Culture and Leisure
Expatriates considering a life in Milwaukee will find numerous cultural and leisure activities that will suit all ages and tastes. The city boasts the largest music festival in the world, Summerfest, which has been running since the 1960’s and invites over 800 acts annually to perform over 11 days. Festivals that celebrate food, local culture and, of course, Milwaukee’s brewing culture also take place frequently throughout the year.
Milwaukee is home to several art institutions and museums such as the Milwaukee Art Museum, which has a prominent contemporary wing designed by famous Spanish neo-futurist architect Santiago Calatrava. The Historic Third Ward is the area to head to for art, culture and theater in the city. A key event on the city’s calendar is the Gallery Night and Day, which see’s galleries and spaces open up until late in the evening on certain days every month. For those with theatrical children, Milwaukee is home to First Stage, which is one of the country's most prominent and respected children’s theaters. They accept budding thespians from the ages of 3 through 18.
For nature lovers, a key attraction is the Milwaukee Domes, which form part of the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory. These three domes are each dedicated to a different climate: jungle, oasis, and floral garden. Alternatively, as outdoor pursuits are incredibly important to the city and its inhabitants, there are numerous parks, scenic and lakeside walks to enjoy and explore.
Food and drink are very important in Milwaukee. Along with a large amount of local and artisan beer production, sausages (especially bratwurst) and pretzels are also a specialty, drawing on the city’s much celebrated German heritage. Milwaukee’s catholic origins are also upheld in the popular Friday night Fish Fry, which is served in restaurants all over the city. A particular Milwaukee institution is Red Chili, which serves (you guessed it!) chili, and has been a fixture in the city since 1931.
Public transport in Milwaukee is frequent, affordable, efficient, and offers a better infrastructure than many other cities in the United States. The Milwaukee County Transit System runs local buses all over the city and the company boasts that over 85% of local residents are within walking distance of a bus stop or service. Tickets can be purchased on the vehicle, with the pre-purchased Milwaukee M card a cash-free alternative, as it can be topped up in advance.
As with any city in the United States, a car is pretty much essential for day to day living and national travel, though.
The General Mitchell International Airport, which serves Milwaukee, is located just six miles from the downtown area and provides direct connection to over 35 cities across the United States. The airport offers hardly any direct international flights, but one-stop connections are available to over 160 destinations on carriers such as Air Canada, United and Delta.
Milwaukee is a safe city and expats wishing to live in the area should not be overly concerned about their personal safety or that of their partners or relatives. The instance of random acts of violence or crime is relatively low and law enforcement very present on the streets. Nevertheless, some neighborhoods, such as for example the North Side, are considered less safe than others. Expatriates living in Milwaukee should show common sense and take standard precautions (e.g. avoid traveling alone at night).