Milwaukee is a city of neighborhoods, each with a distinct personality. The next time you visit Brew Town, check out five of our favorites.
For Beer and Sausages: Old World 3rd Street
The epicenter of German culture in Milwaukee, Old World 3rd Street boasts some of the city’s best beer and sausages. Begin just south of West Highland Avenue at the Uber Tap Room and Cheese Bar, where you can pair more than 175 artisan cheeses with 36 local beers on tap. Pick up your favorite cheese to bring home from the Wisconsin Cheese Mart next door. Then, head to Usinger’s Sausage Shop for a gift box to go. Across the street, you can wash down spätzle, sauerbraten, and schnitzel with beer served in a glass boot at Mader’s, where little seems to have changed in the 100-plus years the restaurant has been in business. For a more authentic beer hall experience, try Old German Beer Hall instead.
For Arts and Culture: Historic Third Ward
The similar names make it easy to confuse the Historic Third Ward, located west of Festival Park, with Old World 3rd Street, but the two have a completely different feel. While Old World 3rd Street has held on to its traditional roots, the Historic Third Ward has evolved into a premier arts district and is home to both the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and the Broadway Theatre Company. Plan to spend several hours strolling through the Marshall Building art galleries as well as the area’s antique stores and boutiques, allowing plenty of time for a visit to the Milwaukee Public Market for a meal, a snack, or a glass of wine. In the evening, consider dinner at The Wicked Hop, housed in the oldest building in the district, or The Swig, a small plate eatery with a great patio for people watching.
For Nightlife: North Avenue
If you’re looking for nightlife, North Avenue is the place to go. Even though it’s not far from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus, the bars run the gamut from dive to cocktail. Don’t miss Von Trier, one of the area’s most popular. Liberally decorated with antlers and beer steins, this German drinking establishment features a massive beer and cocktail menu as well as all the free popcorn you can eat. Or, try Vitucci’s, a vintage lounge that claims to be the area’s first cocktail bar. For years, it was the type of place your parents might visit, but since a younger Vitucci has taken the helm, you’ll find live music and karaoke. Paddy’s Pub is another great option. It’s a classic Irish pub that serves free Chex Mix as you listen to live Irish music on Thursdays. During the summer, snag one of the stone tables on the massive outdoor patio.
For Foodies: Walker’s Point
Originally a fur trading post, Walker’s Point today is making a name for itself as an up-and-coming foodie destination. When you visit, make your first stop the Milwaukee Brewing Company, where $10 gets you a tour, keepsake pint glass, and free samples. Or, check out Indulgence Chocolatiers to sample truffles and other treats paired with wine, beer, or cheeses. Stone Creek Coffee also gets rave reviews for its strong cup of Joe and outdoor fire pits. It’s hard to decide where to enjoy a meal in Walker’s Point. Both La Merenda and MOVIDA get high marks for their tapas. Black Sheep, on the other hand, is first and foremost an upscale wine bar, but it also offers gourmet fare including poutine with duck confit and a pork tenderloin with polenta and hericot vert. In addition to its small plates menu, newcomer Merriment Social serves an ever-changing dim sum menu.
For Outdoors (and more beer): Bay View
Bordered to the east by Lake Michigan, this Milwaukee neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has one of the city’s first parks, Humboldt Park. The 73-acre park is known for two things: ice skating on its lagoons in the winter and its beer garden during the summer. The open air Humboldt Park Beer Garden features beers on tap nightly until 10 p.m. as well as live polka music and an authentic pig roast on Saturdays. You can’t mention Bay View without a nod to the Blackbird Bar. Recently named one of the 50 Best Dive Bars in the United States by Yahoo Travel, Blackbird celebrates everything Wisconsin from its beer (it pours more than 80 Wisconsin beers) to the Packers on game day. Order a drink, play a game of pinball, and take a picture in the photo booth to commemorate your visit.