Seize the summer: Milwaukee hotspots to explore

Students who find themselves in Milwaukee this summer may feel as if they have done everything the city has to offer — from the Milwaukee Public Market to Summerfest to the Milwaukee Art Museum and to the various other recommendations from parents and friends.  

While the mainstream events are popular for a reason, try spending this summer exploring and discovering a lesser-known side of Milwaukee after summer classes, internships or work. 

Dining in Milwaukee can be as unique as its many diverse neighborhoods. As the weather gets warmer and restaurants open their patios and rooftops, spend your nights breathing in the summer air with Milwaukee’s best food in front of you. 

Food and fun

Café Benelux is a classic and a favorite among Marquette students, but just down the road, visit Blue Bat Kitchen & Tequileria for views of the Milwaukee River with tacos and street corn, or The Outsider atop the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel for one of the best views of the Milwaukee skyline. 

If you’re looking for something a little more niche, try Barnacle Bud’s on Milwaukee’s south side for seafood with views of the harbor. If seafood is not your thing, try Up-Down that serves late night pizza alongside 1980s arcade games and themed drinks, as well as an outdoor patio and balcony.

Festivals galore

Summer in Milwaukee wouldn’t be the same without the world’s largest music festival. Summerfest celebrates its 55th anniversary this year with hundreds of musical acts to enjoy along the lakefront. The Big Gig’s home at Henry W. Maier Festival Park, is also the location of many cultural events, such as Polish Fest and German Fest. While there is no French Fest, Bastille Days takes place just minutes from the lakefront on Cathedral Square. 

Beyond the festival grounds, the city’s east side offers the Water Lantern festival in Veteran’s Park where festival goers can launch their own decorated water lantern into the lagoon. Summer Solstice Music Festival offers free music from local bands across Farwell, Ivanhoe, Kenilworth and Black Cat Alley.

All about the arts 

It is tempting to cross off another Milwaukee to-do item and go to the Milwaukee Art Museum and see the expansive art collection across hundreds of years and movements. With a great view of the lake, the Milwaukee Art Museum is a must for many. But outstanding views of the lake are not limited to the museum alone, as the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum,  a beautiful Italian Renaissance-inspired home that sits atop of a bluff overlooking an expansive garden, with Lake Michigan just beyond.

The Charles Allis Art Museum also allows you to tour the mansion of a former Milwaukee family and view their personal art collection. Both museums are free on the first Wednesday of the month. 

Shopping local

Alongside the arts, Milwaukee has a vibrant vintage community with outdoor markets all summer. 414 Flea and One Trick Pony offer curated vintage clothing, home goods, and local Milwaukee artwork. 

Local businesses like Plume and Bandit also have pop-up events throughout the summer that are announced via their social media, offering trendy and sustainable options for new additions to your summer wardrobe. If your closet is already bulging, take a look at  Milwaukee’s Makers Market for an artisan fair that is free to the public. 

Even on a student budget, Milwaukee’s community offers a variety of events that keep the city alive. With just a few months of warm weather, try to see and do everything you can to seize the summer.

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