Century-Olde Milwaukee

Explore our city's heritage

Milwaukee is full of history, traditions, vintage architecture, and entertainment that span more than 100 years. Travel back in time with this tour.

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Day 1

Nowhere is Milwaukee’s German heritage more evident than along Old World Third Street, a three-block historic landmark zone in Westown. 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 and Mader’s, where famous German dishes have satisfied hungry patrons for more than 100 years. You may recognize our next stop from a 70’s sitcom, but Milwaukee’s City Hall, which was built in 1895, was recently named one of the ten most beautiful municipal buildings in the country. The building was one of the first to feature an extensive open atrium, of 20 by 70 feet, rising eight stories in the building’s center surrounded by ornate wrought iron railings.

Day 2

Visit the Marquette University campus, home to the oldest church in the U.S., the St. Joan of Arc Chapel. The legendary chapel was built more than five centuries ago in the little French village of Chasse and eventually transported to Marquette, where it was reconstructed stone-by-stone. Stroll the gaslit streets of the Milwaukee Public Museum’s historic reproduction of the turn-of-the-century Streets of Old Milwaukee and then head over to Lake Park and the historic North Point Lighthouse which encompasses a 74-foot lighthouse tower and a two-story wood-frame Keeper’s Quarters.

German Hat

Day 3

Milwaukee’s “SoHo," the Historic Third Ward, is a 10-square block area which dates back to 1875. Today it’s the home of the bustling Milwaukee Public Market, the highest concentration of art galleries in Milwaukee, award- winning restaurants, unique specialty stores and the Broadway Theatre Center. No building better represents today’s striking modern architecture than the iconic Milwaukee Art Museum with its spectacular “wings” the span of a Boeing 747 that open and close over a spectacular vaulted atrium. The museum recently underwent a comprehensive renovation that doubled its gallery space – come see the largest collection of work by Wisconsin native Georgia O’Keeffe as well as world-class collections of Haitian and folk art.


Day 4

Nestled in the rolling Kettle Moraine area of southeast Wisconsin approximately 1⁄2 hour from Milwaukee is Ten Chimneys. Tour the estate of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, undeniably the most revered acting team in American theater history. The enchanting main house and additional buildings of this 60-acre retreat are known for their theatrical décor and diverse collections and remain virtually unchanged since the Lunts entertained famous actors like Helen Hayes and Lawrence Olivier.

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