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What is Milwaukee Famous For?

Updated on June 10, 2011

The History of Milwaukee

Native Americans once ruled Milwaukee. Tribes, such as the Menominee, Fox, Potawatomi and Ho-Chunk, roamed the land gathering wheat and other gatherables. Oh, and hunting, there was definitely some hunting to complement the gathering.

Anyone who has seen Wayne's World knows that "Milwaukee" is derived from the Algonquian word Millioke , which means "The Good Land." Thank you, Alice Cooper!

The City of Milwaukee was established in 1822 by French explorers and fur traders, specifically Solomon Juneau. He and his buddies thought the land looked like a good place to shack up, and shack up they did. And from that, Milwaukee was born. Mazel tov!

With almost a 200-year history, Milwaukee has had plenty of time to develop a reputation. Here is what Milwaukee has become most known for in that time:

Schlitz: "The Beer that Made Milwaukee Famous!"

Milwaukee is Known for Beer
Milwaukee is Known for Beer | Source


"To beer! The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems." - Homer Simpson

With over 10 different breweries and brewpubs inside the city limits, it’s no wonder Milwaukee has been given the nicknames "The Brew City," "The Beer Capital of the World" and "Beer City, Population: Beer." Actually, I just made that last one up. But, I like it and I like beer.

According to Beer History, a reputable source on all things beer, Milwaukee can attribute its renowned brewing reputation to early local business men aggressively selling their fine brew on a national scale and to the nearby populous of Chicago. Plus, the "Land of Lakes" allowed cheap and easy transportation by way of water.

For much of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Milwaukee was the number one beer producing city in the world. How do you like that, St. Louis?

At the time, four major national breweries (Miller, Pabst, Schlitz and Blatz) operated throughout the city. Eventually Blatz and Schlitz waned in popularity and were later bought by the Pabst Brewing Company in 1999. Some will tell you those were the "Good Old Days," but I won't, because I wasn't alive then.

Today, Milwaukee breweries range from national businesses like MillerCoors (the second-largest in the USA) and Pabst Brewing Company to smaller, local microbreweries and brewpubs, such as Sprecher Brewing Co., The Milwaukee Ale House, Water Street Brewery and Lakefront Brewery.

(You must be 21 or older or enter a birth date that would suggest you are in order to enter the brewery websites)

If you find yourself in Milwaukee and would like to enjoy a beer there, try one of these fine drinking establishments:

Bottoms up!

Excuse Me, Waitress? Could You Also Fry My Coleslaw?

Milwaukee is Known for Fish Fry
Milwaukee is Known for Fish Fry | Source

Fish Fry

Served with french fries, coleslaw, rye bread and a lemon wedge, a fish fry is a popular meal in Milwaukee, especially on a Friday night during Lent. But really in Milwaukee, any Friday night will do.

(Have you noticed that so far both things revolve around food? Hmm ... )

Almost every restaurant, tavern and eating establishment in the area (chains excluded) features some sort of fish fry on its menu. Word is still out as whether it is a Milwaukee mandate in order to operate a restaurant within city limits. My guess is, yes. Yes, it is.

Diners can choose between beer batter fried cod, perch, walleye or catfish for their protein. All are fried, so really, all are delicious!

If your belly can take it, most establishments offer an "All You Can Eat" fish fry where the fish don't stop a 'comin till you say so! Or, until the restaurant runs out of fish or kindly asks you to leave.

Beer, as you might imagine, is a popular beverage often served with a fish fry and nicely ties together two of the things Milwaukee is most known for.

Drunk Zombies? No, That's Just the Summerfest Crowd.

Milwaukee is Known for Festivals
Milwaukee is Known for Festivals | Source

Milwaukee Travel Guides:


Once winter ends in April and the snow melts in May, the festivals begin on the Milwaukee lakefront and don't end until October ... when the winter begins.

Summer in Milwaukee is simply filled with festivals. Locals don't even call the season summer, they call it "festival." Or "festival season" if they aren't into the whole brevity thing.

When attending a festival in Milwaukee, the most popular activities revolve around two things. If you have been reading this article thus far, you can probably guess what they are:

  • Beer
  • Food

Almost every ethnicity, from Italian to Greek, to German to Polish, has a festival in Milwaukee with each one serving popular beers and meals from the motherland. Most dishes are of course fried. So, when eating at restaurant in Milwaukee is just a little too dull, a festival is just the answer to spice things up!

The most famous of all Milwaukee festivals is Summerfest. Summerfest is the "World's Largest Musical Festival" where bands from across the USA and the globe perform on a dozen or so different stages and venues spread out across the grounds.

In recent years, popular bands like Tom Petty, John Mayer, Pink, Tim McGraw, Usher and Def Leppard have performed at Summerfest. Oh, and this local guy named Pat McCurdy.

Also known as "the Big Gig," Summerfest crowds are enormous and the people-watching opportunities are plentiful. It's surprising a National Geographic special issue hasn't been published yet with full-page color pictures of the festival inhabitants. You can watch them in their natural habitat or drink a few beers and join them!

Go Milwaukee Brewers!

Milwaukee is Known for Baseball
Milwaukee is Known for Baseball | Source


Being the major metropolis that it is, Milwaukee is home to two professional sports teams, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Milwaukee Bucks, and some of the best sports fans in the USA.

The Milwaukee Brewers

After a brief stint in Seattle as the Pilots, the Milwaukee Brewers arrived in Milwaukee in 1969 and have played Major League Baseball in the city ever since. In that time, unfortunately, the team has enjoyed very little success.

Over the course of 41 seasons, the Milwaukee Brewers have made only two playoff appearances, and one in the last 27 years.

Their only World Series appearance resulted in a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1982 World Series with Hall of Fame players like Robin Yount, Paul Molitor and Rollie Fingers on the roster.

Today, the Milwaukee Brewers play in Miller Park, a stadium named after the city's most famous brewery. One of the best features of the stadium is its retractable roof, allowing patrons from far and wide to make the trip to see the team confident that the game will be played.

Miller Park serves a wide variety of beer and fried foods to make every fan feel right at home. The most popular concession item is the world-famous Milwaukee bratwurst. The stadium also serves bowls of nacho cheese in a Milwaukee Brewers helmet.

Before every 7th Inning at Miller Park, giant foam sausages run around the field much to the crowd's delight. Food truly is entertaining in Milwaukee, even if sometimes the game is not.

During the 7th Inning Stretch, the stadium speakers play "Roll Out the Barrel" in honor of the rich brewing history in Milwaukee.

Go Marquette Golden Eagles!

Milwaukee is Known for Marquette
Milwaukee is Known for Marquette | Source

The Milwaukee Bucks

While Milwaukee has never been known as a basketball town, its NBA team, the Milwaukee Bucks, has enjoyed some success over its 42-year history.

The team has won numerous division titles, along with two conference titles and one NBA Championship in 1971.

Some of the greatest players in the history of basketball have played on the Milwaukee Bucks, including Oscar Robertson, Ray Allen and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

In recent years, attendance has been down at the Bradley Center, the home venue for the Milwaukee Bucks, thanks to poor performance by the team and there has been some fear that the team may change owners and possibly location.

Time will tell the future of the Bucks in Milwaukee, but for now, you can enjoy a beer at the Bradley Center and a NBA game. Fear the Deer!

College Teams

Marquette University, home of the Golden Eagles, is located in Milwaukee. Then the The Warriors, the team won the NCAA Tournament in 1977 with coach Al McGuire. The Golden Eagles have enjoyed recent success in the NCAA tournament and made a Final Four appearance in 2003 with Dwayne Wade.

The University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee Panthers appeared in their first NCAA Tournament in 2003 and in the "Sweet 16" in 2005 under coach Bruce Pearl.

Neither school features a football team. Hmm ... maybe Milwaukee is a basketball town?


Founded early in the 20th Century, Harley-Davidson is a world-famous motorcycle manufacturer located in Milwaukee.

Harley-Davidsons, also known as "Hogs," are heavy-duty motorcyles built for the highway with loud exhausts and a subculture entirely their own.

The brand maintains an extremely loyal fan base and every five years since the 90th Anniversary in 1993, Harley riders journey to Milwaukee to celebrate the company and the motorcycle and the "Ride Home" as they call it.

Unofficially known as "Harleyfest," the celebration, like most Milwaukee festivals, consists of drinking beer, eating food and listening to music. Although, this festival certainly has its own unique flair.

Perhaps the best Harleyfest story occurred during the 100th Anniversary in 2003 when Elton John was hired as the headliner for the concert event held at the lakefront. Most attendees were expecting Bruce Springstein or ZZ Top, and were appalled to see Elton come out on stage, who doesn't exactly fit the Harley-Davidson stereotype.

The recent economic crisis has impacted Harley-Davidson, resulting in some of the company's factories and distribution centers closing their doors. However, in April of 2010 the company announce that it has no intention of leaving its home city, Milwaukee.


Milwaukee is filled with some of the nicest people you will ever meet. It is most certainly a "Blue Collar" city where everyone works hard and lives life to the fullest.

Whether you visit a brewery, restaurant, festival or sporting event in Milwaukee you are sure to be greeted by a friendly face and a helping hand.

Maybe if you are lucky you can even get a local to buy you a beer or maybe fry you up somethin' to eat.


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      6 years ago

      wow, that's very good, that city is applauding, because the last time i checked there are some cities that has nothing to show for there names.


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