The first thing potential visitors to Milwaukee – Wisconsin’s largest city – need to surpass is the impression of the “Brew City:” It isn’t as homogenous as it might have appeared in the TV programs that made the city a household name – primarily Laverne & Shirley and Happy Days. Nor is it a land of perpetual cheese, as rivals of Packer fans might cite.
Instead, Milwaukee is a scenic, diverse and friendly city with a host of attractions and vibrant dining and nightlife – particularly nightlife revolving around locally crafted beers. Microbreweries have replaced some of the major breweries that once made Milwaukee the center of suds-brewing in the U.S. You can experience some of the best of Milwaukee in even a short visit.
If you’re fortunate to be staying close to one of the local microbreweries, step in for an instant introduction to local culture. Sprecher Brewery and Buffalo Water Beer Co. are both good options in demonstrating how the city has adapted to losing several major breweries in recent times.
Saturday, acquaint yourself with other aspects of local brew culture. Miller-Coors Brewing Company has a huge visitors’ center, and a tour reveals the incredible scope of this historic brewing operation. For smaller-scale brew culture, consider Lakefront Brewery or Great Lakes Distillery, the only distillery in the city; it produces premium vodka and gin. All of the suds and samplings will have you plenty hungry as the day draws on, and thankfully, Milwaukee cuisine is diverse and hearty. Enjoy fine dining at Sanford Restaurant, small plates and tapas at La Merenda, or indulge your meat craving at Milwaukee ChopHouse. Afterward, consider a nightcap at Milwaukee Brewhouse, which offers entertainment to go with its microbrews in a fun and friendly environment.
Sunday is time to experience another side of Milwaukee culture – no hops required. Milwaukee Public Museum is a must, with its IMAX theater and Butterfly Wing. Science buffs will want to see the Discovery World Museum at Pier Wisconsin, and the Harley-Davidson Museum is on most visitors’ itineraries. The Milwaukee County Zoo will entertain children and animal lovers. But whatever your itinerary, kick the day off with breakfast at Blue’s Egg, and you will power your way through to the afternoon. For your last evening in town, consider farm-to-table dining at Braise or fusion cuisine at Crazy Water. Time permitting, consider catching a show at the beautiful Oriental Theatre.
Sure, if you have a chance to stop by one of the city’s many farmers’ markets in season, you’re bound to find some specialty local cheeses, and feel free to indulge – but it’s not the only way to enjoy the best of this great city of the north.
Iron Horse Hotel offers boutique accommodations in a friendly and comfortable environment, including welcoming bikers’ and travelers’ four-legged companions. None of that distracts from terrific service, an immaculate environment and comfortable rooms with numerous, thoughtful amenities. www.theironhorsehotel.com
The Pfister Hotel is historic and classic, and this shows in design flourishes, fascinating architecture and old-world service. But it’s no dowager. Amenities include both a fitness center and a business center. www.thepfisterhotel.com
Travel: It can be less expensive to fly into Chicago and take an inexpensive direct shuttle to Milwaukee. Check with your travel agent.
Festivals: Also known as “The City of Festivals,” Milwaukee is home to numerous widely-attended festivals in the temperate months, an excellent time to visit.
Biking: For the outdoors-oriented visitor, Milwaukee has more than 65 miles of bicycle lanes and trails, most of which run alongside or near its rivers and Lake Michigan.