The world’s largest music festival is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, along the shore of lake Michigan. As cool lake breezes and cold Milwaukee beer take the edge off of the summer heat, thousands circulate among open-air stages that draw top talent. If you love live music and great times, this is the place to be in late June and early July. Here’s a guide to experiencing Summerfest like a local.
Summerfest is all about the music. On the grounds you’ll find 11 stages featuring hundreds of artists across an array of genres: rock, pop, country, indie, R&B and more. The music starts early and plays all day, leading up to a different national headliner every night; recent years have boasted big names like Thomas Rhett, Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Jennifer Lopez, and Jason Aldean.
One of the best parts about Summerfest is the chance to discover new bands you may not have heard before, and checking out a few shows in the Emerging Artists Series is a great way to do it. Each day features a new group of up-and-coming talent, including both local and national artists across a variety of genres. Summerfest attendees are invited to participate in this showcase by voting for their favorite artists—you don’t want to miss it!
If you come to Summerfest for the music, you’ll stay for the food. This isn’t your typical festival food—foodies will rejoice at the unique offerings, with past favorites including wok-fired soba noodles, Irish nachos and a deep-fried turducken, drizzled with cranberry sauce and served on a stick.
Whether you go for seasoned fries from local favorite Saz’s, sample tacos and sweet plantains from BelAir Cantina or a classic Wisconsin brat at Mader’s, it’s easy to get your festival fill. Veggie, vegan and gluten-free options are all available, too!
You won’t have to worry about what to do between concerts, either. Every year, Summerfest hosts a variety of special activities in addition to the music lineup. Families can take a break from the fest with arts and crafts at the Kohl’s Captivation Station or get a birds-eye view of the action with a ride on the skyglider (a Summerfest must-do!). Hop in a paddleboat to see the festival from the water, soar above the crowd with a spin on the ferris wheel, and don’t miss the Big Bang Fireworks Show on opening night—this awesome display is a highlight every year, and the perfect way to kick off 11 days of fantastic music.
A version of this article originally appeared on TravelWisconsin.com.