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12 Holiday Destinations Along MCTS Bus Routes

Few places shine brighter than Milwaukee during the holidays. Whether you want to spend time outside in the cold or would prefer to stay toasty warm indoors, there are plenty of ways to experience the sights and sounds of the season.

So download the Ride MCTS app, buy a 24-Hour Ticket, and head out on a self-guided bus tour of some of the most festive holiday displays and activities in Milwaukee County!

1. Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival

The Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival is back for its 21st year! Check out the festive displays at Cathedral Square, Pere Marquette Park & Zeidler Union Square. And don’t miss the beautiful chandeliers hanging along Wisconsin Avenue! 

Ride Route 30 to Cathedral Square, Route 19 to Pere Marquette Park and Route 57 to Zeidler Union Square. Routes 14, 19, 30, 30X & GoldLine all run along Wisconsin Avenue. 

Where: Cathedral Square, Pere Marquette Park, Zeidler Union Square, Burns Commons Park & Wisconsin Avenue 
When: Through January 1st
More Info: Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21

2. Miller Holiday Lites 

Miller Valley is celebrating its 16th year of Holiday Lites. The Holiday Lites experience is an outdoor/indoor walking tour that consists of an opening video, a stop at the famous Miller Caves, and an exciting stroll past the Holiday Lites show itself. 

Route 31 makes several stops along the decorated portion of State Street, including a stop directly in front of the Miller Brewery Visitor Center. 

Where: 4251 W. State Street
When:  Friday/Saturday nights Dec. 6th through Dec. 21st
More Info: MillerCoors

3. Canadian Pacific Holiday Train

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will once again be rolling through southeast Wisconsin ahead of the holidays. It is scheduled to stop at the Intermodal Station in downtown Milwaukee on December 3rd and the Harwood Avenue crossing in Wauwatosa on December 3rd.

It’s free to see the 14-car train decorated with thousands of lights, but Canadian Pacific is asking visitors to bring nonperishable food items to donate to local food banks.

Ride Routes 12 & 57 to get to the Milwaukee location. Route 31 takes you to the Wauwatosa location.

Where: 433 W. St. Paul Avenue & 7720 Harwood Avenue 
When: December 3rd
More Info: Canadian Pacific Holiday Train

4. Slice of Ice

Grab your ice skates and head to Red Arrow Park for some outdoor fun this winter. Downtown Milwaukee's ice rink is free to use when you bring your own skates. Skate rentals are also available.

Routes 19, 57 & GreenLine all make stops along Red Arrow Park, which is decorated for the season!

Where: 920 N. Water Street
When: Opening Mid-December Depending on Weather
More Info: Milwaukee County Parks

5. Christkindlmarket Milwaukee

Milwaukee’s Christkindlmarket, outside Fiserv Forum, is modeled after the classic German holiday market in Nuremberg, Germany, with traditional candy-cane striped huts. The outdoor event hosts vendors from Germany, Europe and around the world who display hand-crafted ornaments, toys and unique holiday gifts, as well as traditional German foods and beverages. 

Ride Routes 19, 33, 80 to get to the Christkindlmarket, Bucks games, concerts, or any other special events held throughout the year at Fiserv Forum.

Where: 1111 Vel R. Phillips Avenue
When: Through December 24th
More Info: Fiserv Forum

6. Holiday Garden Show 

This year's holiday garden show captures the look and feel of all the classic lights, ornaments and decorations of the holiday season. There will be several varieties of poinsettias including 'Classic Red' and 'Polar Bear White' leading up to a classically-decorated tree, decorative garlands and a newly refurbished sleigh for holiday photo ops. Beautiful single stemmed white mums that look like snowballs will make an appearance along with other holiday staples such as cyclamen and amaryllis plants.

Ride the PurpleLine to get to the Domes to see the festive show for yourself. 

Where: 524 S. Layton Boulevard
When: Through January 5th
More Info: Mitchell Park Domes

7. Pabst Mansion

Generations of families have visited Milwaukee’s Pabst Mansion to celebrate “A Grand Avenue Christmas.” The mansion’s halls are decked for the holidays and open for self-guided tours throughout the season.

Just hop off Route 30 to visit the historic landmark.

Where: 2000 W. Wisconsin Avenue
When: Holiday decor up until January 5th 
More Info: Pabst Mansion

8. Candy Cane Lane

One of southeast Wisconsin’s most popular holiday traditions, Candy Cane Lane is a fundraiser for the MACC Fund. Every year, dozens of decorated homes in a West Allis neighborhood draw long lines of cars and pedestrians excited to check out the sights and sounds. 

Ride Routes 51 and 67 to get to the festive neighborhood! 

Where: The official participating area is from Montana Avenue on the north to Oklahoma Avenue on the south; 96th Street on the West to 92nd Street on the east.
When: Evenings Nov. 29th through Dec. 28th
More Info: Candy Cane Lane

9. Milwaukee Public Museum

Celebrate the season at the Milwaukee Public Museum. The Streets of Old Milwaukee and the European Village exhibits are both transformed into a holiday wonderland where you can discover traditions of the past and make new holiday memories with your family!

Routes 12, 14, 23, 31, 80 and BlueLine all have stops near the museum.

Where: 800 W. Wells Street
When: Through January 26th
More Info: Milwaukee Public Museum

10. BMO Harris Bank Holiday Display

BMO Harris Bank is once again transforming its downtown Milwaukee bank lobby into a winter wonderland. The theme for 2019 is "A Super Duper Holiday," and the display features the bank's collection of life-sized superhero-themed Steiff animals.

The display, which is free and open to the public, is along Routes 15, 57 & GreenLine.

Where: 770 N. Water Street

When: Through January 2nd

Website: Read More Via Fox6

11. A Christmas Carol

The Milwaukee Rep’s hit adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol” runs through December 24th at the historic Pabst Theater in downtown Milwaukee.

The production has a dazzling blend of music, lively dancing, stunning sets and eye-popping special effects. 

Ride Routes 15, 57 & GreenLine to get to the theater. 

Where: 144 E. Wells Street
When: Through December 24th
More Info: Milwaukee Rep

12. Milwaukee County Zoo

Step off the GoldLine and spend some quality time this holiday season at the Milwaukee County Zoo! Stroll across the festive grounds to celebrate the season with some of the 3,100 mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles that call the zoo home.

Whether you have tickets for Breakfast with Santa or are just looking to enjoy the great outdoors this winter, the zoo is a perfect place to bring the whole family.

Where: 10001 W. Bluemound Road
When: All Winter 
More Info: Milwaukee County Zoo

It's easy to plan your bus rides across Milwaukee County this holiday season using RideMCTS.com or the Ride MCTS app. Use the Trip Planner feature to enter your starting point and destination. Then use our Real-Time Bus Tracker to find out when your bus will arrive!