The Official Milwaukee Guide for Out-of-Town Wedding Guests

Share this list with your wedding guests to show off your city.

You want to show your out-of-town guests what makes this place so special. Help them learn more about our city by suggesting some neighborhoods and spots to explore, either as a group or on their own before they head back home. For instance, a walk through Bronzeville or Historic Mitchell Street will uncover many hidden gems.

Stroll Bradford Beach or take in the breathtaking view from Atwater Park in Shorewood. Given our wealth of distinctive, independently owned restaurants, you could also arrange an indulgent culinary adventure.

Start with a little nosh at Allie Boy’s Bagelry & Luncheonette in Walker’s Point, grab a midday meal from the taqueria inside an El Rey market, transition to the night with a drink at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, then dinner at Old World-style Three Brothers followed by a frozen custard dessert at Leon’s.

Here are some more ideas for showing off our city.


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The Basics

If your guests have never been to the 414 before, there are some essential MKE activities to check off.

Snap a Photo with The Bronze Fonz

100 E. WELLS ST.

Let’s start with a bang. Milwaukee, if you didn’t know, has a life-size bronze statue of Henry Winkler as his classic “Happy Days” character, Fonzie. It’s strange, a little kitsch, and also the best thing ever. It’s a popular selfie destination, plus its right in the heart of Downtown, so you’re a short walk from plenty of restaurants, museums and other attractions.

The Bronze Fonz; Photo by Visit Milwaukee

Stroll the RiverWalk

MILWAUKEE RIVER

If you’re at the Bronze Fonz, you’re right on top of this next attraction. The RiverWalk winds through three of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods – the Third Ward, Downtown and Beerline B, alongside the Milwaukee River. The 3.7-mile walk passes shops, galleries and restaurants, and you’ll get a good feel for the historic and revitalized neighborhoods.

Riverwalk in the Third Ward; Photo by Visit Milwaukee

Visit the Milwaukee Art Museum

700 N. ART MUSEUM DR. 

This winged wonder is arguably the coolest building in the city. Built in 1997 and designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the lakeside museum is itself a work of art, and inside you can easily spend an afternoon wandering the galleries. But currently, it’s only open Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (8 p.m. on Thursday).

Photo by Jeff Millies

Explore the Mitchell Park Domes

524 S. LAYTON BLVD. 

Another one of the city’s architectural high points, the Mitchell Park Domes are three conoidal glass domes protecting gardens. There’s the Show dome, the Tropical Dome and the Jungle Dome, each one maintaining the climate of the plants it houses. They are open to visitors every week from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Photo by Visit Milwaukee

Stop by the Sherman Phoenix

3536 W. FOND DU LAC AVE. 

This hall in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood, which was built in 2016, is home to 27 small businesses. There’s Lush Popcorn, offering delicious handcrafted popcorn (there are also liquor-infused options, FYI), plus delicious treats at Purple Door Ice Cream, and more savory options at Buffalo Boss, home to organic buffalo wings. There’s also a lineup of shops and boutiques in the space as well.

Photo by Sara Stathas

Catch a Flick at the Oriental Theatre

2230 N. FARWELL AVE. 

This East Side theatre opened in 1927 and its ornate interior is fascinatingly unique. There’s even a pipe organ. Plus, the theatre just spent over a million dollars on a restoration that added new seats, lighting, a better sound system and more. It was impressive to begin with, but now it’s even better.

Oriental Theatre; Photo via Doors Open Milwaukee

The Harley-Davidson Museum

400 W. CANAL ST. 

Milwaukee is the birthplace of the original gangster of motorcycles. Stop by the Harley-Davidson Museum to see how the iconic brand got its start. This week, you can check out two special exhibits – “Off-Road Harley-Davidson” and Building a Milwaukee Icon.” “Off-Road” explores the motorcycle company’s century-long history of gritty bikes that take on wild terrain, and “Building a Milwaukee Icon” explores a newly discovered trove of plans for the company’s original Juneau Avenue factory. That’s not to mention all the permanent exhibits like “The Harley-Davidson Journey,” which takes you through the company’s history, the “Build-a-Bike” interactive station, the motorcycle galleries, and the experience gallery, which lets you sit on and touch different bikes.

Photo by Visit Milwaukee

Grab a Bit at Milwaukee Public Market

400 N. WATER ST.

Our city has many phenomenal dining options that this magazine has covered extensively. Check out the best burgerspizzabrunch spotsfood trucks and more. But if you’re looking for one stop with plenty of options (plus Milwaukee souvenirs and T-shirts), head to the Public Market, where multiple local vendors sell their wares at the border of the Third Ward and Downtown. Not to be too stereotypical, but if you’re looking for some Wisconsin cheese, there’s no better stop than the West Allis Cheese and Sausage Shoppe.

Photo by Visit Milwaukee

Hit the Deer District

1111 VEL R. PHILLIPS AVE.

Our championship-winning Bucks are at it again, and the new Deer District is still awesome. Even if you don’t want to stop for a game, you should still check out the neighborhood surrounding Fiserv Forum. It’s packed with places to eat and drink. There’s public art and murals all over the place, and the Forum itself is quite the sight.

Deer District; Photo by Visit Milwaukee

Go to the Beach

LAKE MICHIGAN

Lake Michigan is one of Milwaukee’s greatest assets, and the city has plenty of beaches where you can enjoy it. Bradford Beach is one of the biggest and is often crowded. It has the best outdoor volleyball setups in town, plus space to lounge. South Shore Beach is in the trendy Bay View neighborhood south of Downtown. From here, you can get a great look at the city skyline, plus afterward you can explore Bay View’s hipster collection of quirky shops. And Grant Park Beach is the spot to choose for top-notch views, plus miles of woodland trails if you head inland.

Bradford Beach; Photo by Visit Milwaukee

Visit the Milwaukee County Zoo

10001 W. BLUEMOUND RD. 

The County Zoo is a tried-and-true source of enjoyment. For guests young and old, the tigers, monkeys, creepy-crawlies and more at this local institution are captivating. The sprawling Adventure Africa area added a couple years ago, including more room for the elephants, makes for impressive viewing.

Ruth (left) and Brittany aren’t related, but they’re both 37 years old; Brittany is smaller, but more dominant. Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee County Zoo.

Eat

Impress your guests with some of our city’s best cuisine. 

Plant Yourself at a Table Inside Stone Creek Coffee’s Downer Avenue Cafe and Kitchen

2650 N. DOWNER AVE.

Snag a liege-style waffle or egg sandwich along with your latte or cold brew.

This airy room at Stone Creek Coffee’s Downer Cafe and Kitchen is perfect for sipping and working, and leads right outside to the patio. Photo by Adam Ryan Morris.

Get Your Small Plates on at Odd Duck

2352 S. KINNICKINNIC AVE. 

Seeing the Duck back to offering its creative, thoughtful menu is a cause for celebration – small-plate celebration. Indian-style beef shortrib stew and spring duck cassoulet are a few examples of what you can order. Dining is currently by reservation only.

Photos by Chris Kessler

Get a Two-fer – Beer and Grub – at Company Brewing

735 E. CENTER ST.

Pair your foamy drink with a burger or fried chicken sandwich and a big chocolate chip cookie for dessert. And wear your stretchy pants.

Photo by Adam Ryan Morris

Enjoy Excellence at Sanford 

1547 N. JACKSON ST.

This spot is unsurpassed when it comes to impeccable food. The global cuisine incorporates products from a long list of Wisconsin farms. The chefs prepare everything in-house, including butchering, preserving and canning. Elk, duck, fresh fish are all good choices. Dessert is compulsory.

Photo by CJ Foeckler

Eat Pie and Friday Fish Fry at Honeypie

2569 S. KINNICKINNIC AVE.

Get yourself some of this joint’s Friday breaded haddock with hand-cut fries, slaw, cornbread and tartar.

Mac and cheese at Honeypie Cafe; Photo by Chris Kessler

Have Broast-ish Chicken at the Reimagined Aria in the Saint Kate Hotel

139 E. KILBOURN AVE.

For the record, broasted chicken, that quintessential Wisco creation, is fried inside a pressure cooker so it’s not only crispy, but super succulent. Aria’s rendition is one example from a menu of homey Midwestern-inspired dishes, including grilled Heritage Reserve flat-iron steak, seared Maple Leaf duck breast and others.

Savor the Tasting Menu at Ardent

1751 N. FARWELL AVE.

Housed in an unlikely underground space, this little East Side venue turns simple Wisconsin farm ingredients into remarkable dishes.

Ardent’s “Lounge At Home” beef meal (Photo by Chris Kessler)

Throw Down Pasta at Ca’Lucchenzo

6030 W. NORTH AVE., WAUWATOSA

Zak Baker’s handmade pastas are absolutely delicious. Stop by the pasta bar where diners can watch the kitchen staff roll and shape the pasta. Beyond table and banquette dining, the wine bar offers an extra handful of seats to enjoy various snacks and antipasti, skillfully prepared pastas and homemade dolci.

Photo by Lacy Landre

Sup on Sushi at Kin by Rice N Roll

7484 W. STATE ST., WAUWATOSA

The spicy tuna here rarely disappoints, or you can go with something more elaborate like the shrimp tempura with avocado, spicy crab stick and spicy mayo (the Clumsy Bueno). This menu has so many good things, you have to take your time perusing it.

Chef Tony Koraneekit, at home behind the sushi bar. Photo by Chris Kessler.

Enjoy Some of Our State’s Most Famous Product at West Allis Cheese & Sausage

400 N. Water St. 

Want to build a rad cheese and charcuterie plate? Try some of the state’s best foodstuffs? Make it happen at this Milwaukee Public Market outpost, where you can also get scrumptious fried cheese curds and made-to-order sandwiches.

West Allis Cheese and Sausage Shoppe

Sample South of the Border Cuisine at La Dama

839 S. SECOND ST.

Peggy Magister transformed her former Crazy Water into a modern tribute to the cuisines of Oaxaca, Puebla and Mexico City. The plates – created by head chef Emanuel Corona – are beautifully prepared, with dishes not easily found elsewhere (i.e., tacos with huitlacoche purée). They’re pushing the regional Mexican envelope here and maintaining sleeper status – but maybe not for long.

Photo by Chris Kessler. Damascus Gate dishes: Mixed grill, center; clockwise from top-left, moussaka, grape leaves, kebbeh and lentil soup.

Drink

Milwaukee has a reputation for beer – and it’s well-earned – but Milwaukee also has a lively lineup of cocktails for connoisseurs to enjoy. 

Have a Couple at Burnhearts

2599 S. LOGAN AVE.

There’s cool, and then there’s effortless cool. Burnhearts is the latter – not to mention cozy and intimate. The killer and curated tap list goes without saying. This essential Milwaukee bar is everything you want a bar to be.

Photo by Russell Tinsley

Visit Some Breweries

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

Milwaukee has a robust and varied scene of craft breweries, with few duds among the bunch, though we do have some favorites. Third Space Brewing has one of the city’s best top-to-bottom beer lineups, a cool but no-frills taproom and great outdoor patio. Vennture Brew‘s model of being a neighborhood brewery and coffee shop allows you to grab a beer at any time of day, in a swell taproom on bustling North Avenue, burgeoning with shops and restaurants. And for the hopheads, a visit to Eagle Park Brewing (with locations on the East Side and in suburban Muskego) is a must. Their embrace of hype styles like hazy and milkshake IPAs, smoothie beers and overfruited sours coexists with a solid lineup of more traditional beers and even house-made spirits.

A hazy IPA from Eagle Park Brewing. Photo courtesy Eagle Park Brewing

Have a Cocktail at Bryant’s

1579 S. NINTH ST.

The storied lounge – MKE’s oldest, an octogenarian – where the menu is all in the bartenders’ heads. If the drink exists, they can make it. The cozy booths and vintage McIntosh audio system help conjure up the olden-days feel. Truly bucket list-worthy.

Photo courtesy of Bryant’s

Bask in the Glow of Jamo’s

1800 N. ARLINGTON PL.

Perfect light – in volume, color and distribution – can make a bar great. Jamo’s photic equivalent of a Sinatra croon is created by strings of jumbo Christmas-style bulbs, bright enough to barely illuminate a compact scene of retro decor and art, bar dice and rail cocktails.

Photo by Chris Kessler

Burn Some Quarters (Well, Tokens) at Up-Down 

615 E. BRADY ST. 

This awesome arcade bar has tons of classic and contemporary video games, a dozen pinball machines and even console games like N64 Mario Kart. And while you won’t miss a Bucks game, Up-Down uses some of its screens to show classic ’80s and ’90s movies, too. Add in great beer selection and what’s not to like? We like going on Thursdays, when all games are just one thin dime to play. Now that’s #value!

Photo by Alex Archambalt

Shop

If your guests are looking to take a souvenir home with them, stop by one of these local stores. 

Pick Up a Plant

MARANTA PLANT SHOP, 1739 N. DOCTOR M.L.K. JR. DR.

Pick one up a brightly colored, tropical beauty from the newish Maranta, which stocks houseplants in a variety of shapes and sizes. The knowledgeable sales staff can help you find one you won’t immediately kill.

Play Dress Up

ALIVE AND FINE, 2652 S. KINNICKINNIC AVE.

You’ll find a great variety of vintage dresses and concert tees at this Bay View boutique. 

Win the “Best Gift Ever” Award

FINE ARTS BY NICOLE

Really wow someone by surprising them with a custom portrait, courtesy of a local painter who accepts commissions, like Nicole Bobholz. 

Get Some “Going Out” Shoes 

SHOO, 241 N. BROADWAY

Goodbye slippers. Hello impractical but beautiful going-out shoes! The Third Ward stalwart Shoo carries fun and funky heels by designers like John Fluevog and United Nude, plus slightly more staid but no less stylish oxfords by Naot. 

Go Vintage 

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

Milwaukee is home to many awesome vintage boutiques. After doing pop-ups across the Midwest for years, Bandit opened a brick-and-mortar shop last June. Founders Elizabeth Kiesling, Michelle Eigenberger and Nichole Larson stock the shelves with clothes, eyewear and accessories from the mid-20th century up to the early 2000s. Dupree’s opening was a welcome bit of good news during the awful early pandemic months. Owners Natalie Gajewski and Jo Donner’s lineup of affordable threads pop with colorful options evoking the unmistakable styles of decades past. And Serpentine Salvage, a new addition to Bay View’s lineup of quirky stores, sells clothes, accessories and unique homeware like ceramic cats, and Hawaiian tiki glasses dating to the 1930s. 


 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s January issue.

Find it on newsstands or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop

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