Image source: Flickr - Josué Goge
Milwaukee may not get as much media play as its big brother to the south (Chicago) does, but it’s got its own charm. With a thriving art scene, understated food spots and a host of big name attractions, Milwaukee has a laid back, cozy vibe one doesn't often get in larger metros. If you’re looking for a good time, definitely give Milwaukee a chance.
It’s hard to talk about Milwaukee without mentioning the stunning Milwaukee Art Museum, designed by world-class architect Santiago Calatrava. Located on Lake Michigan, this avian-esque museum houses 30,000 works of art and hosts well-curated exhibitions throughout the year. Whether you experience the stunning folding and unfolding of the 217-foot wingspan of the Burke Brise Soleil twice a day, or wander into Stanley Landsman’s popular Walk-In Infinity Chamber, you’re in for a multi-sensory experience. The 341,000-square-foot building also includes one of the world's largest number of paintings by Wisconsin-native Georgia O'Keefe.
The Milwaukee Art Museum not enough for you? The two-mile long RiverWalk, which winds its way along the Milwaukee River, provides access to the city’s lively cultural scene. Take in the outdoor-gallery-like vibe, which features sculptural work like the tourist-favorite Bronze Fonz and the Acqua Grylli by Beth Sahagian, while peeking into shops and restaurants dotting the walk. Many Milwaukee events are held in the area, including River Rhythms, the Milwaukee River Challenge and more. During warm months, enjoy river cruises and gondola rides through the quiet city center.
Milwaukee—practically immune to the hip influences of coastal giants L.A. and New York—is a sleeper of a food city. Farm-to-table? Sure, but as a matter of course rather than dictated by trends. In fact, most of the area’s gastronomically-inclined restaurants are loathe to let you know they are part of the locavore movement, instead letting you experience a homegrown, Midwestern meal for yourself.
Additionally, the Milwaukee Public Market is stuffed to the gills with options. Located in Milwaukee’s historic Third Ward neighborhood, the indoor market opened in 2005, serving the city with its eclectic mix of local vendors. The Spice House carries hand-prepared spice and herb blends from Adobo to Za’atar. At West Allis Cheese and Sausage Shoppe, you can find “cheese orphans” looking for a home (hint: your tummy). At St. Paul Fish Company, scarf down oysters for pennies on the dollar or the lauded Po’ boy.
Milwaukee is not called Brew City for nothin’. While Miller Brewing is the big game in town, it’s definitely worth it to visit the underdogs. Lakeshore Brewery has got it all: $5 nets you drink tokens, a souvenir pint glass and a full tour of the facilities. Are you a brewhead into history? The Pabst Mansion—in its history, the former home to five archbishops and the original King of Beer himself, Captain Frederick Pabst—is free to visitors, but for a nominal fee, there is a behind-the-scenes tour conducted by a personal guide, who’ll divulge secrets about every nook and cranny. After filling up on history’s mysteries, step into a local pub and enjoy a pint of local Spotted Cow, a fresh, fruity beer from Wisconsin’s own New Glarus Brewing.
Please drink responsibly and use a designated driver, as your RoamRight policy does not cover loss resulting from or caused by being under the influence of alcohol.
For all of its humble charm, Milwaukee is also home to big names. Miller Brewing is free and open to public, filling visitors in on 155 years of brewing history while also allowing them the sample brews in the outdoor beer garden or Bavarian-style inn. Meanwhile, at famed Miller Park, sports fans can take in the whole experience with some epic tailgating, legendary around these parts. Visit the Harley-Davidson Museum to immerse yourself in rebellious Americana, highlighting more than 450 motorcycles and artifacts that celebrate the iconic brand’s history.
Tell us your favorite reason(s) to visit Milwaukee. If you have not seen this beautiful city, go pack your bags and let us know when you get back!
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Raised in Southern California, Joseph left the temperate climes of the OC for the chilly winters of Chicago, where he earned his degree in magazine journalism. Along the way, he developed an impenetrable layer of blubber, thanks to the city's deep dish pizza and hot dogs. In recent years, he has edited an online travel magazine, helped produce two international TBEX conferences, and has written about fashion, food, wine, and travel for various online publications. Currently, Joseph is Assistant Editor at Wine Enthusiast Magazine, where he geeks out on his interests regularly. Read Joseph's blog at Pith + Moment or follow him on Twitter.
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