An old-world, largely working-class city that's long been overshadowed as a tourist destination by its relative neighbor to the south, Chicago, up-and-coming Milwaukee has enjoyed a terrific resurgence in the 2000s, with revitalized urban neighborhoods, handsome new condos, and a burgeoning retail and dining scene. This friendly, fairly affordable city hugging the shores of Lake Michigan has a sizable gay population and a vibrant gay nightlife corridor just south of downtown. Host of the nation's largest Gay Pride festival, it's a city that gay travelers are often pleasantly surprised by - come see for yourself.
Milwaukee has fairly pleasant weather most of the year, although winters can see spells of intensely cold weather, and summers sometimes bring sultry heatwaves. Fall and spring are when the odds favor moderate temperatures and pleasant days. Milwaukee, which is famed for its festivals, has many events from spring through fall.
Average high-low temps are 27F/13F in Jan., 54F/38F in Apr., 82F/66F in July, and 61F/44F in Oct. Precipitation averages 2 to 4 inches/mo. year-round, with sometimes very heavy snowfall in winter.
Arguably, Milwaukee enjoys an even more scenic perch over Lake Michigan than its cousin 90 miles south, Chicago. This gently hilly city lies 85 miles across the lake from western Michigan, and much of the city sits elevated above the lake, affording particularly dramatic views. Milwaukee is Wisconsin's largest city and lies in the southeast corner of the state, surrounded mostly by flat suburbs and prairies. It's connected both Chicago (to the south) and Madison (to the west) via I-94.
Driving distances to Milwaukee from prominent places and points of interest are:
- Chicago, IL: 90 mi (90 min)
- Cincinnati, OH: 390 mi (6 to 6.5 hrs)
- Cleveland, OH: 435 mi (6.5 to 7 hrs)
- Columbus, OH: 445 mi (7 to 8 hrs)
- Des Moines, IA: 375 mi (5 to 5.5 hrs)
- Detroit, MI: 375 mi (5.5 to 6 hrs)
- Indianapolis, IN: 275 mi (4.5 hrs)
- Kansas City, MO: 570 mi (8 to 9 hrs)
- Louisville, KY: 390 mi (6 to 6.5 hrs)
- Madison, WI: 80 mi (75 min)
- Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: 340 mi (4.5 to 5 hrs)
- Nashville, TN: 600 mi (8.5 to 9.5 hrs)
- Pittsburgh, PA: 550 mi (8 to 9 hrs)
- St. Louis, MO: 385 mi (5.5 hrs)
- Saugatuck, MI: 230 mi (4 hrs)
Traveling to Milwaukee
Milwaukee is served by one of the most user-friendly, beautifully designed airports in the country, General Mitchell International Airport, which is just a 15-minute drive south of downtown. Another option is to fly into one of Chicago's two airports, which are about 90 minutes south (shuttle service is available from them to Milwaukee), O'Hare (a hub for American and United), and Midway Airport (a hub for the discount airline, Southwest). These are both comparatively less pleasant airports, however.
Milwaukee Events and Festivals
- June to Early Sept.: Jazz in the Park (free jazz concerts downtown on Thursday evenings).
- Early June: Gay Milwaukee PrideFest (one of the nation's largest GLBT Pride festivals).
- Mid-June: Lakefront Festival of the Arts.
- Late June: Polish Fest.
- Late June: Summerfest.
- Mid-July: Festa Italiana.
- Late July: German Fest.
- Early Aug.: Wisconsin State Fair.
- Early Aug.: African World Festival.
- Mid-Aug.: Irish Fest.
- Late Aug.: Mexican Fiesta.
- Early Sept.: Indian Summer Festival.
- Late Sept.: Milwaukee AIDS Walk.
- Late Sept. to Early Oct.: Oktoberfest.