Local tours and tastings are a great way to break the monotony of typical weekend activities. You’ll learn something new, support local companies and products, and have fun doing it. The tours and tastings here are all kid-friendly, so have fun exploring!
88Nine Studio (Free!)
220 E. Pittsburgh Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53204
Check out 88Nine’s custom-built studio in Walker’s Point every Thursday at 4:30 p.m. (except on major holidays). You’ll get a “behind the scenes” 30-minute tour of the sound-proof recording studios, the 100-seat performance space, and the 2,500 square foot Green Roof that can hold up to 1,500 gallons of rainwater. The roof provides a unique view of downtown Milwaukee, including the Hoan Bridge, the Marcus Amphitheater, and Walker’s Point. After the tour, you can stay for the free 414 Music Live performance or grab a warm drink at Stone Creek Coffee’s Radio Milwaukee Cafe. Reserve a spot for your tour on their website.
Basilica of St. Josaphat (Free!)
2333 S. 6th St., Milwaukee, WI 53215
The Basilica of St. Josaphat was completed in 1901, and it serves as a testament to the early Polish immigrants of Milwaukee. The opulent and impressive Basilica is open Monday through Saturday for visits, and you can pick up a walking tour brochure at the Visitor Center. There is also a free exhibit on the lower level of the Pavilion that includes images and information detailing the story of the Basilica.
Central Library (Free!)
814 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53233
(414) 286-TOUR (8687)
Central Library opened its doors in October of 1898 in response to the Milwaukee Public Library’s need for more space. It is a combination of French and Italian Renaissance styles and it’s built of Bedford limestone. The building has been designated a landmark by the Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Friends of Milwaukee Public Library offer free tours that start at 11:00 a.m. every Saturday morning in the rotunda. You can also make an appointment for a tour by calling the number listed above.
Cheese Factory Tour at Clock Shadow Creamery
138 W. Bruce St., Milwaukee, WI 53204
Looking for an original educational experience? Why not learn about one of the most delicious products that Wisconsin has to offer? Visit this local cheese factory and learn about the history of cheese making, plus answer age-old mysteries like: “Why are cheese curds squeaky?” and “Why is Cheddar cheese yellow?” You’ll also get to sample fresh cheese.
Doors Open Milwaukee (Free!)
Annual event held in September
On one weekend in September, Doors Open Milwaukee opens the doors to over 100 wonderful buildings free-of-charge to the public. The buildings include churches, theaters, museums, hotels, universities, and office buildings, and all of them hold hidden treasures and interesting stories. Doors Open Milwaukee designates several sites of special interest to families with children during the event. You can pick up a free passport and have them stamped as you visit each site.
Firehouse Tours (Free!)
Contact your local fire department for a kid-friendly tour! You'll get to climb on the fire trucks, try on a fire coat and learn all about fire safety. You might also get a fire hat, a coloring book, and other fun kid swag.
Self-guided Mural Tour (Free!) United Community Center, 1028 S. 9th St., Milwaukee, WI 53204
Find the self-guided mural tour on the United Community Center’s website. Marvel upon and learn about the colorful murals that pay homage to Hispanic heritage.
Jelly Belly Visitor Center (Free!)
10100 Jelly Belly Ln., Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158
You do not want to miss one of the daily warehouse tours in the Jelly Belly factory. The entire experience is free, and includes a ride on a mini choo-choo train, chef hats, information about the history of the company, videos about how jelly bellies are made, and impressive jelly belly artwork. The best part? Free candy at the end!
1 Brewers Way, Milwaukee, WI 53214
Get a behind-the-scenes look at this impressive Milwaukee landmark. The Classic Tour includes a visit to the Visitor's Clubhouse, bullpen, the exclusive Club Level, Uecker's Broadcast Booth, and more.
Self-guided Walking Tours (Free!)
Milwaukee is home to statues, monuments, and architecture that entertains, inspires, and honors our heroes. There are also very unusual statues such as a monument to a duck and its ducklings. Head to gpsmycity.com for seven self-guided walking tours of Milwaukee so you can learn more.
Sprecher Brewing Company 701 W. Glendale Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53209
On this family-friendly tour, you'll visit the brew house and discover how Sprecher revives Old World brewing traditions that made Milwaukee famous. You’ll get to stroll through the lager cellar and see the Bavarian murals on display on the bottling room wall. After the brewery tour, you can spend some time in Sprecher's indoor beer garden, with music and samples from any of up to 20 beers and 10 gourmet sodas on draught.
St. Joan of Arc Chapel (Free!)
Marquette University Campus
Could this be the oldest building in Milwaukee? Was it actually built in France? Take a free tour and find out the answers to these questions and more.
Stone Creek Coffee Factory (Free!)
422 N. 5th St., Milwaukee, WI 53203
Learn about the history of Stone Creek Coffee, see the farm-to-cup coffee journey up close, and get a behind-the-scenes look at their 1880’s factory. You’ll learn about roasting, coffee growing seasons, and more in a fun and educational environment. Tours take place every Sunday at noon (excluding major holidays), and you can sign up for them online.
During the summer, use the Milwaukee Trolly Loop to connect to downtown Milwaukee’s festivals, museums, shops and events. There are 30 stops on the route that link you to major attractions. Rides are only $1 per trip.
Wisconsin Humane Society (Free!) 4500 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53208
Take a behind the scenes tour of the Wisconsin Humane Society to learn how shelter staff and volunteers help transform unwanted companion animals into much loved family members, and how injured and orphaned wild animals get a second chance. Your guide will take you through the Wildlife Gallery, Veterinary Hospital, Guest Lodging and Adoption Avenue. Weekend tours are free and open to the public.
Green Roof tours of Central Library (Free!)
814 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53233
Get a tour of Central Library’s unique green roof. They run late April through October, typically Wednesdays at noon and Saturdays at 10:00 a.m.. Check their website for the most updated schedule.