Milwaukee is comprised of several unique and vibrant neighborhoods. Discover more about what each neighborhood what each has to offer during your stay!
There’s so much to say about Riverwest! Here are a few of our favorite spots to get you started. Riverwest Food Coop & Cafe is a full grocery store with a vegan and vegetarian cafe attached. This is a must-visit in the heart of the neighborhood and within walking distance from Cream City Hostel. Across the street is the Falcon Bowl, which is the fourth-oldest bowling alley in the country. Open bowling is on Wednesday nights only, but the tavern, a gem of a corner bar, keeps normal hours. It’s a great place to grab a cold beer and chat with locals. Fuel Cafe is a staple of Riverwest, serving “killer coffee and lousy service” since 1993. And we’ve got more breweries than anyone should try to tackle in a day: Black Husky, Lakefront Brewery, Gathering Place, Company Brewing...may we suggest staying a weekend?
We also have plenty of food options: Company Brewing is great for brunch, as is Cafe Corazon (where you’ll also find a consistently tasty margarita). If you’re in the mood for a more upscale dinner, check out Centro. You can’t go wrong with Pita Palace for a late-night bite, and if a cozy, affordable evening of food and drinks is on the agenda, make sure you visit Nessun Dorma, one of the best wine spots in the city. Friday fish fries are a Wisconsin institution and you’ll find excellent examples at Klingers, Dinos, and the Filling Station. For anything else--a six pack, a box of mac and cheese, batteries or a Snickers--pay a visit to the best corner store in the world, our very own Sunrise Food.
For a break from the asphalt, walk down to the Milwaukee River or cruise over to the east side’s Urban Ecology Center. And if it’s music you seek, you’ll find all kinds in Riverwest. Circle A, Mad Planet, High Dive, the Jazz Gallery, and Linneman’s are just the beginning. For the readers and poets- Woodland Pattern for nearly forty years, has presented internationally celebrated artists alongside performances by local and regional writers, artists, and musicians.
Located directly to the west of the hostel, Harambee is a large residential neighborhood with some real gems along the main streets.
Fischberger's Variety is gift shop manifesting as an old-time variety store that “inspires smiles.” With its drool-worthy hot bar and wide selection of beverages, Pueblo Foods is far more than a corner store. The nearest post office as well as the MLK branch of our public library are located along Martin Luther King Drive, and Rise & Grind, about a mile south on MLK, offers a great breakfast.
Bronzeville is a mostly residential neighborhood with a rich history of immigrants. The Bronzeville Collective is a black women-owned business that sells local arts and crafts. Jewels Caribbean Restaurant offers a taste of the eastern Caribbean, and Pilcrow Coffee is a small coffee roastery with a tasty cold brew, which they also serve from a fleet of cargo bikes around the city. America’s Black Holocaust Museum seeks to raise awareness of the harmful legacies of slavery and promotes repair, reconciliation, and healing. It’s an intelligently curated space that is well worth a visit. Sweets fans are encouraged to visit Northern Chocolates, but be aware that visits are by appointment only.
If you’re heading east toward Lake Michigan, there are several spots worth visiting along the way. We love the friendly vibe and fun variety at Beans and Barley’s market, bakery, deli and restaurant/cafe. Crossroads Collective and Kawa Ramen and Sushi are two other favorite places to stop for a bite. The Oriental Theatre is a gorgeous old movie palace dating to the late 1920s; these days it’s also home to the Milwaukee Film Festival. And next door, the beloved and divey Landmark Lanes may be the east side’s largest bar. Technically it holds three bars, plus billiards, darts, an arcade and late-night bowling. Hungry again? Try Ma Fischers, Lisa’s Pizza, Pizza Shuttle or Oakland Gyros.
Stimulate your mind at the east side’s comics shop, the Turning Page, and at Boswell Books, an independent general interest bookstore. Or find items and ideas to stimulate the body at the Tool Shed, a mission-driven, education-based sex toy shop. About a mile away, Brady Street is lined with coffee shops, restaurants and boutiques. (You’ll also find both Walgreens and CVS here.) We recommend Glorioso’s, Rochambo Coffee & Tea, Brewed Cafe and Easy Tyger--and if you enjoy a good novelty, you should absolutely pay a visit to Art Smart’s Dart Mart and Juggling Emporium.
The lakefront is an easy ride by bus or bike from the hostel. Visit the Milwaukee Art Museum, Discovery World, Veterans Park, Lake Park, or Collectivo on the Lake, or find a place to sit and watch the boats go by. Depending on the season, kite-flying, paddle boat rentals, volleyball and more are at your fingertips, and keep your eyes peeled for surfers!
The Third Ward is Milwaukee’s historic warehouse district. Over the last few decades, it has become a hotspot for local shops, art and food. Don’t miss the many dining and shopping options at the Milwaukee Public Market, and if you’re here during the warmer months, be sure to check out what’s happening at Henry W. Maier Festival Park, located nearby along the lakefront.
From the Third Ward, head south and cross the Milwaukee River. Here you’ll find a late-night snack (try the cheese curds!) at Camino, plus Purple Door Ice Cream, Clock Shadow Creamery (did somebody say cheese curds?), La Merenda, Tippecanoe Herbs, and Great Lakes Distillery. Conejito’s Place is another Milwaukee institution, and it’s just one of many diverse and delicious Mexican food options in Milwaukee. (Our staff will be happy to recommend more.)
Bay View is a lively neighborhood with an abundance of restaurants, salons, galleries, music venues, vintage shops, boutiques and bars. The central drag, Kinnickinnic Street, is everything a main street should be, with an array of restaurants including Odd Duck, Cafe Corazon and Vanguard. Nearby, Cactus Club is an artist-run music venue and community event space with an amazing 20 year history. Definitely check it out, and then head around the corner to Goodkind, which opened its doors in 2014 and helped shepherd in the modern era of Milwaukee’s food and cocktail scene.
Milwaukee has an extensive park system and a ton of great public spaces. Take the Oak Leaf Trail to Veterans Park along the lakefront, or head south along the lake to stroll Seven Bridges Trail at Grant Park. Alice’s Garden is an incredible public garden and event space on Milwaukee’s north side. Downtown you’ll find a paved, scenic riverwalk running alongside the Milwaukee River, and along the river closer to home, there are unpaved walking paths as well. The Urban Ecology Center, which offers kayak and canoe rentals, can be accessed from the east side of the river, and winter ice skating happens at Red Arrow Park downtown. During the summer months, there are numerous beer gardens to check out. Any other activities you’d like to try while you’re here? Just ask!