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: 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. Best of all, unlike some lame museums, Harley-Davidson allows you take pictures of all the cool artifacts inside.
As of 2020, the museum is open seven days a week, and admission cost is $22 per adult (that’s up $6 in the past eight years.) Bargain-hunters, take note: From October to April, the museum offers $10 admission on Tuesdays.
There’s also a restaurant and a gift shop on-site. Parking is free. The museum is located far enough from downtown that they have a sizable parking lot for guests. Nice!
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.
Harleys were used over the years by our military, so you’ll find plenty of army bikes on display.
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!
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.
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.
Another room features a large display of engines from Harleys over the years.
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.
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.
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.
The final room allows you to sit on a number of different bikes bolted to the floor, for that perfect hardcore Harley photo.
A friend went with a more vintage model to match his sweater.
If you find yourself in Milwaukee, don’t be bashful about checking out the Harley Davidson Museum, even if you’re not into motorcycles. Also consider visiting nearby attractions like the Milwaukee Public Museum, and see how I spent 24 hours in the city of Milwaukee.