Nightlife in Downtown Milwaukee


Select Local Merchants

From their vantage point inside the InterContinental Milwaukee Hotel, diners at Kil@Wat can treat themselves to panoramic vistas of the city, including the bright lights of the neighboring Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Inside the kitchen, chefs use locally sourced ingredients whenever possible to craft elegant meals fit for the awe-inspiring views. This focus on freshness and seasonality translates to a menu of upscale American comfort dishes such as pan-roasted whitefish from Lake Superior and braised short ribs with roasted garlic mash and wild mushroom jus. A staff pastry chef puts her own inventive twist on dessert, concocting delicacies such as peanut-butter-and-chocolate cheesecake with pretzel bark for an added crunch.

These gourmet morsels unite with the restaurant’s elegant décor to forge a luxurious, memorable dining experience. Vibrant chartreuse accents compliment orange suede chairs and crisp white tablecloths. Large light boxes cast a soft glow over people as they sip wine from the extensive list or pose as window washers to get in without a reservation.

100 E Wisconsin Ave
Milwaukee,
WI
US

The King of Rock and Roll never relinquishes his throne as four of the country’s top Elvis impersonators team together for Elvis Lives, a multimedia musical tribute to one of music’s premier icons. Endorsed by Elvis Presley Enterprises, which holds the copyright on blue suede shoes, Elvis Lives stars a quartet of bona fide dead ringers, all of whom are winners of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest and pay homage to four memorable eras of the pompadour-sporting legend’s career. Fans can swoon and shout as they catch a glimpse of tadpole Elvis and his centrifugal pelvis, movie-era Elvis, leather-jacket “comeback” Elvis, and shimmering, sequined-jumpsuit “Vegas” Elvis. The lavishly-produced show quantum leaps across a memorable career with classic songs sung spot-on, delighting fans and warming the heart of the real Elvis as he watches from the rafters.

116 West Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee,
WI
US

The hit Nickelodeon children’s program Yo Gabba Gabba! bounds from the small screen to the big stage in a show filled with cartoonish critters and boundless dancing. Beloved by hip preschoolers and savvy postschoolers for its eye-popping sets, catchy songs, respect for intellect, and absence of Shrek, Yo Gabba Gabba! teaches inner and outer children valuable life lessons without stooping to condescension. For the special It’s Time to Dance! tour, favorite adorable toy monsters such as Brobee, Foofa, Plex, and Biz Markie join human surrogates DJ Lance Rock and BeDazzler queen Leslie Hall for an onstage celebration of imagination. Mixing animation, games, and new songs with classic bits from the television show, the Technicolor mise en scène and infectious energy of Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! gives children enough confidence to apply to college after elementary school.

116 W. Wisconsin Ave
Milwaukee,
WI
US

As vaudeville heaved its last breaths in the late 1920s, RKO's Riverside Theater opened in 1928 and served as a performance hall for just a few years before Warner Brothers took it over to screen their films. Decades of neglect followed, reaching a nadir in 1966 when a carelessly tossed cigarette butt incinerated the proscenium's drapery, prompting the cash-conscious owners to replace the opulent teal velour with workmanlike duvetyn. A slated demolition in 1982 nearly replaced the theater with a shopping mall before a coalition of citizens convinced philanthropist Joseph Zilber to save the space. In the subsequent renovations, craftsmen installed plush red drapery, overhauled the obsolete lighting, and repainted the faded French Baroque gilding of the auditorium, restoring the elegant space to its former glory and inspiring it to get back out on the theater dating scene.

116 W Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee,
WI
US

In the 14th century, John Hawk was becoming an English maritime legend. Because he was one of the greatest soldiers of fortune, Rome, Pisa, Milan, and Florence all sought his services. In 1972, he became the slice of English history that set the tone for John Hawks Pub.

Appropriately, the venue overlooks the waterfront, with its dining patio jutting out several feet over the river. There, guests tuck into a newly revamped menu of English-style pub grub and stateside favorites. The menu includes Ward’s prime-rib sandwich, an import from new owner Brian Ward, whose prime rib won acclaim from the Travel Channel’s Big Beef Paradise. Dangling wrought-iron chandeliers surround a massive stone hearth, enclosed in walls paneled with wood stained so darkly it almost appears black. Above, a circular stained-glass ceiling displays English heraldry and scenes from John Hawk’s life, depicting him captaining a storm-tossed ship or beating Poseidon in the Sea-Doo race that won him the ability to drink ocean water.

100 E Wisconsin Ave
Milwaukee,
WI
US

On Saturday, September 22, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett will gather local businesses, community leaders, and citizens between the two bridge houses of the Wisconsin Avenue Bridge. There, he will ceremonially raise its steel structure and announce a mission to revitalize the street. Following the ceremony, more than 20 motorboats and sailboats will surge down the river and under the bridge, each decked out in Milwaukee-themed decorations and bright colors. Near the bridge, Historical Society members will stage a reenactment of the Milwaukee Bridge War of 1845 and initiate a game of tug of war across the street; on the bridge, meanwhile, trainers from Gold’s Gym will lead lightly sweating groups through yoga poses.

Visitors drink and dine to the sounds of live music and multicultural dance performances as well as the sights of a one-act play on two stages on the Riverwalk. They can browse local vendors at a craft market, explore permanent sculpture installations, and stroke their chins while gazing at art pieces in paint, photography, blown glass, and other media from more than 50 local artists at booths along both sides of the river. As the crowd mills about throughout the event, artists from the Plein Aire Painters’ Association make art live, painting the beautiful city skyline and buzzing groups of people. A complimentary water taxi runs between both Riverwalks throughout the day’s festivities.

161 W Wisconsin, LL300
Milwaukee,
WI
US