Looking for a laid-back spot for your Wisconsin city break? Check out all the highlights in Lower East Side Milwaukee. With interesting museums, fun breweries, and lots of outdoor spaces, this neighborhood lets you escape the hustle and bustle of downtown without getting too far from the city center.
While exploring Milwaukee’s Lower East Side, you can learn about Jewish culture at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee or step into history at the Charles Allis Art Museum. This neighborhood stretches along the shores of the iconic Lake Michigan. Admire the dreamy lakefront views from popular green spaces like Veterans Park and Juneau Park. If you’re feeling thirsty, take it all in from the beer garden of the Lakefront Brewery.
Want some inspiration on how to spend time in this beautiful part of Wisconsin’s biggest city? Check out this guide to Lower East Side Milwaukee, including what to see & do, where to eat & drink, and where to stay.
What to see & do in Milwaukee’s Lower East Side
Jewish Museum Milwaukee
Celebrate Jewish culture at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, one of the finest museums in Milwaukee for culture and history. Housed in a historic former synagogue, this museum is a stunning and fitting location for you to dive into Jewish heritage.
Explore how Jewish communities adapted through turbulent times in history, from the holocaust to the Great Depression. There are six permanent exhibits at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, exploring themes like immigration, tolerance and prejudice, social justice, and community building.
The museum also created award-winning traveling exhibits. Learn how two people used dress designs to escape the Holocaust and about allegations of communist propaganda in Hollywood.
The Jewish Museum Milwaukee also hosts a wide range of events. Delve into cultural experiences or attend talks from famous Jewish artists and writers.
Charles Allis Art Museum
Step into the historic charm of the Charles Allis Art Museum. The restored 1911 mansion was once the home of Charles and Sarah Allis. Today, the historic home houses the couple’s huge collection of paintings, ceramics, and sculptures.
The biggest work of art at the Charles Allis Art Museum is its ornate neoclassical building. Engulfed by foliage, the imposing building sits at the top of a stone step entrance. Step inside to the airy marble hall and explore a world of grand lobbies, lavish bedrooms, and sprawling parlors.
As you make your way through Charles Allis Art Museum, take time to admire the artistry and craftsmanship of the items in his collection. Persian ceramic bowls and Chinese teakwood screens show his openness to acquiring items from all over the world. From intricate brass statues to delicate watercolor paintings, the entire house is a reflection of the Allis family’s love of fine arts.
Escape to the shores of Lake Michigan at Veterans Park. One of the coolest places to visit in Milwaukee, this lakefront park is full of large outdoor spaces and fun activities for when you want a break from the buzz of the city.
Take a stroll along the lovely lakefront trails. As you wander through low-hanging trees, you’ll see the reflection of the Downtown Milwaukee skyline reflected across the calm waters. If you want to feel the wind in your hair, there are separate paths for cycling, rollerblading, and skateboarding.
Veterans Park is a great excuse to get out on the water. Rent sailboats, kayaks, and paddleboards and drift away from your worries for a while. Try fishing on the shoreline and from the designated fishing pier, or just head to the shores and soak up the sun on one of Milwaukee’s favorite beaches.
The sculpture garden adds a whimsical touch to the park. Local and international artists have created public artwork to exist in harmony with the lush green spaces.
Get your beer fix at the Lakefront Brewery. This popular Milwaukee brewery has been producing craft beer since 1987, meaning it’s packed with information about city’s rich brewing heritage. Take a fun tour or hang out in the impressive beer hall.
The Lakefront Brewery is located in Brewer’s Hill, an area that was once the heart of Milwaukee’s brewing industry and is still full of historic architecture today. Take it all in with the stunning backdrop of the city skyline.
The lively Lakefront Brewery tour will flood you with information about the craft of making excellent beer. Jokes, stories, and plenty of samples will make this tour a highlight of your time in Milwaukee.
If you’d rather just appreciate the flavors, head to the beer hall and beer garden. High brick ceilings and a riverside location set a grand tone for sampling Lakefront Brewery’s award-winning beers.
McKinley Beach is the perfect spot for some afternoon relaxation. It was created in 1987 to boost Milwaukee’s recreational opportunities. Resting on the shores of the vast Lake Michigan, this popular beach offers a moment of respite in the heart of the city.
Spend a few hours lazing on the sun-kissed sand. Cool your feet in the clear water lapping at the shoreline. Graze a picnic and stay until the sun goes down- McKinley Beach is one of the most beautiful sunset spots in the city.
If you want to take in more Lake Michigan views, there are pretty walking trails starting from McKinley Beach, including The Oak Leaf Trail and the trail between McKinley Beach and Government Pier.
McKinley Beach wasn’t open for swimming in 2022 because of dangerous rip currents. An expensive reconstruction project is underway, with a reopening date set for August 2023. If you want to get out on the water but are worried about swimming, there are kayaks and jet skis available to rent.
Juneau Park is another beautiful lakeside location in Milwaukee. The park is located in Yankee Hill, a historic district full of green spaces. Spend some time relaxing here before checking out the area’s buzzing arts, entertainment, and dining scene.
Stroll through Juneau Park and take in the sprawling views of Lake Michigan. The cool stone terrace has lots of tables and benches for intimate conversations while you overlook the lake.
Juneau Park features 14 acres of green space and several biking and walking trails. Tune up your bike, lace up your walking shoes, throw on some rollerblades, or enjoy a long and lazy picnic.
Many Milwaukee monuments are sprinkled throughout the park, including a statue of Solomon Juneau, the city’s first mayor. There’s also a statue of Leif, The Discoverer, thought to be the first European explorer to step on North American soil.
Visiting during Milwaukee’s peak tourist season? Juneau Park a great place to be on a summer afternoon, with lots of picnic spots, events, and pop-up beer gardens.
Where to eat & drink
Lower East Side Milwaukee has a vibrant international food scene and a strong farm-to-table ethos. When you need a quiet post-dinner drink, this district is packed with casual brewpubs and cozy local haunts.
The stylish Birch is part restaurant, part butcher shop. With contemporary design and a seasonal farm-to-table ethos, the restaurant’s thoughtful Midwestern plates will leave you feeling wholesome and satisfied.
Nothing beats a piping hot empanada made from scratch. At La Masa Empanada Bar, take a bite into a black bean and chorizo or an inventive Thai chicken peanut and wash it down with something from the global cocktail menu.
Get your Italian fix at Dorsia. The restaurant’s low-lit interior creates an intimate atmosphere to feast on their signature pasta flights.
Sink into historic Milwaukee charm at Wolski’s Tavern. This family-owned tavern is a cozy spot with pool tables, darts, and free popcorn.
For a laid-back night in the Lower East Side, hang out at Points East Pub. In this neighborhood pub, you can graze their tasty wings while you work your way through a huge selection of craft brews.
Beer enthusiasts will have a fantastic time at Eagle Park Brewing & Distilling Company. The brewery offers a huge menu of stouts and IPAs, as well as a range of craft bourbons.
Where to stay
As it’s not far from the heart of the city, the Lower East Side is one of the most popular neighborhoods to stay in Milwaukee for travelers looking to escape the city buzz while still being close to all the amenities. Accommodation options here are limited, however, with mostly vacation rentals on offer.
This historic building is steps away from the shores of Lake Michigan. Grand hallways and plush bedrooms make this a luxurious stop during your stay. Sample the huge vodka menu at their stylish restaurant or indulge in an organic vegan treatment at the on-site spa.
Live the city life in these sleek apartments. Cook up a storm in the fully equipped kitchen and enjoy it on the balcony with sprawling Milwaukee views. Kick-start your day with a workout in the onsite gym, then head into the heart of the Lower East Side, with Veterans Park just a couple of blocks away.
This elegant apartment is steps away from the Milwaukee River. Light and airy rooms give you lots of space to unwind after a day exploring the city. Soak in the bathtub, cook in the fully equipped kitchen, or enjoy a glass of wine on the balcony.