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FTC/Partnership Disclaimer: VISIT Milwaukee kindly hosted me for a long weekend in exchange for coverage. As always, all opinions are my own and it’s my main priority to write honestly about my experiences.
For many years, I’ve heard wonderful things about Milwaukee from travel blogger friends, as well as my own family. And, of course, I was more than happy to listen to stories about Milwaukee’s vibrant breweries, delicious cheese curds, trendy neighborhoods, and so much more.
As a frequent traveler, I already fell in love with Wisconsin when I visited Madison last summer, so obviously, I was very excited to travel alone to Milwaukee when the opportunity presented itself.
I have good news to share. Milwaukee also lived up to my high expectations.
In this guide, I want to encourage you to add Milwaukee to your list of places to travel alone in the United States. The more I travel in my home country, to more I advocate for visiting its secondary cities.
At first glance, Milwaukee might not be a flashy as New York City or San Francisco, but trust me, you’ll have a delightful time exploring this city as a solo traveler.
Solo Travel in Milwaukee: My Experience
I’ve traveled alone all over the US and Europe. So sometimes it’s hard for me not to compare destinations and “play favorites.” My expectations are pretty high in general.
Milwaukee, though, absolutely delighted me. It’s one of those relaxed cities that I could see myself living in. Yes, Milwaukee is that awesome.
Most importantly, as a solo female traveler, I felt remarkably safe exploring most of Milwaukee on my own. No one hassled me or catcalled at me, and most people I met were excited that I visited for the purpose of tourism.
In addition, Milwaukee’s high quality museums and food scene impressed me. I’m an educator at heart, and greatly enjoy learning about art, culture, history, and more, and Milwaukee delivered on all those fronts.
It’s also a city that takes food seriously, which appeals to my taste buds and stomach. Win/win if you ask me.
Last but not least, even though there aren’t a ton of public transportation options, Milwaukee is very accessible in your own rental car or using rideshare programs. I never waited for longer than ten minutes for an Uber ride.
Without a doubt, Milwaukee is a great city for solo travelers who want to go a bit more off the beaten path in the United States.
7 Top Reasons to Travel Solo to Milwaukee
In this solo traveler’s guide, I’ve included seven awesome reasons that you should go to Milwaukee alone. As always, this list isn’t all inclusive, and your priorities might be different depending on your interests.
I hope, though, that this guide helps you start the planning process.
Abundance of Fun Museums
Visiting museums alone is wonderful. You’re able to pick museums that cater to your specific interests without consulting anyone else. Once inside the museums of your choice, you’re able to take your time, and meander in the exhibits that interest you, but may not interest travel buddies.
Milwaukee is home to a lot of really awesome museums. One of the most famous museums is Milwaukee Art Museum, which is the largest art museum in Wisconsin with a collection of almost 25,000 pieces of art.
Honestly, the outside of this museum is iconic, and you need to snap a picture of the bridge. But also take your time inside. Art museums are always best experienced alone. If a piece speaks to you, you’re able to analyze like and thoughtful read about it without another person rushing on you. Milwaukee Art Museum has great views of the lake, too.
Milwaukee’s museums cover a huge variety of topics, though.
For an important historical lesson, I also suggest visiting Jewish Museum Milwaukee to learn all about southeastern Wisconsin’s Jewish community. The exhibit was beautiful and I feel like I learned a lot. The staff was very welcoming too.
Lastly, if you want a lighter and more fun museum, then I highly suggest going to The National Bobblehead Museum. I honestly was expecting mostly sports bobbleheads, but this museum has bobbleheads for …. well, seriously everything. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, 1980s horror slasher movies, the British Royal Family, Alexander Hamilton, you name it. I could’ve stayed here for over an hour, haha.
Easily Accessible (and Gorgeous) Outdoors
Lake Michigan is gorgeous and will take your breath away. Seriously, on our descent into Milwaukee, I briefly forgot about my fear of flying, because the expansive (seemingly endless) blue lake beneath me was just so … stunning.
Thanks to Milwaukee’s location on Lake Michigan, you’re able to enjoy plenty of outdoor activities, while still experiencing the perks of visiting a larger city.
I personally suggest visiting both Lake Park and Lakeshore Lake Park for some spectacular waterside views and easygoing trails. You’ll also see some wonderful viewpoints at Veteran’s Park not far from Milwaukee County War Memorial Center.
All in all, Milwaukee’s the perfect city for solo travelers looking to go outside.
Lots of “Solo Travel Friendly” Dining
Milwaukee’s food is fabulous. Don’t miss out on a good meal just because you’re traveling alone.
In the past, I had a fear of eating alone in public, and while I’m less anxious now, social anxiety still creeps up on me if I feel like I’m the only person dining alone.
In Milwaukee, though, I had zero issues with solo dining. The restaurant staff was always friendly and eager to share recommendations with me. So, if you’re traveling Milwaukee alone, don’t feel afraid to take yourself out for some beers and food. No one will judge here. I promise.
I’ve listed a couple of suggestions below to help you plan your meals in Milwaukee.
Solo Dining Ideas
- Allie Boy’s Bagelry & Luncheonette: Do you want the most delicious bagels in all of Milwaukee? Look no further than Allie Boy’s Bagelry. I legit had the most delicious breakfast sandwich eveeeer.
- Bavette La Boucherie: An excellent woman-owned establishment that is a modern interpretation of the neighborhood butcher shop. Food is sourced from local farms. The fried chicken sandwich was “melt in your mouth” delicious.
- Cafe at the Plaza: 1920s inspired cafe with an awesome breakfast. I love the Cafe at the Plaza. They have table seating available but also casual countertop seating. The perfect place for fresh Eggs Benedict.
- Cafe Corazon: Looking for fresh Latin cuisine? Look no further. Cafe Corazon has a few locals, but I loved their restaurant in Bay View. Vegan options are available. Their burritos are to die for.
- Crossroads Collective Food Hall: This shared space is home to 9 micro-restaurants, which means you can sample a variety of food. Plenty of bar seating is available for the solo traveler. Look no further than Crossroads Collective if you want to try different bites of everything.
- Milwaukee Public Market: Locals and visitors alike highly recommend this Milwaukee staple. You can try tons of artisanal and fresh food from a variety of different providers. Have a lot of fun here!
Friendly, Warm, and Helpful Locals
Everyone in Milwaukee is so nice. Granted, “your own mileage may vary” in this category, but for the most part, I encountered kind and welcoming people who were more than happy to brag about their city.
Traveling alone is liberating. I wouldn’t be nearly as confident and self-sufficient if I never traveled solo. However, we all know solo travel is also frustrating and lonely at times. I personally hate getting lost. It’s uncomfortable and makes me feel unanchored.
On the other hand, friendly people make all the difference in the world. A heart-to-heart conversation is the greatest souvenir on the road.
In Milwaukee, don’t be scared to strike up a conversation with a bartender, fellow attendee at a festival, Uber driver, or a friendly passerby.
So, So, Many Incredible Festivals
As a solo traveler, you will want to visit Milwaukee in the summer. You might think about the obvious reason right away, which is that Milwaukee’s winters are intense if you’re not used to cold weather.
But why else should you plan for a summer trip? Because many of Milwaukee’s fantastic festivals are in full swing. I’m not even kidding. The sheer number of festivals hosted in this city blew my mind.
Both festivals were wonderful for solo travelers. I felt safe and welcomed, and greatly enjoyed all the shows available to ticketed members. I also loved the opportunity to support local artists. Milwaukee Fringe Festival was quirky and cool, and all the singers, comedians, and dancers were very talented.
Meanwhile, Mexican Fiesta is Milwaukee’s biggest ethnic festival drawing families from all across Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the entire country. I truly felt like I learned so much about Mexican culture, and the music made me want to dance well into the night.
So, if you’re visiting Milwaukee in summer, double check the calendar of events to see whether or not a festival is taking place on those specific days. If so, I highly recommend going to one even if you’re by yourself! You won’t stand out, and if you’re open to adventure, you might even make some new wonderful friends.
Tons of Breweries to Relax At
Love craft beer? Don’t miss Milwaukee. Milwaukee is home to many, many, many unique craft breweries. I felt like I could’ve spent my whole weekend going to breweries. So, if craft beer is “your thing,” then you’re coming to the right city.
Even if you don’t drink much beer, you still may want to come to the breweries for their aesthetic and atmosphere. I find that breweries are nice spots to relax after walking all day.
Do your research ahead of time. Milwaukee has so, so, so many breweries. Hahaha, I cannot emphasize this enough. You’ll want to find a place that has the vibe you’re looking for. On my visit, I visited both Broken Bat Brewery and Wizard Brewing Company.
Unique and Safe Neighborhoods to Explore
I know I said this a couple times, but as a solo traveler, I feel like it bears repeating. I felt very, very safe on my trip to Milwaukee. Very safe. Of course, you will want to use “common sense” on your trip to Milwaukee. My personal advice is that if you wouldn’t do something alone at home, then don’t do it in Milwaukee.
However, you don’t need to feel paranoid about your safety here. On my solo trip, I visited a couple different neighborhoods including Upper East Side Lake Park, trendy Bay View, Historic Third Ward, and more. I honestly felt fine in each of the neighborhoods that I visited.
Of course, if you’re interested in specific attractions such as local shopping or street art, then you may want to do extensive research on neighborhoods to plan your itinerary.
Practical Advice for a Solo Trip to Milwaukee
Last but not least, I wanted to write some practical tips for your visit to Milwaukee. Milwaukee is a pretty easy city to visit alone, especially if you’ve visited more challenging destinations, but it’s still good to know what to expect before your trip!
How to Get To (And Around) Milwaukee
Firstly, if flight prices are reasonable, then I highly recommend flying into General Mitchell International Airport, which is Milwaukee’s main airport.
Sure, Chicago’s O’Hare isn’t terribly far away, but both the security lines at O’Hare and congested traffic will probably negate any savings of flying into a larger hub. Stick with MKE.
At MKE, it’s very easy to get a cab or an Uber to your hotel. Your hotel may even offer a free shuttle service, so make sure to double check with them!
Plan for the Time of Year
Summer is a wonderful time to visit Milwaukee. I felt warm, but not hot, and was able to walk all over the city without feeling like a sweaty mess. Keep in mind that summer brings thunderstorms, so always check the weather forecast ahead of time for safety reasons. However, there’s nothing quite lovely as a sunny and comfortable afternoon on Lake Michigan.
However, if you’re willing to brave winter, go for it! I will never tell you what you can and cannot do as a solo traveler. Just makes sure you’re prepared to deal with harsher weather conditions.
Where to Stay in Milwaukee
Milwaukee has many hotels that range from budget-friendly to more luxurious. However, sometimes when faced with a lot of opinions, you find yourself feeling unsure where to book.
On my visit in Milwaukee, I stayed at Homewood Suites by Hilton in Oak Creek, which is close to the airport. This is a brand new hotel, and I absolutely loved it. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Not to mention, the location was super duper convenient for the airport. A complimentary shuttle runs guest back and forth, and this service is very useful if the times work out and you don’t want to plan a ride too far in advance.
And the rooms? They are so, so, so spacious. I loved sprawling out, haha. Big comfortable beds, a roomy sofa, and a functional kitchen. What more could you want?
I hope you loved reading all about solo travel in Milwaukee. Have you ever been to Milwaukee? Do you want to visit Milwaukee in the near future? Share all your thoughts with me.