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Before you figure out how to get in the front row at Summerfest, first figure out how to get there in the first place.

Summerfest secret parking spaces



Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on June 23, 2009 at 8:40 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, 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 know how our readers feel when we give away secrets, but everyone in town is deserves to get to Summerfest as easily as possible. That's why we're happy to share our personal parking secrets to the Big Gig -- they might not get you door-to-door service ... but they'll get you close.

Molly Snyder Edler
Staff Writer

It's extremely "14" of me, but my first choice for Summerfest transportation is to have someone -- and by someone I mean my husband -- drop me off and pick me up at an agreed-upon Downtown destination. Obviously, the drop off / pick up point cannot be too close to the grounds otherwise we get stuck in the post-fest traffic soup, but somewhere about three or four blocks away works wonders.

Also, I'm a big fan of riding my bicycle, although I do not have a light on my bike so it limits my route home. Occasionally, a friend and I or my husband and I will tune up my tandem bike and take it to Summerfest, which is always a blast.

Julie Lawrence
Staff Writer

The first thing you must consider when driving a vehicle is, which pains you more: long-distance walking or excessive parking price tags. Personally, I'd rather walk through Downtown, the Third Ward or Walker's Point on a warm summer night with a gaggle of friends than shell out valuable beer money on ditching my ride. Don't fool yourself into thinking there'll be a spot in the Third Ward; it's not happening. That being said, most people circle around Downtown and waste their time jockeying for a few spaces. Your best bet is to head south into the Fifth Ward. There's a big lot on Florida and 1st Street across from Slim McGinn's. From there, hop the Slimousine to the festival grounds. It's also not a bad walk, if you're up to it. Head north two blocks to Pittsburgh Avenue, cross the river into the Third Ward and boom, you're there.

Drew Olson
Senior Editor

A lot of Summerfest patrons are so hung up on finding street parking Downtown that they neglect the parking structures. You can park at one of the hotel, or at one of Downtown -- either on Jefferson Street or further south near Michigan Street and Broadway. It's a longer walk to and from the festival grounds, but you may actually save time by avoiding the traffic crush closer to the gates.

Jeff Sherman
President

Like nearly every major event in Milwaukee (or elsewhere for that matter), if you are willing to walk 6-12 blocks to your destination, you can practically park for free. For Summerfest, try some of the 10-hour meters in Downtown or just park at a friend's Downtown condo or apartment and walk. But you probably want something more specific, so here it goes: The Rock Bottom Brewery surface lot is pretty inexpensive, and Mo's Irish Pub (just down the street) has shuttles. So, consider that an easy option. There's plenty of street parking in the East Town area, too, and it's free after 6 p.m. So, park at a metered spot and walk the about a mile to the grounds. It's a good way to stretch the legs before the Big Gig. Use this link for more options: http://parkmilwaukee.com.

Bobby Tanzilo
Managing Editor

If you don't mind a bit of a walk, remember that both sides of the stretch of St. Paul Avenue west of the Intermodal Station have no parking restrictions and are rarely filled up. Park, stroll almost directly east down St. Paul to the fest and you've saved on parking. Buy another beer to reward yourself!

Andy Tarnoff
Publisher

You can find great parking at Summerfest, but it depends on how far you'll go to get it. The easiest way to park close and free is to show up on two wheels: Motorcycles park free (assuming there's space), but bicycles can get very close, too. The best option, however, is a scooter. As a moped, you can legally park on a sidewalk, just about anywhere you want. That's a pretty extreme measure, however. So, if you're not a fan of taking a bus from a nearby bar, my "secret spot" is on the short strip of South Water Street, between Florida Street and National Avenue. It's not incredibly close to the south gate at Summerfest, but it's not incredibly far, either.


Talkbacks

milROCKeeguy | June 28, 2010 at 5:51 p.m. (report)

I do have my spots, but do NOT want to give them away...but like the article. The only sad thing is most of the spots on here involve walking. Do you see the regular people who visit Summerfest? From the size of them, I dont believe 'walking' or 'excersise' is in their vocab.

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delafieldwi | June 24, 2010 at 11:35 a.m. (report)

Head down to Summerfest by hopping the shuttle in Delafield at the Nagawaukee Park-Ride in Delafield (Hwy 83 and I-94). Dont worry about traffic or parking the shuttle drops you off right at Summerfests gate! Delafield is an excellent launching point to many summer hotspots in Southeastern Wisconsin.

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CiaoRagazzi | June 24, 2009 at 3:20 p.m. (report)

PSA: Please don't park illegally in lots. Some people live in the 3rd Ward and you could be taking their spot.

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Scottage Cheese | June 24, 2009 at 12:28 p.m. (report)

I typically park in one of the back alleys in the third ward. Put a sign on the dash that says "Moving in to upstairs flat". I also put the windshield wipers half way up on the window, to show that I'm serious. I may leave a crack on the window too and a faux half-empty Gatorade bottle on top of the hood with some moving gloves, to indicate that I'm truly moving some goods in to my new apartment.

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danielnathan | June 24, 2009 at 12:13 p.m. (report)

dang it julie and andy! That's my secret spot!!!

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