Often the best way to experience a neighborhood is on foot. Whether it’s a beer-and-brats crawl along Milwaukee’s Old World 3rd Street or gazing up at colorful murals in Ashland, Wisconsin is loaded with walking tour options, including these seven. (Also, be sure to check tour end dates, as some tours end in mid- to late fall and resume again in the spring).
Lace up your comfy shoes and shorts for Historic Milwaukee’s eight walking tours. Dig deeper into Brady Street’s boho vibe via “Beyond Brady: Polish & Italian Immigrants in Milwaukee” (second and fourth Saturdays, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.) or gawk at stunning early 20th-century real estate (from Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home to tony Tudors) during “North Point Mansions” (Sundays, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.). Tours cost $10.
Lake Geneva Ghost Walks and Wisconsin Dells Ghost Walks
Got a penchant for thrillers and suspense? Celebrate Halloween early with ghost walks in downtown Lake Geneva and Wisconsin Dells (Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.), which also weave in history. Tours ($20) are also in Madison, Waukesha, Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.
Ashland Mural Walk
For this tour of Ashland’s murals, it’s entirely self-guided but you’ll have no trouble finding them: just look up! All of the murals are on an eight-block stretch of Main Street downtown, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Chippewa Valley Tours
Food and history tours in downtown Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls are great if you’re short on time because they aren’t just about one topic. Tours are offered Saturdays at 1:30 p.m. and are $65. One of seven stops on Eau Claire’s tour includes The Lakely, a restaurant in the new Oxbow Hotel and owned by Grammy-winning musician Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.
Milwaukee Food Tours
Five of this company’s yummy tours are on foot, including the “Old World 3rd Street tour” (Saturdays at 12:30 p.m.) with stops for spices, brats and beer—many with German roots. Tours even stretch into the ’burbs, such as “sweets and treats” in Cedarburg (Saturdays and Sundays, 1:30 p.m.) and the emerging foodie village of Wauwatosa (Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.). Tours are $60.
Madison Trust for Historic Preservation Tours
What’s unique about the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation tours (Thursdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 11 a.m., $10) is that they travel to different neighborhoods. Options range from checking out the scenic Machinery Row area, across from Lake Monona (also home to Hotel Ruby Marie, dating back to 1873) to gazing at University Heights homes, designed by celebrated architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan.
Photo by Jennifer Gurske / Madison Trust for Historic Preservation