“Where City Meets the Country” is an appropriate slogan for the City of Oak Creek. Its 28 square miles offers plenty of room to enjoy nature on spacious suburban and rural lots, but its convenient location is just minutes from all of the social and cultural amenities that make Milwaukee a great place to live.
Oak Creek is one of the fastest-growing communities in Southeastern Wisconsin for both homeowners and businesses. The City is home to hundreds of companies, both large and small, and boasts seven business parks with fast access to the airport and rail lines.
The City was incorporated in 1955, but residents have been calling Oak Creek home since the 1830s and 1840s. For most of that time, even until the 1950s, the majority of residents were farmers working their own land. The population has more than tripled since incorporation, with a current count that’s well above 33,000 residents.
Homes and Neighborhoods
Oak Creek’s 22 unique neighborhoods are identified by distinct characteristics, based on location, physical or cultural features, or planned land uses. The neighborhoods offer a very diverse housing stock, from affordable to the very exclusive. Its newer luxury homes have earned Oak Creek the nickname, “The Mequon of the south.”
The majority of homes were built since the city’s incorporation in 1955, with particular growth periods in the 60s, 70s and 90s. Yet, older homes in a neighborhood called Carrolville date back to the first workers at the Peter Cooper Glue Factory, which opened in 1899. And new housing developments continue to be built.
Whatever neighborhood or housing style you choose, Oak Creek can boast property tax rates that are among the lowest in Milwaukee County, along with one of the lowest per-pupil costs in Milwaukee County. Residents keep abreast of local events and news in the quarterly Current Magazine, the official magazine of the City of Oak Creek, and in Acorn Newsletter and Recreation Guide, published in April, August and December.
Shopping and Dining
Shopping in Oak Creek ranges from large national retailers and local destination grocery stores to small one-of-a-kind boutiques at the Market Place Village at Chicago and Puetz roads.
The new center of town is Drexel Town Square, which offers retail, restaurants, service businesses and apartments in a compact area that’s reminiscent of a traditional downtown with a real Main Street. City Hall and the Library are located on the square. Dining here includes a variety of national and regional chains, plus Cubanitas when you’re in the mood for Cuban cuisine and mojitos.
Locals dine at Erv’s Mug for fish fries on both Wednesday and Friday, plus a unique menu of craft beers every night of the week. Georgie Porgie’s is an old-time custard stand with delicious casual favorites and a Saturday night car show. For pizza, Oak Creek residents prefer Marco’s Pizza on Forest Hill Avenue. For more unique and elegant Italian specialties, try Trattoria di Carlo on Howell Avenue.
Newer additions include Crispy and Grill, known for wings, fried chicken and other comfort foods; Cozumel for Mexican specialties, Indian Delight for south Asian vegetarian cuisine, and Shish Kabob for Middle Eastern breakfast, lunch and dinners.
Points of Interest and Recreation
There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle in Oak Creek. Bender Park offers dramatic bluffs along Lake Michigan, hiking trails and a sand beach with six-lane boat launch. There are 19 additional neighborhood parks comprising 278 acres and offering a variety of athletic fields, picnic areas and playground equipment.
Abendschein Park offers a skate park with a half pipe and ramps for skaters and scooters of all skill levels. Kids will enjoy the splash pad at Town Square. The city also has nine miles of off-road bike trails that are linked to the rest of the county system. Golfers will enjoy the challenging Oak Hills Golf Course, nine-hole Woodland Golf Course and Gastrau’s Golf Center driving range.
There’s an outdoor event for every taste in Oak Creek. In February, bundle up for Winterfest at the Civic Center and Drexel Town Square. Enjoy ice carving demonstrations, ice skating, slap-shot hockey, carriage rides, a petting farm, vendors, and warming tents and fire pits with plenty of warm food and beverages for sale.
The Oak Creek Farmers Market, featuring fresh produce, specialty foods, flowers, and arts and crafts, is held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday from May through October at Drexel Town Square. In August, the Market presents CAFÉ, a cultural event that celebrates the city’s cultural diversity through Culture • Art • Food • Entertainment. The last weekend of the Farmers Market coincides with the Oak Creek Fall Festival, featuring live music, art and food vendors, and harvest and Halloween activities for the whole family.
The kickoff to summer fun each year is the Summer Soulstice Music Festival, held at Abendschein Park each June. The City of Oak Creek offers a summer concert series on Wednesday evenings at the Community Center on South Howell Street. Once a month in the summer, the Oak Creek Food Truck Tour brings a variety of food trucks to Drexel Town Square, along with live music, craft beers and games for the whole family.
Oak Creek National Night Out is a free, family-friendly event designed to help bolster neighborhood spirit and police/community partnerships. The event features crime prevention and safety messages with interactive exhibits, performances and inexpensive, delicious food.
Drexel Town Square is also the site for Outdoor Movie Nights throughout the summer. Bring a chair and blanket and pack snacks or purchase food from the many Town Square restaurants.
Fans of Doors Open Milwaukee will enjoy Sneak Peek at Oak Creek in September. Go behind the scenes as local businesses and organizations open their doors for you to tour their operations.
Also in September, the City hosts a community-wide Pig and Chicken Roast at Miller Park, with children’s activities and a car show. A recent addition to the September calendar of events is The Confluence, which brings live music and entertainment, food trucks, an artists’ market, pop-up craft beer village and public art installations to Lake Vista Park.
In December, the new Light the Square event features holiday displays, music and a craft fair. Another celebration unique to Oak Creek is Spreading the Holiday Cheer, which is organized by the Oak Creek Celebrations Commission. Residents are asked to donate items to make holiday dreams come true for seniors and the Humane Society through Stockings for Seniors and Cookies for Canines and Felines.
The Oak Creek Historical Society maintains several historic sites, including the Hughes Cabin (1840s), Franke Farm Summer Kitchen (1890), Town Hall (1874), Wholust Blacksmith Shop (1886), and a turn-of-the-century Print Shop. An authentic Cobbler Shop is under construction. The Society grounds are the site of a safe trick or treat event each October.
Schools, Health, Transportation
The Oak Creek/Franklin School District offers a full range of programs for its students at seven elementary schools, three middle schools and one high school. Oak Creek High School is ranked 112th among all Wisconsin high schools, based on performance on state-required tests, graduation rate and how well it prepares students for college. There are numerous opportunities for adult continuing education, including classes through the Recreation Department and at MATC’s Oak Creek Campus.
Oak Creek residents can reach the County Grounds medical facilities and resources in just minutes, as well as Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, and Ascension Health Care campuses in St. Francis and Franklin. Children’s Hospital of Wisconneighsin offers an Urgent Care facility in Oak Creek. The City offers free text message alerts to residents in the event of a citywide or weather emergency.
Oak Creek’s close proximity to I-94 makes travel to downtown Milwaukee or Chicago very convenient. Mitchell International Airport is just minutes away, offering easy access to flights, regional buses and trains via the airport Amtrak station.