Given the number of colleges and universities in Milwaukee, the city’s active nightlife scene shouldn’t come as a surprise. And when you’re in college, your favorite bars are going to be chosed by three important factors: peers, cheap drinks, and proximity. You don’t want to take the bus for 20 minutes to go to one bar and then head back home — you want to maximize the experience, and your dollar. Even better, you’ll likely be able to find several of these bars within walking distance of your one-bedroom apartment in Milwaukee.
Just a mile south of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus on the East Side, North Avenue is one of the most convenient and most popular areas for college students to congregate — and it’s pretty well surrounded by rental housing, for extra walkability. The EastSider, Vitucci’s, Von Trier, Hooligan’s, G-Daddy’s BBC, and more are all on North, and within a few blocks you’ll find Two Bucks (you can guess why that’s a popular spot), Yield, and the Jazz Estate (just in case you’re seeking a more sophisticated evening). Ma Fischer’s Diner on Farwell makes the perfect late-night meal before your trip home.
By day a charming neighborhood, Riverwest by night turns into the perfect party town. The Riverwest Public House Co-op, Bremen Cafe, and Art Bar are known for hosting great live music and events, while tiki-themed Foundation hosts music as well, but is better known for its tropical drinks.
Like Riverwest, this area has a stronger, more unique ambience, which attracts a more eclectic crowd of all ages — including college students. With stops like World of Beer, The Nomad, High Hat Lounge, and the Up & Under, there’s variety in both music and activity level. The High Hat, for example, is a calmer environment with more high-end cocktails, but if you venture in the attached Garage, you’ll find a more raucous environment.
In the heart of downtown, Water Street is the perfect spot to grab dinner and a drink if you’re on your way to a concert or a performance, or if you’re just looking to get social. Hot spots here are Bar Louie, Bar None (known for its extremely “cozy” size), Red Rock Saloon, and Fire on Water — the latter two are both where to go if you’re looking for live music.