Want a great, easy way to explore the city on foot? The Milwaukee RiverWalk winds through the heart of the city, tying together three distinct riverfront neighborhoods — the Historic Third Ward, Downtown, and Beerline B – and bringing you to the doorstep of some of the city’s best restaurants, brewpubs, shops, and nightlife.
In the early 1990s a dedicated committee of downtown visionaries dreamed big. The newly formed Milwaukee RiverWalk District teamed up with the City of Milwaukee, and years of development and several national awards later, today’s RiverWalk winds more than 20 blocks from its' northernmost to southernmost points and is unified by permanent and changing art exhibitions that create a unique, urban, outdoor gallery. A leisurely stroll provides plenty of opportunities to discover Milwaukee.
The RiverWalk is also home to an outdoor art gallery called RiverSculpture! that includes both permanent pieces and temporary installations that change periodically. Ranging from small, whimsical sculptures such as Gertie, the world's most celebrated duck, to sizable and striking abstract works, there are currently 20 sculptures on display representing national, regional, and local artists.
The Historic Third Ward RiverWalk
Milwaukee's answer to "SoHo," The Historic Third Ward has become a hub for artistic activity and exhibition within Milwaukee and is currently home to more than 20 galleries and art studios, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD), and the Broadway Theatre Center, which houses the renowned Skylight Opera Theatre, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and Renaissance Theaterworks. The Historic Third Ward's quarterly Gallery Nights are a popular showcase of local, regional, and national talent.
This charming, turn-of-the-century commerce and warehousing district is now filled with boutique shopping, craft breweries, and award-winning restaurants with beautiful riverside patios. You'll also find the Milwaukee Public Market, a year-round, indoor market (named one of the best in the nation by Frommer’s) where you can pick up Milwaukee souvenirs and any type of food from tacos to seafood to Wisconsin cheese. Along the lakefront in the Third Ward sits the Henry W. Maier Festival Park, home to Summerfest, the world's largest music festival, as well as many of Milwaukee’s ethnic festivals.
Past and present artfully connect along the Downtown RiverWalk. This section traverses Milwaukee's main thoroughfare, Wisconsin Avenue, and passes by its largest theater district, which includes the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, music venues Pabst and Riverside Theatres, and the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, home to the Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Florentine Opera, and First Stage Children's Theater. Warm summer evenings bring locals and visitors alike to Pere Marquette Park to listen to free weekly concerts as part of the RiverRhythms series.
Milwaukee's German heritage truly comes alive along Old World Third Street, a three-block historic landmark zone just north of downtown. The city's past is brought to life in the detailed facades of the 19th-century European-style buildings lining this cobblestone street. Shopping at Wisconsin Cheese Mart, the legendary Usinger's Sausage, and The Spice House is a feast for all senses. And a visit would not be complete without a stop at the Old German Beer Hall, The Brat House, and Mader's, where famous German dishes have satisfied hungry patrons for more than 100 years.