Discover Milwaukee’s Rich Historical and Cultural Charms



This year, the Main Street Now Conference will be held right in downtown Milwaukee, bringing together over 1,500 professionals to foster new ideas and solutions for preservation-based revitalization. The City of Milwaukee is excited to welcome our visiting Main Street guests and share with them all that the city has to offer.

From a bustling workplace during the day to a booming nightlife in the evening, Milwaukee truly is Wisconsin’s most diverse area and continues to be a premier Midwest destination of choice. With so much to see and discover downtown, we have conveniently rounded up Milwaukee’s most noteworthy landmarks and attractions for you to experience first-hand during the conference’s daily mobile workshop education sessions or after hours when you have some free time. 
Home Sweet Home: Visit Downtown Neighborhoods
For a better glimpse of city living, expert-led tours will take you through our most well known neighborhoods. Whether you’re interested in strolling through lively areas with plenty of entertainment, or want to learn more about recently revived residences, we have just the right areas for you to choose from.  

Just south of Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward, Walker’s Point continues to be an ideal destination for new restaurants, brewpubs and nightlife. Coined “Milwaukee’s Most Diverse and Vibrant Neighborhood,” Walker’s Point is an affordable residential and industrial neighborhood that embraces sustainable living practices for its residents to lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

[Mobile Workshop: Walker’s Point/Kinnickinnic Avenue: Milwaukee’s Hip South Side]
SOTW_third-ward-walkers-point_3-25-16Photos courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

The Historic Third Ward (left) is just a few blocks south of the Wisconsin Center. Explore Walker’s Point’s newest hotspots, including the Central Standard Craft Distillery (right).

Avenues West
is another neighborhood you can explore during your time in Milwaukee. The neighborhood is continuing to positively improve its district through initiatives like public art on display, designated cleanup days, routine neighborhood walks, planned community events, scheduled safety meetings, accessible community gardens, real estate open houses, and more. Check out Avenues West’s most recent projects that its residents are working on this spring. [Mobile Workshop: Avenues West Association: Success in Urban Surroundings]

To learn first-hand about how a Business Plan Competition can be effective within the Main Street approach, be sure to join the Silver City mobile workshop. A once struggling area, Silver City has transformed itself into a lively neighborhood thanks to their Business Plan Competition, which garnered $175,000 of investment for the neighborhood. Leaders from Milwaukee’s Layton Boulevard West Neighbors Inc. will present Silvery City’s Business Plan Competition process and outcomes followed by a tour of this interesting neighborhood. [Mobile Workshop: Silver City: Revitalizing Commercial Corridors Through Business Plan Competition] Downtown Milwaukee 101: Explore All The City Has To Offer.

The Milwaukee Downtown mobile workshop will break down the city’s most remarkable landmarks and infrastructure, including the collection of old-world architecture, the one-of-a-kind Riverwalk that stretches along the Milwaukee River, Wisconsin’s tallest skyscrapers and newly developed housing areas among many others. [Mobile Workshop: Milwaukee Downtown Tour]

SOTW_river_3-25-16Photo courtesy of Visit Milwaukee
Experience the Milwaukee River aboard a river cruiser on the Architecture and History Boat Tour or by kayak.

For a nautical experience of Milwaukee, hop on board the Milwaukee River Architecture and History Boat tour where you will enjoy a pleasant cruise on the Milwaukee River and the shores of Lake Michigan. This tour will highlight the architecture and history of downtown, the Third Ward, Walker’s Point and the Lakeshore. You will find yourself constantly looking left and right as you spot unique features along these freshwater gems. [Mobile Workshop:Milwaukee River Architecture and History Boat Tour]
Raise a Glass: Milwaukee Offers Some Of The Nation’s Oldest Breweries and Pubs
Milwaukee has played an integral role in the beer industry, dating back to the 1850s when its first Germen-led breweries began sprouting up throughout the city. Fast-forward to today, and we are still the proud home to many well-established breweries and brewing companies. If you consider yourself a beer enthusiast, join the Milwaukee Breweries mobile workshop and visit one of the city’s most historic breweries, the Pabst Brewery. And if you’re feeling extra brew-inspired, take advantage of the Pabst Brewery Redevelopment workshop that takes you through its renovated buildings, including a hotel, restaurants and lofts as well as international student housing, major university centers, offices, and more. [Mobile Workshops:Milwaukee Breweries; Pabst Brewery Redevelopment]

After a full day at the conference, satisfy your palate with hearty favorites during the Historic Pubs of Milwaukee tour. Highlighting the city’s favorite eateries, Wisconsin’s State Historic Preservation Officer, Jim Draeger, will share historical information about each pub while you indulge in Milwaukee’s staple menu options. [Mobile Workshop: Historic Pubs of Milwaukee] Work of Art: Discover Visual Treasures

For those unaware, Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Wisconsin and therefore, many of his works can still be admired today in the Milwaukee area. If you enjoy aesthetic architecture and artwork, we encourage you to join our art tour that features four of Wright’s famous works, which includes the Model B1 American Systems Home in Milwaukee; Widespread in Racine (the last and largest of his prairie style homes); the 1939 SC Johnson Administration and Research Building in Racine; and one of Wright’s last major works, the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa. [Mobile Workshop: Frank Lloyd Wright in Southeast Wisconsin]

SOTW_skyline-mam_3-25-16Photos courtesy of Visit Milwaukee
Milwaukee skyline, as seen from Lake Michigan (left). The Milwaukee Art Museum (right) is hosting this year's Big Bash.

The newly renovated Milwaukee Art Museum is home to over 30,000 works of art and offers a variety of gallery exhibits as well as areas devoted to photography, media arts and design. Several new exhibitions will be featured during your time in Milwaukee that you won’t want to miss. Peruse past 179 works by untrained creators in The Lanford Wilson Collection of Self-Taught Art exhibit, or embrace the digital age while walking through Penelope Umbrico’s Future Perfect exhibit where she uses Internet images and websites as material for her work. Located right on the shores of Lake Michigan, the art museum is definitely a popular spot to consider visiting during your stay.

In addition to our iconic Calatrava-designed art museum, Milwaukee also offers a world-class symphony, one of the nation’s largest natural history museums, a science and technology museum, and over 20 professional dance and theater companies.   

Let The Good Times Roll: Milwaukee’s Buzzing Nightlife
The fun doesn’t have to stop at the conclusion of each conference day thanks to Milwaukee’s lively nightlife, unique from other metro areas.

No matter your palate, satisfy you appetite at one of our hundreds of eateries and fine dining establishments. From tapas and Thai to modern steakhouses and burger joints, we pride ourselves on food options you can’t find anywhere else. Plus, our bars and lounges are stocked with all the mixings for craft cocktails and brews that are sure to quench any craving.  

SOTW_dining-cocktail_3-25-16Photos courtesy of Visit Milwaukee
From craft beer to craft cocktails, Milwaukee’s night life has something for everyone.

Round out your evening fun with a visit to one of our 20+ professional dance and theater companies. From innovative choreography and set designs to inspiring playwrights, downtown Milwaukee is a magnet for theater-loving folks. Live music lives here every night of the week, so end your evening on a high note while listening to local artists.

Other Downtown Happenings

The Main Street Now mobile workshops aren’t the only guided tours you can participate in. Whether by boat, bus or Segway, we offer many options to help you get more acquainted with Milwaukee. Join Historic Milwaukee, Inc. during one of their scheduled walking tours to explore the preservation of Milwaukee’s historical architecture. Or, savor the flavors of Milwaukee’s historic neighborhoods with Milwaukee Food & City Tours.

Other not-to-miss Milwaukee offerings:

  • Experience life in the fast lane at the Harley Davidson Museum
  • Snap a photo (or selfie!) with the metallic Bronze Fonz statue located on the Riverwalk
  • Practice your swing at one of our 15 area golf courses
  • Enjoy the great outdoors while hiking in our county parks, pedaling on trails along Lake Michigan, or paddling up the Milwaukee River
  • Watch the Quadracci Pavilion’s Burke Brise Soleil, a movable sunscreen with a 217-foot wingspan, open at 10 a.m. and close at 5p.m. (8 p.m. on Thursdays) at the Milwaukee Art Museum  

Come Back Again: A Glimpse Into Milwaukee’s Future

This summer, Milwaukee plans on breaking ground on the new Bucks arena, transforming 30 acres of vacant space into a vibrant entertainment area. Not to mention, there is over $5 billion invested in new developments throughout downtown Milwaukee that are either recently completed, under construction or proposed. The Milwaukee Streetcar is expected to serve area residents, workers and visitors by 2018, increasing the city’s connectivity and positioning the city as a progressive urban center. 

SOTW_downtown_3-25-16Photo courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

We are so glad that you have the opportunity to visit Milwaukee, one of the Midwest’s largest and thriving cities. Since the Main Street Now Conference is just three short days, we encourage you to come back soon to further explore and uncover all that Milwaukee has to offer.