Bars you can navigate to in Milwaukee

In summer in Milwaukee, the best friend is the one who owns a boat. Discovering Milwaukee from the waterfront is a great way to see the city from a new perspective. And since the summer months are fleeting, make the most of the season by eating and drinking at the waterfront bars and restaurants.

Not just a big city on a big lake, Milwaukee also has three rivers to explore: Milwaukee, Menominee and Kinnickinnic. So if the mere thought of the crest of the waves makes you dizzy, opt for a river cruise and enjoy a much more relaxing experience. Also, all the best places to stop are along the rivers.

If you don’t have access to a friend with a boat, rent one Milwaukee Duffy, which launches easily from the Boone & Crockett. These electric boats are as easy to drive as a golf cart, or if you don’t feel like driving there’s a ‘skipper service’ for an additional fee – well worth it if you plan to test drive each of the 10 bars along the river route. Rates start at $149 per hour and the boats can accommodate up to 12 people.

Now get out there and make the most of these last few warm months. Starting from the south to the north, all these beautiful establishments are accessible on foot and by boat.


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During our annual festival of love for the city we call home, readers and editors donate crazy props to the people, places and things that make us tick right now. From restaurants to remodelers, we’ve curated over 100 reasons for you to get out and explore Milwaukee.


1. Barnacle Bud’s

1955 S. HILBERT ST.

This quirky gem is off the beaten path and much easier to find from the water than from the road. During busy weekend hours, it can be difficult to find a slipway at the dock. With a full menu of inexpensive food and drink, you can easily spend an afternoon in this hidden enclave and forget you’re in Milwaukee.

2. Boone & Crocket

818 S.EAU STREET.

Making the most of their waterfront property, find kayaks, pedal and paddle tavernas, and the infamous Taco Moto truck, all in the Boone & Crockett parking lot. Retreat indoors for a comfortable place to sit and an Old Fashioned fort if you need a break from the sun.

3. Sailmaker

649 E.ERIE ST.

This place is accessible from the Third Ward Riverwalk and adjacent to a colorful lawn, compete with oversized garden games and a small free library. The large bar is a great place to meet a new friend or just order apps and ask them to deliver to you dockside.

4. Pizzeria by the river

509 E.ERIE ST.

Also on the Riverwalk, Riverfront Pizza’s high-carb menu is a great place to fill up during a long day of drinking. Enjoy the view of the old railway trestle in the water and stretch your legs on the terrace.

5. The Starling Pier Garden

102 N.WATER ST.

The new kid on the block, where Water and Erie streets meet, is a private event venue with rotating Tall Guy pop-ups and a Grill. The Flour Girl and Flame pizza brunch is not to be missed. Watch for other concepts throughout the year.

6. Blue bat and tequilaria cooking

249 N.WATER ST.

For foodies, Blue Bat is a great stop to stock up on dishes inspired by global street food. And there are over 160 tequilas to try if you’re in need of beer.

Photo courtesy of Blue Bat

seven. Rock Bottom Brewery

740 N. PLANKINTON AVE.

Just past a giant fish mural, find a huge outdoor terrace that’s often filled with people drinking craft beer and waving at passing boats. Rock Bottom has a huge menu and great views of the Bronze Fonz.

8. The harp

113 E.JUNEAU AVENUE.

La Harpe is the perfect place to party. Live music every Sunday and rowdy crowds make this Irish pub a great place to stop if you’re with a band ready to let loose.

9. Brewery by the lake

1872 N. TRADE ST.

This northern part of the river seems a bit sleepier, but there is still plenty to see. Moor up and stay for one of Lakefront’s famous brewery tours, or perhaps enjoy a Friday night fish fry.

Kegnado. Photo courtesy of Lakefront Brewery.

10. Stubby’s Gastrogrub and Beer Bar

2060 N. HUMBOLDT BLVD.

Finally, someone has mastered gourmet bar food to go with a huge selection of craft beers – 53 taps rotating, to be exact. Allow a little extra time if you stop in so you can enjoy air hockey, pop-a-shot shuffleboard, and other favorite games before tucking into snacks like Brussels fries and pulled chicken nachos .


REMARK: My husband Ramsey Renno owns and operates The Starling. I limited my bias to the Flour Girl & Flame pizza, which we don’t get involved in making. Ask anyone, it truly is a slice of heaven.






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