milwaukee city guide for vintage lovers

Most of you know that I call the lovely Midwestern metropolis known as Milwaukee, Wisconsin home. I could totally talk about my favorite places in Milwaukee forever, so today I’m limiting it to personal faves and especially spots that I think other vintage lovers need to check out! The vintage/pinup scene in Milwaukee isn’t as expansive as in Los Angeles or other larger cities, but there’s still plenty of retro fun to be had. One of my favorite things about the city is how much of the past lives on today; even as things are growing and changing, people really put the effort into preserving the past. A lot of things that might seem “retro” to other people are just how we roll in Milwaukee.


Top Pick: If you want to do some shopping while you’re in town, you have to go to Antiques on Pierce. This three-story antique mall is packed with everything from records to Coca Cola merchandise to creepy busts of Jesus to furniture to vintage arcade games to naked mannequins and more. You could spend hours wandering around here and still not see everything. In a word: heaven.

Other Vintage & Thrift Faves
  • Tip Top Atomic Shop – tiny super awesome shop with midcentury vintage & some repro clothes
  • Luv Unlimited – thrift shop with clothes, jewelry, accessories, etc.
  • R-Vintage And More – primarily vintage furniture
  • Brass Rooster/The Hen House – artisan handmade hats for men & women
  • BC Modern – mostly furniture
  • Cream City Restoration – vintage goods and custom-built MCM furniture
  • MidCentury Meow – available online & by appointment and occasional open house


Photo by Rebecca Kames via Milwaukee Magazine

Top Pick: My grandmother was working at a bank in Milwaukee when she met my grandpa. After work, she and the other girls from the bank would go for drinks at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge…and guess what? So can you. Tucked inside an old house, this is hands down one of the coolest places in the city. Bryant’s doesn’t have a menu – instead, you can talk to your bartender about the flavors and liquors and feelings you like (depending on who’s working, you can get really creative) and they’ll select one of their 400+ cocktails for you.

Other Faves
  • Foundation (which I’ve blogged about before!) – internationally beloved tiki bar
  • The SafeHouse – spy-themed bar
  • Wauwatiki – modern tiki bar (check out my review!)


Top Pick: It’s practically impossible to just pick one favorite spot to eat when there’s so much good food (Milwaukee seriously does not get enough credit for its food scene), so I’ll have to go with by far my most often visited spot: Vanguard. The fact that it’s reallyyy close to my apartment definitely helps, but it’s the wacky handmade artisan sausages, cocktails on tap, and maple-braised duck poutine with veal gravy that keeps me coming back for more. Plus, they show a lot of Bob Ross on the TV.

Other Faves
  • Five O’Clock Steakhouse – old school supper club
  • Odd Duck – small plates
  • Kopp’s Custard – classic burgers & delicious frozen custard
  • Classic Slice – pizza

I’ll control myself and cut myself off there – I hope that at least some of this is inspiring if you ever make your way to Milwaukee! It’s really a city with so much going on and so much to do, it’s a shame that a lot of people don’t know what they’re missing! If there are other suggestions or city guides you’re interested in, let me know!

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2 Comment

  1. Reply
    Thoroughly Modern Emily
    June 13, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    The vintage scene is one of the biggest reasons I want to visit! When I studied abroad, one of the friends I made in Japan was from Milwaukee, and she had the absolute best wardrobe. Tip Top Atomic Shop is probably the cutest name ever, too.

    1. Reply
      Penny Snark
      June 13, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      Totally! There’s a great scene here, a lot less crowded/picked over than other places.

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