Milwaukee skyline from Lake Michigan in the winter

Milwaukee Hidden Gems: See a Whole New Side of this Midwest Metropolis

Well-known for its cheese and craft beer, Milwaukee is a delicious and family-friendly place to live. Even the cold and snowy winters can’t keep locals from dashing out to their favorite brewery or attending one of the city’s many festivals. And, let’s not even get started on the undeniably devoted baseball and basketball fans.

Milwaukee locals already know a lot about what it’s like to live here, but there’s a chance you haven’t discovered all the best spots yet. Check out what some local professionals are saying about their favorite Milwaukee hidden gems.

1. At Random

Old school milkshake sign outside of At Random in Milwaukee


For a swanky night out in Milwaukee, visit At Random. The name might not tell you much about the place, but according to Shelly McClone-Carriere and Cris Siqueira of Lion’s Tooth, “it is one of the city’s best cocktail lounges.”

This Bay View lounge serves classic cocktails and old-school ice cream drinks. It’s a true ode to the past. “The decor and atmosphere are like traveling back in time to 1964 when it first opened,” say McClone-Carriere and Siqueira.

2. West Allis breweries

Ope! beer cans in branded koozies


You may find other hidden gems in West Allis, but for Dan Naus, Director of Brewery Operations at Perspective Brewing, beer is what counts. Aside from their own brewery, which has a, “kid-friendly beer garden out back and a cozy taproom inside serving up inspirational beers, seltzer’s and non-alcoholic options,” Naus has two other favorites.

Station No. 06 is one of them. Naus says he, “loves the vibes and craft cocktails,” in addition to their great service.

The other hidden gem for beer lovers is Ope! Brewing. They’ve got an, “awesome space, daily food trucks and solid brews.”

3. Oak Leaf Trail

Oak Leaf Trail trailhead sign

With 135 miles of trails, you can really spend an entire day exploring the Oak Leaf Trail area. With plenty of fun stops along the trail, you’re also never short of reasons to take a break, whether you’re walking or biking.

For Leah Ninmann, Taproom Manager at Central Waters Brewing Company, Oak Leaf Trail is where she likes to go on her free days. “I definitely enjoy a bike ride down the Oak Leaf Trail, with stops at bars and restaurants along the way.

4. Milwaukee lakefront

Milwaukee lakefront arial view

It’s easy to get distracted by all the hidden gems in the city and forget about all that Lake Michigan coastline. It’s a perfect place to find some hidden gems and water recreation according to the team at Pilcrow Coffee.

At their suggestion, make sure to check out BOAT MKE!, Milwaukee Duffy Boat Rentals and Lakeshore State Park, just off the Downtown area.

5. Darick Books

Darick Books storefront and storeowner


Even if a bookstore isn’t normally on your list of hidden gems, you must check out this unique spot. Darick Books is truly a one-of-a-kind place.

“Every book in the store, and pretty much everything in the store has been created by one author,” shares Owner Darick Spears. He considers his store, “the place where creativity is boundless.”

6. Coffee and dumplings

Street view of Interval Coffee in Milwaukee


From the Lower East Side down to Harbor View, Zach and Becky Kinzer of Better Together Cafe are ready to share the hidden gems when it comes to coffee and amazing dumplings.

For that caffeinated pick-me-up, visit Interval Coffee. According to the Kinzers, “these guys know coffee better than most.” For the “hands-down” best dumplings, check out Momo Mee, and get the soup dumplings. “We always kick ourselves,” says the Kinzers, “for not ordering dozens of them right away.”

7. An entire day of family time

Street view of Milwaukee's Rocket Baby


For Ashley of Rooted MKE, free time is about kid time. Planning entire days with her young children means starting at breakfast and going until bedtime.

“I would start the day with breakfast and caffeinated fuel from Rocket Baby,” near Wauwatosa. she says. Then, it’s most likely on to the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum to burn off some energy. Before a quick stop at home for naps, it’s a visit to the Maranta Plant Shop in Brewer’s Hill.

The afternoon includes a lot more fun, starting off with a visit to work for story time and an art activity. Moving on, “a perfect day isn’t perfect without a popsicle! Pete’s Pops is our family favorite,” says Ashley.

The day wraps up with a movie at Bayside Garden or some outdoor playtime at Johnsons Park in the Triangle neighborhood.

Other favorite spots throughout Milwaukee

Lost Whale interior in Milwaukee


Need some other hidden gems to try throughout Milwaukee? Here are a few more, grouped by neighborhood, for you to try out.

For those who live in or near Bay View, there are tons of great hidden gems to both dine in at and visit for a casual drink. Some favorites include:

With so many hidden gems in many different neighborhoods, Milwaukee will never leave you wanting for more.

Milwaukee is a gem of a city

You may already know the best place to live in Milwaukee, but have you discovered all the hidden gems in your favorite area? What about the rest of the city? With so much to see, do and experience what are you waiting for? It’s time to make your own list of the best hidden gems around Milwaukee today.


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