The 5 Best Walkable Neighborhoods in the City of Milwaukee
1. Milwaukee’s Third Ward
2. Milwaukee’s Fifth Ward
3. Milwaukee’s East Side
5. Washington Heights
Milwaukee’s Third Ward
Milwaukee’s Third Ward is a fast-growing and exciting place to live and visit, and yet is still packed with historic buildings, charm, and stories from old Milwaukee. Surrounded by water on three sides, the neighborhood is packed with more than 20 condo and apartment buildings and more than 450 businesses in a relatively small area (.07 square mile). And the Third Ward has a little bit of something for everyone—including sidewalks!
For date night, there is no shortage of trendy restaurants, especially along the river. For a family night out, there are both family-friendly restaurants and plenty of options for fun activities. For people of all ages, there are kayak rentals so you can explore the rivers, galleries, boutiques, the Italian Community Center, and picturesque sights everywhere you look, as well as small parks hidden throughout. And don’t forget the always-bustling Milwaukee Public Market, offering a great representation of some of the best food, wine, and gift items Milwaukee has to offer.
The Milwaukee River runs through the middle of the Third Ward, and many restaurants allow you to sit right along the water as you enjoy your dinner. On top of all that, the Third Ward is friendly to both those who walk and those who drive (many parking lots and ramps), and the recent implementation of a streetcar system will make getting around even easier!
Milwaukee’s Fifth Ward/Walker’s Point
Walker's Point is a neighborhood that lies south of the Third Ward and the eastern part of the Menomonee River Valley. Founded by George H. Walker in 1835 as a fur trading post, the area is known for being home to some of the most recent and trendy developments southwest of the Third Ward. Formerly an all-industrial neighborhood, Walker’s Point is thriving, and it continues to undergo gentrification with newer, trendier office spaces, condos, and apartments. And it is home to one of the most recognized foodie scenes in the city (centered on Second Street) with James Beard-recognized restaurants, a craft brewery, and distillery. Development is very robust here.
Rockwell Automation is headquartered in this neighborhood, and the Allen-Bradley Clock Tower is a major icon in the neighborhood. It is the world's largest four-faced clock, as listed in Guinness World Records. And Walker’s Point is home to Milwaukee’s original cheese factory, Clock Shadow Creamery (they give tours!) and Purple Door Ice Cream, which makes and serves super-premium artisanal ice cream. We love our dairy here!
Milwaukee’s East Side
The East Side is a broad area that refers to anything east of the Milwaukee River, north of downtown, and south of the suburb of Shorewood. This area includes neighborhoods such as Murray Hill, Northpoint, Upper East Side, Lower East Side, and Riverside Park. It also includes the Brady Street neighborhood, the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee campus, the lakefront, and marina. Brady Street (from Prospect to Holton) and North Avenue (from Prospect to the Milwaukee River) both feature popular, pedestrian-friendly commercial strips of nightlife, restaurants, and shops intermingled with residences, single-family homes, duplexes, apartments, and condos. Brady Street is known not only for its vibrant bar and restaurant scene but also for its popular pet parade which runs annually in October.
The East Side is also home to a local, treasured landmark—the Oriental Theatre—which hosts the annual and increasingly popular and nationally recognized Milwaukee Film Festival. Other popular festivals throughout the summer months and ease of access to Bradford Beach and the marina make everything along Milwaukee’s popular East Side very walkable and pedestrian and bike friendly.
Riverwest is an eclectic, residential neighborhood with a strong communal spirit located west of the Milwaukee River and east of Holton Street, situated south of Estabrook Park, between Milwaukee's East Side, Brewers' Hill, Williamsburg Heights, and Harambee neighborhoods. The main east-west arterial streets connect Riverwest to the East Side via bridges. The main north-south arterial streets connect Riverwest to the downtown area, the lower East Side (specifically Brady Street), and suburban Shorewood. You’ll find many unique cafes, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, music venues, a dance club, and shops throughout Riverwest.
Riverwest is attractive to home buyers due to its proximity to downtown and the university and its communal vibe. Riverwest, along with other housing and commercial developments, followed a long period of decline up through the 1990s. However, more recently, the trend in this neighborhood has been rising property values and an increase in owner-occupied housing. Riverwest still features more affordable rental opportunities among its bungalows, duplexes, and "Polish flats" (raised cottages) than is generally found closer to the university.
Riverwest has many nonprofit and volunteer-run organizations, such as its neighborhood association, a community newspaper and radio station, a grocery co-op, Woodland Pattern Book Center, The Public House (co-op bar), an investment co-op, and Milwaukee River Advocates Co-op.
Washington Heights is a neighborhood that advertises itself as "In the City — Out of the Ordinary!" The neighborhood lies along the western border of Washington Park between North Ave and Vliet Street with N. 60th Street as its west boarder and is only minutes from downtown. The neighborhood is home to ever-expanding restaurants, coffee shops, wine shops, art galleries, and other businesses. The proximity of so many wonderful activities and haunts means that Washington Heights is very much a walking community. With the abundance of beautiful scenery and shops, there’s no need to drive!
Milwaukee is a city of many wonderful and walkable neighborhoods, making it both easy and enjoyable to travel and explore. If you’re looking to plant roots in one of these neighborhoods, you’ll find a wide array of housing options in nearly all of them. Walk on!
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