Who wants to visit Milwaukee? I bet not many people raised their hands. Well, we are about to change your opinion and tell you all about Milwaukee and why it's such a cool city to visit!
Why Visit Milwaukee
We had heard that Milwaukee was a cool town, but we didn't know anything about it other than from Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley, which I think they are trying hard to forget.
When the good people from Visit Milwaukee invited us to come down for a visit, we thought it would be good fun to check it out.
Once we arrived, our idea of Milwaukee immediately transformed from ‘little known city in the US' to “why hadn't we come here sooner?”
I'm telling you, my Canadian and US friends, take a road trip to Milwaukee, you'll be amazed at all this city has to offer.
#1 Visit Milwaukee for the Food and Drink
As we ate at different restaurants and sampled different bars, all I could think of was how cool this city is.
It's a place that has a speak easy, a cocktail lounges, boutique hotels with regionally inspired foods, beer halls and museums.
#2 Summerfest in Milwaukee
You may have heard of a little thing called Summerfest? Well it's the largest music festival in the world that happens every June.
We wrote all about it in another post and you should head over to check it out, but let me tell you something there is a lot more to Milwaukee than festivals. Although it's been called the City of Festivals because it has so many of them.
I wish Canada had more Riverwalks. They seem to be all the rage in the USA. Cities built on rivers have created interesting walks along the rivers with restaurants, cafes and in Milwaukees case, The Bronze Fonz.
Okay, I know I said earlier that they probably want to forget about Happy Days, but obviously this was a lie since they have a Bronz Fonzie statue on the Riverwalk.
It wasn't a part of our Visit Milwaukee itinerary, but Dave and I made a point of ducking out for a few minutes in search of the Fonz to get our photo taken with him. It's a popular attraction and we weren't the only ones who stopped by for a snapshot.
#4 Milwaukee Food tours
We also took a walking tour on the Riverwalk with Milwaukee Food Tours. We were taken through the history of food and drink in Milwaukee sampling cheese, micro brews, German food and the famous Usingers Sausage.
The history of Milwaukee food is amazing. Settled by Europeans, this is a town that has held on to it's heritage and kept the old world traditions alive.
If you want a quick and easy lunch option, the Milwaukee Public Market is nearby. We browsed the different stalls for a rich and creamy soup and sandwich before taking our stroll on the Riverwalk in search of The Fonz.
For more information on tours around Milwaukee visit the Milwaukee Food Tours website to book your tour.
#5 Harley Davidson
Have I ever told you we're not big on museums?
Well something like the Harley Davidson Museum is different. This has to be one of the coolest museums we have ever seen.
Founded in Milwaukee, Harley Davidson has been around for more than a century and is on every motorcycle lovers list of dream machines.
This museum traces the history of Harley Davidson from its humble beginnings of William S. Harley and Aruthur Davidson working on their bikes in a machine shop to becoming one of the most sought after motorcycles on the planet.
It's filled with interactive displays like our personal favourite, the virtual ride room where we took some shots of ourselves sitting on a hog or the Evil Knievel video game where we failed miserably jumping the shark.
You can even Jump Start a Harley Davidson motorcycle just outside the museum to see what it feels like to ride your own.
We saw Harley's from movies, vintage Harleys, the first Harley, heck we saw them all. We even had the opportunity to go into the storage room to view all the Harley's that are waiting to be shown or are sent out on temporary exhibits around the country.
It's pretty amazing the amount of people who donate their Harley Davidson bikes to the museums for display. I'd settle for having one thank you very much.
Tickets are $18 for more information visit the Harley-Davidson Website
The Milwaukee Art Museum
Okay, we weren't blown away by the displays at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Not that there was anything wrong with them, it's just that, we didn't care so much about the art they were showing us.Hey, we're not fans of the Group of Seven in Canada either, so it's nothing personal.
The building however is spectacular and you must make sure to get to the waterfront at 10:00 am sharp to watch the sails open up. The Burke Brise Soleil has a wing span of a Boeing 747 and to watch it open up is magnificent.
It opens so gracefully and effortlessly that you almost don't even notice until it is too late. Make sure to stand in the centre of the Reiman Suspension Bridge that connect the museum to the city to capture it's beauty.
The Milwaukee Art Museum is worth visiting for the architecture alone. When you enter the museum, you will walk into Windhonver Hall, a magnificent room with a 30 metre (90 foot) high glass ceiling. There's a beautiful view of the lake and if you are patient enough, you may be able to snap a shot of the space without any people what-so-ever.
About the Milwaukee Art Museum
In truth, the entire building was impressive. While others were looking at the art, we were busy looking at the design. How can you not take notice, the building was designed by famed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who has completed dozens of bridges including the Olympic bridge for the Barcelona Summer Olympics in Spain.
What's interesting is that he was so insecure about working in the U.S., he withdrew his name from the selection process. Luckily he was coaxed back in and has contributed the most stunning piece of architecture in all of Milwaukee.
See more at the Milwaukee Art Museum website
More Things to do in Milwaukee
Food in Milwaukee
We've already written about all the good eats and bars one can visit in Milwaukee and seriously, the cuisine around the city is outstanding. Milwaukee is a city for the urban chic who know good food and find craft cocktails.
Places that were highlights for us included The Iron Horse Hotel, The Safe House; A speakeasy that you have to find on your own and need a password to enter, The Milwaukee Press Club showcasing signatures on chalkboards from visitors such as Barak Obama to Babe Ruth!
Bryants cocktail lounge doesn't have a menu, but has 400 specialty cocktails. Let the servers choose your drink for you based on your mood. And who doesn't love a casino?
A Steak dinner at Dream Dance Steak House before hitting the tables at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino will keep you going all night long.
It is said that there are 30 things to do in America before you are 30 and one is to have a beer in Milwaukee.
It's up there with having clam chowder in Boston and cheesesteak in Philly. If you decide to have a beer in Milwaukee, may we suggest the Lakefront Brewery.
We won't go into detail because we wrote all about it in our Drinking and Dining through Milwaukee post, but for those of you who haven't read that yet, we wanted to let you know about it here.
Laverne and Shirley in Milwaukee
There are several micro brew tours around the city. Dave and were hoping to reenact the Laverne and Shirley opening at the bottle factory, but unfortunately we never found that tour anywhere. Maybe there's an opportunity for someone out there to start a tour!
Milwaukee is definitely an up and coming destination. They're transforming their midwest hospitality into sophisticated charm. Don't worry, even though Milwaukee is becoming a contemporary city with some funky destinations, they still have that welcoming vibe that will never go away.
That's what we love about Milwaukee, it's got an urban refinement with a small town feel.