LGBTQ Milwaukee: A City with a Warm Midwestern Welcome

Situated on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is Wisconsin’s largest city, and one of its most diverse. In fact, in 2016, Milwaukee was ranked as one of the top 10 “Under the Gaydar” cities in the country, for its wide variety of gay nightlife options, hospitality, and for holding one of the nation’s largest and longest-running pride events each year. Truly it is a city of midwestern hospitality that celebrates all of its wonderful diversity and the wide variety of people that make it wonderful.

A Little Milwaukee History

The area that is now Milwaukee was the home of many Native American tribes prior to its modern history, which began in 1795 when fur trader Jacques Vieau established a post along a bluff on the east side, overlooking the Milwaukee and Menomonee rivers. That post eventually became the city of Milwaukee, which is a derivative of the Algonquian word Millioke, meaning "Good", "Beautiful" and "Pleasant Land". Today, Milwaukee is a thriving city full of many industries and ample opportunity, with plenty to see and do. It’s also well-known for its breweries, its competitive professional sports teams, its distinctive architecture, and its warm and welcoming spirit.

Milwaukee – A Few Fun Facts

  • The Milwaukee Public Museum is home to the world’s largest dinosaur head!
  • The typewriter was invented in Milwaukee.
  • It is a city famous for its breweries – Pabst was its first, established in 1844.

Find more fun facts about Milwaukee here.


The LGBTQ Community in Milwaukee

Milwaukee is a city that celebrates its LGBTQ community, and supports it with a wide variety of resources. Some of the LGBTQ community resources in Milwaukee include:

The Milwaukee LGBTQ Community Center

The Milwaukee LGBTQ Community Center is a center that is dedicated to serving the needs of the LGBTQ community in the greater Milwaukee area, and in making the city safer and more inclusive for all. The center offers counseling, educational resources, activities, and a variety of other programs which further its mission of promoting and celebrating the diversity that the LGBTQ community brings to the city. 

PFLAG Milwaukee

PFLAG Milwaukee is the city’s local chapter of the national PFLAG organization, which is the largest grassroots organization of its kind in the country. PFLAG is well-known for its mission of supporting LGBTQ people, friends, family, and allies across the country in a wide variety of ways. With 500 chapters and more than 200,000 members in the United States, PFLAG plays a critical and important role in providing advocacy, support, and resources to the LGBTQ community.


Milwaukee Weather

Milwaukee has what is known as a “continental” climate. This means that residents will experience four distinct seasons, with average highs in the summer reaching 81°, and average lows in the winter reaching as low as -2°. Residents should be prepared for all types of whether, including a decent amount of snow in the winter. Generally though, temperatures year-round average out to be mild, and spring and fall are both very pleasant and beautiful seasons in the city.


Must-Try Milwaukee Events

Pridefest Milwaukee

Pridefest Milwaukee is the nation’s largest LGBTQ festival with permanent festival grounds, and operated entirely by volunteers since 1987.  It is a weeklong celebration of all that makes the LGBTQ community in Milwaukee wonderful, and it is full of fun festivities, education programs, opportunities for activism, and social connection. You won’t want to miss it! 


Milwaukee is a city that loves its festivals – and Summerfest is one of its best. This annual music festival has been held in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin since1968, and it draws huge crowds, including music lovers from all over the country. Last year alone, the festival hosted over 800 bands and 900000 fans over 11 days on 11 different stages!


A Look at the Milwaukee Neighborhoods

While Milwaukee is a diverse city full of many wonderful neighborhoods, here are a few that are particularly popular with the LGBTQ community:

The East Side

The East Side is the neighborhood that is considered to be any area east of the Milwaukee River. This beautiful area features two parks which were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, and it is characterized by a balanced blend of shops and restaurants intermingled with a variety of housing options. Housing options can range from under $100,000 for a studio apartment, to upwards of a million dollars for some homes. Truly, there is a home and a price range to suit everyone’s tastes.

Historic Third Ward

The Historic Third Ward is an upscale neighborhood in Milwaukee that is very popular with the LGBTQ community. Characterized by antique stores, boutiques, and art galleries, it also allows for easy access to a variety of entertainment and event options, like Summerfest an evening out at one of the outdoor River Walk restaurants, or one of many other shops, parks, restaurants, or areas of interest. The median home value in the Historic Third Ward is approximately $379,000.

Walker's Point

Walker’s Point was initially founded as a fur trading post in 1835. Located just south of the Third Ward, it is opening up to increased condominium and retail development. Although the area is still largely industrial, it does have pockets of residential space. Gay bars abound on 1st and 2nd Streets, which are part of the neighborhood. The median home value in Walker’s Point is approximately $66,000.


Arts and Entertainment

Milwaukee Art Museum

The Milwaukee Art Museum is one of the largest art museums in the United States, containing over 25,000 works of art. It is also one of the only museums in the world that literally moves - the wings of its "Calatrava" open in the morning to welcome visitors and close at night... it's truly a magnificent sight to see.

The Marcus Performing Arts Center

From off-Broadway shows to musicals, ballet, opera, and more, The Marcus Performing Arts Center serves as the home of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Florentine Opera, Milwaukee Ballet, First Stage Children's Theater and other local arts organizations. Truly, there is a show here to suit everyone’s tastes!


Parks and Recreation

Milwaukee Park System

Truly, Milwaukee has one of the most beautiful and unique park systems in the country. The city itself has architecture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright himself, and many parks which were designed by his son. The result is beautiful, picturesque green spaces across the city – 150 in total. Whether you enjoy hiking, cycling, walking your dog, jogging, or simply enjoying an afternoon by the lakefront, there are plenty of beautiful outdoor spaces in which to spend your free time.

Miller Park

Home of the Major League Baseball Milwaukee Brewers, Miller Park is one of few stadiums in the country with a retractable roof. Rain or shine, come and enjoy the fun atmosphere and a good game of baseball with other fans. For football fans, the Green Bay Packers play in nearby Lambeau Field too.


Milwaukee Nightlife

Hamburger Mary's

Hamburger Mary’s is a guaranteed good time day or night. It’s home to Milwaukee’s premier drag review on Fridays and Saturdays, and on Sundays it offers its well-known drag brunch. This is not to mention its other popular events like Drag Queen Bingo – and more! Along with its excellent food and drink offerings, it’s a must-try staple of Milwaukee nightlife.  


Kruz is a lively LGBTQ hotspot in the city’s Harbor District. It promises good music, strong drinks, friendly customers, and one of the best patios in the city.


LaCage is the largest gay dance club in Wisconsin. Offering two dance floors, four bars, multiple mega video screens, theme shows, drag nights, and strong drinks, you won’t want to miss your chance to dance the night away. 


Contact a Milwaukee Realtor Today

If you are interested in finding your next home in a Milwaukee neighborhood that’s the perfect fit for your interests and lifestyle needs, today is a great day to start your search. Contact a Milwaukee gay realtor for a free, no-obligation consultation today!