Set on the coast of Lake Michigan and located at the confluence of three rivers, Milwaukee is truly a water city – even the United Nations has recognized us as an international hub for water research and technology! But more importantly for you, all that water sets the stage for unbeatable outdoor fun.
Ready to set sail? Get out on the lake with Captain Bob of Sea Dog Sailing for public day and sunset sails. Maritime history buffs can sail in period style aboard the S/V Denis Sullivan, the world’s only re-creation of a 19th century, three-masted Great Lakes schooner and the official tallship of Wisconsin. Sit back and enjoy the ride or become part of the crew and take a turn at the helm! Lake Michigan is also home to some record-breaking fish, including the state’s largest known hook-and-line caught Coho Salmon and Atlantic Salmon – head out with Blue Max Charters to see what you might catch.
When you imagine a beach vacation, you probably don’t picture Milwaukee. But the “Third Coast” has a sandy summertime scene that might surprise you. Downtown Bradford Beach has been voted as one of the top 10 urban beaches in the nation by USA Today readers. Play a few rounds of beach volleyball on the sand courts, splash in the lake, sunbathe or just enjoy some concessions in the tiki huts. Head a little farther up the coast of Lake Michigan to find Atwater Beach, a popular spot for local families. The views of the lake from the bluff are stunning, and the stairs that take you from the top of the bluff down to the beach are popular with runners and other fitness buffs! Or try the opposite direction for South Shore Beach. The South Shore Terrace beer garden just off the sand is perfect for relaxing with friends, and insiders know that this beach is one of the best vantage points for viewing fireworks set off from downtown festivals.
Maybe you’d rather jump on a jet ski? McKinley Jet Ski and Motor Scooter Rentals can get you ready to ride the waves on a Sea-Doo Jet Ski (or the streets on a scooter!). Just off the Lake in Veterans Park Lagoon, check out the pedal boats, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards (SUP) from Wheel Fun Rentals. Lakeshore Paddle Sport Rentals lets you and your family paddle your way around Discovery World, over to Lakeshore State Park and the Summerfest grounds.
Aquatic adventure doesn’t stop at the lake. Explore Milwaukee’s rivers in a kayak, canoe, or SUP from Milwaukee Kayak Company. No experience is necessary – they’ll get you ready to go and offer up a map of recommended routes. You can also join in on guided treks, including the popular sunset paddle. Brew City Kayak is another option for paddlers of all kinds. Rent your kayak or SUP to explore at your own pace, or join a tour to learn more about the history of Milwaukee from a unique perspective.
If you're looking for a way to cover more ground while expending less energy, rent a Duffy boat through Milwaukee Duffy. They are "as easy to drive as a golf cart" and anyone over 25 with a valid drivers license can rent. Launch from the Cooperage Building in Walker's Point and cruise up and down the river with groups of 4 or more. While you're there, be sure to stop in at the popular Boone & Crockett for a cocktail.