Wisconsin's largest city is the meeting place of three rivers: the Milwaukee, the Kinnickinnic, and the Juneau. There are things to do all day long as well as through the night in this eclectic city. Spend a day on the beaches of Lake Michigan or an evening on the town.
Milwaukee is an incredibly diverse city. It celebrates its cultural heritage throughout the year with a procession of festivals. The International Arts Festival, the Asian Moon Festival, Cajun Fest, Polish Fest, Bastille Days, Festa Italiana, Mexican Fest, and Oktoberfest are just a few of these tributes. And then, of course, Pridefest Milwaukee rolls around every June.
General Mitchell International Airport is about 6 miles south of downtown. Shuttle buses, taxis or the Milwaukee County Transit bus will get you to the center. Amtrak also has daily train service into Milwaukee.
Like most cities in the region, you’ll appreciate having your own car to get to all the sights. Milwaukee lays claim to having one of America’s best, and most reliable transit systems, with over 85% of all residents within walking distance of a regularly scheduled bus route - see MCTS. Walking or taxis hops are easy in the later hours, with so many clubs close together.
With many gay clubs in the Walker's Point and Third Ward area, Milwaukee has more gay bars, per capita, than San Francisco. Pride flags fly high on lampposts in the club district as well as in downtown Milwaukee sometimes, making this city feel very friendly. You can park your car and walk between most gay establishments.
What to do
Fond of bikers? One of Milwaukee's top attractions is the Harley-Davidson Museum, with exhibits telling the story of the people, products, history and culture of the iconic motorcycle manufacturer.
When it comes to arts and entertainment, Milwaukee offers up many options. The Marcus Center for Performing Arts, the intimate Riverside Theater, and the historic Pabst Theater offer symphony, ballet, opera, Broadway shows, and theater.
The Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival takes place each October. Click the hot- link for schedules and venues.
The city has a number of art museums, including the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Charles Allis Art Museum, the Haggerty Museum of Art, and the Milwaukee Public Museum with it's IMAX theater and Soref Planetarium.
Based in Green Bay, Quest has information on all Wisconsin gay bars and events. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is the city daily, and the Express is the alternative weekly paper, each with arts and events listings and reviews, in print and online. OnMilwaukee is a good online source of city information.
The Milwaukee LGBT Community Center has plenty of information about the local gay scene.
Outwords Books (2710 N Murray Ave) has LGBT fiction and non-fiction, gifts, rainbow merchandise, cards, magazines and coffeehouse.
In the heart of downtown, a block from the Midwest Express Center, Best Western Inn Towne Hotel (710 N Old World Third St; 414-224-8400) is a 667,000 square-foot hotel. Parking is easy, and you can tour downtown by way of the skywalk across the street.
Health clubs and bathhouse
Midtowne Spa (315 S Water St) gay men's health and recreational facility has regular party events with Squirt, Manhunt and BoyzParty. They offer lockers, private rooms, sauna and whirlpool, steam room patio, exercise and weight equipment, a tanning deck, and hot music. Open 24 hours a day.
Bars and Clubs
Art Bar (722 E Burleigh St) art gallery/cafe/bar in Riverwest, spoken word, live music events, charming odd decor, board games, WiFi, smoking.
Boom (625 S 2nd St), three beer bust afternoons, porn star strippers, videos, pool, darts, games, food, patio, men.
Fluid (819 S 2nd St) at heart of Walker's Point, famed martinis and signature drinks, early crowd to see and be seen.
Hamburger Mary's (2130 Kinnickinnic Ave), purple, campy, kitschy ambiance, lunch, dinner, cocktails, weekend brunch, bingo, karaoke.
Harbor Room (117 E Greenfield), Levi/leather, patio, friendly vibe, wall-to-wall men weekends, good prices, daily from 6am. Shirtless men drink half-price (rail and domestic). Happy hour: 3-6pm, two-for-one drinks, free pizza.
Hybrid (707 E Brady St) new East Side neighborhood bar, men and women, good healthy food.
Kruz (354 E National Ave), locals' favorite mixed but mostly men's bar, leather guys, covered year-round patio.
La Cage (801 S 2nd) video multi-floor club, young mixed crowd, dancing and drag cabaret shows.
This is It! (418 E Wells), downtown near Lake Michigan. Milwaukee's oldest existing gay bar, entrance in back, older crowd, jukebox, locals' after work happy hour.
Triangle (135 E National Ave) video neighborhood bar, open early - noon weekdays, 6am on weekends.
Walker's Pint (818 S 2nd St), mostly women's bar, mixed ages.
Woody's (1579 2nd) sports bar, big screen TV, softball team, bowling and dart leagues, pool games, beer busts.
CLOSED in August 2012: Ballgame (196 S 2nd St) long-time neighborhood cocktail lounge, pool, darts.
A city with such cultural diversity as Milwaukee has a smorgasbord of options when it comes to eating out. From fast food to fine dining there are flavors from around the world, so you won't have any trouble finding something to your taste.
See locations and links on our map & listings page.
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