Reader vote amplifies recent national recognition for Milwaukee, coming off a record year for tourism


Milwaukee is among the top three large cities in the U.S. to visit, according to the 2023 Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards released on Tuesday. Arriving at No. 3 in this new ranking by readers of a top U.S. travel publication marks yet another significant national recognition of Milwaukee as a top-tier destination for business and leisure travelers.

More than 520,000 Condé Nast Traveler readers submitted responses rating their travel experiences across the globe to offer a comprehensive look at the places they eagerly anticipate revisiting. The Readers' Choice Awards, with its unparalleled legacy as the travel industry's longest-running and most prestigious accolade, remain the ultimate symbol and acknowledgment of excellence within the travel sector.

Joining Chicago and San Diego in the top three among large cities -- and coming in ahead of New Orleans, San Francisco, Boston, New York, Nashville, Washington, D.C. and Miami – shows sustained strong momentum for Milwaukee.

The recognition mirrors the demand for travel to Milwaukee. The metro area set a record for tourism in 2022 while earning recognition as one of National Geographic’s 25 best places to travel and one of the New York Times’ “52 places for a changed world.” Milwaukee will host the Republican National Convention in 2024 after being awarded the Democratic National Convention in 2020. Highlighting its strong culinary scene, Milwaukee also will also be featured prominently in the upcoming season of Bravo’s hit competition show “Top Chef.”

“Milwaukee is a major player in tourism and consistently draw major events to our community -- and as the Condé Nast Traveler Awards show, more and more people across the country and around the world are taking note,” said Peggy Williams-Smith, president & CEO of VISIT Milwaukee. “At VISIT Milwaukee, we’re incredibly proud of everything our city has to offer to business and leisure travelers, and we’ll continue to work tirelessly alongside our partners to bring even more visitors here and ensure they want to come back.”

Through a combination of increased awareness and hosting several high-profile events, the Greater Milwaukee area set an all-time tourism record with a $6.018 billion economic impact in 2022, according to data from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. The four-county tourism industry’s 2022 economic impact beat the previous record of $5.930 billion, set in 2019 just before the pandemic. These estimates are from The Economic Impact of Tourism in Wisconsin, an annual tourism impact study commissioned by the state and conducted by Tourism Economics.

Milwaukee’s continued success helped drive Wisconsin to a record year for statewide tourism in 2022. As Wisconsin’s largest tourism market, Greater Milwaukee accounts for 25.4% of total tourism economic impact to the state.

“To borrow the title of our recently launched TV show, there are even more ‘Good Things Brewing’ in Milwaukee,” Williams-Smith said. “Our convention center expansion is coming closer to completion every day, and the enhanced Baird Center will significantly increase our capacity to host even more major conventions. We just hosted a presidential primary debate, 'Top Chef' is filming episodes in town, the Brewers are in the playoffs and the Bucks just added even more star power. We can’t wait to see what’s next – and you’ve got to be here for it.”

The 2023 Readers' Choice Awards are published on Condé Nast Traveler's website at and are celebrated in the November print issue.