Milwaukee: Bask in Bay View’s Boho Vibe

By Kristine Hansen | Photos courtesy Visit Milwaukee

You already know about all the cool shops and restaurants tucked into historic warehouses in Milwaukee’s Third Ward neighborhood. Or the emerging Restaurant Row in Walker’s Point. Maybe you’ve also walked through Cedarburg’s and Wauwatosa’s adorable downtown villages. But have you been to Bay View?

A mere 10-minute drive south of downtown Milwaukee, hugging Lake Michigan, lies the neighborhood many have likened to Brooklyn, New York, in recent years, if only for the new wave of farm-to-table chefs and boutique owners that have easily built a day of fun for your next Milwaukee day trip. Although two new micro hotels in Bay View—Kinn Guesthouse’s apartment-style rooms above Kindred, a restaurant; and the B&B vibe at The Muse Gallery Guest House— would happily let you stay longer.

Newer shops along the main drag (Kinnickinnic Avenue) sell a mix of clothing and home décor, including URSA, where the vibe is very boho-chic (think Mexican blankets and tasseled pillows). Plume sells both vintage and contemporary dress styles. Vinyl collectors will want to drop by Rushmor Records and Acme Records. Vintage duds are sold at Tip Top Atomic Shop, Alive and Fine, and Luv Unlimited.

In 2015 a local business owner re- opened Avalon Theater, where monthly Saturday morning classic films join nightly blockbuster hits on the marquee. Mistral, led by Joe Schreiter, a chef alum of Harbor House and Joey Gerard’s, in the same building delivers to your theater seat.

Other chefs who cut their teeth as chefs and sous chefs in Milwaukee and other cities have begun to adopt Bay View as the location for their first eatery. Within a residential block, the five-year-old Goodkind’s second-story dining room— inside a former pizza parlor—feels like the kind of place you’d find in San Francisco. Nightly specials at this farm-to-table spot range from burgers on Tuesday to half-off wines on Monday. Two of the co- owners (Paul Zerkel and Lisa Kirkpatrick) formerly worked at Portland, Oregon, restaurants. Speaking of wines, the list covers the globe and spans beyond big producers, while cocktails fold in locally procured ingredients. Sunday brunch here is very popular.

Ethnic dining in Bay View runs the gamut, from ramen at Hungry Sumo to Naples-style pizzas at Anodyne Coffee (not to be confused with its other location in Walker’s Point, which does not have an imported pizza oven). Want a primer in Milwaukee’s food artisans? Shop Outpost Natural Foods’ shelves for snacks. Much like Willy Street Co-op, the Bay View Outpost also features a café and coffee bar.

Palate pleasing doesn’t end with food. It extends to liquid pleasures, too. Twisted Path Distillery’s new tasting room in Lincoln Warehouse pours organic, locally made spirits. Distillery tours are offered on Saturdays. Locals are never far from a java fix, whether it’s a retrofitted gas station with fresh flowers on every table and killer sandwiches (Sven’s) or savory hand pies and pastries the size of your hand at another retrofitted gas station (SmallPie) a few blocks west of Lake Michigan.

Bars here have long been in operation, but Lost Whale—open since last year—is an example of a lounge with fun design, including its wallpaper and Instagram- ready drinks.

Two neighborhood events bring locals out in support of the community: South Shore Farmers’ Market (Saturday mornings between June and November in South Shore Park) and Bay View Gallery Night (first Friday in late May or early June, then again in late September).


Is there anything more urban than falling asleep above a trendy restaurant? In 2017 Charles Bailey transformed the upstairs of this 1895 Neoclassical Masonic lodge into Kinn Guesthouse (Kindred restaurant is below). Each of the eight rooms are high in design, thanks to exposed-brick walls, barn doors and bed frames crafted from wood found on site. A communal kitchen and lounge are so pretty you’ll want the space all to yourself.


To view more Midwest destinations, read our City Sojourns.

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