City of Nicknames

Called one of the best places for travel in the world by National Geographic and one of the New York Times "52 Places for a Changed World," Milwaukee is much more than meets the eye. You may have heard one of Milwaukee's many nicknames like "Brew City," "Cream City," or the "Fresh Coast." Referenced in movies from "Bridesmaids" to "Wayne's World," Milwaukee sure knows how to make a name for itself. Go ask Alice, I think he'll know. Here are just a few of the beloved nicknames Milwaukee has earned over the years:

The city's area code is also a sign of pride amongst locals. On April 14 – a date reflecting the city's Milwaukee’s 414 area code – Milwaukeeans celebrate the people, places, and spirit that make the city unique. Whether you’re a 414 resident for life or just happen to be in town on this most auspicious day, it’s the perfect excuse to do something uniquely Milwaukee.

The Original Brew City
A unique combination of beer history, brewing giant Miller Brewing, and modern craft breweries make Milwaukee a beer destination like no other. This is the city that beer built, and you'll see it in over 70 breweries and beer attractions throughout the Greater Milwaukee area.

City of Festivals
Here in the City of Festivals, the festival season lasts all year long! From the roar of a crowd at a Summerfest show to the relaxing sounds of Jazz in the Park, the delectable smells of Food Truck Fest to the eclectic stylings of Weird Fest, there’s truly a fest for everyone in Milwaukee. With more than 100 festivals throughout the Greater Milwaukee area, there's always more to explore in the City of Festivals.

City of Steeples
It’s one of the first things you notice as you fly over beautiful Lake Michigan and land in Milwaukee – we’re a city of steeples! Immigrant populations from Germany, Poland, Italy, Ireland and England originally settled in Milwaukee and built churches with soaring towers all over the city, and those that followed brought their own faith traditions. Today Milwaukee has more than 1,000 houses of worship of all denominations.

Cream City
No, this has nothing to do with dairy. Light-colored bricks made of clay gave Milwaukee the nickname "Cream City." You'll see plenty of these pale creamy yellow bricks on historic buildings throughout the city. 

Culinary Capital of the Midwest
Yeah, we’re a sausage sanctuary, a custard oasis, and a kingdom of cheese curds, but the Cream City is home to a culinary scene that challenges these regional stereotypes with a complex array of dining options. You’ll find everything from classic Midwestern staples to James Beard Award-recognized chefs and restaurants. In 2022 alone, the James Beard Foundation recognized 9 local chefs and restaurants for their contributions to the flourishing culinary scene in Milwaukee.

Fresh Coast
Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is far from a land-locked Midwestern destination. Six sandy swimming beaches are part of the Milwaukee County parks, and Bradford Beach has been named one of the country's top freshwater beaches. You'll see sailboats, fishermen, surfers, and more out on the water. But we don't stop at fun in the sun, Milwaukee is known as America's Freshwater Capital for its advancements and dedication to water-based education. With over 200 water technologies in the region, Milwaukee has cemented itself as a world leader in water technology.

The Good Land and The Gathering Place

Long before European settlers set foot on the shores of Lake Michigan, Native American tribes called Milwaukee home. In fact, the name "Milwaukee" is derived from an Algonquian word Millioke, meaning “good land,” and from a Potawatomi word Minwaking meaning “gathering place by the waters.” Today, members of many tribes still call Milwaukee home.

Motorcycle Mecca
Harley-Davidson has called Milwaukee home since the company was formed in 1903. It’s not hard to find the iron that still runs through the city’s veins from weekly bike nights at the world's only Harley-Davidson Museum to motorcycle racing on the frozen Lake Michigan waters. 

It's often said that the entire population is connected by just five degrees of separation. Despite having a city-wide population of nearly 600,000 residents, the city can feel a lot more connected than its size would suggest. For this reason, on occasion, many locals refer to Milwaukee as Smallwaukee.

Terrible City
Amid of the Milwaukee Bucks' magical NBA Finals run, ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith, along with the cast of "First Take," snickered as Smith referenced Milwaukee and Phoenix as "terrible cities." Locals from all over the Greater Milwaukee area looked to the phrase as a rallying cry, letting their passion for the Cream City fly high to let the world know that Milwaukee really is a great place on a Great Lake. In true Midwest fashion, prominent locals invited the cast to Milwaukee to experience the best of what the destination has to offer.  The 65,000 fans packed into Deer District Plaza got the last laugh as the Bucks raised the Larry O'Brien trophy for the first time in 50 years.