Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Milwaukee County, WI

  • Published 2023/05/06

Milwaukee County is one of the 72 counties that make up Wisconsin and is the most populous and most densely populated county in the state.

Home to more than 950,000 residents, the county is famous for its eponymous city, which is the largest city in Wisconsin and one of the largest in the Midwest.

Although Milwaukee County is known for its two professional sports teams, it offers more than what meets the eye.

The county boasts sprawling parks, historical landmarks, museums, and lively events.

Interested? Then here’s a list of the 20 best things to do in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin!

View the Artworks of the Milwaukee Art Museum

Exterior of the Milwaukee Art Museum

Nejdet Duzen /

The Milwaukee Art Museum is one of the primary art institutions of Milwaukee, housing around 25,000 works of art.

Aside from its location on the lakefront of Lake Michigan, the architecture of the building is a work of art itself, resembling a ship looking over the lake.

Inside the museum, find thousands of artworks ranging from sculptures, art installations, textiles, paintings, and more.

Trail at the Milwaukee Art Museum

David Canty /

Explore the Milwaukee Art Museum and be in awe of the works of famous artists like Andy Warhol, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, and Wisconsin native Georgia O’Keeffe.

To get a better understanding of the art, you can join guided tours or use an audio guide to view the art at your leisure.

Interior of the Milwaukee Art Museum

Helioscribe /

See Thousands of Animals at Milwaukee County Zoo

A polar bear at Milwaukee County Zoo

Kingfishcafe /

Milwaukee County Zoo is a 190-acre zoo home to 2,100 animals from hundreds of species.

Not only does it promote a sense of appreciation for various animals, but it also supports the conservation of their habitats and reinforces the bond between humans and animals.

Meet all kinds of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and other animals as you go around Milwaukee County Zoo.

Signage of Milwaukee County Zoo

University of College /

You can also view endangered and vulnerable species like king cobras, spotted turtles, red pandas, and snow leopards.

For an unforgettable visit to the zoo, enjoy other activities like seal and sea lion shows, safari train rides, and zip line courses, to name a few.

Hippopotamus at Milwaukee County Zoo

Antigrandiose, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Marvel at the Beauty of Pabst Mansion

Exterior of Pabst Mansion

MaxyM /

For architecture and history enthusiasts, Pabst Mansion is a must-visit in Milwaukee County.

This is a Flemish Renaissance Revival-style house that served as the residence of Captain Frederick Pabst, founder of the Pabst Brewing Company.

The former mansion and now historic house museum boasts stunning elegant furnishings, intricate ironworks, and glamorous interiors.

Go on a guided tour of Pabst Mansion and learn more about the history of the mansion and the Pabst family as you explore the rooms and halls.

Self-guided tours are also available for those who want to explore the Gilded Age mansion at their own pace.

Porch of Pabst Mansion

James Steakley, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bring Your Canine Friends to Warnimont Dog Park

Treat your four-legged friends to an exciting day out at Warnimont Dog Park in Cudahy, Milwaukee County.

The park has 5 acres and has separate areas for small and large dogs, letting your pets meet and play with fellow canines of the same size.

Its fenced perimeters add another level of safety, assuring fur parents that their dogs can run around and have fun in a safe environment.

Take your dogs to Warnimont Dog Park and get a chance to meet other dogs and fellow dog lovers.

Park facilities include benches, play areas, and nearby trails where you and your dog can go on a walk.

Spend the Day at Whitnall Park

Trail at Whitnall Park

Tracy Immordino /

Boasting 640 acres, Whitnall Park is Milwaukee County’s largest park, offering numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation.

The park houses a botanical garden, nature center, playground, beer garden, and plenty of nature trails.

With all these, it’s easy to spend half a day or even a full day at Whitnall Park, whether you want a relaxing day out or something filled with activities.

See colorful and fragrant flowers and plants at the Boerner Botanical Gardens, or perfect your swing at Whitnall Golf Course.

For those who’d like a change of scenery, follow hiking trails like the Oak Leaf Trail and take in the calming views of the forests and meadows.

A pond at Whitnall Park

Tracy Immordino /

Admire the Gardens at Mitchell Park Domes

Aerial view of Mitchell Park Domes

Keith Homan /

Located in Mitchell Park, Mitchell Park Domes is a sight to behold inside and out.

Also known as the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory or The Domes, this living museum is home to thousands of plants from around the world, separated into three domes.

The Desert Dome captures the desert-like environment of Africa, Madagascar, and other areas, featuring cacti, desert flowers, edible and medicinal plants, and animals like bearded dragons.

Garden in Mitchell Park Domes

Carrie A Hanrahan /

On the other hand, the Tropical Dome transports you to the rainforest and jungle, where you can find orchids, flowering plants, and plants that make up the forest layers.

Lastly, the Floral Dome hosts themed floral shows depending on the season, along with a permanent collection of plants like grape vines, fig trees, and olive trees.

A pond in Mitchell Park Domes

Kelly Ermis /

Hike Along Oak Leaf Trail

Aerial view of Oak Leaf Trail

Joe Ferrer /

Take a break from the city’s busy streets and fast-paced environment and follow the tree-lined paths of Oak Leaf Trail.

This multipurpose trail system boasts over 135 miles of nature trails ideal for walking, running, cycling, and rollerblading.

It connects most of Milwaukee County and offers gorgeous views of Lake Michigan.

Enjoy a pleasant change of scenery at Oak Leaf Trail, following any of the well-marked trails within the trail system.

Most trails here are asphalt paths, parkways, and municipal streets with designated bike lanes, assuring a safe yet fun time exploring.

Signage of Oak Leaf Trail

The original uploader was Sulfur at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Shop at West Allis Farmers Market

Discover the freshest and healthiest local goods at West Allis Farmers Market, a seasonal market in West Allis.

Visiting and purchasing from farmers markets helps support local growers while maintaining a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

Moreover, you can check out what fruits and produce are in season and see other local items up for grabs.

At West Allis Farmers Market, buy local and organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, plants, fresh flower bouquets, and more.

As you browse from one stall to another, enjoy baked goods or grab a bite to eat at one of the food trucks within the market.

Attend the Wisconsin State Fair Festivities

People at Wisconsin State Fair

AJs Photo Art /

Joining the locals in celebrating the Wisconsin State Fair is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the local culture.

This annual festival highlights Wisconsin’s agriculture and other industries important to the state.

That said, enjoy the multi-day events at the Wisconsin State Fair and check out the live entertainment, exciting fair rides, and food and drinks.

Discover locally-made goods at The Fair, watch shows and exhibits featuring farm animals at the Ag Village, and watch live concerts.

As you explore the fair, grab a bite at the concession stands located around the vicinity.

Concession stands at Wisconsin State Fair

AJs Photo Art /

Explore Greendale Historic District

Houses along Greendale Historic District

Freekee, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Greendale Historic District is one of the few National Historic Landmark Districts in Wisconsin, located at the heart of the village of Greendale.

It’s one of the ‘greenbelt towns’ built by the federal government in response to high unemployment rates and the need for housing reform.

As such, Greendale Historic District is lined with quaint boutiques, local shops, restaurants, and cafes.

If this is your first time visiting Greendale, exploring the district is one of the best ways to get an overview of the village.

To learn more about the district, you can join guided tours led by locals.

Hang Out at Greenfield Park

Trail with foliage at Greenfield Park

Karyn Rittenhouse /

Spend a day at Greenfield Park and enjoy various outdoor activities.

Located in West Allis, this family-friendly park offers a water park, nature trails, a golf course, and a lake.

With all these amenities, everyone in the family has something for them at Greenfield Park.

Practice your swing at Greenfield Park Golf Course or beat the summer heat at Cool Waters Aquatic Park.

If you prefer something relaxing, enjoy a picnic at the designated areas or follow the trails around the park, which includes a segment of the Oak Leaf Trail.

The waters of Greenfield Park

Lightburst, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Join a Tour of Lakefront Brewery

Exterior of Lakefront Brewery

Animas Photography /

A trip to Milwaukee County is incomplete without visiting its breweries.

Since its establishment in 1987, Lakefront Brewery has been serving award-winning handcrafted beers.

They also take pride in being the first certified organic brewery and the first brewery to produce the first organic beer bottled in the county.

Building sign of Lakefront Brewery

Cody Engel /

Take a tour of Lakefront Brewery and try some of their famous beers as you learn about its history.

Aside from expert commentary and beer samples, the tour includes a pint glass for you to take home.

Beer samples in Lakefront Brewery

Raymond Maiden /

Find Quirky Art Pieces at Lynden Sculpture Garden

Lynden Sculpture Garden in River Hills combines art and nature, letting visitors appreciate different artworks in a tranquil outdoor space.

Spanning 40 acres, the outdoor sculpture museum features more than 50 monumental sculptures from artists around the world.

It opened in May 2010 and has been a must-visit when in Milwaukee County.

Explore Lynden Sculpture Garden and check out the different sculptures, ranging from intricate bronze sculptures to colorful painted steel sculptures.

Take note that the garden doesn’t have cemented paths, so it’s advised to wear comfortable footwear.

Visit Milwaukee Public Museum

Exterior of Milwaukee Public Museum

Tony Savino /

Milwaukee Public Museum is a natural and human history museum located in downtown Milwaukee.

It houses three floors of exhibits that piques one’s curiosity, increasing the drive to learn and help preserve our planet’s natural wonders.

Visitors can find over 4 million objects and specimens related to anthropology, botany, history, geology, and zoology.

Explore Milwaukee Public Museum and check out the permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Some highlights in the museum include a 14,500-year-old wooly mammoth skeleton and a walk-through diorama of the old streets of Milwaukee.

Exhibit in Milwaukee Public Museum

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy Summer at Grant Park Beach

The waters of Grant Park Beach

Tony Savino /

Beat the summer heat and have an outing at Grant Park Beach, located along the shores of Lake Michigan.

It’s part of the larger Grant Park, so there are other things to do after taking a dip on the beach.

Grant Park Beach offers fine sand, clear waters, and a fun atmosphere to relax or enjoy other water activities.

Go for a swim on the beach, play sports like frisbee or beach volleyball, or lay down a beach mat and laze under the sun.

There are concession stands and restaurants nearby, so you can easily go for a quick snack break in the middle of your beach trip.

Surround Yourself With Nature at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

Winter scene at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

Dave Jonasen /

Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is a 185-acre habitat located along Lake Michigan, boasting 6 miles of nature trails and an observation tower.

The nature preserve aims to conserve the land’s habitats and provide environmental education for its visitors.

The trails will take you around forests, restored prairies, wetlands, ravines, and the famous Lake Michigan shoreline.

In addition, the trails at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center include wheelchair-accessible paths, so those with limited mobility can explore and appreciate the natural wonders.

Then, climb the 60-foot observation tower for a bird’s eye view of the nature preserve and Lake Michigan.

Take a Break at Jackson Park

Located in central Milwaukee County, Jackson Park is an ideal place to relax in the middle of exploring the area.

The park sits conveniently along W Forest Home Avenue, so it’s easy to get to the park.

Park facilities include a large pond, a swimming pool, picnic areas, basketball courts, tennis courts, a football field, and more.

Jackson Park also hosts a segment of the Oak Leaf Trail, so you can use the section at the park as a starting point to explore other areas.

It’s also one of the pet-friendly parks, so you can bring your pets here for a day out.

Tour Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum

Scenic view of Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Feel as if you’ve been transported to a gorgeous Italian villa as you explore Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum.

It was the home of Lloyd Smith of the A.O. Smith Corporation and his family until it was donated to the local government as a decorative arts museum.

Today, Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum offers a glimpse into the life of the Smith family with its well-preserved rooms and halls.

Outside, you can find the gorgeous Renaissance Garden with a water staircase, seating areas, and well-manicured greenery.

With its picturesque and romantic ambiance, the museum and historic house is a popular venue for weddings and other private events.

Garden at Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Drop by the Harley-Davidson Museum

Exterior of the Harley-Davidson Museum

Tony Savino /

Get a deeper appreciation for the iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycles on a tour of the Harley-Davidson Museum.

The museum houses hundreds of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and thousands of artifacts from the motor company’s history.

Exploring the exhibits gives you an in-depth look into the company’s story and history, hearing stories from riders, heroes, and key people in the company.

Interior of the Harley-Davidson Museum

Paulo Nabas /

Other displays at the Harley-Davidson Museum include photos, past and present advertisements, trophies, vintage video footage, and interactive exhibits.

Although you can tour the museum with an audio guide, you can also join private or group guided tours for a better experience.

Motorcycles in the Harley-Davidson Museum

Paulo Nabas /

Relax at Veterans Park

The grounds of Veterans Park

Craig A Walker /

Situated at the heart of the bustling Milwaukee City, Veterans Park is a perfect hangout for those who want to relax.

The park offers a large grassy area for picnics, kite flying, biking trails, and a lagoon where you can rent a kayak or paddle boat.

You can rent a bike at the park or go on a relaxing stroll or run on a section of the famous Oak Leaf Trail.

For families, bring some snacks and have a picnic on the waterfront of Veterans Park and enjoy the views.

The park is also a popular venue for annual kite festivals, concerts, and local events.

Paddle boats at Veterans Park

Aaron of L.A. Photography /

Final Thoughts

The bustling Milwaukee County is more than just its sports team and craft beer breweries!

It offers something for every kind of traveler, whether you’re a history buff, an art or architecture enthusiast, or someone looking for the next city to tick off their bucket list.

Check out this list of the 20 best things to do in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, and start planning your next vacation!

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