8 Under-the-Radar Milwaukee-area Parks You Need to Visit

8 Under-the-Radar Milwaukee-area Parks You Need to Visit

At some point, we’ll have suitable weather for exploring the great outdoors; here are some spots you may have missed.

1) Doctors Park

1870 E. Fox Ln., Fox Point

This isn’t so much an under-the-radar park as a place where you yourself feel under the radar while there. Lake views lead down to a tranquil beach with jetties, although it’s not the best fishing (if you don’t know what you’re doing). The “doctor” is Dr. Joseph Schneider, a well-known specialist in ophthalmology and otology, in case you were wondering. He died in 1927 and gifted the land to the city to use as parkland.

2) Carver Park

911 W. Brown St.

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Carver Park’s playground.

Carver is home to many youth baseball diamonds, but nestled between them is a large playground and jungle gym that looks even more fun than the Fox River Park’s mega-slides. Indeed, parents will be tempted to clamber aboard, if only to help the kids figure out how to use the contraptions. You can imagine getting “lost” in there as a youngster and not wanting to leave.

3) Fox River Park

W264 S4500 River Rd., Waukesha

This 257-acre wonderland is a great place to spend an entire day. It’s more heavily wooded than Havenwoods, and there are several different picnic areas that can be reserved. The greenery is swell, but the playground is the best: There are two massive slides built into a hillside and a smaller and safer (but still big) one for the tykes.

4) Washington Park

1859 N. 40th St.

In a city dominated by the lakefront and “Chill on the Hill” and “Jazz in the Park” and other fine music series, it’s easy to miss Washington Park. But do so at your own peril. There’s an Urban Ecology Center outpost here for good reason. The “lagoon” is a great lake that curves around and gives one the illusion of being out in the wilds. There was also once a zoo in the park, between 1892 to 1963, but now it’s long gone. Get the full scoop on the Wednesday Summer Concert Series.

5) Havenwoods State Forest

6141 N. Hopkins St.

Another piece of land that has worn many hats: military jail, cold war missile base, garbage dump. Today, Havenwoods (after a lot of DNR-led intervention) is the most rustic place in Milwaukee, besting even the great Milwaukee River Greenway. The 237-acre chunk-o-land has a 2.7-mile people trail and a 2.5-mile one for pets, plus a large nature center. Quiet Havenwoods is also a prime place for spotting wildflowers, wild turkeys and deer.

6) Hubbard Park

3565 N. Morris Blvd., Shorewood

Best known for its beer garden, Hubbard Park also has a pair of cool tunnels and what amounts to stadium seating for gazing at the Milwaukee River. Swing by every Sunday for the “Lumberjack Brunch” celebrating when hungry lumberjacks plied the river.

7) Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum

1500 E. Park Place

Three billion year-old jade.

The Arboretum has about 70 different trees indigenous to Wisconsin. So far, they’re only about knee high, but the area’s rock walk, “The Three Billion Year Walk,” is fascinating. It has large, monumental samples of Wisco rocks like Baraboo Quartzite and good old Nephrite Jade (pictured).

8) Three Bridges Park

610 S. 35th St.

The Menomonee River Valley has been through a lot, and this park feels like the culmination. Sandwiched between 27th and 37th streets, it hugs the river and has two miles in trails connected to the Hank Aaron State Trail. Perhaps mostly importantly, Three Bridges reintroduces the city to the Menomonee River while making room for fishing and outdoor classes led by the Urban Ecology Center.



Matt has written for Milwaukee Magazine since 2006, when he was a lowly intern. Since then, he’s held the posts of assistant news editor and, most recently, senior editor. He’s lived in South Carolina, Tennessee, Connecticut, Iowa, and Indiana but mostly in Wisconsin. He wants to do more fishing but has a hard time finding worms. For the magazine, Matt has written about city government, schools, religion, coffee roasters and Congress.