girl on Bradford Beach in Milwaukee

Bradford Beach – Your Guide to Milwaukee’s Favorite Beach

Milwaukee has a surprising number of urban beaches, perfect for soaking up some summer fun, and everyone’s favorite is Bradford Beach. There are beaches all along the lake, from the south side of Milwaukee up to Shorewood. Bradford Beach is most popular for a few reasons, it’s one of the largest beaches and is centrally located right outside of downtown.

There are all sorts of reasons to visit Milwaukee in summer, whether it’s for one of the many festivals, especially Summerfest, or just to visit a city with lots of museums, great restaurants, and plenty of exceptional bars.

One thing to add to your bucket list in Milwaukee this summer is heading over to Bradford Beach. Read below for a complete guide to Milwaukee’s best beach.


Getting There

Bradford Beach is located right in the center of Lincoln Memorial Drive, the main thoroughfare that runs along Lake Michigan. Lincoln Memorial Drive is easily accessible from downtown, Shorewood, and the east side.

Once there, there are several major parking options. The most convenient is a parking lot directly across the street from the beach. The parking lot is pretty spacious but fills up quickly, especially on weekends. There is also parking right around Northpoint Custard Stand, and a second near the Milwaukee Yacht Club a bit south of the beach, directly across the street from the Collectivo Coffee on the lake. There is also street parking along Lincoln Memorial Drive, but on warm summer days, this also fills up early.


Bradford Beach Amenities

There is one large bathhouse in front of the beach, right across from the parking lot mentioned above. Like most bathhouses at public beaches, it gets increasingly crowded when the crowds get pretty big. As a result, the best option is to change at your house or hotel before heading out. The bathhouse also provides the best option for restrooms. Occasionally there are nearby port-o-johns, or you can take a short stroll to the Collectivo, where if you buy an iced tea or coffee you can use their facilities. There is also a spot to rent a cabana in case you want an upgraded space for relaxing.


Food and Drinks at Bradford Beach

There are a few options for food and drinks at Bradford Beach. The most affordable option is attached to the bathhouse. It basically includes basic fare, like hot dogs and sodas, but still offers a convenient option.

A better option is to head toward the end of the beach where you can try MooSa’s Custard Stand. This seasonal restaurant and serves delicious burgers, wings, awesome Milwaukee-style frozen custard, and some tasty shakes. On really nice days expect a line, but the wait is definitely worth it.

There are also three tiki huts on the beach. Each one serves alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, along with basic food options like tacos and ice cream. The tiki bars have stools where you can comfortably sit and enjoy a beer or even a pina colada. They also have LED TVs in case a Brewers game is on.


Activities and Beach Volleyball at Bradford Beach

Most people head to the beach with one thing in mind – relaxation. If laying out in the sun and getting a tan is your main priority, there is nowhere better in Milwaukee than Bradford Beach. There are other activity options at Bradford Beach, beyond relaxing and sipping a pina colada. The most popular is volleyball.

Bradford has forty-three volleyball nets and always draws a crowd, including league play all the way to total amateurs. Many groups show up looking for extra players or for a team to play against, so feel free to hang around to join the fun. In summer this is one of the best things to do in Milwaukee!

Besides for volleyball, Bradford Beach is also enclosed by over three miles of paved walking trails, all of which runs along the lake. If looking for some exercise, this can be a great option, in addition to the outdoor workout equipment a bit north of the beach. Finally, there are nearby playgrounds perfect for the kids.


Bradford Beach Rules

Like any other beach, there are certain rules and etiquette to follow when at Bradford Beach. These obviously include following the open hours, but here are a few others to keep in mind:

  • No grilling or bonfires on the beach
  • No carry-in alcohol allowedSwim in designated areas
  • Watch for signs alerting of “no-swim” days based on water pollution
  • No glassware is allowed on the beach
  • No smoking near the bathhouse
  • No dogs on the beach
  • Clean up your garbage before leaving

Bradford Beach Hours & Address

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