The City of Milwaukee is a beautiful midwest city located in Wisconsin with places and things to see. Milwaukee is one of the most affordable cities to live in, out-ranking most cities in America. It is also chock-full of tourist attractions and an excellent destination for a road trip. However, some may not be able to afford it, looking for less costly alternatives to enjoying the city to its fullest.
Whether you are interested in moving or are planning a visit for vacation, you might be interested in knowing there are lots of free things to do in Milwaukee. From scenic natural parks and the Menomonee river to historical tours to the Harley-Davidson museum, there are plenty of things to do in Milwaukee for free.
Free Things To Do in Milwaukee
Whether you’re looking for free things to do in Milwaukee with kids or something interesting to do in Milwaukee, here are the top 10 things worth checking out.
- Historic Third Ward District
One of the most famous places in Wisconsin is the Historic Third Ward, home of “The Great Third Ward Fire” that occurred in 1982. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Historic Third Ward District is home to many great art galleries, monuments, and historical landmarks.
The best part is that these are all accessible for free. Take a walk around this historic town or a free shuttle to get to any restaurants, cafes, or boutiques in the area!
- The Milwaukee Art Museum
The Milwaukee Art Museum has been around since 1888, continuously growing from its roots in the first art gallery of Milwaukee. The museum houses 30,000 pieces of artwork spanning over 125 years and gets almost 400,000 visitors every year.
You can see beautiful art pieces from famous artists such as Pablo Picasso and Georgia O’Keeffe. The first Thursday every month is admission free, so be sure to give it a visit if you are on the east side of Milwaukee around this time!
- Milwaukee County Zoo
The Milwaukee County Zoo is a must-visit for anyone trying to find things to do in Milwaukee. The zoo is home to over 2,100 animals and 348 species, all on a 190-acre wooded site. The zoo normally costs money for entry; however, they have Family Free Days every year, so check their website to plan accordingly.
If you love animals, give the Milwaukee County Zoo a visit, it is one the best zoos in the country, with a huge variety of interesting animals.
- Milwaukee Public Market
If you like a farmers market and great food, the Milwaukee Public Market is the perfect place to visit. The Milwaukee Public Market best showcases the perks of a place full of independent merchants who sell high-quality selections of artisan and ethnic goods.
Or, if you are feeling hungry, you can find plenty of freshly-made foods in a large array of independent restaurants. Of course, this place is free to visit if you want to window shop, so definitely give the Milwaukee Public Market a visit!
- Milwaukee Public Museum
The Milwaukee Public Museum is Wisconsin’s natural history museum and the best place to visit if you want to learn about Milwaukee and Wisconsin. Located in downtown Milwaukee, the museum contains around 4.5 million objects and has anthropology, zoology, history, and botany exhibits.
There are even more exhibits for you to discover and special events year-round. There is free admission every first Thursday of the month year-round, so take an educational visit to the Milwaukee Public Museum when you get a chance!
- Milwaukee Central Library
The Milwaukee Public Library is not only a great library to read in, but it also features beautiful architecture. It was built in 1898, combining French and Italian Renaissance architecture made of Bedford Limestone.
Aside from going there to check out books or using the computers on-site, it is worth going just to take in its amazing architecture that rivals most historical places in the country.
- Miller Brewing Company
Miller Brewing Company provides a historical tour of one of the oldest breweries in Wisconsin. The tour is 30-60 minutes and begins with an educational movie that shows the company’s history.
You also get to see the modern process of brewing alcohol and the high-speed production lines used today. It has free admission for those 20 and younger, so give this brewery tour a shot when in Milwaukee!
- Basilica of St.Josaphat
The Basilica of St.Josaphat is a religious site with jaw-dropping architectural and artistic beauty. It was named the third basilica in the US in 1929 and is another one of many sites in Milwaukee listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Tours are free at 10:00 am after the Mass on Sundays, so give this work of art and architecture a visit.
- Joan of Arc Chapel
The Joan of Arc Chapel is a 15th-century French chapel relocated from Long Island, New York. Now residing in Milwaukee, the chapel still serves as an important religious site and holds Mass often. The tours are free, so you can visit this religious site at your convenience.
- Milwaukee City Hall
Milwaukee City Hall is an impressive building, being one of the tallest buildings in the USA at the time of its original construction. The building cost over $1 million to construct and was completed in 1895. You can take a tour through the city hall with a guide that goes through the history and architecture of the building. The tour takes place on the second and fourth Wednesday between April 13th to October 26th and includes a trip up to the bell tower.
These locations are an absolute must-visit if you live in Milwaukee or are visiting. But there are even more budget-friendly things to do in Milwaukee, a city where words cheap and free don’t exclude having a great time.
Free Excursions in Milwaukee
There are many free excursions in Milwaukee if you just want to get away and go on your adventure to have some happy days. Here are the top 5 free excursions in Milwaukee:
- The lakefront view at the shoreline of Lake Michigan (one of the five great lakes!)
- Free outdoor concerts
- Free audio walking tours
- Alice’s Garden Urban Farm
- Bradford Beach
From audio-guided tours to free-admission music festivals like Summerfest, these are all wonderful choices for excursions in Milwaukee if you want to get outside or relax on the beach.
Parks in Milwaukee
If you are looking for romantic things to do in Milwaukee, consider some of the city’s beautiful parks that are completely free to walk through and breathe in the fresh air. They sometimes also host live music events. These are the top 5 best parks to visit in Milwaukee:
- Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee
- Cathedral Square Park
- Lynden Sculpture Garden
- Veterans Park in Milwaukee
- The Domes at Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory
- Humboldt Park
Parks in Milwaukee are great for going for a jog or just relaxing. Wanna listen to jazz in the park? Milwaukee parks have you covered. Definitely worth the visit!
Monuments in Milwaukee
Milwaukee is a very historical city and has many monuments scattered around for you to see. Here are the top 5 monuments you should visit in Milwaukee:
- The entire Historic Third Ward
- General Thaddeus Kosciuszko Memorial statue
- Bronze Fonz
- Warrior Memorial Center
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial
There are more Monuments in Milwaukee, and they all tell a part of the city’s history, so make sure to include them in your sightseeing itinerary to learn more about Milwaukee.
Walks in Milwaukee
Many great trails in Milwaukee offer a pleasant walking experience. If you want to go on a jog, bike ride, or a casual stroll, these are the places to have a walk:
- Oak Leaf Trail
- South Shore Park
- Milwaukee River Walk
- Endicott Park
- Wehr Nature Center
- Seven Bridges
Each of these trails is very scenic and beautiful to walk on. Try to give a few of these a visit whenever you can!
There are plenty of fun things to do in Milwaukee well worth your time, from spending time in nature to various excursions, historical attractions, and more.
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