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Lakefront summer fun guide

Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on June 6, 2004 at 5:27 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.

We many not have the silky, white sand and turquoise waters of the Caribbean, but we've got our own body of water and plenty of activities that go along with it.

Milwaukee's Lake Michigan lakefront is the home of McKinley Marina and Bradford Beach, both are perfect places to plop your bod on a sunny, summer day. Bradford Beach is ideal for lying out and catching some rays. If you get bored, you can play sand volleyball, toss a Frisbee or fly a kite.

No boat, no worries. Grab a pole, some worms and go fishing. Or, if you want to beat up on your friends, get some folks together and play rugby or lacrosse. The lakefront is full of free fields for all kinds of outdoor sports. Here's a guide to several of your onshore rental options.

McKinley Marina
1750 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., (414) 273-5224
This marina offers a boat launch, making it Milwaukee's only public lakefront marina. There is plenty of security and parking available, as well as all other amenities. Refreshments, fuel and pump-out facilities, and sailing lessons are also available for people to take advantage of. Boat season is May 1-Oct. 31.

Get off the shore and out on the water. You can rent jet skis all summer, south of Bradford Beach and north of McKinley Marina (414-803-3515). Make sure to bring your major credit card with picture ID or a $200 deposit to use one. It costs $45 to rent one for a half-hour. Instructions, fuel, life jackets and wetsuits are provided. Weather permitting, rentals are available seven days a week from noon until 7 p.m.

Milwaukee Bike and Skate Rental
Veterans Park Next to McKinley Marina South, (414)273-1343
Visit the small building with the giant windsock to find a plethra of rental equipment. From this location you can rent anything from traditional mountain bikes and in-line skates to unusual surreys and skelters. Plus, if you are looking for a new adventure, Milwaukee Bike and Skate rental now also rents Segways.

Juneau Park Paddleboat Company
Veteran's Park Lagoon, (414) 217-7235
Paddleboats that hold up to three people (two adults and a child or two children and an adult) ply the lilting waters of the serene Veterans Park lagoon. It costs $8 to rent a boat for a half-hour. They are available daily 11 a.m. until sundown, May-October. Juneau Park Paddleboat Company also has Hydrobikes available. Either a valid driver's license or a state I.D. is required as a deposit. Life jackets are provided and must be worn by all passengers. Parental consent is needed for anyone under age 16. Children must be at least one year of age.

Gift of Wings
Veterans Park, (414) 273-5483
Looking to stay out of the water? While you can't rent kites at this location, Gift of Wings sells everything you need for a windy day in Milwaukee. From kites to windsocks to models, they have everything aviation. As the host of the Wings on Strings Kite Festival, this small shop has become the meeting place for Milwaukee's avid kite flyers.

Bradford Beach House
2400 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., (414) 967-9531
With new ownership, life and activity has returned to the Bradford Beach House. Beachgoers can spend time basking in the sun or sporting in the sand. There are several rentals available including volleyballs, volleyball courts, soccer goals and balls and Baggo boards. And after that long day, reenergize in the beach house with plenty of snacks, sodas and beer.

Beach chairs and cabanas are available for rent at Bradford Beach (2400 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive) and Atwater Park Beach (4000 N. Lake Drive) from 10 a.m. until sunset daily, June-August.

Kayak and Canoe Rentals
While there isn't a rental provider right on the lakefront, you can easily rent a kayak or canoe on the Milwaukee river and make your way into the great Lake Michigan waters. Laacke and Joys (1433 N. Water St., (414) 271-7878) offers kayak and canoe rentals and you can put them right in the water on the river. The Urban Ecology Center (1500 E. Park Pl., (414) 964-8505) also has kayaks and canoes available for use to their members.


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