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10 Best Outdoor Activities in Milwaukee

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Milwaukee skyline with a view of Lake Michigan and the Lakefront Trail.

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Looking to explore the great outdoors in Milwaukee? From scenic trails along Lake Michigan to lush botanical gardens and urban state forests, Milwaukee offers a variety of outdoor activities for everyone. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, adventure seeker, or looking for family-friendly fun, check out our top picks for the best outdoor experiences in the city. Dive into the beauty and excitement of Milwaukee's parks, trails, and waterfronts today!

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Article Contents

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, known for its rich cultural history and vibrant urban life, also offers a plethora of outdoor activities perfect for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and families alike. Whether you’re looking to explore lush parks, enjoy water activities on Lake Michigan, or discover the city’s scenic trails, Milwaukee has something to offer for everyone. Here are the ten best outdoor activities to experience in Milwaukee.

1. Lakefront Trail

Stretching along the shores of Lake Michigan, the Lakefront Trail is a must-visit for anyone who enjoys scenic walks, jogging, or biking. This 3.1-mile trail offers stunning views of the lake, the Milwaukee skyline, and access to some of the city’s most beautiful parks. It’s a perfect way to spend a sunny day, with plenty of spots to rest and take in the natural beauty.

2. Milwaukee County Zoo

Located on 200 acres, the Milwaukee County Zoo is home to over 2,000 animals from around the world. It’s an excellent place for families to spend a day outdoors, exploring exhibits and learning about wildlife conservation. The zoo also offers seasonal attractions like the summer Zoo Brew, where adults can enjoy craft beers while strolling through the exhibits.

3. Boerner Botanical Gardens

Situated within Whitnall Park, the Boerner Botanical Gardens is a horticultural haven featuring a series of beautifully landscaped gardens. Visitors can explore themed gardens, including a rose garden, herb garden, and a tranquil Japanese garden. It’s a perfect spot for a peaceful stroll, photography, or simply enjoying the natural beauty.

4. Milwaukee Riverwalk

The Milwaukee Riverwalk is a scenic pedestrian path that winds through the heart of downtown Milwaukee along the Milwaukee River. It offers a mix of natural beauty and urban charm, with public art installations, riverside dining, and opportunities for boating and kayaking. It’s an ideal spot for an evening walk or a leisurely bike ride.

5. Havenwoods State Forest

As the only urban state forest in Wisconsin, Havenwoods State Forest provides a unique natural escape within the city limits. Covering 237 acres, it offers hiking and biking trails, wildlife viewing, and environmental education programs. It’s a fantastic destination for nature enthusiasts looking to explore prairies, wetlands, and woodlands.

6. Veterans Park

Veterans Park, located along the Lake Michigan shoreline, is a popular spot for outdoor recreation. The park features open green spaces, a lagoon for paddle boating, and a kite shop where you can buy or rent kites to fly in the expansive fields. It’s a perfect location for picnics, family outings, and enjoying waterfront activities.

7. Urban Ecology Center

With multiple locations in Milwaukee, the Urban Ecology Center is dedicated to environmental education and outdoor recreation. The Riverside Park location offers hiking and biking trails, canoe and kayak rentals, and various educational programs. It’s an excellent resource for learning about local ecology and participating in community-based outdoor activities.

8. Discovery World

While primarily an indoor science and technology center, Discovery World also boasts a fantastic outdoor experience with its location on the shores of Lake Michigan. The outdoor grounds feature interactive exhibits, a sailing school, and a promenade perfect for lakeside walks. It’s an ideal destination for families looking to blend education and outdoor fun.

9. Lakeshore State Park

Lakeshore State Park is a 22-acre oasis located on the shores of Lake Michigan, adjacent to the Summerfest grounds. It offers a unique urban park experience with walking and biking trails, fishing spots, and beautiful views of the lake and city skyline. It’s a great place to unwind and connect with nature in the heart of Milwaukee.

10. Estabrook Park Beer Garden

For those looking to combine outdoor activity with a bit of relaxation, the Estabrook Park Beer Garden is a perfect choice. Located along the Milwaukee River, this beer garden offers traditional German beer, pretzels, and brats in a picturesque park setting. Visitors can enjoy a refreshing drink after hiking or biking on the nearby trails.

The Last Word

Milwaukee’s blend of natural beauty, urban parks, and outdoor recreation opportunities make it an ideal destination for those looking to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, these ten activities provide a wonderful way to experience all that Milwaukee has to offer.



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