Tours


Doors Open 2019 is scheduled for September 28 and 29. Tours for the 2019 program will be published in July 2019. The tours featured here were offered during the 2018 program. 

Take a guided tour with Milwaukee experts, educators, entertainers and more! The following tours range from free to $10/ticket. Ticket fees help offset the cost of ticketing software and support the organization that brings you Doors Open. Historic Milwaukee is dedicated to educating the public about Milwaukee’s history and architecture year round.

Tickets
Historic Milwaukee members receive early access to Doors Open tickets. Consider joining now and for tickets in 2019.


FAQs

There is no secret or trick to securing tickets, it is simply a matter of luck. If you are purchasing tickets for the first time or are trying to get on your most desired tour, here is the best advice we can offer:

First, take a look at the tours that are being offered. Prioritize the list and start with the tour you are most excited about.

Be sure you know the time and ticket total you need. Tours are listed in alphabetical order by day. Tour tickets are not reserved until payment is complete so be sure to have your payment information ready.

In reality, thousands of people are competing to fill a very limited number of tour slots, and this is why our staff works so hard to ensure the 170+ free buildings are varied from year to year. We want everyone to have a great experience whether they get tour tickets or not. We know the ticket buying process can be a bit tense, but we do our best to ensure the process is fair for all.

Tour Day
Tour Time
Tour Type
Ticketing

Avenues West

September 22 at 10 am
Once the home of famous Milwaukeeans like Cudahy and Pabst, Avenues West is also home to long-standing institutions, light industry, retail and major churches and schools. Those early elites made a lasting impact on the built environment which has now adapted to support a rich, diverse and urban population.

Bay View Neighborhood

September 23 at 4 pm
Join Sean Regan on a walk through one of Milwaukee’s most interesting and independent neighborhoods, Bay View.  The tour will explore Bay View’s rich history from native land to early settlers, to company town, up to today’s hipster’s.

Behind-The-Scenes VIP Hard Hat tour of Miller Brewery

September 22 at 9:45 am (1 TICKET LEFT)
Tour goers will be stepping back 150 years and enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime experience in the Miller Valley.

Bike through Riverworks

September 22nd at 11 am and 12:30 pm
Ride a planned route through Milwaukee’s Creative District to learn about the past, current and future developments that integrate the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods to the Riverworks Business Improvement District.

Biking on the Hank Aaron State Trail

September 23 at 9 am
This easy ride will take you to historically significant areas of Milwaukee, with frequent stops to highlight the history and changes in the Menomonee Valley, Native American uses, impacts of the Milwaukee Road Shops, and the Milwaukee Soldiers Home, built for returning Civil War veterans and still serving veterans today.

Brady Street

September 22 at 4 pm
Join Sean Regan on a speedy walk through 150 years of Brady Street history. From Polish, German and Italian roots to counter culture in the 60’s and 70’s, this charismatic and ever changing neighborhood is sure to entertain you.

Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge with Kyle Cherek & John Dye

September 22 at 1 pm & 3 pm
Join Wisconsin Foodie host Kyle Cherek and owner John Dye for a tour of Bryan’s Cocktail Lounge. Learn how Bryant’s evolved from a working class shot and beer bar to a classic cocktail spot to a touchstone of living history in what is now called the craft cocktail scene.

City Hall Bell Tour

September 22 and September 23
10 am, 11 am, Noon, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, 4 pm (SOLD OUT)
This rarely-offered tour takes you up 5 steep and narrow flights of steps to the 11-ton “Solomon Juneau” bell to learn about how and why it is ringing again after over 75 years of silence!

City of Milwaukee & Waukesha County Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and Recycling Education Center

September 22
10 am, 11 am, 1 pm and 2 pm
Join us for an in-depth and up-close tour of the Materials Recovery Facility with a recycling professional to see what happens to your recyclables after they are collected from your cart!

Ciudad de Milwaukee y Instalación de Recuperación Material de Waukesha County

Septiembre 22 a las 12pm
¿Te has preguntado alguna vez a dónde van tus reciclables? El edificio de reciclaje de la Ciudad de Milwaukee alberga todo el equipo de clasificación para descifrar sus reciclables.

Doors Closed: Milwaukee’s Vanishing LGBT Landmarks

September 22 at 1 pm and September 23 at 1 pm
Along this magnificent mile-long walk, witness a historic neighborhood’s 50-year evolution from a shadowy, coal-stained stretch of warehouses into one of Milwaukee’s most vibrant entertainment districts. We hope to spark a conversation about the proper research, preservation and celebration of Milwaukee’s rich LGBTQ history and heritage. Join us!

Downtown Transportation with Alderman Nik Kovac

September 22 at 3 pm
Alderman Nik Kovac leads a tour of how we get around downtown. Along the route, participants will have their eyes opened to downtown’s extensive parking system. Learn how the car has affected our public streets and private buildings. Alderman Kovac will also discuss the future of transportation from freeways to bus rapid transit to the street car.

FCPC Renewable Generation Biodigester

September 22 at 8 am, 9 am 10 am, and 11 am
Explore the Forest County Potawatomi’s biodigester, a renewable energy power plant powered by food waste that is converted into methane by anaerobic digestion.

Forest Home Historical Bike Tour

September 22 at 2 pm
Ride your bike through Historic Forest Home Cemetery with tour guide Sally Merrell on Saturday, Sept. 22nd. Bikers will meet in front of the Halls of History then Sally will take you through the winding roads of Forest Home. You will see the amazing sculptures on towering monuments and obelisks.

Frederick Law Olmsted’s Washington Park Legacy: A Walking Tour

September 22 at 3 pm (SOLD OUT) and September 23 at 3 pm
Frederick Law Olmsted designed what was originally called “West Park” in 1892. The designer of Manhattan’s Central Park and his artistic and inclusive visions for parks are credited with helping to shape America as a democracy.

Gimbels/Schuster’s Tour with Steve Nelson

September 22 at 10:30 am
Take a trip down memory lane to a time where Gimbels and then Schuster’s was bustling with shoppers and learn from Steve how this building can be revitalized for positive neighborhood growth in the future.

Gothic Milwaukee Presents Ghosts of Yankee Hill

September 23 at 10 am
Discover Milwaukee’s first elite neighborhood and the ghosts, gossip and scandals that make this gem of a neighborhood worth touring.

Harley Davidson Museum

September 22 at 10:30 am and 1 pm, September 23 at 10:30 am and 1 pm
With an unrivaled collection of Harley-Davidson® motorcycles and memorabilia, a 20-acre, park-like campus, and a calendar full of activities, the H-D Museum™ is one of Milwaukee’s top tourist destinations for visitors from around the globe and a great way to walk through the history of America.

Historic Mitchell Street

September 22 at 2 pm
Take a stroll down the Mitchell Street to appreciate the historic architecture, kaleidoscope of culture, and learn about major plans that are shaping the street in years to come.

Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus

September 23 at every hour from 11 am until 2 pm (1 ticket left)
Map out your day using the Milwaukee Food & City Tours Hop On & Hop Off Sightseeing Bus – a hassle-free way to enjoy the city. Enjoy the sights of the city and then hop-on and off for visits at locations throughout downtown Milwaukee.

Inside the Historic Rave / Eagles Club

September 22 at 12 pm and 1 pm
September 23 at 1 pm and 2 pm
Enjoy a rarely-offered guided tour of The Historic Rave/ Eagles Club, which opened in 1927. Designed by architect Russell Bar Williamson and built by the finest craftsmen, the Eagles Club has been considered the grandest and most beautiful ballrooms of its day.

Jones Walk

September 22 at 11 am
Join Harbor District Milwaukee for this walking tour of Jones Island. Enjoy a snack in the last remaining vestige of the Kaszube people while we learn about the history of the island from a direct descendant as well as what the future holds for the Harbor District!

Lindsay Heights History & Sustainability

September 23 at 2 pm
Not only will this tour provide a first-hand historic record of Milwaukee’s Lindsay Heights Neighborhood but will also a look at the past and current revitalization and sustainability efforts that are responsible for the dramatic rejuvenation of this small neighborhood.

Living in a Hotel: Eloise at the Plaza

September 22 and September 23 at 10 am
Take a tour of the Knickerbocker on the Lake with actor/storyteller John McGivern, who will give you an inside look into three of the full-time residents’ condos/homes.

Menomonee River Valley

September 23 at 9 am
When Milwaukee was the Machine Shop of the World, the Menomonee River Valley was its engine, where rail cars and machinery were made, clay became bricks, wheat became flour, and hogs became ham. Learn about its past and future on a leisurely walking tour of the Menomonee River Valley.

Miller Brewery Tour

September 22 at 10:30 a.m-3:30 p.m., every 30 minutes.
The Miller Brewery Tour offers you an indoor/outdoor guided walking tour of Miller Valley, home to over 160 years of brewing history.

Milwaukee Club Tour

September 22 at 11 am
This exclusive Milwaukee Club private tour will be led by the General Manager, and will include both the interior and exterior areas of clubhouse, which was designed by Daniel H. Burnham. Learn about the building and its members’ history.

Milwaukee History Tour at Forest Home Cemetery

September 23 at 2 pm
Grab your walking shoes and join Forest Home Cemetery Historian, and Tour Guide, Paul Haubrich, to learn what makes Forest Home Cemetery such an important and beautiful keeper of Milwaukee’s history.

Milwaukee History with Murals

September 22 at 1 pm, September 23 at 1 pm
Join Milwaukee Mural Map creator Caitlin Sprague on a tour of Milwaukee’s history through murals along Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and North Avenue.

Milwaukee Photo Walk

September 22 at 10 am
Walk through downtown Milwaukee while hearing historic commentary and learning photographic tips for taking creative pictures with a 1.5 mile, 2-hour Milwaukee Photo Walk.

Milwaukee River Greenway

September 22 at 10 am, September 23 at 10 am
Where did Milwaukeeans swim? Are beavers our friends? Vince will lead this tour along the Milwaukee River as you learn about the history and wildlife that dwells in and around our namesake river!

Milwaukee Soldiers Home

September 22 at 9:30 am and 11 am
The Milwaukee’s Soldiers Home was designed to aid veterans’ healing and transition back into civilian life. Check out this in-depth and passionate walking tour on Sept. 22nd to learn about the architecture and history that make up this village.

Missing Milwaukee

September 22 at 2 pm
This walk, hosted by Yance Marti, author of Missing Milwaukee: The Lost Buildings of Milwaukee, will highlight several of the building sites featured in his book as well as the changes that resulted from the loss of the buildings.

Mitchell Building – Laughlin Constable

September 22 at 11 am (SOLD OUT), 12 pm, 1 pm & 2 pm
Explore the creative space of Laughlin Constable advertising agency. LC works tirelessly to take brands from ‘Now to Next’, and this is your opportunity to tour their creative space and the iconic Dome.

Mitchell Building Basement Tour

September 23 at Noon
Explore the basement of this iconic Milwaukee landmark built in 1876 and learn more about the restoration project from the developer.

Paddle the Menomonee River

September 22 at 9 am (1 SPOT LEFT!)
Kayaks are provided by Milwaukee Kayak Company so that you may explore the lower Menomonee River and its industrial canals. Learn about efforts to remove contamination from the water and improve air quality.

Pews ‘n Brews Tour

September 23 at 1 pm
Take a tour with Gary Kulas, Milwaukee church & tavern guide and enjoy a leisurely walk from the churches of Grand Avenue to the Brewery Complex like they did at the turn of the century.

Port Milwaukee Bus Tour

September 22 at 8 am, 9 am, 10 am, 11 am, noon, 1 pm, 2 pm, and 3 pm
Participants will learn from staff about the Port’s international operations, what the Port’s responsibilities are within the City of Milwaukee, the varied business tenants of the Port, and where the Port’s cargoes originate from.
To sign up for the bus tour:
Sign up for the tours will be done starting at 7:30 AM at the Port Administration Building, 2323 S. Lincoln Memorial Dr. First come first serve. The bus will leave from the Port Administration Building.

Revolution in Milwaukee

September 22 at 11 am
Join UWM history professor Aims McGuinness in Historic Turner Hall for an exploration of Milwaukee’s rich history of radical politics from 1848 to 1960!

Rocks of Architecture

September 23 at 11 am
This tour, led by UW Milwaukee geology professor Bill Kean, will look at 10-12 buildings which reflect Midwestern geology, with some notable exceptions of material from distant places, and the effective use of building material to the architectural style.

Six Points

September 23 at 10 am
Join longtime Eastsider and founder of Doors Open Milwaukee, George Wagner, in discovering the vibrant history of East North Avenue.

Three Bridges Park

September 22 at 10 am
Join us while we learn how a railyard became a vibrant city park, explore history of the area’s transformation, and drink in some of the best panoramas of the city.

Tory Hill and the Bloody Third Ward

September 22 at 10 am
Join Carl Baehr as he explores the geography and Irish history of Tory Hill and the Third Ward from the founding of Milwaukee to 1900, including events such as the Third Ward Fire of 1892 and Lynching of Marshall Clark.

Town of Lake/Tippecanoe Walk

September 23 at 10 am
The Tippecanoe Walk is where pioneers James Howard, Isaac Austin and Morgan Burdick had their farms. Visit John Saveland’s real estate developments, home, and a remnant of his Lake Tippecanoe Amusement Park!

Vision of the Porcelain City

September 23 at 10 am
Join sculptor and historian Ben Tyjeski on a detailed tour of architectural terra cotta in Westtown. Tyjeski will bring attention to the craft and artistic genius dedicated to the many façades in the downtown neighborhood as well as highlight historic buildings that no longer grace the streets.

Walnut Way

September 22 at 10 am, 1 pm and 3 pm
The walking tour will visit sites on campus that demonstrate fruit orchards, beekeeping, stormwater management, urban farming, and more. 

Westlawn Gardens Neighborhood

September 22 at 1 pm
The Westlawn Gardens Neighborhood, once a distressed public housing development, was the world’s highest-rated neighborhood on the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification scale in 2013. Check out the smart, healthy, and beautiful designs that bring the Westlawn Gardens Neighborhood continued recognition.

Wisconsin Book Bindery

September 22 at 12 pm and 2 pm
Join Zachary Lifton, Director of the Bindery Project, and Daniel Ehn, Founder of Hamlin Binding, for an interactive tour of Milwaukee’s oldest, family-owned, traditional binding center. Check out the historic machinery and techniques the Wisconsin Book Bindery still uses to craft books by hand.