By Mira Temkin
On the gleaming shores of Lake Michigan and located at the meeting of three rivers, Milwaukee, Wisconsin is a destination that blends its rich history with modern architecture and sophisticated flair. There’s a sense of excitement in the air that evokes a warm, Midwest welcome and an upbeat vibe. The gorgeous lakefront brings it all together where locals and visitors alike share the adventure of this great urban playground.
Party Hearty in any Culture
There’s good reason why Milwaukee is called the “City of Festivals.” You name it, they celebrate it…Irish Fest, German Fest, Brew Fest, Mexican Fiesta, Bastille Day, Italian Fest, Harvest Fair and they end the year with Milwaukee Holiday Lights. Granddaddy of them all is Summerfest, an 11-day celebration on the lake with live music, good food and the cold beer that put Milwaukee on the map. Summerfest is the world’s largest music festival dating back almost 50 years and features more than 1,000 performances.
Beer Made Milwaukee Famous
Messrs Schlitz, Blatz, Miller and Captain Pabst came over to Milwaukee in the 1800s and created their own brands of beer. While only Miller-Coors continues to brew today (rumor has it Pabst Blue Ribbon is going to begin brewing again), the others left an indelible mark on the cultural and civic aspects of the city with parks, theatres and stately homes. In its place, craft brewers have sprung up and have taken the reigns of home-grown beer.
You can’t visit Milwaukee without visiting a real brew house. So head on down to Lakefront Brewery for a tour that costs $8.00 and includes a 4-flight sampling of their best suds. Prepare for a “beer in hand” tour with a quirky guide. Stay for the Friday Fish Fry or hop on the Riverwalk Boat Tour for a relaxing sail down the Milwaukee River.
German Heritage and Cuisine
There’s good reason why Mader’s has been the destination for authentic German specialties for over 100 years. Opened in 1902, the Mader family has been serving up their popular Reuben Rolls (which were awesome), along with platters of sauerbraten, wiener schnitzel and potato pancakes. While you’re waiting for their fresh-baked apple strudel, be sure to check out their extensive collection of medieval artifacts.
Milwaukee Art Museum Spreads its Wings
The MAM, as it’s called, has become the new icon of the city. Designed by world renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, this stunning building is in itself a work of art, filled with more than 30,000 pieces from classic to modern. Works by Andy Warhol, Picasso, Georgia O’Keefe and others grace the white walls. Special exhibits bring in the best collections from across the globe. Look for the Burk Brise Soleil on the top of the structure; a moveable, wing-like sunscreen that welcomes the world. Come watch as the wings flap open and close throughout the day. It’s no coincidence that many of the city’s new bridges now imitate the wings of the museum.
Go Hog Wild!
Motorcycle fan or not, everyone will love the Harley-Davidson Museum, where history roars to life with exhibits that celebrate the story of this Milwaukee-based company. What I found really interesting was how the cycles were used during the world wars, both behind the scenes and on the front lines of freedom. When the soldiers came home from war, they all wanted, you guessed it, a Harley. Grab a burger at MOTOR’s where they serve All-American classics that celebrate the taste of life on the road.
Three Domes in the City
The Mitchell Park Domes, living landmarks, are always in season. Their desert, tropical and show domes feature an ecologically perfect environment. Under the desert dome, you’ll be amazed at the sky-high cacti that grow larger than life. The tropical dome is a rainforest filled with lush flowers and fertile vegetation, while the show dome will delight you with flower-filled themes.
The Pfister – The Grand Dame of the City
Built in 1893, the Pfister has long held the reputation as the “Grand Hotel of the West,” now the quintessential Milwaukee landmark. Luxury accommodations, exceptional dining and unparalleled service await you. This historic hotel is also known for its marvelous art collection. In 2009, The Pfister became one of a few hotels to offer an artist-in-residence program, featuring a working art studio and gallery that is open for hotel guests and visitors. Be sure to enjoy cocktails at Blu, the 23rd floor gem in the sky, and see all the way to….Michigan!
Bet on it!
Smack dab in the middle of downtown is the swank Potawatomi Hotel and Casino. Luxury rooms, outstanding entertainment, thrilling games and upscale dining are their hallmarks. With more than six million visitors each year, Potawatomi is the largest entertainment destination in the Midwest. Year round, Milwaukee invites you to indulge in life worth celebrating … bottoms up!
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About Mira Temkin
Mira Temkin has a passion for writing and sharing her adventures across the globe. She covers everything from destinations to tours to cruises in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central America, Caribbean and Europe with a keen eye and open mind. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Lakeland Boating, thevacationgals.com, businesstraveldestinations.com and Connect magazine.