Navigating the US: Getting Around in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
While not the capital city of Wisconsin, Milwaukee is the Badger State’s most populous city, as well as the Midwest’s fifth-largest city. This fact, as well as the city’s proximity to Lake Michigan, makes it a popular destination with visitors from all over. If you’re planning a trip to Milwaukee anytime soon, make sure you brush up on the best ways to get around first.
Recommended Modes of Transportation
Those who don’t want to rely on a car during their stay in Milwaukee can take advantage of the city’s widespread bus service, which runs through the downtown region and is simple enough to navigate. Schedules and M•CARD passes are available online via the Milwaukee County Transit System’s website.
The city also offers an old-fashioned trolley in the summer months, with stops at Milwaukee’s various points of interest. Other transportation options include ride share companies like Uber and Lyft, Milwaukee’s Bublr bike share system, and a streetcar scheduled to begin operations in 2018.
Major Highways and Roadways to Know
Visitors coming from the north will become familiar with I-43, which runs from Green Bay to Milwaukee along the Lake Michigan shore. Other major interstate highways include I-94 (which connects the city to Madison and Chicago), and I-41 (which takes the inland route from Green Bay). Route 32 is the main thoroughfare through the heart of Milwaukee, while Route 794/I-794 connects the city to its airport.
Alternative Ways of Seeing the City
If you want to see Milwaukee in a more unique way, hop on a riverboat tour to see the city from the Milwaukee River and from the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Other unique options include Segway tours, seven-seat bike tours, and even kayak tours for those who want to try something different.
By far the best way to get around Milwaukee is on foot. The city is very pedestrian-friendly, and you can even join a guided walking tour to learn more about the city from a knowledgeable guide. These tours are offered year-round, with winter tours traversing the city’s skywalk system to allow tourists to remain warm and comfortable, even on the coldest days.
Best Places to Park
There are plenty of places to park in Milwaukee; you can see a useful map listing all parking garages at ParkMilwaukee.com. Street parking is also available in some areas, though visitors are advised to check posted signage to ensure they are compliant with parking regulations. Those who fail to comply will be issues parking tickets, which can be paid online at ParkMilwaukee.com.
Airports and Car Rental
General Mitchell International Airport sits on the southern tip of Milwaukee. While the airport is mainly used for those flying in and out of Milwaukee, it’s often referred to as Chicago’s third airport, since it attracts passengers who live on the northern side of the Windy City as well as passengers from across Wisconsin. The airport has an Amtrak station which offers several trains per day to Chicago.
General Mitchell International Airport offers car rental services from nine different agencies.
Hotels and Attractions
If you’re in town for pleasure, your best bet is to stay at one of Milwaukee’s many downtown hotels. Hotels are fairly affordable in Brew City, so you should be able to find one within your budget. Staying downtown will place you in close proximity to the city’s 150 restaurants, 17 museums, and 25 theatres, as well as Henry W. Maier Festival Park, which is home to Summerfest, an 11-day musical extravaganza. You’ll also be able to get to see the Milwaukee Brewers play fairly easily.