I’ve already expressed my love for the city of Milwaukee to you all a time or two. But, aside from drinking beer and eating delicious cuisine (although, what else do you need, really?) many of my top recommendations for what to do in Brew City assume that you’re visiting during the summertime to enjoy the gorgeous lakefront or hip RiverWalk.
It’s no secret that the weather in Milwaukee (and the Midwest in general) can be a tad brutal during winter, but I’d recommend you brave the elements and hit up Milwaukee during snow season, as there’s still plenty to do if your trip is planned for blistery February. Here are my top picks for things to do in Milwaukee when it is cold outside:
3 Things To Do in Milwaukee When It Is Cold Outside
1. Visit the Milwaukee Art Museum
The Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) just recently underwent a 34 million dollar renovation which included the creation of an impactful lakefront atrium and entryway. The recent updates compliment the museum’s iconic Calatrava building, a wing-like addition designed by the famed architect, Santiago Calatrava. As I walked through the “futuristic” entranceway to the exhibit hall flooded with natural light and lakefront views, I would have sworn I was in New York, Barcelona or Paris. Trust me when I say that you shouldn’t discount this “small city” museum – the MAM is super impressive!
So, we’ve established that the museum building is pretty amazing, but how about the art showcased by the MAM? I’m certainly no art afficiiondado, but I really enjoyed the museum. The galleries were diverse and ranged from antiquity to contemporary art.
I particularly loved how manageable the museum is. It’s not small. (In fact, the MAM is the 15th largest art museum in the country based on square footage). But, it’s also not overwhelming like the Louvre, and you can sufficiently make your way through all of the galleries in a couple of hours if you’re short on time.
Flirting with the Globe Tip: Make sure to head to the museum’s East End Wine Bar to unwind, enjoy a glass of pinot and take in the sweeping views of Lake Michigan – a fantastic way to appreciate Milwaukee’s natural beauty without braving the cold!
2. Peruse the Milwaukee Public Market
My first thought upon stumbling into the Milwaukee Public Market was, “Wow.” I have no idea why it’s taken me as long as it has to explore this Cream City gem. Located in the Historic Third Ward district, the market showcases a wide array of high-quality artisan and ethnic food vendors and merchants. Milwaukee’s market is much smaller than Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market, but you could easily spend a good portion of the afternoon shopping and eating your way through it. Your options for a meal are almost overwhelming (in an awesome, delicious way).
You can purchase fresh seafood from St. Paul Fish Company (and take home great deals like a 10 oz. lobster tail for $13!), enjoy a glass of vino at Thief Wine Shop and Bar, sample Middle Eastern Cuisine at Aladdin’s or indulge in a delicious dessert from C. Adam’s Bakery. I’d also recommend you purchase local specialties from West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe, sample sweets from Kehr’s Candies, grab some Milwaukee-inspired schwag from Brew City Brand and pick up The Spice House’s Wauwatosa Village Seasoning and Vulcan’s Fire Salt so you can concoct the perfect Milwaukee-style spicy bloody mary at home.
Flirting with the Globe Tip: Get to the market early to avoid the crowds. I visited at 11:00 a.m. on a Sunday and none of the vendors had a long wait, but the place was packed within an hour or so.
3. Hop on a Hog at the Harley-Davidson Museum
Admittedly, I’m not a “motorcycle person,” but visiting the Harley-Davidson Museum was still on my Milwaukee bucket-list since I’d heard such great things about it. And, I’m glad I did – the museum rocks! The exhibits were general enough for non-motorheads like myself to enjoy, but detailed enough for true motorcycle enthusiasts like my Harley-loving father.
Each area of the museum had a different focus such as the bike’s engines, their design or the history of the iconic Milwaukee brand. The Harley museum is also home to some really unique exhibits like one which showcased over-the-top customizations (my personal favorite was a fully rhinestoned bike). I was also fascinated by the exhibit displaying the motorcycle that was swept to the ocean by the 2011 tsunami in Japan and washed up on the shores of Canada a year later. The final exhibit was the most interactive and fun – you can literally hop on a hog for a fantastic photo op!
Flirting with the Globe Tip: Don’t let your Harley experience end with the museum. Afterwards, check out Motor Bar & Restaurant to sample a local brew (they have tons of Wisconsin beers on tap) and fried cheese curds (a Milwaukee staple).
Would you like to visit Milwaukee? What about braving the cold and visiting in winter?
Many thanks to Visit Milwaukee for inviting me to partake in some hometown fun! Skyline, MAM & Public Market photo courtesy of Visit Milwaukee.