Where else can you kayak between skyscrapers, stroll through tropical trails or bike along a Great Lake...all in the same day? In Milwaukee, rivers, green spaces and beaches are just as important as tall buildings. Tap into these urban oases to enjoy the outdoors without leaving the city.
Kayak the Milwaukee River
Swap your sneakers for a paddle and see the skyscrapers from a whole new view. Beginning Memorial Day weekend, explore downtown Milwaukee by kayak, canoe or paddleboard. Start your journey in the Historic Third Ward, with convenient rentals from Milwaukee Kayak Company. Tandem kayaks are available for those with kids. Afterwards, stop for a cold one at MKE Brewing.
Take a Dip at Bradford Beach
Milwaukee’s Bradford Beach lies on the shores of Lake Michigan—a surprising Midwest beach getaway. One of Travel Channel’s top 11 city beaches, Bradford Beach is the spot for swimming, sunbathing and people watching. If you’re feeling up to the challenge, join in on a volleyball or soccer game—pickup games are encouraged. When you get hungry, grab a sweet treat from Northpoint Custard, conveniently located steps away from the beach.
Bike Along Lake Michigan
No bike? No problem. Rent a bike with Bublr and save yourself the hassle of schlepping your wheels into town. With low-cost options including an hourly pass, visitors can easily pick up a bike at one station and drop it off at another station in the city’s network.
The 6-mile Lakefront Trail is the perfect loop for the whole family. Bike to the Milwaukee Art Museum or venture out to one of many seasonal festivals at Henry Maier Festival Park (better known as the Summerfest grounds.) Kids and adults alike will love a stop at Discovery World, a science and technology museum where almost every exhibit is interactive.
Explore Mitchell Park Domes
Experience three distinct climates all in one afternoon. Even on a rainy day, visitors to Mitchell Park Domes can enjoy the great outdoors and explore three vast natural habitats. Visit the deserts of the world in the Desert Dome, stroll the jungle-like trails of the Tropical Dome and treat your nose to the Floral Show Dome featuring a variety of blooms not native to Wisconsin. Be sure to look for the colorful birds that call the Tropical Dome their home.
Set Sail on Lake Michigan
All aboard! Relax in style aboard the 38-foot Quinn Marie sailing yacht with Sea Dog Sailing. View the world-famous architecture of Calatrava's Burke Brise Soleil at the Art Museum, the newly constructed Northwestern Mutual building and the constantly changing skyline as city meets water along the scenic shores of Lake Michigan.
Food and drinks are BYO, and you can even hook up your phone to provide your own soundtrack (whether that’s “Baby Shark” or “My Heart Will Go On”). Schedule a day sail, sunset cruise, or other voyage and invite some friends for an unforgettable experience. Babysitter not included.
Visit the Urban Ecology Center
This 20,000 ft certified green urban oasis inspires others to think creatively about how to connect with nature in an urban setting. Created with recycled and renewable materials, the Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park is a destination for nature lovers of all ages.
Visitors can climb the observation tower, explore 15 acres of land on the east bank of the Milwaukee River and scale a 40-foot outdoor rock wall. Kids can discover hidden activities like the secret slide leading into the building, 80 animals camouflaged into its four murals and the Native Wisconsin Animal Room, home to turtles, snakes, fish and frogs.