Things to Do

Looking for ideas on what to do in Milwaukee?  Find descriptions, times and locations for free events, theatre, music, dance concerts, stand up comedy, art exhibits, museums and films at Milwaukee365.com.  This website offers a comprehensive list of everything fun, exciting and entertaining happening in the Greater Milwaukee area.  Check out what is happening this weekend!

You will be hard-pressed to find a weekend in Milwaukee when there is nothing to do. Professional sports teams play year-round. Theater, dance and opera companies keep the stages filled with action. And there are dozens of small clubs offering a variety of music, including blues, jazz, swing and rock ’n’ roll. If your musical tastes are more classical, you might enjoy a night with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra or an afternoon of chamber music. 

Perhaps you’re just hungry. If so, you will be amazed at the variety of excellent ethnic restaurants in the metropolitan area. The Bartolotta Restaurants, a family-owned developer of Milwaukee's top restaurants, offers some of the cities most beautiful and unique sites. Whatever your tastes, you will quickly discover there is no shortage of things to do in Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee area is blessed with a variety of cultural attractions:

  • The Milwaukee Art Museum is home to more than 30,000 works of art, including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Durer, Picasso and Warhol. Its stunning lakefront addition, designed by Santiago Calatrava, has become an icon.
  • A tradition of excellence in exhibits, education, collections and research has been the hallmark of the Milwaukee Public Museum since it was established in 1882. Permanent exhibits include multi-level displays of dinosaurs, North American Indians, a tropical rain forest and 19th Century Milwaukee.
  • The Charles Allis Art Museum, housed in the lavish 1911 home of Charles and Sarah Allis, contains original furnishings and a world class art collection spanning more than 2,000 years.
  • The Milwaukee area has several museums designed specifically for children and young adults, including the Betty Brinn Children's Museum, which has many hands-on exhibits for children ages 1 through 10; and Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, a science and technology museum designed for young adults.
  • The Milwaukee County Zoo is one of the top zoological parks in the country. The 200-acre park is known for its open concept, which simulates the animals' natural environments by using moats to separate predators from their prey. Its Aquatic & Reptile Center includes sharks, octopus and alligators, as well as 220 fish from Wisconsin lakes.
  • The Milwaukee Ballet creates a rich and diverse community through its inspiring dance performance, education and outreach. Celebrating its 46th year, the ballet presents more than 40 performances a year and is one of the few dance companies in the country to maintain its own symphony orchestra.
  • Theater-goers will want to check out the Broadway and off-Broadway shows held at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Those who want to test their luck - or their bingo skills - will want to head toward Potawatomi Bingo Casino, which features bingo and "Vegas-style" gaming just west of Milwaukee's downtown. It also offers an intimate club-style music venue that attracts nationally known artists.
  • Plant enthusiasts will want to explore the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory. Known locally as "The Domes," the facility consists of three 85-foot domes. One contains a desert environment, another houses tropical plants and the third features changing displays.

Sports & Recreation

For sports enthusiasts, Milwaukee offers year-round events, including professional baseball (Milwaukee Brewers), professional basketball (Milwaukee Bucks) which are building a new $500 million arena in downtown Milwaukee, professional hockey (Milwaukee Admirals), professional soccer (Milwaukee Wave), collegiate basketball (Marquette and UW-Milwaukee) and auto racing (Milwaukee Mile).

The area also offers a variety of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Sparkling lakes, quiet woodland areas and prairie vistas can be found throughout Waukesha, Ozaukee, Racine and Washington counties.

All told, the greater Milwaukee area features 17,700 acres of county parkland, more than 60 public and private golf courses and more than 240 miles of bikeways and hiking paths. The area’s best-known golf course is Whistling Straits, which is located just north of the Milwaukee Region in Sheboygan County. It hosted the 2010 PGA Championship and 2015 PGA Championship and will host the 2020 Ryder Cup. Other well-known golf courses are Milwaukee County’s Brown Deer Golf Course, which hosted a PGA tour event for many years, and Erin Hills Golf Course in Erin, which hosted the 2011 U.S. Amateur and will host the 2017 U.S. Open.

Boating and fishing are  major activities on both Lake Michigan and the many beautiful inland lakes. Charter boat captains are always eager to take people out onto the “local ocean” to land perch, steelhead, coho or chinook salmon.

Sailing is also very popular. The South Shore Yacht Club’s annual Queen’s Cup Race attracts more than 240 yachts per year for the Wisconsin-to-Michigan race. For more casual sailors, sailboats and windsurfing equipment can be rented at McKinley Park Marina just east of downtown Milwaukee.

Restaurants

And then there is the food. Milwaukee is a virtual smorgasbord of ethnic cuisine. There are many excellent restaurants featuring German, Russian, Polish, Haitian, Italian, Mexican, Mongolian, Mideastern, Chinese, Cajun and Serbian specialties. In addition, Milwaukee boasts some of the finest restaurants offering continental cuisine in the Midwest. And don’t forget the fish fries and frozen custard!

Thanks to Milwaukee’s Catholic population, fish fries are a Friday night staple at virtually every restaurant (get a reservation because the wait for a table can be long!). Milwaukee is also one of only a handful of cities where frozen custard is available. This delicious treat draws people to custard stands on even the coldest winter days. If you’re looking for a place to treat your tastebuds, we recommend you pick up an issue of Milwaukee Magazine, which lists restaurants by cuisine and location. 

Theaters

The Milwaukee Center Theater District is home to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, which operates three venues: the Quadracci Powerhouse, Steimke Theater and the Stackner Cabaret. The district also includes the Pabst Theater, a national historic landmark that provides musical and theatrical entertainment in an elegant setting. The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts offers several venues for performing artists, including the 2,300-seat Uihlein Hall. Large shows are held at the Bradley Center or the outdoor Marcus Amphitheater, which is located at the Henry W. Maier Festival Park. The Broadway Theatre Center is the home of the Skylight Opera and the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. 

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