Milwaukee in 48 Hours

Photo by Debbie Kremer

Exploring the highlights of MIlwaukee

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The vibrant city of Milwaukee, whose Native American name means pleasant land and gathering place by the water, lives up to its name. Anchored to the shores of the beautiful Lake Michigan, you will find an undeniable pleasant land, complete with an assortment of things to see and do.

On the National Register of Historic Places, Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward is a fabulous mix of old and new.  Today the area is known as Milwaukee’s Arts and Fashion District.

Located just three blocks south of downtown, the area is connected to the city by the Milwaukee Riverwalk.  This three-mile scenic pedestrian walkway is built along both sides of the Milwaukee River providing access to restaurants, shops and nightlife.  During the summer months the Riverwalk is home to live music events, festivals, and ever-changing art displays.  A permanent piece of art that is the frequent subject of selfies, is the Bronze Fonz. Depicted in his usual two-thumbs-up stance, complete with his trademark leather jacket, the statue is of the beloved character, Arthur Fonzarelli, better known as The Fonz, from the 1970s television show Happy Days, which was set in Milwaukee in the 1950s.

The Milwaukee Public Market  is located in the area of the Third Ward which was known as Commission Row more than 100 years ago. With its humble beginnings as an area bringing fresh food to the masses, today’s rejuvenated Public Market features   indoor specialty food vendors and, in the warmer months, outdoor vendors with their seasonal homegrown wares.   The organization’s mission is to promote a different way in which consumers shop, cook, eat and experience food, or in other words, a Foodie’s Paradise.  The Public Market is home to food tasting events, cooking classes and vendors offering meats, seafood, dairy, breads, produce and of course, wine, candy and decadent bakery goods.

Beer, Beer and More Beer… even their baseball team is named The Brewers

Miller Brewery Tour offers one-hour daily tours where you will see everything from the high speed production lines of today, along with the packaging and shipping operations. Each tour begins with a little history about the company that started in the 1860s and tours end with samples of Miller Beers.  In addition to Miller High Life and the Miller brands, they also brew Milwaukee’s Best, Hamm’s and Olde English 800 Malt Liquor.

The next stop is Lakefront Brewery, Inc. Milwaukee brothers, Russ and Jim Klisch began brewing beer on a whim back in 1987.  When they started sharing their wares, they were happy to find that people loved it. The moved their microbrewery to the former Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company, which was built in 1908 and have as much fun brewing their beers as they do showing off their cool building and operation. The hilarious tour guides, coupled with several samples of their craft beers and a souvenir glass to take home can only be improved by stopping in the on-site Beer Hall for some Beer battered Polish sausage slices, Wisconsin Cheese Curds and some beer batter fried cod.

Kinda the hipster of breweries, Milwaukee Brewing Co. takes a non-conforming attitude when creating their craft beers. They take as much time naming their beers, like Weekend @ Louie’s, Sasquatch, and Booyah, as they do brewing them in their creative and innovative environment. They are all about using local ingredients and reducing their carbon footprint in the production process.  The tours, available on Fridays and Saturdays, offer plenty of samples and a fabulous overview of their efforts in sustainability.

The Great Outdoors…

Head about 37 miles southwest of the city to Kettle Moraine State Forest, where you can explore 22,000 acres of undisturbed nature. The famous Ice Age Trail, the 1000 mile footpath that winds through Wisconsin, crosses the forest and features landscapes formed by glaciers. Created about three million years ago,  the country side boasts evidence such as kettles, which are holes created by melted glaciers, erratics, rocks that are not native to the area that have been transported by glacial ice, and eskers, long, winding ridges created out of the accumulation of sediment.

There are miles of trails for the hiker, mountain biker and horseback rider, depending on your means of travel. The website (dnr.wi.gov) outlines the length, difficulty and scenic wonder of each trail.

Kettle Moraine has four lakes stocked with an assortment of fish, including panfish, walleye and muskie. Forgot your rod and reel? No problem.  Loaner fishing equipment is available for free at the park office.

Milwaukee Museums and a Little History…

Whether you are a motorcycle aficionado or not, a visit to the Harley-Davidson Museum  is sure to rev up your
engines. Spanning the Milwaukee company’s history,  starting back in 1901 when William S. Harley drew up his ideas for a motorcycle, to how they became known lovingly as Hogs, to their role in World War I and II and every detail in between, the museum does a fantastic job of telling the story. See more than 400 models on display and even sit on some to see how it feels. Motor Restaurant and gift shop on site too.

No matter which era of history you are interested in, chances are good that the Milwaukee Public Museum  will have some remnants of that time period. Permanent exhibits featuring artifacts from ancient Africa, to a paleontology-lover’s favorite, the world’s largest-known dinosaur skull, to a recreated turn-of-the century street in downtown Milwaukee.  Don’t miss the show at the six-story Dome Theater, which offers 2D and 3D shows, as well as planetarium programs that take you right into the stratosphere.

Situated along the scenic Lake Michigan shores, the Milwaukee Art Museum is an architectural landmark and an icon for the city. Boasting a collection of more than 30,000 works broken down into 40 galleries, visitors can enjoy American paintings and sculptures, decorative arts, a vast collection of German Expressionism, and the largest collection of works by Georgia O’Keeffe, a Wisconsin native.  Inside the Milwaukee School of Engineering art lovers will find The Grohmann Museum   which features more than 1,000 paintings and sculptures all in recognition of the evolution of human work. Don’t miss the roof garden with giant statues.

Tour the Pabst Mansion home of Milwaukee’s famed beer baron, Captain Frederick Pabst. Completed in 1892, the 37-room home was a landmark in Milwaukee’s society during the Gilded Age. In 1908 it was sold to Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee and was the home to the city’s archbishop until 1975. The home has been fully restored to her original glory and is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

More Milwaukee itineraries:

Milwaukee for Families … Little one’s day out

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