Where to stay in Milwaukee for first time: 3 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Milwaukee as a first-timer can be overwhelming. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in Milwaukee for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Milwaukee for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Milwaukee and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Before going into the main topic, let’s look at some highlights of Milwaukee:

Milwaukee is the largest city in Wisconsin and is situated on the western shore of Lake Michigan. The city is known for its rich industrial history, particularly in brewing and manufacturing.

Milwaukee has a strong brewing tradition and was once home to several major beer breweries, including Miller Brewing Company and Pabst Brewing Company. The city’s beer culture is still celebrated today, and there are numerous breweries and beer-related events throughout the area.

The city is situated along the western shore of Lake Michigan, providing locals and visitors with access to a scenic lakefront. The lakefront is home to parks, recreational areas, and the Milwaukee Art Museum, known for its iconic architectural design.

Milwaukee has a vibrant cultural scene with various museums, theaters, and music venues. The Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Milwaukee Repertory Theater are among the city’s cultural institutions.

Milwaukee is home to several professional sports teams, including the Milwaukee Bucks (NBA basketball) and the Milwaukee Brewers (MLB baseball). The city has a passionate sports fan base.

The iconic motorcycle company, Harley-Davidson, has its roots in Milwaukee. The Harley-Davidson Museum is located in the city, showcasing the history and culture of this legendary brand.

The city hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, celebrating everything from music and food to cultural heritage. Summerfest, one of the largest music festivals in the world, takes place annually along the lakefront.

The city is home to several universities and colleges, including the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette University.

Is Milwaukee safe to visit?

Yes, Milwaukee is generally safe to visit. Milwaukee, like any city, has both safe and less safe areas. As a visitor, the safe area is downtown where you can find many accommodations and tourist facilities. Some areas to avoid include North Division, Franklin Heights, and Metcalfe Park.

Remember that safety can be subjective and can vary from person to person. It’s always a good idea to stay vigilant, be aware of your surroundings, and take common-sense precautions regardless of the destination.

Where to stay in Milwaukee for the first time?

Downtown is the best and safe area to stay in Milwaukee for tourists. This area encompasses several smaller neighborhoods, including East Town, Historic Third Ward, and Westown. It has a high concentration of accommodations and amenities, making it a great location to explore the city.

If you want a more convenient base for easy access to the airport and want to stay close to it, you can consider booking your hotel near Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport.

During my trip to Milwaukee, I stayed at the Drury Plaza Hotel Milwaukee Downtown. Everything was exceptional. It has a great location, walking distance to many attractions. Complimentary breakfast was outstanding with lots of choices. My room was very comfortable and clean.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Milwaukee for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Milwaukee first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Milwaukee first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Milwaukee, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Milwaukee have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

3 Safe areas to stay in Milwaukee for first-timers and tourists:

1. East Town & Historic Third Ward

East Town and Historic Third Ward are part of Downtown Milwaukee, and are the most popular areas in Milwaukee for visitors to book their accommodations. It is located between the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan, and is home to some of the city’s most famous attractions.

You can explore Cathedral Square, the Riverwalk district, Water Street, and Milwaukee Street. You can visit museums, art galleries, and cultural landmarks like the Milwaukee Art Museum, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Grohmann Museum, and Bronze Fonz by Gerald P. Sawyer.

Families with kids can explore Discovery World, a science and technology museum that offers interactive exhibits, educational programs, and an aquarium. It is located on the shores of Lake Michigan.

East Town offers a diverse range of restaurants and cafes. The area is also known for its nightlife, with bars, pubs, and live music venues contributing to the vibrant atmosphere.

The neighborhood features boutique shops and stores, making it a good place for those who enjoy exploring unique, locally-owned businesses.

The Third Ward, just south of East Town, is a great restaurants and shopping. The area is characterized by its historic warehouses and brick buildings. Many of these buildings have been repurposed into trendy lofts, offices, galleries, and shops.

A popular destination in the Third Ward, the Milwaukee Public Market is a bustling indoor market featuring local vendors selling fresh produce, artisanal foods, and unique crafts. 

This area is home to Henry Maier Festival Park, an expansive park that hosts Summerfest, attracting top musical acts and drawing crowds from around the region. Even when Summerfest is not taking place, the park is a popular spot for events, concerts, and recreational activities.

The Milwaukee Riverwalk extends into the Historic Third Ward, providing a scenic pathway along the Milwaukee River. Strolling along the Riverwalk offers beautiful views, outdoor seating at cafes, and a relaxing atmosphere.

The neighborhood is home to the Broadway Theatre Center, which houses the Skylight Music Theatre and the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. Attendees can enjoy a variety of theatrical performances, concerts, and cultural events.

Best places to stay in Downtown Milwaukee for first-timers:

Mid-range ($$): Kinn Guesthouse Downtown, good value for money accommodation in a prime location in Downtown Milwaukee, perfect location for Historic Third Ward, summerfest, and convenient to sports arena. Also close to Public Market, Riverside Theater, Pabst Theater and Skylight Music Theatre. The kitchen  common area is nice and spacious. 

Mid-range ($$): Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel, 4-star hotel in downtown Milwaukee arts district, on East Kilbourn Avenue,  easy access to the river walk, a short stroll from Cathedral Square Park and Fiserv Forum. It has an onsite parking, 3 restaurants, and a fitness center.

Mid-range ($$): The Pfister Hotel, 4-star lovely hotel centrally located on East Wisconsin Avenue, close to everything, within walking distance to Veterans Park, convenient for visiting the 3rd Ward, art museum and the beaches. Easy access to the street car (the Hop) stops nearby. It has an indoor pool, a gym, fabulous breakfast, and a business center.

Budget ($): The Plaza Hotel – Milwaukee, 3-star accommodation conveniently located in Downtown East Town, close to Milwaukee Art Museum, Grohmann Museum, and Lake Michigan. The Rooms are clean with basic facilities like a kitchenette, and a private bathroom. 

Budget ($): Hilton Garden Inn Milwaukee Downtown, 3-star beautiful hotel with historic feel in central location, a few minutes from the Amphitheater. Easy walk to many restaurants/bars. Only min drive by car/taxi/Uber to breweries and museums.

Budget ($): Drury Plaza Hotel Milwaukee Downtown, popular good value for money 3-star hotel in East Town, close to  Pabst Theater, Riverside Theater and Marcus Center. It has an outdoor swimming pool, family rooms, a fitness center, and fabulous breakfast.


2. Westown

Westown, part of Downtown Milwaukee, is a central and convenient location for visitors who want to explore Milwaukee. It provides easy access to cultural attractions, entertainment venues, and the city’s business district. 

One of the major attractions in Westown is the Fiserv Forum, a state-of-the-art arena that serves as the home for the Milwaukee Bucks, the city’s NBA team. The arena hosts basketball games, concerts, and various events throughout the year.

Located in Westown, the Milwaukee Public Museum is a natural and human history museum with exhibits covering topics ranging from dinosaurs and ancient civilizations to local ecosystems. It’s a great place for educational and family-friendly outings.

Westown is home to several downtown parks, including MacArthur Square and Pere Marquette Park. These green spaces offer a place to relax, have a picnic, or attend outdoor events and festivals.

 The Wisconsin Center is Milwaukee’s primary convention and exhibition center, attracting conferences, trade shows, and events. It’s a hub for business and cultural gatherings.

Westown offers a variety of dining options, and a lively nightlife scene with bars, pubs, and entertainment venues, especially on Old World Third Street, Brewery District, and Riverwalk District.

Located just west of the Milwaukee River, Marquette University is a prominent educational institution that contributes to the dynamic atmosphere of Westown. The university’s presence adds to the diversity of the neighborhood.

Best places to stay in Milwaukee in Westown:

Budget ($): Brewhouse Inn and Suites, great 3-star historic  hotel located inside the old Pabst Blue Ribbon Brewery, 10 mins walk from BMO Harris Bradley Center. It provides rooms with fully-equipped kitchens, an outdoor beer garden, and complimentary breakfast.

Budget ($): Hyatt Place Milwaukee Downtown, popular 3-star hotel in Downtown Westown, easy access to the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center. It has a 24-hour front desk, luggage storage, and private parking.

Budget ($): SpringHill Suites by Marriott Milwaukee Downtown, 3-star accommodation in central location, offering free use of bikes, a fitness center, and comfortable air-conditioned rooms.


3. Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport 

Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport is the primary airport serving Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the surrounding region. Staying near the airport can be convenient for those with early morning or late-night flights, as it reduces travel time and stress associated with commuting from downtown Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport offers modern facilities and services for travelers, including a variety of dining options, shops, rental car services, and lounges. The airport has multiple concourses, with a range of domestic and some international flights.

Best places to stay in Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport:

Budget ($): Hilton Garden Inn Milwaukee Airport, 3-star hotel located close to the airport, offering a free 24-hour shuttle, indoor pool and 24-hour convenience store. Great base when flying in or out of General Mitchell International Airport.

Budget ($): Hampton Inn Milwaukee Airport, 3-star hotel close to airport and not too far to Downtown. It has free parking, indoor pool, free breakfast, free shuttle bus to the airport, and park-and-fly rates. 

Budget ($): Sleep Inn & Suites Airport Milwaukee, 2-star accommodation, offering free airport shuttle bus, free parking, and a swimming pool. The rooms are comfortable and quiet. You can find several restaurants nearby. 


In conclusion, East Town, Historic Third Ward, and Westown are the safe and best places to stay in Milwaukee for first-timers and tourists because they are the heart of the city and they offer some range of accommodation options. You can consider staying close to the airport if you have early flights.

 You can continue reading about nearby cities in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Milwaukee. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

Leave a Comment