With warmer temperatures and sunshine means it’s time to bust out of hibernation and stretch your legs. Strolling about downtown in the early morning, mid-day or evening for fresh air is not only great exercise, but an awesome way to explore what Milwaukee has to offer.
Start at: Pere Marquette Park, facing south (towards Benihana)
Start your walk off in Pere Marquette Park. There’s plenty of public art at the edge of the park so be on the lookout for these gems. Head down Plankinton Avenue toward the Letter Carriers’ Monument. Stay tuned for Postman’s Porch returning in the summer as a beloved urban outdoor space. Make a right onto Wells and then left onto 2nd Street. Once you hit Wisconsin Avenue, view all the gorgeous architecture along the street.
But first, take a quick detour south down 2nd Street to see a new mural installed by The Couto Brothers inside the 2nd Street Skywalk facing north and “Kindred” by Jaime Brown on the skywalk’s exterior facing south. The murals are part of a larger wayfinding project in the skywalks that strengthen connectivity between buildings. Both the Plankinton Avenue and 2nd Street skywalk received new murals in early 2022 by Milwaukee natives Dave Watkins of Real Abstract and Alex Couto of The Couto Bros., respectively. Back up to Wisconsin Avenue, you’ll pass by the Bradley Symphony Center, the new home of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, featuring the historic Warner Grand Theatre sign outside. You’ll also see the new facade of The Avenue and the brand new 3rd Street Market Hall - you’ll want to have a drink or a bite to eat here! With new vendors opening throughout the spring, there’s always something new to see, and try, at 3rd Street Market Hall!
Head west on Wisconsin Avenue to discover more murals! You’ll find “Heart & Sol” by Mauricio Ramirez on the backside of Community Advocates, near Wisconsin Avenue and 6th Street. Don’t forget to peek around the corner of Dunkin’ at Wisconsin Avenue and James Lovell Street to see Emma Daisy Gertel’s mural “Westown in Bloom.” After gazing at these colorful masterpieces, walk west on Wells Street to James Lovell Street and stop by the Milwaukee Public Museum to view the new Tyrannosaurs – Meet the Family exhibit.
Continue north towards the MacArthur Square parking structure, located at 841 N. James Lovell Street, to see Milwaukee artist Ken Brown’s mural “The Hero in You.” This mural celebrates the city's essential workers and frontline heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic. From here, walk east towards the river on Kilbourn Avenue to make your way back to Pere Marquette Park.
After you’ve taken your walk, consider grabbing a bite from Calderone Club or San Giorgio right across the street. Head north on the newly renamed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. to choose from a plethora of delicious restaurants.
Start at: Grohmann Museum
Ready for a walk full of public art, architecture and parks? Begin your walk at Grohmann Museum. Glance up and find “Men at Work” on top of the museum (don't worry, they’re sculptures). Head west on State Street towards Broadway til the Marcus Performing Arts Center comes into view. Pro tip: at night, the building comes to life with fun colored lighting painting the sides. Make your way towards the river and turn south to stroll the RiverWalk. You’ll see The Bronze Fonz donning it’s refurbished look, the Mason Street Landing and Carlos Rolón’s “Gild The Lily (Caribbean Hybrid I, II, III)” at the Chase Tower at Water & Wisconsin as you walk beside the river. Enjoy the RiverWalk all the way to the Milwaukee Public Market. Stop in if you’re feeling hungry - you’ll find a diverse array of eats!
Walk north on Broadway to see Brighten the Passage, an outdoor art gallery under the freeway. After posing for some cute photos at one or all four of the murals head to Wisconsin Avenue. Once there, take a right. Next, you’ll walk past the Wisconsin Gas Building. Ever wonder what the different colored flame on top of the building means? Check out this article for the scoop.
At the end of Wisconsin Avenue, you’ll see one of Milwaukee’s biggest and brightest sculptures, “The Calling” by Mark di Suvero. Sneak a peek at the beautiful Milwaukee Art Museum on the lake. If your on the hunt for more sculptures, click here for an interactive map from Sculpture Milwaukee.
Head north on Prospect Avenue and walk along the edge of Juneau Park. Feeling adventurous? Take a detour and walk the Oak Leaf Trail through the park. Swing a left on Kilbourn Avenue and walk towards Cathedral Square Park. Around the park you’ll find some great places to dine. Finish your walk up by heading west on Wells Street towards the Milwaukee City Hall.
Start at: The Fountain in the Deer District
This one’s a 6-mile walk, but if you’re game, you’ll see gems all over downtown. First, start at the Deer District. Walk south down N. Dr. MLK Jr. Dr. through the Old World 3rd Street Entertainment District to enjoy the historic, Germanic architecture and the stunning Fiserv Forum. If you’re looking to eat before your walk, this district features some great outdoor dining spots.
Take a right at Wells Street and walk past the Milwaukee Public Museum. Swing by Clas Park and head south towards Milwaukee Public Central Library on 9th and Wisconsin. It has some of the most impressive architecture in the city. Pro tip: head inside and peek at the ceiling - it’s gorgeous!
Along Wisconsin Avenue, you’ll find “Westown in Bloom'' by Emma Daisy Gertel on the side of Dunkin’ Donuts. Make sure to duck up 6th Street to see downtown’s mural, “Heart & Sol” by local artist Mauricio Ramirez.
Continue on Wisconsin Avenue pass The Avenue and Bradley Symphony Center until you hit 2nd Street. Walk south to see “Kindred,” another new mural by Jaime Brown adorning the 2nd Street Skywalk - be sure to check out the new interior murals - The Plankinton Avenue and 2nd Street skywalk received new murals in early 2022 by Milwaukee natives Dave Watkins of Real Abstract and Alex Couto of The Couto Bros., respectively.
Turn on Michigan Street and cross the river. Once you reach Broadway, head south to walk through Brighten the Passage. Completed in the fall of 2020, these four new murals celebrate the connection between downtown and the Historic Third Ward. Pro tip: At night, check out the dazzling lights that literally brighten the passage.
Enjoy the walk through the Historic Third Ward to Catalano Square. Make sure to check out the sculptures around the square. Next, follow Erie Street all the way to the Hoan Bridge. Put seeing a Light the Hoan show on your bucket list if you haven’t seen the bridge aglow yet. Walk under the Hoan towards the Milwaukee Pierhead Lighthouse. Follow the trail to the left and head behind the Summerfest grounds.
Here you'll find one of Milwaukee’s greatest public spaces, Lakeshore Park. Take a moment to look at Milwaukee’s skyline from this park - it’s truly stunning. Rest on one of the many benches for a quick break and then continue past Discovery World towards the Milwaukee Art Museum. Walking up the stairs and across the bridge over Lincoln Memorial Drive. Pass by “The Calling” by Mark di Suvero and walk through Juneau Park. In need of a refreshing drink? Stop by Fairgrounds Coffee and Tea as you make your way on State Street.
Take a left to get to Kilbourn Avenue.to find Red Arrow Park. Watch this space for exciting improvements in the summer months, including a new summer music series!
Walk north on Water Street to Knapp Street, making your way across the river to Haymarket Square Park. Head down N. Dr. MLK Jr. Dr. to where you started at the Deer District.
Explore downtown's 140+ sculptures, monuments, and murals, and learn more about Milwaukee's public art here.
About the Author: Payton Trieglaff is a Junior of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Special Events & Marketing Intern with Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, and past intern Theresa Radke, advancing downtown's strategic priorities through marketing, events and social media.
Posted in: Arts & Culture Posted in: News