There’s nothing like summer in Southeastern Wisconsin. The long winter is behind us, and the world has exploded into amazing hues of green. If you’re eager to explore the city and surrounding communities while the weather is above freezing, but don’t want to break the bank, try these simple and free ideas.
Take a hike. Milwaukee and its suburbs have wonderful public-access walking trails and parks. Milwaukeecounty park’s website details the city’s parks. Google neighboring communities for similar maps and information. Call ahead if you’re concerned about hidden parking fees. Milwaukee’s lakefront has trails along its shore, excellent for walking, jogging, biking, and rollerblading. Sunbathing at Bradford Beach is free, as are the gorgeous sunsets over Lake Michigan at the end of the day. If you want to walk for exercise but don’t want to be outside, try mall-walking at Southridge or Mayfair mall.
Research “free days”. The Milwaukee County Zoo offers free admittance to all moms on Mother’s Day, to all dads on Father’s day, and a free day for families in April. Arrive early and park in an open spot on the road, and hike you way in to avoid the $9 parking fee. Summerfest offers free admission for certain time periods if you bring in non-perishable food items. IrishFest, held on the Summerfest ground in August, offers several free ways to get in by also bringing canned goods during a designated time frame, or free admittance after attending the Liturgy for Peace and Justice on Sunday. Some banks and local business offer free admission tickets to the variety of cultural festivals on the lakefront.
Listen to Music. Free concerts dot the Milwaukee area landscape during the summer months. Listen to smooth jazz in Cathedral Park in downtown Milwaukee, or head out to Elm Grove, Brookfield, or Hales Corners to catch their concert series. Almost every suburb offers a free concert series for no cost.
Head to the library. If you want to beat the heat on sweltering days, visit a local library and enjoy their air conditioning. Pull out your library card and browse through the stacks and read the magazines. Libraries often offer free lecture series to adults, free book club discussions, and story-telling hour for kids.
Visit the museum. Admission to the Milwaukee Public museum is free (with ID) to all Milwaukee County residents every Monday. Admission to the IMAX theatre and special programs has extra charges, but there is plenty to see in the regular museum exhibits.