The Best Ways to Celebrate and Enjoy Milwaukee’s Nature

In honor of Earth Day, we created this guide to some of Milwaukee’s most beautiful natural areas and the local businesses you can support while you’re there.

On the Water

Lake Michigan

Did you know Lake Michigan is the only Great Lake located entirely in the U.S.? It was once known as the Great Water Lake Michigan and was called Mishigami by the Ojibwa. 

HOW TO ENJOY IT: There are so many ways to enjoy the Great Water. Grabbing takeout and heading over to Lake Drive. or Lincoln Memorial Avenue to stare out over the vast expanse and munch on your lunch of choice.


Kopps Frozen Custard


Take a bite into one their massive and juicy burgers and scoop up a bite of their delicious custard. Just a short ride away from the lake, this is food that was meant to be eaten on the hood of a car. One of three locations you can never go wrong with.

East Side:

Colectivo Coffee on Lakefront


Pick up a coffee and a great breakfast, then go sit next to the lake and hear the crashing of the waves.


The Harbor House

550 N. HARBOR DR. 

You can’t get more on the lake than this. The Harbor House specializes in seafood and if you order local fish, the freshness may raise your standards for seafood exponentially. If possible, sit at the chef’s table and they may give you some small experimental bites to try.


Classic Slice


Build your own or order a delicious hand-tossed pizza pie. You can get them by the slice, or you can order up to a 20 inch. They have all manner of toppings, and fresh ingredients. Bring your slice over to South Shore Park and enjoy good food and a good day with an unbeatable view.

Milwaukee River

One of three, the Milwaukee River makes up a major waterway in the Milwaukee estuary. Running through seven counties, 13 cities, 32 towns and 24 villages, the Milwaukee River has about 1.3 million people living around it. We are lucky enough to see its waters pass under the Hoan and out into Lake Michigan. The Riverwalk is a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike. The paths stretch through parks, and follow the river downtown past bars, restaurants and stores. Look out over the waters and experience Milwaukee

Milwaukee Public Market

400 N. WATER ST.

Everyone loves the Public Market. You can get anything here, from freshly butchered meats to healthy meals, to smoothies you may just fall in love with. You can order online from any of their shops and find exactly what you are looking for. If you are not in a hurry or want to head in to experience the ambiance of a marketplace, feel free to stop by in-person.

Lakefront Brewery


They have a wide range of brews they make themselves, and partnerships with other breweries so you can get the taste you want. They have dine-in and take-out, but either way, do NOT sleep on the cheese curds. 

Milwaukee Brat House

1013 N. OLD WORLD 3RD ST. 

What goes better together than beer and brats? Besides puppies and pets, the correct answer is nothing. Celebrating Milwaukee’s German heritage, you can order classically made German sausages while downing a pint of your favorite brew. Their beer garden is a self-proclaimed “Professional Drinking Establishment,” provides a fun experience for anyone who stops by.

Kinnickinnic River

The Kinnickinnic River is located entirely in Milwaukee County. The once-great river now is in a sorry state. About 30% of it is lined with concrete and is highly polluted. Thanks to the Great Lakes Legacy Act, the Kinnickinnic River is undergoing an intensive clean-up.

Hi-Fi Cafe


Full of retro decor, and some great coffee, this is a perfect place to take your order to go. Pick up a cup of Cafe Au Lait with a breakfast burrito or a bagel breakfast sandwich to have some breakfast on the river. 

Menomonee River

The Menomonee River begins in the wetlands of Germantown and flows south through Waukesha and Milwaukee counties until it collides with the Milwaukee and Kinnickinnic Rivers in the Milwaukee Harbor. Non-point pollution, which means pollution like pesticide runoff is still a problem for the Menomonee River, which makes it difficult for animals to live there. 

City Lights Brewing


Their Beer Garden is open, and their indoor seating has been changed to maintain safe social distancing. Grab a beer and some classic Milwaukee bar food with a few friends.

Potawatomi Hotel and Casino

1721 W. CANAL ST. 

Interesting in gambling? Well, right along the Menomonee River lies a Milwaukee staple casino. Try your hand at the tables or on the slot machines.

Third Space Brewing

1505 W. ST. PAUL AVE. 

Check out another one of Milwaukee’s, almost never-ending, brewing locales. They are doing curbside pickup and are seating groups that are six people or less. They have a range of unique brews with curious flavor profiles, like Acres Edge: a toasted oatmeal stout that is just scrumptious.

Parks and Woods

Urban Ecology Center 

1500 E. PARK PL. 

Here, every day is Earth Day, but during April, they took it a step further and celebrated Earth Month. Don’t worry, you can still join in on the fun. They are hosting a volunteer day tomorrow on the 23rd. You can also visit their website to get a new eco-tip every day of April. 

Lake Park 

A classic if there ever was one, you can play tennis, go for a walk, peer out over the lake, or have a picnic. Located on the Upper East Side, you are not far away from the action of downtown. It is also chock full of history. There are many memorials and plaques like the American War Mother’s Plaque, which was dedicated to the heroes of World War I. There is also a plaque remembering a Prehistoric Burial Mound. The indigenous peoples of Milwaukee, thought to be the people of the Middle Woodland Culture, built this burial mound which is the last of several mounds in this area. The others were destroyed to build the park. You can also look at the North Point Lighthouse and Keepers Quarters next to the lion bridges. 

Sendik’s Foods 

2643 N. DOWNER AVE. 

Many people forget about this gem, and go straight to Cafe Hollander or one of the other restaurants on Downer. But don’t sleep on the deli in the back of the small grocery store. Their sandwiches are freshly made, the doughnuts are to die for, and you can pick up some freshly made desserts. Trust me, this is the place to go if you are headed to an impromptu picnic. 

Pizza Man 

2597 N. DOWNER AVE. 

You can get anything from salads to sandwiches, but the name speaks for itself. The specialty pizza is your best bet if you are unsure about what you want. Portable, and ready for an on-the-go dinner, pizza is a perfect option to enjoy in a park. 

Kern Park

The beautiful paths with branches and canopies arching over the trails take a stroll down Lover’s Lane as it was once called back in the early 1900s. 

Corner Bakery

1305 E. CAPITOL DR. 

Grab a panini to-go, maybe a pasta and some sweets and enjoy them right around the corner at Kern Park. 

Crave Cafe


As Samuel Jackson once said in Pulp Fiction, “This is a tasty burger!” Personally, I love the Carve Burger, which has swiss cheese, carnalized onion, arugula and a white truffle aioli on a 1/3 lb. all-natural angus beef burger, but they have so many others to choose from. Just a hint, get the seasoned fries. They are packed with flavor, and you will be licking your fingers after noshing on their thick but crispy fries. 

Washington Park

Once farmland, Washington Park morphed into neighborhoods and an open park. Because of factories built near Washington Park, the environment has taken a toll. Houses were built and foot traffic increased along with pollution. Thanks to community-based organizations like the Hmong American Friendship Association Inc. in partnership with the Neighborhood Improvement Project, the park began undergoing revitalization. Now the Urban Ecology Center has an outpost at Washington Park since 2007 and helps maintain the beautiful landscape. 

Amaranth Bakery and Cafe

3329 W. LISBON AVE. 

They have a daily menu that can be seen on their chalk board and posted on Facebook. They use fresh ingredients and if you are looking for somewhere that is healthy, this is it. 

Triciclo Peru

3801 W. VILET ST. 

The empanadas here are made with love. Or at least they have to be to taste so good. You can’t go wrong with your choice of empanadas, but if you are going to get a side then for sure think about the yucas fritas. If you can stick around before your nature excursion at Washington Park, you may want to stop by the bar and try a Peruvian cocktail. 

JJ Fish and Chicken

1334 N. 35TH ST. 

Just like it says in the name, here you are going to want the fish or the chicken. You can’t go wrong with either, but if you are going to explore the sides, you may want to try the okra, hush puppies or the mac and cheese bites.