Wisconsin's largest city is the meeting place of three rivers: the Milwaukee, the Kinnickinnic, and the Juneau. There are things to do all day long as well as through the night in this eclectic city. Spend a day on the beaches of Lake Michigan or an evening on the town.
Milwaukee is an incredibly diverse city. It celebrates its cultural heritage throughout the year with a procession of festivals. The International Arts Festival, the Asian Moon Festival, Cajun Fest, Polish Fest, Bastille Days, Festa Italiana, Mexican Fest, and Oktoberfest are just a few of these tributes. And then, of course, Pridefest Milwaukee rolls around every June.
General Mitchell International Airport is about 6 miles south of downtown. Shuttle buses, taxis or the GreenLine bus by Milwaukee County Transit will get you to the center. Amtrak also has daily train service into Milwaukee.
Like most cities in the region, you’ll appreciate having your own car to get to all the sights. Milwaukee lays claim to having one of America’s best, and most reliable transit systems, with over 85% of all residents within walking distance of a regularly scheduled bus route - see MCTS. Walking or taxis hops are easy in the later hours, with so many clubs close together.
With many gay clubs in the Walker's Point and Third Ward area, Milwaukee has more gay bars, per capita, than San Francisco. Pride flags fly high on lampposts in the club district as well as in downtown Milwaukee sometimes, making this city feel very friendly. You can park your car and walk between most gay establishments.
What to do
Fond of bikers? One of Milwaukee's top attractions is the Harley-Davidson Museum, with exhibits telling the story of the people, products, history and culture of the iconic motorcycle manufacturer.
When it comes to arts and entertainment, Milwaukee offers up many options. The Marcus Center for Performing Arts, the intimate Riverside Theater, and the historic Pabst Theater offer symphony, ballet, opera, Broadway shows, and theater.
The Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival takes place in November this year. Click the link for schedules and venues.
The city has a number of art museums, including the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Charles Allis Art Museum, the Haggerty Museum of Art, and the Milwaukee Public Museum with it's IMAX theater and Soref Planetarium.
Media & Resources
Based in Green Bay, Quest has information on all Wisconsin gay bars and events.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is the city daily, and the Express is the alternative weekly paper, each with arts and events listings and reviews, in print and online. OnMilwaukee is a good online source of city information.
The Milwaukee LGBT Community Center has plenty of information about the local gay scene.
Outwords Books (2710 N Murray Ave) has LGBT fiction and non-fiction, gifts, rainbow merchandise, cards, magazines and coffeehouse.
See BearClub NortheastWisconsin for whats on with the area's social fraternity of bears, cubs, & chasers.
Milwaukee 365 is a good online resource for all the events going on in this city, year-round.
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our full gay Milwaukee listings pages.
Bars and Clubs
Art Bar (722 E Burleigh St), art gallery/cafe/bar in Riverwest, spoken word, live music events, charming odd decor, board games, WiFi, smoking.
D.I.X. (739 S 1st St), gay neighborhood men/women party bar in Walker's Point; dancing, theme parties.
Fluid (819 S 2nd St), at heart of Walker's Point, famed martinis and signature drinks, terrace parties, Chili Cook-Offs, Hot Fudge Bingo; early crowd to see and be seen.
Hamburger Mary's (730-734 S 5th St, Walkers Point), purple, campy, kitschy ambiance, lunch, dinner, cocktails, Sunday brunch, divas, bingo, karaoke.
Harbor Room (117 E Greenfield), Levi/leather, patio, friendly vibe, wall-to-wall men weekends, good prices, daily from 6am. Shirtless men drink half-price (rail and domestic). Happy hour: 3-6pm, two-for-one drinks, free pizza.
Kruz (354 E National Ave), locals' favorite mixed but mostly men's bar, leather guys, beer busts, theme parties, covered year-round patio.
LaCage NiteClub (801 S 2nd), multi-floor video club, young men/women mixed crowd, weekend dancing, drag cabaret shows and pageants, karaoke, hot male dancers, DJs, Sunday games on TV. Was briefly known as LVL Bistro.
This is It! (418 E Wells), downtown near Lake Michigan, Milwaukee's oldest existing gay bar, entrance in back, older crowd, jukebox, locals' after work happy hour, karaoke, movie nights.
Walker's Pint (818 S 2nd St), the gay “cheers” of women’s bars in Milwaukee, mixed ages, live music, outdoor patio, pool and darts, jukebox, karaoke.
Woody's (1579 2nd), gay sports bar, big screen TV, softball team, bowling and dart leagues, pool games, beer busts.
CLOSED: Boom (625 S 2nd St), beer busts, games, food, patio, porn strippers; Hybrid (707 E Brady St), East Side neighborhood bar, men/ women, healthy food.
To the south along Lake Michigan, just off I-94, Club Icon (6305 120th Ave, Kenosha), the premier LGBTQ video dance club between Milwaukee and Chicago, opens Tuesdays through Sundays with karaoke, bingo, pool and poker games, and Friday/Saturday dancing.
For listings in the college town just west of Milwaukee, see our Madison pages.
With the closing of Midtowne Spa Milwaukee, the two closest gay bathhouses are in Chicago.
CLOSED: Midtowne Spa (315 S Water St), sauna/steam, whirlpool, patio, workout equipment, tanning deck. Shortly after the Midtowne group broke up, the Austin, Milwaukee, and Houston facilities closed in 2016, and Dallas closed in May 2017. For the remaining three clubs in Denver and Los Angeles, see Midtowne Spa.
A city with such cultural diversity as Milwaukee has a smorgasbord of options when it comes to eating out. From fast food to fine dining there are flavors from around the world, so you won't have any trouble finding something to your taste. See our map and restaurant listings for a few suggestions.
Hotels & Guesthouses, etc
Brumder Mansion B&B (3046 W Wisconsin Ave; 414 342-9767), Arts & Crafts style historic building, six guest suites with private baths, fireplaces, whirlpools, Direct-TV; full breakfast.
The Iron Horse Hotel (500 West Florida St, Fifth Ward; 414 374-4766), all lifestyles-friendly lodgings, TAG-Approved, near hot gay clubs/bars, health spa/fitness center, motorcycle nights and Harley-Davidson rentals; Smyth Restaurant lunch and dinner, brunch buffets.