Wisconsin is the 23rd largest state in terms of its physical size and has the 20th highest state population. Nicknamed the 'Badger State', Wisconsin is located in Midwest region of America around the Great Lakes. It has borders with Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa. Some parts of Wisconsin are located on two of the five Great Lakes: Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. Wisconsin covers an area of 65,498.37 square miles and has an estimated total population of 5.79 million people.
The state is also known under the nickname 'America's Dairyland' as it supplies a huge percentage of the nation's dairy products and is well-known for its cheese. The capital city of Wisconsin is Madison, but the biggest city in the state is Milwaukee. The Milwaukee metro area is the largest of its kind in the state. Here are some additional details and overviews on the largest cities of Wisconsin. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
5 of the Largest Cities in Wisconsin
- Milwaukee, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com
- Madison, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com
- Green Bay, Photo: Donald Joski/stock.adobe.com
- Kenosha, Photo: doncon402/stock.adobe.com
- Racine, Photo: Tony/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of rudi1976 - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Historic Third Ward, Milwaukee
The Historic Third Ward is Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s premier spot for art, retail, and fashion. Visitors will find fine dining, spas, art galleries, unique boutiques, and theaters, most within walking distance of each other in the historic warehouse district.
The Third Ward is the oldest center of commerce and warehousing in Milwaukee and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as such. After the devastating fire of 1892 that destroyed a 16-block area of the riverfront commerce section resulting in $60 million worth of damage by today’s standards, the district was rebuilt into a booming commercial market over the course of 30 years.
The Historic Third Ward Association was established in 1976 to work with those who live in the neighborhood, business owners and merchants, real-estate developers, organizations, and community leadership to further develop, plan, and revitalize the Third Ward. They also promote events, foster develop and positive business relationships, and recruit new business to the area. The Third Ward proudly employs over 5,000 people all within a 60-block radius.
Presently, the Third Ward is a mixed-use neighborhood with over 500 businesses including award winning restaurants, the most art galleries of anywhere in Milwaukee, specialty shops, the Broadway Theater Company, art galleries, advertising agencies, architectural firms, condominiums, offices, and industrial spaces as well as many other artistic and business endeavors.
Since 2004, the Third Ward has seen an expansion in its retail offerings for upscale women’s and children’s boutiques, home furnishings, and other high-end merchandise. The Milwaukee Public Market opened in 2005 which drew over one million people in 2012.
The Historic Third Ward also draws numerous crowds to the Henry W. Maier Festival Park where Summerfest and other festivals which attract over 2 million visitors annually and the Italian Community Center which can bring crowds of up to half a million easily.
The Third Ward continues to grow in its residential offerings as well with over 1200 condominiums being completed as of 2011.
The Third Ward is known for its eclectic shopping options that suit every taste and budget. They offer Fashion and Accessory shops that offer affordable trendy jewelry, unique handbags, scarves, hair accessories, wallets, purses, and more. Some shops are locally owned while others are national chains such as Anthropologie, Lululemon, MODA3, and others.
Visitors can also find shops that specialize in healthcare services, home and office furnishings, interior design and specialty shopping. Some of the most noteworthy shops include The Home Market, Luminosity, Inc, Broadway Paper, Window Vogue and Inspired.
There is no shortage of places to relax, eat, or enjoy a drink in The Historic Third Ward. From Cafés, coffee shops, chocolatiers, bakeries, award winning restaurants, sustainable food sourced locally, to pubs, taverns, and bars; as well as the many establishments, available at the Public Market, everyone is sure to find something to satisfy their taste buds in The Third Ward.
Food Tours are also available through Milwaukee Food & City Tours that takes participants behind the scenes to some of the best eateries in the Third Ward. Tours include a full meal that is divided up into tastings at a minimum of four different restaurants with drink samples, stories on Milwaukee’s rich history, and a fun time had by all over 2.5-3 hours.
Arts and Culture
One of the most beloved treasures of The Third Ward is the accessibility to the arts. There are a plethora of art galleries and museums that can be frequented including The Harley-Davidson Museum, several independent art studios and galleries, Milwaukee Artist Resource Center, Edelman Studios LLC, and many more.
Performing arts are also at the forefront of the Third Ward and The Broadway Theatre Center is one of the most recognizable features. The Fred Astaire Dance Studio, Milwaukee World Festival Inc, Skylight Music Theatre, Trinity Academy of Irish Dance, and Renaissance Theatreworks, can all be found here.
Although there may be several events that happen spontaneously throughout the calendar year, there are a few annual events that visitors to the Third Ward can look forward to.
Gallery Night and Day- This events happens 4 weekends each year and showcases the artistic talent of the Third Ward.
Summer Sizzle- A free outdoor Jazz concert with food and specialty vendors (currently on hiatus as of 2013, but will resume in the future)
Sidewalk Sale- End of summer sale where over 30 local merchants feature amazing discounts and bargains!
Third Ward Art Festival- Every Labor Day weekend the Third Ward features a renowned display of art from every medium that is for sale by local and national artists.
Small Business Saturday- Support your locally owned shops in the Third Ward the Saturday before Thanksgiving when many merchants are offering incentives for shopping small and local.
Christmas in the Ward- The annual Christmas festival kicks off the holiday season every first weekend in December with fireworks, visits from Santa and his reindeer along with other festivities.
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219 N Milwaukee Street, WI 53202, Phone: 414-273-1173
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Attraction Spotlight: Mitchell Park Conservatory (The Domes)
The Mitchell Park Conservatory, “The Domes”, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is a place where visitors can explore the desert oasis, trek through the tropical jungles, and stroll through the North American gardens all in one afternoon.
History of The Domes
The Mitchell Park Conservatory began in 1898 when the original conservatory was built consisting of a few exhibited flowers in a greenhouse. This building was erected until 1955 when it was deemed unsafe and demolished.
Donald Grieb designed a plan to construct 3 glass domes shaped like beehives and entered the design into a contest for the new Conservatory. The local architect won and the plans for a 140 in diameter, 85-foot-high conservatory with 15,000 square feet of growing and exhibition space was put into the developmental stages in 1959.
The total cost of The Domes, which included the Desert, Tropical and Floral Show Domes, was $4.5 million and construction was completed in phases so as not to need capital from public bonds. Construction was completed in 1967 and the Mitchell Park Conservatory was opened to the public. In 2008, a grand-reopening ceremony was held to reveal the newly installed LED lighting system and light show.
Visiting The Domes
The Mitchel Park Conservatory is open 7 days a week including holidays from 9am to 5pm, but closes an hour early on weekends and holidays. Admission prices and discounts, including free days, are outlined on the Milwaukee County Parks webpage. Visitors should allow one hour to explore all three domes.
Desert Dome- The Desert Dome features some of the finest collections of cacti, succulents, shrubs, and bulbs in the world and focuses on regions of Africa, Madagascar, The Canary Island, South and North America. All the plants showcased in the Desert Dome thrive in hot, dry climates and are grouped by geographic regions along pathways of Desert Palms. Visitors will also find a desert oasis in this dome with shaded date palms, a small pool with aquatic life, and an ethnobotany garden.
Tropical Dome- Visitors to the Tropical Dome will discover more than 1,200 species of tropical plants, birds, and other rainforest products. In this Dome, many of the plants that decorate our homes and offices can be found such as flowering plants like philodendrons, bromeliads, orchids, and ferns; however, visitors will also find banana, cocoa, and coffee bean plants, macadamia trees, spices such as cardamom and black pepper, vanilla, and hardwoods like ebony and mahogany.
Floral Show Dome- This dome opened in 1964 and is one of Milwaukee’s most popular attractions. More than 150 floral displays have been housed in this dome since its inception, each with a unique theme and design. Themes are either historical, cultural or fantasy inspired and are chosen for display at least one year in advance. The plants for each exhibit are grown in the Horticulture Division Greenhouse Center and moved in place for the show which runs 6-14 weeks. Plantings can change multiple times per show season. The process of setting up each show can take up to two weeks and involves landscape architects, horticulturists, and other tradesmen.
There are many ways to enjoy The Domes in an educational and interactive way through guided or self-guided tours at Mitchell Park Conservatory. Groups that are participating in self-guided tours of The Domes should register one week in advances while those groups requesting guided tours, led by an interpretive educator, should be booked at least 2 weeks in advance. Group Discounts are available.
Educational Tours for grades k-12 are developed to meet national education standards while college Educational Tours are developed at the instructor’s request. College tours are only available on select days while grade school tours are available daily. Each program includes a 30-45 tour with additional activities such as a plant or bird scavenger hunt to be completed after the tour. Participants should allow up to 2 hours for these tours to be completed. Details on programs by grade level are available on the Milwaukee Parks webpage.
The Mitchell Conservatory offers opportunities to bring the community together through special public events, as well as private events. Festivals, concerts, workshops and other fun activities are outlined on the events calendar online. Although no camping is allowed in Mitchell Park, there are two overnight lodges available to be rented for Youth groups and other private events.
Show Dome Transition- This special event covers the making of the Floral Dome Show and occurs during the transition between shows. Usually happening over a 2-week period, visitors can watch as a new show is brought to life.
Pollinators Week- This week in June focuses on the affect that Pollinators such as bees and butterflies have on our lives. Visitors can sample food, see animals up close, and go on nature hikes.
524 S. Layton Blvd, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 53215, Phone: 414-257-5611
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Attraction Spotlight: Discovery World Science and Technology Center
The Discovery World Science and Technology Center in Milwaukee is a 12,000 square foot facility featuring hands-on educational exhibits, an aquarium, labs, and a promenade with shopping and a Ship that operates seasonally.
Discovery World Science and Technology Center is appropriate and enjoyable for the entire family with interactive exhibits centered on the natural world and innovation. The center is comprised on 4 distinct areas—A promenade where visitors will find shopping and dining opportunities, the Technology Building, Aquatarium Building, and The Sailing Vessel.
Discovery World offers many opportunities for private events such as corporate functions, birthday parties and weddings. Offering indoor and outdoor rental options, Discovery World has award winning catering through Bartolotta Catering and Events, views of the lake and downtown, with video production, and museum access available. The S/V Denis Sullivan Ship can also be privately chartered for 50 people.
The center is fully handicap accessible with a heated, underground parking garage with handicap parking spaces located near the elevators. Stroller and wheelchair rental is available. Boaters may also dock at the harbor for a small fee while visiting the center. These spaces are limited.
Discovery World features permanent and traveling exhibits that engage people of all ages in interactive and educational activities to learn about science and technology. Exhibits that are temporary or traveling are detailed on the center’s website.
Reiman Aquarium- The Reiman Aquarium explores bodies of water from the Great Lakes to the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean. Some of the most popular areas of the aquarium are the Touch tanks where visitors can touch a real shark and the Underwater Labs. The aquarium also includes exhibits featuring marine life from around the world including a 75,000-gallon tank featuring fish from Lake Michigan, a Jelly Fish tank, Seahorse tank, and submarine.
Great Lakes Future- The largest interactive model of the great lakes ever made, this exhibit allows visitors to create a rainstorm over Lake Huron, travel a sky bridge, look through underwater portals, manage the dam system, and see the tree of life.
The City of Freshwater & Liquid House- This exhibit teaches visitors about green infrastructure and waste water. The process of the MMSD is also explored and visitors can learn how to reduce water loss.
Challenge- The Challenge is a replica of the schooner built by William Wallace Bates in 1852 and sailed on The Great Lakes. This replica was built in 2005 by Rob Stevens and visitors can explore both above and below deck and learn about the physics of sailing.
Simple Machine Shipyard- This exhibit provides multiple simple machines that visitors can engage with such as an inclined plane, wheel and axle, and levers.
The Music Factory- This exhibit is an extension of the Rockwell Automation Dream Machine and allows visitors to make their own music through interactive kiosks in 3 steps—composer, visualizer, and controller.
Dream Machine- Step into the future in this exhibit where everything is controlled by robots. Visitors can make products to take home, challenge robots to games, and control the dome of the museum as well as a robot assembly line.
Milwaukee Muscle- Explore movement and power in an exhibit that investigates how hydraulics and motors work in the world engineering and machinery. Visitors can work a mini-excavator, automatons, or take a flight on an airline simulator.
Physics and You- Gravity and over elements of physics are explored in this hands-on exhibit that also teaches aerodynamics, Newton’s Law of Motion, and principles of electricity.
Johnson Controls Innovation Planet- This exhibit area features the work of one of the great innovators of Milwaukee, Warren Johnson. This man invented the thermostat, steam and gas-powered cars and well as pneumatic clocks.
Energy & Ingenuity- Visitors can go inside the control room of a nuclear reactor, a wind turbine, and experiment with infrared cameras in this exhibit.
The Distant Mirror- Explore the past through interactive stations that act like real archaeological methods to overserve ancient artifacts and documents that tell the history of Milwaukee.
Virtual Reality- The newest exhibit at the Discovery Center, visitors can explore multiple environment and storytelling adventures through Virtual Reality Simulations.
Les Paul’s House of Sound- Visitors can make their own music and view the Les Paul guitar collection here.
Clean Air Trek- Reducing air pollution and human’s carbon footprint is the focus of the Clean Air Trek.
BIG- This exhibit is presented through Caterpillar and explores the world of mining and the tools used in this trade as well as fossils of the region.
Wind Leaves- A musical outdoor exhibit that was designed by Ned Kahn, a nature artist, and rotates with the wind.
S/V Denis Sullivan- The sailing ship is a recreation of the 19th century schooner that once sailed the great lakes. The boat can accommodate 50 people and has a 10-person crew offering 2 hour tours and private charters.
Kohls Design it Lab- Lab team members assist visitors in using tools to create 3D products.
500 N Harbor Dr. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Phone: 414-765-9966
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