A Gay Guide to Milwaukee, Wisconsin

A performance at Summerfest in Milwaukee
Edward David

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 ‚ÄčMilwaukee 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.

The Seasons

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.

The Location

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

Driving distances to Milwaukee from prominent places and points of interest are:

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 is also served extensively by Amtrak trains and Greyhound, which connect to numerous Midwest cities.

Milwaukee Events and Festivals

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