Freshwater Capital of the World

There’s a reason they call Lake Michigan a Great Lake: it’s one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. Milwaukee takes its name from Native American words meaning “gathering place by the waters” and “the good land” and today, Milwaukee lives up to those meanings.

Throughout the 1900s, Milwaukee had a series of mayors who were dedicated to preserving Milwaukee’s parks and green space. Today, Milwaukee is home to 1,400 acres of beaches and parkland adjacent to the water, including Bradford Beach, located downtown, which was named one of Travel Channel's top 11 city beaches. In fact, over a dozen parks in Milwaukee offer beach access to the lake, including the Henry Maier Festival Park, home to the world’s largest music festival, Summerfest.

Freshwater Surfing Sanctuary
Bradford Beach was named one of the Travel Channel's top freshwater beaches

Water Industry

The only organization of its kind in the United States, The Water Council is a cluster of 200 local water-based industries and university research centers that has resulted in Milwaukee becoming recognized as a world hub for water research, education and economic development. Through the efforts of the Water Council, Milwaukee was awarded United Nations Global Compact City status, one of only 17 cities worldwide and the second in the U.S. to achieve this designation.

In 2013, The Water Council created a water research and business accelerator center in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood, the Global Water Center. The six-story converted warehouse is now home to The Water Council, university research facilities, water-related companies, and accelerator space for new, emerging companies with a water emphasis. This building’s redevelopment also served as a catalyst for the development of the Reed Street Yards, which has been designated by the city of Milwaukee as a water technology research park and will serve as a global showcase for water management.

The UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences (SFS) is the first graduate school in the nation dedicated solely to the study of freshwater. Established in 2009, SFS expands a tradition of freshwater studies at UWM that began in 1966 with the Center for Great Lakes Studies.

Water Attractions

Discovery World engages guests in investigations of water resources, especially the Great Lakes, the largest system of freshwater on our planet. Activities examine human impacts on freshwater systems, highlighting water quality and quantity, availability and distribution, uses and history. Programs help visitors build a strong understanding of the dynamic role of water in their lives and the life of their community.

The S/V Denis Sullivan, “Wisconsin’s Official Flagship,” is a 137-foot recreation of a three-masted, 19th century Great Lakes schooner. Owned and operated by Discovery World as an educational platform and scientific research vessel, the schooner offers three-hour sailing excursions three times per day when in port. Featuring interactive exhibits and aquariums, visitors can explore the Great Lakes in even greater depth

Discovery World
Discovery World

Hands-on exploration of science, technology, and the world of water awaits at this fun, interactive family-friendly museum.

America's Third Coast