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A friendly Midwestern atmosphere prevails in Milwaukee, which is not so much a city as a large collection of neighborhoods situated on the shores of Lake Michigan. Wisconsin’s largest city is an international seaport and the state’s primary commercial and manufacturing center. Modern steel-and-glass high-rises occupy much of the downtown area, but they share the skyline with restored and well-kept 19th-century buildings from Milwaukee’s early heritage. First settled by Potawatomi and later by French fur traders in the late 18th century, the city boomed in the 1840s with the arrival of German beer brewers, whose influence is still present. Milwaukee is known as a city of festivals, the biggest being Summerfest (the “World’s Largest Music Festival”), held in late June and early July.

Milwaukee Sights

From the north, I-43 provides controlled access into Downtown Milwaukee. I-94 leads to Downtown from Chicago and other points south and west of the city. If you are traveling to sites in the wider metropolitan area, from I-94 you can connect to I-894, which bypasses central Milwaukee.

Lake Michigan is Milwaukee’s eastern boundary; Wisconsin Avenue is the main east-west thoroughfare. Milwaukee’s Downtown, the central Business District, is 1 mi long, a few blocks wide, and is divided into east and west by the Milwaukee River. The East-West Expressway (I-94/I-794) is the dividing line between north and south. Streets are numbered in ascending order from the Milwaukee River west well into the suburbs. Many Downtown attractions are near the Milwaukee River and can be reached on foot.

Milwaukee Restaurant Reviews

Milwaukee is known for its wide variety of good ethnic restaurants, especially those that serve German cuisine. Despite its small-town atmosphere, many of the city’s restaurants could hold their own against the offerings in New York and Chicago.

Milwaukee Hotel Reviews

In summer make reservations in advance, especially for weekends.


Milwaukee’s theater district is a two-block downtown area bounded by the Milwaukee River, East Wells Street, North Water Street, and East State Street. Most tickets are sold at box offices.


Downtown Milwaukee’s major shopping area is on Wisconsin Avenue west of the Milwaukee River, but there are also plenty of shopping opportunities in malls on the outskirts of town and specialty shops in the city’s various neighborhoods.

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