Visiting the Harley Davidson Museum

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How’s this for street cred: I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was 8 years old. My dad had a bike and bought me a little helmet and we went riding together through the streets of Pennsylvania and Ohio, much to the chagrin of my terrified grandmother.

I’m not a bike person these days (unless we’re talking about a street bicycle), but I was intrigued by the Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. Turns out this facility isn’t just for badass bikers.

Harley Davidson Museum exterior

Harley Davidson Museum: Admission price, hours, parking, photo policy

The Harley-Davidson Museum opened in 2008 in a formerly industrial area just outside downtown Milwaukee, at 400 Canal St. It’s easy to find and has a free parking lot, making it super convenient. It’s open seven days a week, and admission cost is $16 per adult. Best of all, unlike some lame museums, Harley-Davidson allows you take pictures of all the cool artifacts inside.

The most fascinating thing about the museum is the collection of very, very old Harleys. It’s cool to see the history and the evolution of the brand. Here’s one from 1936 that I’d love to ride even today.

harley 1936

Harleys were used over the years by our military, so you’ll find plenty of army bikes on display.

harley military

These models from more than 100 years ago look like plain old bicycles, except they have engines. Imagine how much hipster cred you’d earn if you cruised through your hood on one of these!

vintage harleys

Harley Davidson Museum Highlights: Gas tanks, engines, interactive exhibits

Folks who love shiny bright colors will take lots of enjoyment from the wall of gas tanks, which you may remember from an earlier photo teaser.

harley gas tanks

I couldn’t choose just one favorite, although I do like this black one with stripey colors. I’m guessing from its retro design that this one is from the ’70s.

Harley black gas tank

Another room features a large display of engines from Harleys over the years.

HD engine room

The motor room includes interactive touchscreens where you can pick any Harley from over the years and hear how it sounds when it starts. People who enjoy the revving of motorcycle engines will go nuts here.

harley motors

As the years progressed, Harley-Davidson branched out into a number of different transportation products, including boats and golf carts. Who knew? They even created a snowmobile for winter adventurers.

harley snowmobile

Look, it’s a bedazzled Harley! This rhinestone-covered bike from 1973 (the Elvis era, of course) was created when its rider found himself bedridden and decided to pass the time by pimping out his ride.

harley bedazzled rhinestone

The final room allows you to sit on a number of different bikes bolted to the floor, for that perfect hardcore Harley photo.

harley scott riding

A friend went with a more vintage model to match his sweater.

old motorcycle ride

If you find yourself in Milwaukee, don’t be bashful about checking out the Harley Davidson Museum, even if you’re not into motorcycles.

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About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Looking for a hotel? I always recommend Booking.com where you can easily compare hotel rooms, prices, and availability. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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16 Comments

  1. This is one place I must avoid at all cost, because…once I’m in not even the biggest Harley would ever get me out again. My eyes got all starry reading this and looking at the pictures. Oh memories of my ill spent youth…

  2. Although I’m not a motorcycle enthusiast, I really should visit this museum sometime. I lived in Milwaukee for a while and Harley Davidson is a big deal to that city. Next visit to Wisconsin — I’m there!

  3. Great article Scott. I can’t believe I’ve never been to this museum, even though Harley is one of my best clients (I write for their HOG magazine)!

  4. We love the blog post Scott! Glad you enjoyed the Harley Museum as much as we do. We’re certainly proud of our Harley-Davidson history.

    We’re looking forward to reading about your other Milwaukee adventures! Let us know if we can give you any local tips on places to explore while you’re here.

  5. Love this detour into motorcycles – I once own a 50cc Yamaha which worked for me in a flat area. Although not much for motorcycles because of their noise this would be fun to look at. Not sure about the $16 to get in but might pay it

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