Where to stay and what to do in Milwaukee
June 26, 2022 8:35 AM   Subscribe

My spouse and I are taking a trip to Milwaukee mid-July. We plan to spend 2-3 nights in a hotel. Which one?

Our itinerary includes the art museum, St Josaphat's Basilica, Sobelman's for Bloody Marys and possibly the Milwaukee Zoo.

Where is a nice place to stay in the area for a mid-range price?

Is the zoo particularly nice? We have a couple of nice zoos where we are from, so I don't want to waste half a day if it's just ok.

Also I could use some other ideas for things to do, places to eat, cool neighborhoods to explore, etc.
posted by sock puppy to Travel & Transportation around Milwaukee, WI (12 answers total)
I haven't spent time in Milwaukee in years, and don't know anything about that underrated city's hotels, but Kopp's Frozen Custard remains the stuff of my dreams.
posted by Dr. Wu at 10:05 AM on June 26, 2022 [2 favorites]

As a Milwaukee resident, I personally would skip the zoo.

Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood has some cool shops and restaurants, is near St. Josaphat's and is mostly along Kinnickinnic Ave. The lower East Side is denser but has cool shops and places to eat, with a main focal point around Brady St. Walker's Point is a little bit south of Sobelman's and is full of restaurants and night spots.
posted by drezdn at 10:27 AM on June 26, 2022 [1 favorite]

My ‘must go’ when visiting Milwaukee is Three Brothers Restaurant in Bay View. I started going in 1971 and will visit anytime I’m in the city. It’s menu is Serbian and Eastern European. Order the burek. I believe they still do not take credit cards.

While I agree that Kopp’s frozen custard is great, even better is Leon’s, which has beenin the same location for well over 60 years.

posted by kittygrandma at 10:42 AM on June 26, 2022 [2 favorites]

For quick food around downtown: Milwaukee Public Market, 3rd St. Market Hall (get custard here). Friday fish fry and live polka music at Lakefront Brewery. They also have a nice tour.

The Milwaukee Night Market may give you public access to see the inside of the newly renovated Grand Warner theater.

Unless the weather is particularly nice, I would skip the zoo and hang out closer to the lake where it's cooler. Of course, all bets are off if there's a particular baby animal you would like to see. It's worth checking their website. It is a great zoo, nonetheless.

Tons of bars and restaurants from the East Side south to downtown (skip Water St.), 3rd Ward, Walker's Point, into Bay View.
posted by erpava at 10:53 AM on June 26, 2022

Ate here years ago and enjoyed it, but this assumes you’re not from a diner-heavy locale.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 11:08 AM on June 26, 2022

We love to stay at St. Kate, which is within walking distance to the Public Market and other fun stuff. We're staying there this coming weekend for our nephew's wedding! Woot!
posted by Floydd at 2:07 PM on June 26, 2022 [3 favorites]

We had a fantastic time biking the Oak Leaf trail in MKE a few summers ago, based on this thread. Really nice path through different parts of town and on Lake Michigan. You can stop at a German Biergarten. See if you can rent bikes for it.

We also always enjoy the Public Market and the neighborhood around it. We have had lunch at Bavette La Boucherie a couple of times and it is great.
posted by Mid at 2:15 PM on June 26, 2022

I was there earlier this year and stayed at the Kimpton Journeyman in the Third Ward and enjoyed it and its central location close to Public Market and downtown, but I think their summer rates are quite a bit higher than their winter rates, so it might exceed the mid-range price category.

If you are there for a weekend, definitely find a Friday night fish fry, with walleye and perch being the traditional versions. And the various frozen custard stands--Kopp's, Leon's, and Gilles. We ate at Maders, for German fare (having last been there about 10 years ago), and found it disappointing, despite a good beer selection, and had a better version of traditional German at Kegel's Inn in West Allis. The oysters and fish fry at St Paul Fish Company in the Public Market was exceptional.
posted by amusebuche at 3:38 PM on June 26, 2022

If you like ice cream and alcohol, hit up At Random in Bay View / South Shore, sometimes voted one of the best bars in America.

If you have time, take a boat tour.

I've never been to the zoo, I guess I should go sometime.

Odd Duck is my favorite restaurant in the city. Really fantastic. Dan Dan is great. La Dama is also fantastico.

The Kinn Guest house is where I would stay if I was staying in MKE. https://kinnguesthouse.com/bayview-mke/
posted by dis_integration at 4:52 PM on June 26, 2022 [1 favorite]

I visited Milwaukee last week and just loved the Art Museum and Glorioso's Italian Market. Definitely recommend those two. We wanted to check out the cool-looking Mitchell Park Domes, but they were not open. (In fact, a few different spots that we were interested in were not open on Tuesday, so definitely check ahead.) Also heads up to be aware of the weather...it was hot, hot, hot on the day we visited, and walking around to just enjoy and discover neighborhoods was not super fun. If the weather is going to be humid and hot, you'll thank yourself for planning some stops with good AC.
posted by luzdeluna at 5:46 AM on June 27, 2022

Response by poster: Great ideas, everyone! Thank you.
posted by sock puppy at 6:02 PM on June 27, 2022

Seconding Saint Kate (The Arts Hotel). Good location, interesting rooms, comfortable beds.
posted by Joleta at 9:34 PM on June 27, 2022

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