What makes Milwaukee unique? Milwaukee’s culture, customs, and traditions.

When traveling to a new place, it’s important to know about the local customs. You’ll want to be familiar with things like how to greet people, what kind of gifts are appropriate, and what clothes you should wear. If you’re planning to visit Milwaukee in the Midwest, there are some cultural traditions you might want to learn about. For example, locals enjoy bloody marys with a chaser, cheese curds, and bubblers. To get a feel for the city, check out the Milwaukee Food & City Tours. 

Here are some cultural traditions to keep in mind while you’re exploring Milwaukee:https://www.milwaukeefoodtours.com/

Midwestern Friendliness

Often referred to as “Midwestern Nice”, people in Milwaukee, like many other places in the Midwest, are known for politeness and friendliness.

Wisconsinites pride themselves in their feeling of “Gemütlichkeit”-the German idea of a state or feeling of warmth, friendliness, and good cheer. What better way to experience gemütlichkeit than to join your friends and meet some new ones during an exploration of Milwaukee? Our food tours provide you with scrumptious food, knowledge of Milwaukee’s food scene, and opportunities for strengthening friendships.

If you’ve never been on a food tour, we go to 4 – 5 restaurants and eateries within the course of the tour, telling the story of Milwaukee through its dishes and small business owners. Our expert guides will give you insider knowledge of Milwaukee’s culinary scene. We offer a variety of tours to feed your crew, such as the Pizza Bus  ·  Brady Street Lunch Tour  ·  Bloody Mary Brunch  · Tacos & Tequila Tour, and many other tours all year long! The cost of a tour ranges from $70 – $120 and includes transportation, food / drinks and gratuities, making it an unforgettable experience for everyone – even locals!

Friday Night Fish Fry

A tradition brought to Wisconsin by German and Polish immigrants, many Milwaukee restaurants and pubs serve fish fries on Friday nights. Freshly caught fish, coated with beer batter and deep-fried to perfection, is usually served with potato pancakes, coleslaw, and rye bread.

 It was the Catholic practice of abstaining from meat on Fridays, especially during the Lenten season, that truly cemented the fish fry tradition. The tradition of the fish fry enduredven after the Catholic Church relaxed its rules about meat consumption on Fridays in the 1960s.

Today, the fish fry is not just a religious observance or a cultural tradition; it’s an integral part of Milwaukee’s identity. From upscale restaurants to local pubs, the Friday fish fry is an event that brings people of all backgrounds together, reflecting the city’s vibrant community spirit.

So, whether you’re a lifelong Milwaukeean or a first-time visitor, join our Lenten Fish Fry Tour and stop at 3 of the city’s fish fry hot spots, and conclude the tour with dessert! We can almost guarantee there will be one spot that you’ve never been to before!

Photo Credit: Milwaukee Food & City Tours


Milwaukee is home to the Brewers (MLB), Bucks (NBA), and nearby Green Bay Packers (NFL). Tailgating before games is a popular activity, with fans often arriving hours before the game to grill food, play games, and socialize in the parking lots.

Need a ride to the game? Milwaukee Bus Rentals offers door to home plate shuttle service to American Family Field on game days.

“We hired Milwaukee Bus Rentals to drive our entire firm down to American Family Field for a mid-day Brewers Game. They were so efficient, helpful, and affordably priced! I would go to them for any transportation needs!”

Review of Milwaukee Bus Rentals
By Elizabeth Carl

Beer Culture

Milwaukee has a rich brewing history and is home to several large breweries, as well as a growing number of craft breweries. Attending brewery tours, beer tastings, and beer festivals is a popular local pastime.

Take in a Historic Bar Tour, or a Craft Beer & Distillery tour with Milwaukee Food & City Tours to discover the best breweries and distilleries in Brew City at https://www.milwaukeefoodtours.com/brewery-bar-tours/

Photo Credit: Milwaukee Food & City Tours

Love for Dairy

Wisconsin, often called “America’s Dairyland,” is known for its dairy products, especially cheese. Cheese curds are a popular snack, and you might also see locals wearing foam “cheeseheads” at sporting events.

Fun Fact: One of the best places to get cheese curds is at West Allis Cheese Mart in the Milwaukee Public Market, which is featured on our Around the Ward in 90 Minutes tour.

Two more Wisconsin Dairy Delights are the butter burger and frozen custard! Imagine the juiciest, most delicious burger you’ve ever had, topped with a generous helping of butter, followed by the richest, smoothest version of ice cream you’ve ever tasted. Now, stop imagining and try one of these delicious buttery delights for yourself on our Burger & Custard Capital of the World Tour, a family-friendly bus tour that highlights two of Wisconsin’s best foods- the butter burger and frozen custard!


Milwaukee is known as the “City of Festivals” because of the numerous ethnic and cultural festivals held throughout the summer months. The largest is Summerfest, one of the world’s biggest music festivals.

Beer Chasers

In some parts of the United States, particularly in the Midwest and Wisconsin, it is common to serve a “chaser” with a Bloody Mary. The chaser is a small beer, usually in a separate glass or sometimes directly in the Bloody Mary.

Wisconsin, known for its robust drinking culture, has certainly popularized this custom, and you’d likely find it in cities like Milwaukee and Madison. However, the practice is not exclusive to Wisconsin and can be found in various other cities and states, often at brunch spots or bars specializing in Bloody Marys. This tradition is less common on the coasts or in southern states.

Please remember that the custom can vary greatly by location, establishment, and even bartender, so it’s always a good idea to ask if you’re unsure.

A perfect way to explore Milwaukee’s bloody-good brunch scene is with Milwaukee Food & City Tours via The Hop, Milwaukee’s new streetcar, on a Bloody Mary Brunch Tour. Start your tour in the Historic Third Ward (once known as the Bloody Third Ward) and discover some hidden gems with us while enjoying traditional brunch-time fare, Bloody Marys, and stories of Milwaukee’s past. We will ride the streetcar, then walk from the streetcar stations to restaurants along the way, totaling about 1.25 miles of walking. At each of the eateries that we visit, you’ll be able to indulge in the area’s thriving restaurant scene with portions that add up to a meal, and each Bloody Mary on the tour comes with a chaser, of course!

Photo Credit: Milwaukee Food & City Tours

Common Phrases Used in Milwaukee

Milwaukee, like many places, has its own regional vernacular, influenced largely by the city’s diverse history of immigrants, particularly German, Polish, and Italian immigrants. Here are some words and phrases that are or have been common in the Milwaukee area:

  • Bubbler: This term is widely used in Wisconsin to refer to a drinking fountain.
  • Tyme Machine: It’s not a time-travel device. It’s an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM). The name comes from a brand of ATMs that was common in the area.
  • Stop ‘n Go Lights: This is a term some Milwaukeeans use to refer to traffic lights.
  • Brat: Short for bratwurst, this is a type of German sausage that is very popular in Wisconsin, particularly at tailgate parties.
  • Cheesehead: A term for a Wisconsinite, particularly a fan of the Green Bay Packers. It’s derived from the state’s well-known cheese production.

Remember, not all of these terms may be actively used by all residents, and regional vernacular can change over time. However, you might encounter these terms when visiting Milwaukee or interacting with locals.

What is Milwaukee’s fascination with cheese curds?

Cheese curds are a beloved snack in Milwaukee, and across Wisconsin, due to the region’s deep history and involvement in dairy production. Wisconsin is often called “America’s Dairyland” and has been a leading producer of dairy products, particularly cheese, for over a century. This prominence in cheese production naturally leads to a love for cheese, including cheese curds.

Cheese curds are fresh, young cheddar cheese in a natural, random shape and form before being processed into blocks and aged. They are known for their mild flavor and slightly rubbery texture, and they have a distinctive “squeak” when fresh.

Cheese curds can be enjoyed in many ways, but one of the most popular preparations is deep-fried cheese curds, a staple at local pubs, restaurants, and state fairs. The curds are battered or breaded and then deep-fried until golden brown, and the cheese inside is soft and melty. They are often served with ranch dressing or marinara sauce for dipping.

So, the fascination with cheese curds in Milwaukee (and Wisconsin more broadly) extends the state’s rich history in dairy and cheese production. Eating cheese curds is a way to enjoy and celebrate local products. Clock Shadow Creamery is Milwaukee’s only urban cheese factory, and you can sample their delicious cheese curds during our Walker’s Point Stroll, Sip, & Savor Tour!

If you’re planning a visit to Milwaukee and want to learn about its history, contact Milwaukee Food & City Tours. You’ll get immersive experiences that will teach you about how Milwaukee came to be.