By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Nov 30, 2023 at 3:31 PM

Snuggle up with some holiday cheer as OnMilwaukee shares stories of everything merry and bright in the spirit of the season.

The OnMilwaukee Ho Ho Holiday Guide is brought to you by Educators Credit Union, Harley-Davidson Museum and MolsonCoors

This article is in partnership with the Greendale Chamber of Commerce and Southridge Mall.

Every city, town, village or hamlet likes to imagine it's special and one-of-a-kind – but in the case of Greendale, there are truly not many places out there like it.

Built in the mid-1930s, Greendale was established one of just three government-made "Greenbelt communities" by President Roosevelt and his administration, small developments with the hope of serving as a model working class city with walkable downtowns, available nearby jobs and nice affordable housing. The village is no longer under federal ownership like it was back in the day, but it's still maintains the unique small-town charm it was established with, from its welcoming downtown drag to the original homes surrounding it all – many with chimney art providing an eye-catching flourish.

You can't tell the history of Greendale without one of its largest and most iconic anchors as well: Southridge Mall, sitting just a quick pleasant walk or bike ride away from the village itself. Built in 1970 and celebrating more than 50 years as a community gathering spot, Southridge stands as one of the largest mall in the state. And while the names may have changed on some of the storefronts over the years, one thing stays consistent: There's always something interesting to discover and they're always looking for new interesting things to show its visitors. 

Greendale's past leads us to the present – and to presents, as we've now officially entered the holidays and gift-buying season. And whether you're looking for the latest, greatest gifts on all the trendy guides or something off the lists but totally on-trend and delightful, Greendale is your destination – with cozy local stores, artisan crafts, department stores filled with all of your needs, specialty shops for any and all hobbies and interests, and more spread between the village's Downtown and Southridge Mall. And best of all, these two shopping hubs are barely a mile apart, making it super easy to hit both locales for all your shopping needs in one short trip. 

And while you're getting presents for those on your list, you can gift yourself the experience of Greendale and Southridge in the process, by grabbing a bite and a beverage at one of its cozy restaurants, by exploring the village's unique history with a tour or by some other entertaining adventure at the mall movie theater, newest bowling alley or holiday happening. 

To get the most out of your Greendale and Southridge visit this gift-centric season, here's a guide highlighting some of the best the burb has to offer – from spectacular shops to delicious dinners, marvelous nights out at the movies to ideal ice for skating, and holiday events gathering neighbors near and far in the festive spirit. We know you'll like it – because there's little else like it. Here's just a glimpse at what you can find this festive season:

Supreme holiday shopping 


'Tis the season to be jolly ... and jumping from store to store to cross everyone off your shopping list this holiday season! Greendale makes it easy, though, to knock out all your gift-buying needs in one swoop, between the many stores found at Southridge Mall to the boutique businesses – offering barbecue help, bird bliss and beyond – lining the village's Downtown strip. Whether you're prepping ahead for Christmas or a procrastinator waiting until the last minute, here are several spots to check out on your seasonal shopping spree – and for even more, check out Southridge's website as well as the Greendale Chamber of Commerce's official site

Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

Looking for the perfect gift for the pop culture fanatics on your shopping list? Take a bite out of BoxLunch's offerings – which is not a food company whatsoever but instead a retailer selling toys, collectables, tees and more based on all sorts of movie, TV and anime icons and beyond. If you binge it, Boxlunch has it – and best of all, for every $10 you spend, BoxLunch will help purchase a meal for Feeding America and those in need. So a Psyduck shirt means more than just showing off your support for stressed out Poke-ducks!

Galleria Greendale
5640 Parking St.

You're guaranteed a unique visit when you venture into Galleria Greendale, filled with unique hand-crafted art pieces, clothing items, decorations, kitchen essentials and more created by dozens of talented artists and artisans from across the state and the country. It's a warmly distinctive haven worthy of the warmly distinctive village it calls home. 

Gift of Wings
5608 Broad St.

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Let's go buy and fly a kite! Gift of Wings is perhaps most known as the steward of the Family Kite Fest, taking flight every summer on the lakefront – but it also has its everyday hub, found on the village's main drag in downtown Greendale. The store features all sorts of flying contraptions that'll enchant kids young and young at heart – and for a bonus blast of childhood joy, Gift of Wings also sells tasty snacks, ice cream, chocolate and more. Buy yourself or a loved one a sign of the summer to come with this kooky one-of-a-kind kite shop.

Go! Calendars and Games
Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

Go to Go! Calendars and Games, moving its collection of games, cuddly stuffed animals and quirky t-shirts into Southridge Mall for the holiday season. And don't forget that New Year's is coming up on us too, so look forward to 2024 with the help of a fresh calendar from this playful shop.

Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

Southridge is anchored by four major retailers – Macy's, JCPenney, Dick's Sporting Goods and TJ Maxx, all certainly helpful for your holiday (or just everyday) shopping needs. Macy's, however, might be the most notable stop of the power four, mostly because the department store is actually somewhat rare around these parts now, with only one other location within an hour of Milwaukee. So make like the wise men in the Nativity Story and follow the star!

Name of the Game
Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

The Wisconsin Badgers haven't exactly looked great this season on the football field or basketball court – but at least you can look great repping Bucky with Name of the Game. And even if your allergic to the badger (can you be allergic to badgers?) the local sports retailer also sports gear from the Bucks and the Brewers as well, so you can look as golden as this golden era of Sconnie sports. (And for more sports options at Southridge, there's also Foot Locker, Dick's and Champs Sports.)

Our Wisconsin Outlet Store & More
5676 Broad St.

Seeking out a Sconnie-centric season's greetings? Seek no further than Our Wisconsin Outlet Store & More, fully stocked with all sorts of Wisconsin-made crafts, accessories, art, sweets and snacks like locally made maple syrup, and clothing items celebrating the whole state and Greendale. 

Price's Collectibles
5626 Broad St.

Even in this digital age, sports cards are making a comeback – and for those wanting to start a new collection or price their old collection, there's Price's Collectibles. Found in the village, Price's showcases cards old and new as well as other sports and pop culture memorabilia, making this a home run stop for sports fans craving some nostalgia and some exciting finds. 

Rogers & Hollands
Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

Want to give a gift that'll outshine all the Christmas lights and decorations on display? Pop into the glimmer factory that is Rogers & Hollands jewelry store inside Southridge Mall, offering a wide range of gorgeous gems, gold and other glistening regalia that'll make you the greatest gift-giver this holiday season. 

Village Shoppe
Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

Looking to get into the holiday spirit, and all the Christmas music on the radio, decorations flashing all across neighbors' yards and Hallmark movies on TV haven't done the trick quite yet? Take a pop into Village Shoppe inside Southridge, a locally owned store offering delightful holiday trinkets, decor, clothing items, accessories and more perfect for the season – and perfect for warming your heart and putting a smile on your face. 

Divine dining and drinking around Greendale 

Dia y Noche
PHOTO: Lori Fredrich

Work up a hunger after battling your fellow Black Friday shoppers? Need a celebratory cocktail or brew after snagging all the presents for your family, friends and people who weren't even on your list? Greendale's got you covered for grub, with cozy neighborhood taps, craft breweries, classic pizza, tapas and brunch all in one, supper clubs, wine bars and a cornucopia of other delicious options. Here are several scrumptious spots – and for even more crave-worthy choices, feast on Southridge's website as well as the Greendale Chamber of Commerce's official site

Dia y Noche
6601 Northway
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Trying to figure out where to stop in for a pre-Black Friday brunch and coffee? Or where to get a recuperating bite after a long day clearing off your Christmas shopping list? Two different questions, the same answer for both: Dia y Noche, a shape-shifting eatery near Downtown Greendale serving cozy cafe drinks, baked goods and brunch staples for early in the day before transforming into a Latin American tapas restaurant and bar in the evening. So no matter what time it is, it's the right time for a Dia y Noche visit.

Explorium Brewpub
Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.
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It wouldn't be a trip to Greendale if you didn't explore The Explorium Brewpub. The craft brewery's expanded out to a Third Ward locale, but Greendale gets to claim the title of Explorium's original home, still found right out front of Southridge Mall with a warm restaurant and taproom space, awesome outdoor patio and – of course – an impressive variety of flavorful brews. 

First Watch
5320 S. 76th St.
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First Watch is one of the first names in brunch across the country, slowly yet surely growing and spreading around the U.S. from its first California location during the '80s and reaching Greendale just last year. When the chain moved into Greendale, it brought with it its popular menu of breakfast and brunch staples including avacado toast, hashes benedicts, platters and more. First Watch makes a first-rate spot for the first meal of the day. 

Joey Gerard's
5601 Broad St.
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It wouldn't be a proper small Wisconsin town without a cozy supper club serving up Old Fashioneds, steaks, prime rib, fish fry and other comfort fare. And indeed Greendale has a tasty one in the form of Joey Gerard's, coming from the local culinary colossus Bartolotta's, opened more than a decade ago in the village. It's a bite of up north found just outside the City of Milwaukee.

La Mesa Mexican Grill
Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

The Southridge food options serve up just about anything for anyone's tastes – from pizza from Rocky Rococo's, to the choice chicken at Mad Chicken, to beloved mall staples like Steak Escape and Auntie Anne's, and sweet treats at Donut World and Mrs. Fields. One of the hottest spots at Southridge, though, is La Mesa, opened in 2020 and grilling up tasty Mexican favorites like chilaquiles, enchiladas, tacos, fajitas and even the ever-popular birria tacos.

Panther Pub
5651 Broad St.
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If you're looking for a very Greendale destination for dinner, you can't get much more Greendale than Panther Pub. A former bank remodeled and now covered in images from the village's sporting past and present, Panther Pub is a classic community hub of a pub – complete with tasty bar comfort food and thirst-quenching beverages that bring neighbors near and far back for a bite.

Ray & Dot's
6351 W. Grange Ave., #1328
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One of OnMilwaukee's hidden gems, Ray & Dot's is a classic no-frills Midwest neighborhood tap, a great place to grab a tasty beer at wallet-pleasing prices, some satisfying cheap eats and a bar room filled with good friendly company. Ray & Dot's has called its spot sharing the neighborhood American Legion Post home for close to 70 years – and here's to 70 more to come.

5627 Broad St.
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No big deal, it's only some of the best pizza in the city. But truly, Ricardo's thin crust pizza is always a winner – whether you're ordering a classic topping or one of their specialty pizzas, such as the Greendale Original or the Eat Your Spinach with its satisfying combo of bacon and spinach. And if for some odd reason you're not in a pizza mood (as if that's even possible) the rest of the menu of pub grub and Italian favorites is delicious as well – plus take time to relax at the neighborly bar. 

Sugar & Flour
5721 Broad St.

Sugar and flour: two pretty standard ingredients. But there's nothing standard about the brunch eatery and cafe found in the village, opened in 2017. The menu features breakfast and lunch favorites along with cafe drinks – but be sure to leave room for dessert as Sugar & Flour's founding staple is beautifully decorated classic cookies. 

Vintage 38
5690 Broad St.
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The perfect pairing for a trip for a Greendale holiday happening or dynamite dinner? A stop into Vintage 38, the village's wine bar, pouring unique vinos, hosting special tastings and more. It's a neighborhood stop with notes of one-of-a-kind wines, community coziness, classiness and either rope or apricot. 

Special seasonal events 

Santa at SouthridgeX

You can always find a lot of cheer in Greendale – but during this part of the year, there's even more cheer than there are business-centric city girl/smalltown guy mismatched romances on Hallmark. From special Greendale holiday gatherings to steals of a deal during this shop-happy time and of course Santa Claus arriving each season at Southridge Mall the week before Thanksgiving, here are several seasonal events worth hopping on your four-horse open sleigh and dashing through the snow to Greendale.

12 Days of Gifting
Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

They say it's better to give than to receive ... but that being said, getting stuff still rules. And Southridge will have 12 days of giving away awesome things as a part of its annual 12 Days of Gifting Instagram giveaway, dropping a gift of at least $200 value down a randomly selected person's chimney (metaphorically speaking) through the first 12 days of December. All you have to do is follow Southridge's Instagram, then tag a friend or family member in the comments of the daily giveaway post, and both of you have a chance to win this winter. And even if you don't win the prize, it's a great way to get some great gift ideas – either for those on your list or just yourself. 

A Dickens of a Village

Here's a holiday event you won't want to humbug away: "A Dickens of a Village," a festive celebration hosted in downtown Greendale on Dec. 1 featuring warm beverages, snacks, specials throughout the village, carriage and hay rides, Santa taking wishes at Gift of Wings, bell and chamber choirs, and Charles Dickens' iconic Christmas ghost story told in just 12 minutes. A whole Charles Dickens classic in less time than it takes your aunt at Christmas to tell her story about that time she ran into her friend at the grocery store!

Black Friday
Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

It's the most popular unofficial holiday of the year (other than National Pizza Day). That's right: Black Friday. And of course Southridge will celebrate, opening early at 9 a.m. for all your shopping and deal-swindling needs. For info on stores' specific deals, visit Southridge's website or social media – where you can also find out about their annual Black Friday giveaway, gifting two $1,000 shopping sprees!

Christmas Trees at Gazebo Park
5798 Broad St.

For years, like a scene pulled out of a Hallmark movie, Gazebo Park hosted a Christmas tree lot for folks to purchase greenery for their homes near and far. Unfortunately, the former salesfolk retired in 2022 – but thanks to Trees For Less, the tradition continues with more fresh cut trees waiting for you at the Greendale gazebo. For specific days and hours, click here

Holiday Gifting Tree
Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

Remember before when I said it's better to give than receive. Well, OK, that idiom's true after all – experience it for yourself by participating in Southridge's Holiday Gifting Tree, where you pick a tag, purchase a gift from a participating store and put it under the tree for someone in need of some holiday cheer. This year's drive supports Outreach Community Health Centers, making it a good way to do a great thing this season.

Luke's Diner Pop-Up
Broad Street Coffee Company, 5635 Broad St.
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Broad Street Coffee is always a cozy spot to hang out, have a hot drink to warm up a winter day and snack on some cafe nibbles – but it's going to be even cozier this winter as it transformers into Stars Hollow's favorite nook, Luke's Diner! Decorated to resemble the WB classic's famed eatery, Broad Street Coffee Company is an ideal place to catch up with friends – and don't worry, there are no Kirks or Taylor Dooses around as a part of the pop-up.

Pet Photos with Santa
Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

Pets may not be able to verbally tell Santa what they want for Christmas – at least not in any human language we know – but they still deserve to hang out with the big guy! Get the most adorable Christmas photos possible with your furry friends and the guy in the big furry suit during the beginning of December every year. Plus Magpie's Gourmet Dog Treats will be nearby selling holiday-themed snacks, ideal for stocking stuffers and presents for any four-legged friends on the nice list. 

Photos with Santa
Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

As the famous Christmas carol classic says, Santa Claus is coming to town ... and to Southridge Mall, specifically. Every year, starting the weekend before Thanksgiving and running through to Christmas Eve, the big red guy sets up shop at Soouthridge to take photos – and, maybe most important of all, take Christmas wish lists from kids young and old back up to the North Pole. For additional details and times for Santa's Southridge stops – including a sensory Santa experience in early December – visit Southridge's website

Small Business Saturday
Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

Small Business Saturday has become a big deal in recent years – and that's the case at Southridge as well, where the mall will host a social media giveaway that can score you great gifts from some of its small businesses. Even if you don't win, isn't finding the perfect gift at a small local shop (even, or perhaps especially, if it's for yourself) an awesome win in its own way? 

Thanksgiving Weekend at Explorium
Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.
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The Explorium Brewpub will host a three-day Turkey Day celebration weekend worth giving thanks for, beginning with live music, a special Black Friday beer release and a $16 brunch buffet from 6-11 a.m. with bottomless mimosas and beermosas. The sippable celebration will continue into Saturday and Sunday with a free $20 gift card with the purchase of a $100 one and Mug Club pricing – aka dollar-off brews and 10 percent off food – on Sunday. Certainly beats leftovers!

Enchanting entertainment 


This holiday season, give your favorite people – or yourself – the gift of experiences with these great Greendale entertainment hotspots, from buzzy bowling hangouts, to a screening of showbiz's latest and great, to exploring the fascinating history found throughout the village. For even more ways to explore Greendale through memorable experiences, check out Southridge's website as well as the Greendale Chamber of Commerce's official site

60 to Escape
Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

Sometimes, during the holiday season, you just need escape – escape room, that is! Whether with friends over Friendsgiving, family for a needed pause in the awkward smalltalk or just hanging out with your favorite puzzle solvers, 60 to Escape serves up five different themed escape rooms – Casino Heist, Invasion!, Merlin's Legacy, Pirate's Curse and The Storm – each offering an hour of thrilling, intense puzzle-solving fun for all.

B&B Choo Choo Ride
Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.
Anyone can walk around a shopping mall – it's far more fun to take the train from destination to destination. Choo-chooing all around Southridge – no track necessary – the mall's miniature train takes off Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. as well as Sunday from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. for $6 a ride. 

Greendale Folk Art Chimney Tours

There's a lot of history and beauty hiding in plain sight in the village – for instance, the backwards houses around town and the unique folk art chimneys adding gorgeous grace notes on every block. Greendale offers walking and bus tours of these hidden gems throughout the spring, summer and fall – or just peruse the place yourself, then make sure to say hello to the Norman Rockwell statue greeting visitors at the front of the downtown drag of this Norman Rockwell-esque village. 

Historic Greendale Welcome Center
5680 Broad St.

Want to learn everything Greendale in a cozy, history-rich and engaging locale? Well, welcome to the Greendale Welcome Center! Found in the village downtown, this glimpse into all things Greendale offers looks into the fascinating past and can help you find anything around town, from famed highlights to local-beloved hidden gems. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, as well as 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Marcus BistroPlex
5210 S. 76th St.
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Movie fans, give thanks! The holidays mark one of the biggest blocks of the year for blockbusters – and this year is no different, with a new "Hunger Games," "Aquaman 2," "The Color Purple," the Beyonce concert film and more coming down the cinematic chimney. For dinner and a show, bop over to BistroPlex, which serves up tasty grub with a splendid side of big-screen cinema tucked away just behind Southridge Mall.

Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

The Bowling Congress may have moved out of Greendale, but you can find a lane full of fun at Round1 inside Southridge Mall. Whether you serve up more turkeys than Thanksgiving dinner or require bumpers to contain your bowling badness, Round1 has a lane for you – and if pins aren't your passion, the entertainment zone also offers bright and blissful arcade games, croon-worthy karaoke and a blast with billiards. 

Scout Lake Park
5902 W. Loomis Rd.

For a classic Christmas season treat, skate over to Scout Lake Park in Greendale for their ice rink. Found just off Loomis and maintained on a volunteer basis, it's a great way to grab some festive exercise, create a magical winter wonderland moment and basically live out a Hallmark holiday movie dream scenario – and for a bonus real-life Hallmark moment, the Greendale gazebo is just a three-minute drive away too!

Trimborn Farm
8881 W. Grange Ave.
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Want a blast from the past, a trip through a living time machine hidden in plain sight? Find yourself at Trimborn Farm, right near the border of Hales Corners and Greendale. First built up in the 1800s, Trimborn offers history-rich tours through its seven-and-a-half acre living museum as well as special events throughout the year – including the Harvest of Arts & Crafts and Twilight Tours. It's a lovely and learning-filled trip back to simple times amidst all the seasonal silliness. 

Ready for relaxation and rejuvenation 

Massage therapyX

Shopping can get a bad reputation, especially during this high-stress time of year – but that doesn't have to be the case! In Southridge Mall and Greendale, here are many ways to find some calm and serenity amongst any seasonal chaos, whether you're giving yourself a present of pampering or aiming to get healthier after eating all those big holiday feasts. (Or trays of cookies, if you're a certain busy North Pole resident.) Here are some a few ways to relax and rejuvenate on your next trip – after all, you can't spell "Southridge and Greendale" without R&R – and check out Southridge's website as well as the Greendale Chamber of Commerce's official site for even more soothing suggestions. 

4 Seasons Nails
Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

After hustling to get all your gifts this holiday season, you deserve a gift as well – so pamper yourself at 4 Seasons Nails, which will do your nails up right, get you off your feet and into a world of relaxation. 

The Barefoot Haven
5628 Parking St.

Find yourself a haven at The Barefoot Haven, found in the downtown village area. The Barefoot Haven offers several varieties of yoga classes, meditation classes and plenty of other ways to find calm amongst the Christmas chaos. Plus, you can find Radiant Healing Massage & Wellness inside the Greendale location as well, bringing massage therapy and energy healing to help put you in the best mood – even if your attempt at making the holiday turducken was a dud.

Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

Hemp is one of the hottest products out there when it comes to cooling your mind and body down – and Hemp+ inside Southridge is here to help you take advantage as well. The shop sells high-quality, organic, non-GMO hemp products, plus with helpful staff to help explain and answer any questions you may have about this method of relaxation on the rise. 

O'Chi Reflexology
Southridge Mall, 5300 S. 76th St.

The holidays are stressful – you deserve a spa day. Don't overlook O'Chi Reflexology inside Southridge, a health spa offering all sorts of ways to relax and realign yourself when the turkey gets roasted beyond recognition, when the family decides to bring up politics at the table or just when you want to give yourself the greatest gift of all these days: peace and calm.

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.