Recently, I took a drive with my colleague, Jeff, to visit the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. We left from a North Shore suburb in Illinois where it was overcast and cloudy heading north to Milwaukee. At the Illinois-Wisconsin boarder the sun came out and stayed out during our entire visit which made our stay bright and cheery. There are always interesting events taking place at the museum, but we were especially interested in seeing recent additions and changes.
Approaching the museum, we stopped to climb on the Harley-Davidson motorcycles displayed in front of the museum for our photo op. Stepping inside, I found it as fascinating as I remembered it. I love the way historic information is conveyed, providing the opportunity to explore the company’s culture and history through stories and interactive exhibits that celebrate expression, camaraderie, and love for the sport. Seeing the development of the motorcycles from 1909 forward is engaging historically and technologically. A visit to the H-D Museum is an experience that changed my view of motorcycles and history. In addition, the stories of the key players in the company are very intriguing and memorable. Amidst this unrivaled collection of Harley-Davidson® motorcycles and memorabilia, in the 20-acre, park-like campus, we enjoyed seeing and learning. There were many people from many places (as we heard many languages) clearly enjoying their visits also. There is an impressive calendar full of activities making the H-D Museum one of Milwaukee’s top tourist destinations for visitors from around the globe. You, too, will be rewarded by a visit to the Harley-Davidson Museum which you can check here: H-DMuseum.com.
There were several stand outs during our visit. We were captivated by the story of the founders of Harley-Davidson which one sees as they enter the display area. Check this- Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (on display now) The four founders of Harley-Davidson were recently inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. Learn more about this prestigious honor now on view in the H-D Museum.
We decided to visit the museum at the last minute so we did not make plans that included Guided Tours. However, I may try this on a return visit. This is all new in ’22. The guided tour portfolio has been updated with new experiences and content. One can choose from the Spotlight Tour, the Beyond the Gate Tour or the VIP Tour. Some tours are available to the public; this schedule will vary. To book a private group tour, please call 414-287-2799 or email for more information. Advance reservations and prepayment required at least 2-weeks prior to tour date. Please note: Tour fee does not include General Admission.
We especially enjoyed, “Building a Milwaukee Icon: Harley-Davidson’s Juneau Avenue Factory” (on display now)
A recently recovered cache of architectural drawings includes plans for the original Juneau Avenue facility. The pencil drawings, along with archival photographs, demonstrate the whirlwind pace of the company’s early growth. While building an international business—going from producing just over 1,000 motorcycles in 1909 to manufacturing 27,000 motorcycles in 1920—the company’s Milwaukee factory experienced near-constant expansion. Construction through this relatively brief period created the buildings that today, a century later, are still the proud home of Harley-Davidson. “Building a Milwaukee Icon” provides a snapshot of Harley-Davidson’s formative years and illustrates a chapter of Milwaukee history when the city was known as the “Machine Shop to the World.” This was a captivating walk along a bridge space taking viewers on a walk through history.
We found the new improved Harley-Davidson Shop in a new location. It was bigger and brighter with so many choices. There are more than 150 new items to choose from to outfit one’s collection, including new collaborations! You can find Harley-Davidson Museum™ headwear and socks designed and made in the USA by Ampal including the latest Harley-Davidson® x Jason Momoa collection. This limited-edition collaboration celebrates the craftsmanship and heritage that merges iconic Harley-Davidson imagery and designs with Jason’s Aloha-spirited love of lush patterns and colors. The day of our visit the all-new Factory Shop had sold out and was not open so we could not take advantage of the savings on this visit. We did, however take home some amazing Harley-Davidson Hill Climber coffee that is delicious.
We visited the MOTOR® BAR & RESTAURANT but the timing wasn’t good for us to eat there. However, some specials include: Shrimp Po’ Boy, Diablo Burger, and Carrot Cake–so plan a stop here.
Visitors might be interested in the following:
Engineering Merit Badge (Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.)
All scouts are welcome to come earn their Engineering Merit Badge at the Harley-Davidson Museum! This experience will be launched by our merit badge counselor. Then, scouts will explore the history of Harley-Davidson as well as the engineering of motorcycles as they complete the nine merit badge requirements. Advance registration is required. Program registration closes one week prior to the scheduled program date. Ticket includes:downloadable activity booklet used for the program, partially facilitated program, blue card signed by the facilitator (one blue card per scout registration) and an exclusive H-D Museum™ patch.
Check the Experience Gallery (on display now)
With inspiring stories from riders who have turned their dream of learning to ride into reality, a look at the epic journeys you can only experience behind the bars of a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle, plus the chance to throw a leg over a new Harley-Davidson #FreedomMachine, the reinstalled and all-new Experience Gallery shows the world how at Harley-Davidson, “United We Ride!”
And there is so much more to see and do. Autumn is in full swing at the crossroads of 6th & Canal. Whether it’s scooping up cozy clothes from both the Harley-Davidson® Shop and the all-new Factory shop, warming up to the specials at MOTOR® Bar & Restaurant, checking out new displays in the hallowed halls of the Harley-Davidson Museum or rolling down for Skulloween on October 27, the H-D Museum™ campus is full of fun this fall.