While Milwaukee is well known for its vibrant beer scene, it’s also home to a number of worthwhile experiences that have nothing to do with drinking. From cheese tasting to seeing the world’s oldest Harley-Davidson to viewing public art on the water and beyond, there’s something for everyone in the city. To help you plan your trip, here is a guide to Milwaukee beyond beer.
Whether you’re a bike enthusiast or not, the Harley-Davidson Museum is an interesting experience that provides a glimpse into local heritage. Harley-Davidson was founded in Milwaukee in 1903, which makes it the perfect place for the world’s only museum dedicated to the brand. Through exhibits and artifacts you’ll learn about the iconic label from its beginnings, how it survived the Depression and how it changed over the years. While all of the exhibits and artifacts have something to offer, there are a few highlights, for example, seeing Serial No 1., the oldest Harley-Davidson in the world; having your photo taken sitting on a Harley-Davidson bike; a replica board track adorned with bikes; displays of motorcycle attire from past decades; and a collection of motorcycle-inspired film clips. Additionally, a big part of the experience is learning the stories of interesting Harley-Davidson owners.
Milwaukee is home to a rich German heritage, which can be explored via a Old World Third Street Food Tour with Milwaukee Food Tours. Old World Third Street is the hub of German culture in the city, full of 19th century European architecture, cobbled streets, German restaurants, and artisanal cheese and meat shops that use traditional German family recipes. Some highlights of the tour include sampling stinky cheeses at Wisconsin Cheese Mart, trying flavorful meats at Usinger’s Sausage, smelling cardamoms and cinnamons at The Spice House, having a meal in North America’s most famous German restaurant and indulging in a decadent chocolate lava cake at the historic Turner Hall.
If you enjoy artisanal foods, local delicacies and delicious events, the Milwaukee Public Market is the place to go. Here you’ll find everything: Fresh flowers, hand-dipped chocolates, crusty breads, Wisconsin cheeses, gourmet fruit vinegars, Milwaukee-inspired apparel, deli items, home-made jams, butter toffee brownies, in-house roasted coffee, already prepared meals and much more. Another draw to the attraction is its packed event calendar, full of cooking classes, tastings, outdoor markets and other culinary-themed happenings.
For a scenic non-drinking experience, the Milwaukee Riverwalk is a pedestrian pathway on the water of downtown Milwaukee that’s great for taking photos, viewing public art, seeing boats sailing by, enjoying a picnic or visiting the various attractions that line the route. Along with a number of cafes, restaurants and shops some attractions walkers will find the Village Church, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, Florentine Opera Company, Riverside Theatre, the Sensorium arts space and a life-sized bronze Fonzie statue.
The Milwaukee Art Museum is a must for anyone who wants to get inspired, get in touch with their creative side or just immerse themselves in beauty for a few hours. Head over in the morning when the museum opens to see its “wings” expand. The design of the building incorporates a movable sunscreen that when extended at its full length is the size of a Boeing 747. Inside the museum you can explore 25,000 works of paintings, sculptures, decorative pieces and photographs as well as rotating exhibits. Before going you should also check their events calendar, as they regularly host classes, tours, gallery talks, yoga and more.
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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