Ultimate Summer-in-Milwaukee Bucket List

  • 01 of 09

    Catch a Show at Summerfest

    ••• Summerfest. Visit Milwaukee

    It’s been said that you’re not a true Milwaukee resident until you check out a show at Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival, spanning 11 days in late June and early July each year and bringing in nationally known acts to 11 stages. The event is held at Henry Maier Festival Park in downtown Milwaukee along the lakefront.

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  • 02 of 09

    Check Out the Wisconsin State Fair

    ••• Wisconsin State Fair. Visit Milwaukee

    It’s no secret that the Dairy State hosts one of the country’s best state fairs: the Wisconsin State Fair. Fried foods on a stick (plus the wildly popular cream puffs), musical performers, animal expos, carnival rides, beer and wine tasting areas, and craft displays are among the events hosted on the ground. Luckily for Milwaukeeans, it’s local, in the near-west suburb of West Allis. It is always held at State Fair Park.

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  • 03 of 09

    Eat Frozen Custard

    ••• Northpoint Custard. Northpoint Custard

    Whether your favorite spot to lick frozen custard is Kopp’s, Northpoint Custard at Bradford Beach or Gilles (tip: check out this listing of custard, ice cream and gelato shops in the Milwaukee area), there’s nothing better than a cold treat on a hot summer day. Custard is created from butterfat and egg yolks and is a specialty in Wisconsin, with the fast-casual chain Culver’s one example that has Dairy State roots but has expanded into other states.

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  • 04 of 09

    See Fireworks Shows

    ••• Fireworks over Milwaukee skyline. Visit Milwaukee

    There is hardly a weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day when fireworks aren’t lighting up the Milwaukee sky. While the bigger shows are during Fourth of July weekend, quite a few cultural festivals held at Henry Maier Festival Park budget for spectacular fireworks displays during one or more of the festival dates.

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  • 05 of 09

    Attend a Free Outdoor-Music Concert

    ••• Jazz in the Park. Visit Milwaukee

    Just about every weeknight a local park is filled with the sounds of live music. The most popular series in Milwaukee are Bay View’s Chill on the Hill (Tuesdays at 6 pm) and downtown’s Jazz in the Park (Thursdays at 6 pm). At the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts in Brookfield, the “Starry Nights” concert series is every Friday at 6:30 pm.

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  • 06 of 09

    Shop at a Local Farmers Market

    ••• Wauwatosa Farmers Market. Visit Milwaukee

    Wisconsin is number-two in the nation—second to only California—in its number of small organic farms. Almost every Milwaukee neighborhood and suburb hosts a farmer’s market (check out this directory here), bringing in live music, coffee and food vendors (from tamales to muffins to crepes), and even local artisans. 

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  • 07 of 09

    Try Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

    ••• Koha Yoga's Stand-up Paddle Boarding. Koha Yoga

    The latest outdoor-adventure sport involves paddling upright by standing on a wide board. Veterans Park on Milwaukee’s East Side—through Wheel Fun Rentals is a great place to try the sport for the first time. Another location to hop on a board is at Pewaukee Lake in Pewaukee, which is just west of Milwaukee, through Koha Yoga

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  • 08 of 09

    Kayak or Canoe Down a Local River

    ••• Milwaukee Kayak Company. Milwaukee Kayak Company

    Milwaukee Kayak Company is among the handful of outfitters that put folks into kayaks and canoes during the warm-weather months. Departing from Walker’s Point, one can either take a self-guided paddle or join a guided excursion (perfect for those new to kayaking or canoeing) down the Milwaukee and Menomonee Rivers. The cost for a four-hour rental is $35.

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  • 09 of 09

    Attend an Outdoor Cultural Festival

    ••• Bastille Days. Visit Milwaukee

    Milwaukee is nicknamed “the city of festivals”—and for good reason. This is because nearly every weekend all summer the Henry Maier Festival Park hosts a festival devoted to a cultural group, beginning with Pride Fest in early June and wrapping up with Indian Summer in early September. Other notable outdoor cultural festivals are Bastille Days and Greek Fest (hosted in late June at Wisconsin State Fair Park.