Milwaukee's Lakefront Trail may be one of the best features of downtown Milwaukee. The trail used to encompass various other pathways through the city, but those trails are now considered separate and known as the Oak Leaf Trail. The Lakefront Trail runs along Lake Michigan and passes the Milwaukee Art Museum, Veteran's Park, and the McKinley Marina. During the summer, the trail is jammed with bikers, inline skaters, joggers, and walkers. It is a popular place for families to enjoy the lakefront, and often people step off the path for picnicking, kite-flying, and other recreational gatherings. The trail runs from the north end of town near the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and Shorewood, south through the city down to the suburban areas of St. Francis, Cudahy, and South Milwaukee. Walking, driving, or biking along the trail offers magnificent views of Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee shoreline.
Parking is available in a variety of places, often free of charge. On weekends during warm weather, it can be difficult to find parking spaces in the downtown area, or near the established parks and swimming areas of the trail. It may be advisable to park a block or two west of the lake and stroll east to the path. Occasionally, area businesses allow parking for the trail provided you visit the location before or after your hike or bike ride.
Along the trail are various options for dining, recreation, and culture. The Alterra coffee house lies just across the street by the northern downtown portion of the trail. The Milwaukee Art Museum is reachable via the trail, and some walk the trail to reach the Summerfest grounds for concerts and ethnic festivals. Futher south are a variety of county parks and recreation areas. Visitors can stop for a bite to eat or a cool beverage while biking the trail or hiking along the shorefront.
Trail visitors can choose from a variety of accomodations located just minutes from the trail. The Knickerbocker Hotel is a unique, historic option that offers comfort, class, and delicious dining, all in one place. On Milwaukee's east side, a few blocks from the trail are famous favorites including E.E. Sane Thai food, Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro, The Lake Park Bistro, and Coast Restaurant. Many of these restaurants offers award winning dining experiences with some of Milwaukee's most delicious food.
Visitors have the option of renting recreational equipment for traveling the trail like bikes and skates. This ensures everyone has a chance to enjoy the numerous opportuniteis the trail provides. Riding along Milwaukee's lakefront is a right of passage for many Wisconsin residents. People come from as far away as Illinois to enjoy the lakefront during the summer months. While many areas similar this in other cities are commercialized and packed with retail establishments, Milwaukee chooses to under-utilize the lakefront, citing its desire to keep the area natural and accessible to everyone. Families from all over the city enjoy the beachfront areas of the lake.