Chances are if you didn’t grow up in the snowy northwoods of Wisconsin, you haven’t spent a lot of time in Milwaukee. Considered the little sister city to Chicago, Milwaukee sits on the western shores of Lake Michigan and has its roots as a blue-collar city. Milwaukee is most known for its freezing, harsh winters, a plethora of large national breweries, most notably including Miller and Pabst, and a huge variety of friendly people anxious to make you feel welcome in their home town.
Getting to Milwaukee isn’t overly difficult, Michell International Airport is only a stone throw away from the downtown district and flights are relatively cheap, especially into O’hare. (an additional 45 minutes south.) Milwaukee is also an excellent place to explore, the cost of living (and vacationing) is cheap and, as mentioned before, the city, and it’s cheery inhabitants love playing host to out-of-town guests.
As someone that grew up in Milwaukee and spent the first 22 years of my life there, I not only developed a deep appreciation for Milwaukee but also got to know it very well too. To hopefully dispell any misunderstanding that Milwaukee is not worth a visit, I’ve put together what I would consider to be the ultimate way to spend a day (or two!) in this beautiful Midwestern city.
Cheese, Brats, And Breweries
It won’t take long for anyone visiting this city by the lake to realize it’s residents take their food and drink extremely seriously. Maybe its the cold winter or the massive amount of dairy produced there, but cheese and beer are unofficially the city’s delicacy. Be sure to stop in a restaurant like Cafe Hollander to sample the local supply. If you are a beer drinker, it is also worth the time (and potential liver damage) to take a tour of one of the cities famous breweries. Lakefront Brewery is a local favorite for their unlimited sampling rule during the tour. Stick around after and enjoy a fish fry!
The Lake Effect
Assuming you will visit during a time of year that is not winter, the lake is an absolute must. When I say “the lake,” I am lovingly referring to Lake Michigan, one of the great lakes and the body of water that dominates Milwaukee’s geography. The saying “cooler by the lake” describes the weather effect the body of water has during the summer, but symbolically it holds equal weight. In the summertime, the lakefront is the place to be, any of the cultural festivals on the Summerfest grounds are highly recommended!
Watch The Wings Flap
The most striking architecture in Milwaukee, and arguably the midwest, belongs to the Calatrava Art Museum. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the world-renowned museum is shaped like a bird in flight. The wings to the bird, which are hundreds of feet long and almost as tall, actually flap in unison together. See local favorites like “The Janitor” sculpture or check out one of the continually touring worldwide exhibits that make a stop. (1)
Cheer On The Local Favorites
One thing that I’ve been told people recognize quickly about the city of Milwaukee is how passionate the locals are about their sports teams. The truth is that while Milwaukee is an excellent place to visit, living there can be tough, especially in the winter months. The Brewers baseball and Bucks basketball teams provide entertainment throughout the year, and the stadiums are located within a short drive of anywhere in the downtown area.
Milwaukee is a unique and welcoming city that is undoubtedly worth the visit if you are looking for a new city to explore. Affectionately loved by the people that live there, I have no doubt you will understand why. The beer is cheap, and the cheese is world-class, but as you’ll learn, that’s just the tip of the iceberg as to what makes Milwaukee great.