MKE IT Downtown

11 Places to Catch the Sun in Milwaukee

April 16, 2021 /   Skyline

The flame on top of the Wisconsin Gas Building is glowing red, which means warmer weather ahead! We’ve put together a list of sunny (and free) spots to bask in the sunshine downtown. 

Lakeshore State Park 

Lakeshore State Park is a favorite spot downtown. There are so many beautiful landmarks to look at as you walk the trail - the Summerfest grounds, Hoan Bridge, Milwaukee Pierhead Light and the delightful MKE skyline. Relax on one of many benches and wave at boats passing by. Pro tip: drive to the end of E. Erie Street, under the Hoan to find a parking lot near the pier.

Veterans Park 

Looking for a much-loved park with plenty of activities right by the water? Veterans Park (pictured below) is just the place! Pop a squat on the grass, fly a kite in the open space or rent a bike to ride the paved trail. While you’re there, take a moment to view the Veteran’s Memorial near the edge of the park. 

Veterans Park

Zeidler Union Square’s Gazebo

Visit Milwaukee’s oldest public park, Zeidler Union Square. If you need a break from the sun, hang out in the charming gazebo and watch the city move around you. The park itself is a tribute to the working people of the area. Look closely and see art in all the details: the clock on the gazebo's ceiling, gears and tools in the structure of the gazebo, and even famous, familiar phrases about work that are written in the links of the chain fence.

Top of the War Memorial Center

When it’s open to the public, the War Memorial Center has a spectacular view of the lake and the Milwaukee Art Museum. The center itself has inspiring exhibits and memorials honoring veterans. Enter from the front on E. Mason Street or if you’re on the lakefront path, climb the steel stairs on either side of the art museum to get to this spot. 

Lake Park Pavilion Steps

Take a drive to the Lake Park Bistro housed in a historic pavilion. Head to the back of the building to find the grand staircase, which leads down to Lincoln Memorial Drive. The steps not only have a wonderful view of the lake, but also are a cute place for a takeout lunch with friends.

Burns Commons

Burns Commons (pictured belowon the East Side is on the smaller side, but don’t let that fool you. This park has great green space to set up a lawn chair or spread out a blanket. Enjoy public art like "Cleopatra’s Wedge" by Beverly Pepper in the heart of the park and get there easy with The Hop

Burns Commons

On the Water 

Catch some rays on the water! From the kayaking on the river to sailing on Lake Michigan, Milwaukee has options by the boatload. Ready to plan your excursion? Check out 9 ways to explore Milwaukee by water this summer.

Steps Behind Discovery World

Recline on the arena-style wooden benches behind Discovery World and watch the Denis Sullivan dock. While you may run into kids on school field trips, this is an amazing spot in the morning to watch the sunrise, drink your coffee and take a breath before you start your day. 

Red Arrow Park

Red Arrow Park is in the heart of East Town. Kick back in the park and on a hot day, grab a cool drink from the nearby Starbucks. Keep an eye out for exciting improvements and activations in this space during the summer months.

Clas Plaza

Clas Plaza is a hidden gem that's perfect for a picnic. Enjoy the architecture of the Milwaukee County Courthouse and the water fountain in this small, but stunning park.

North Point Lighthouse

Right off of North and Lakeshore Drive, you’ll find the beautiful North Point Lighthouse (pictured below). Lay out a blanket on the front lawn and see the fancy houses lining Lakeshore Drive, or set up your chair facing the lake for a great view. The staff is doing the most there - they’ve set up a mirror on the west side of the building, so you can selfie with the lighthouse!

North Point Lighthouse


About the Author: Terese Radke is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Special Events & Marketing Intern with Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, advancing downtown's strategic priorities through marketing, events and social media.

Posted in:  Sports