” menu of deviled eggs, braised shortrib sliders, pork belly tacos and signature cocktails. Chinchin!

Harbor House

550 N. Harbor Dr.

This lakefront seafood restaurant offers the most spectacular patio view of Lake Michigan you’ll find in MKE. A sunshade made of sails covers the white patio furniture. The waves and wing-like Burke Brise Soleil offer a lulling tranquility that’s helped along by something shaken and stirred. Come during weekday happy hour (Mon-Fri 4-6 p.m.), when specialty cocktails (a cranberry orange Manhattan!) are $6 and appetizers like tuna tartare and spicy shrimp skewers are under $10.

Paradise, Midwest-Style: The Joys of the Bradford Beach Bars

After playing tennis at the McKinley Courts on Lincoln Memorial Drive, I often try to get my partner to join me for a beer at one of the Tiki bars on Bradford Beach. It typically takes some convincing. Those bars get a bad rap. People complain that they’re crowded, the bartenders aren’t friendly, and the crowd can be a bit unsavory. But on a weekday evening, none of that is true. There are typically only a handful of customers, and the bartenders are quite charming. I order a beer, then sit at a picnic table and kick offer my sneakers. Watching the moon rise over the lake, listening to the waves, I feel transported to an exotic locale. All this, right here in good old Milwaukee. It’s what I call paradise, Midwest-style.[/toggler]

“Celebrate Summer” appears in the June 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning May 28th, or buy a copy at

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