Last week I decided to ‘take on’ an article that I read, Only In Your State – Wisconsin edition. The piece was about the lakefront paths in Milwaukee and the views that make these trails worth the steps! I love being downtown, so I take any excuse (yes, even exercise) to head there. But what was particularly motivating about this article was the prize at the end of the hike – a lighthouse that offers incredible views of the lake and city!
The day I ventured downtown felt like summertime. October is here, but the fall temps haven’t fully committed themselves to the season. As suggested, I parked by the Milwaukee Art Museum. Parking is so incredibly easy by the lakefront – there is ample street parking, no meters, and a 3-hour limit. It was the perfect amount of time to tackle this roughly 2.5-mile trek. Immediately, your trail begins with stunning views of the Milwaukee Art Museum, Discovery Zone, and in my case, a trail lined with the beauty of autumn – bright yellow trees that looked as if they were raining sunshine as the leaves fell and blew in the wind. The views of the lake off the bat are worth getting out and going there… it’s simply that beautiful.
The article mentioned taking the Oak Leaf Trail – it snakes through parks, McKinley Marina, and views of Bradford Beach (I actually walked a little further towards the beach just to get a better look and put my toes in the sand). The only challenging part of the walk and I say this with some humor, is when you climb the bluff (sidewalk up the hill or stairs – pick your poison) that will take you from the lakefront to Lake Park and the lighthouse. It really isn’t that bad, just a quick uphill climb. Prior to reaching the bluff, you will see Villa Terrace, a museum with some serious curb appeal and the water tower.
Once up the hill, you will walk a short way through one of Milwaukee’s East Side vintage neighborhoods, with the North Point Lighthouse slightly off the path. It is even more striking in person… photos don’t do it justice. The 1888 lighthouse is one of the oldest structures still standing in Milwaukee! It’s a little piece of history right there in the heart of it all. Now, time to be honest. Don’t make the same mistake I did and go to the lighthouse when its closed – cue facepalm! Although slightly disappointed that I wouldn’t get the panoramic views described in the article, I was pleased with the views I did have along the way… after all guys, it’s about the journey, right? And it’s an excuse to go back. It certainly is a great location to bring friends and family visiting from out of town!
I took some time to enjoy the lighthouse grounds and take some photos, as well as meander through some of Lake Park which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted … ring a bell? If not, think Central Park and that should have you skipping to go see what Lake Park is like. It certainly doesn’t rival Central Park but is a stunning park nonetheless. It’s an easy stroll back and if you worked up an appetite you can make a pit stop at Collectivo Coffee! If your legs have grown tired from walking, you can also rent bikes and make the trip back swifter.
I peruse through so many sites with suggestions of where to go and what to see. I am happy I took this articles suggestion. It was perfect for a newcomer like me to see what the city has to offer. There was so much activity on the trails and you can’t beat an asphalt path (smooth strolling and shoes won’t get dirty!) built for every skill level.
Want to take a stroll through some parks and explore Milwaukee’s lakefront? Click Here
Tell me, have you done the Oak Leaf Trail? How about North Point Lighthouse? Any spots I may have missed in Lake Park? What parks and trails can you recommend? Too many questions? Let me know below!