is there anything in milwaukee worth doing?

Linette, Clementine and I are thinking about taking a road trip to Milwaukee once the weather turns nice. Our knowledge of Milwaukee, unfortunately, stops in 1980, when our friends Laverne and Shilrey decided to ramp up the hilarity and move to sunny Burbank. If you have any suggestions for interesting things to do in Milwaukee, or cool places where we might want to eat or sleep, please leave a comment. The same, of course, goes for dire warnings. I think it goes without saying, but we’d prefer not to be stabbed while vacationing there.

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  1. elviscostello
    Posted March 8, 2008 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Saw Rachael ray do a Milwaukee on $40.00 a day. There was a cool pub/restaurant that had an “international spy” theme to it. Also, the German food looked great.

  2. Mark H.
    Posted March 8, 2008 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    A few years ago, my sons and I visited milwaukee. Very nice old zoo – lots of space, big, and with a unique attraction: a geniune steam powered locomotive train, but on the scale of the usual zoo train A fun ride — and the smell of coal smoke. Not many steam trains of any kind are left operating anywhere.

    And don’t overlook the Black Holocaust Museum: it’s a good museum on African and African American history. It was started by a man (James Cameroon, I think) who was lucky enough to escape a lynching in 1930 in Marion, Indiana. (His two friends were not so lucky, and there’s a famous photograph of their bodies hanging from trees as a crowd of happy white folks look on…) He was a young man then, a boy really, but he lived a long and useful life and founded this museum, and wrote a memoir. My son bought a flag of Ghana at the museum gift shop and gave it to his mom as a suvenior of our trip. Most of the museum is not as gruesome as the story of the double lynching, so I found it ‘child friendly.’ We then went on to Madison for a couple days….

  3. observer
    Posted March 8, 2008 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    The tour of Sprecher Brewery is pretty low-key, kind of interesting, and the beer (and soda) samples post-tour are awesome.

  4. Posted March 8, 2008 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    We just took the Amtrak to Milwaukee several weeks ago. The train ride is highly recommended – short stopover in Chicago but net time seemed to be less than of friend s who drove with Chicago traffic, etc.

    We both really enjoyed the art museum ( – the space itself is interesting (Tim says), nice but not overwhelming collection, and some great video and multimedia work (Andrea says). We also went to a really random and great indian restaurant that we can’t remember the name of but will email you when we do.

  5. Posted March 8, 2008 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    oh, and a little bird at beer with bloggers raved about a concertina bar… but we didn’t make it there on out trip, and I’m not sure if thats Clementine’s sort of thing.

  6. mark
    Posted March 9, 2008 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Very nice suggestions, folks. Please keep them coming.

    I just got the following email from my friend, Dan:

    A friend told me last night that the Milwaukee Art Museum (not sure if that’s the real name) has one of the best “Outsider Art” collections in the country!!

    If that’s true, I’m definitely onboard.

    And what’s a concertina bar, is that a swinger thing?

  7. mark
    Posted March 9, 2008 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I should have mentioned it in the post, but we’d be going to Milwaukee to see our friends who live in St. Louis Park, MN. Milwaukee is just about perfectly half way between our homes. Ypsi to Milwaukee, according to Google, will take 5 hours and 36 minutes. St. Louis Park to Milwaukee is 5:31. I looked for other towns that would be more equal, but I couldn’t find anything. We don’t mind driving the extra five minutes though… as long as our friend split the gas for that part of the trip.

    Google Maps should have a feature where you put two towns in and it figures out places that are close to exactly in-between. I’d like Google to pay for my idea, but, if that’s not possible, I’d be OK with them calling the feature something like “maynardize”.

  8. oliva
    Posted March 9, 2008 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    I seriously love Milwaukee, just came back from there aboard the Amtrak train last Sunday (have a sister there near Locust and Center, near the co-op and not far from a Peace Action place [I can get the name and address, nice spot to visit]).

    Re. transportation:
    On the way it’s nice, if you’d otherwise have a long layover at the station in Chicago, to get a ride by Megabus to Milwaukee–it goes more frequently than the train and is a very nice ride, same time as the train, and it ends up at the train station in Milwaukee (construction happening nearby, cab driver will know what to do). You can reserve seats on the Megabus online, cheap, which means the bus will probably wait for you (it did for us) if by chance the train is late. (We had 45 mins. to spare, but the train had stopped several times, which it is wont to do, to wait for an oncoming train along a stretch of single track, and it just so happened we arrived in Chicago as our bus was scheduled to leave.)

    FYI: take exit out to Canal St. out of Chicago’s Union Station to catch the Megabus (this way out takes you beneath the road, saving you from having to jump a cement median wall). The old part of the station is beautiful, now open but largely unused; the main station, newer, upstairs, without charm, has a food court and waiting rooms. Not a grand spot at all though–low ceilings, smell of bad-for-you food, one German shepherd security dog.

    Plenty of room aboard train en route on a Saturday day but every seat filled on the way home, a Sunday night. Would be nice to schedule accordingly next time, have the emptier train.

    Oh, Amtrak encourages people to use the QuickTrak system to get tickets after you’ve made online reservation–machine you swipe your card thru in the Amtrak lobbies. A man behind the counter at the A2 Amtrak said, “Please don’t use that machine–we’ll lose our jobs.” Said some people in Cleveland and somewhere else had already lost their jobs to these machines. Figured I’d mention this.

    Back to Milwaukee. Oh, the Radisson in K’zoo is 2 blocks up from the train station. To me it would be very fun to build in an overnight stop along the train ride to stay in downtown K’zoo (don’t need a vehicle or ride). Next time I go, I’m going to stop there and look around.

    In Milwaukee: The Plaza Hotel & Apartments is charming, has an excellent breakfast place, has rooms with kitchens, views onto a courtyard; has a grocery store one block behind. We stayed there two years ago and really liked it, price is very right too. Charming old brick place, with character, maybe a mile from train station. Not too far from lake, I think.
    Plaza, 1001 N. Cass St., Milwaukee, WI 53202
    Sort of laid-back place, seems to me. In fact, no web site (though can get some info. online). Sometimes the phone rungs a while when you call, other times not at all.

    Beans and Barley is a nice breakfast place, probably other meals, with some good food and kitchen things and refrigerator magnets, etc. Much light. Can sit and read the paper, have good smells around, nice people. No doubt some could tell you about cool other places. Delicious burrito at B&B. Child friendly.

    You really might end up wanting to move to Milwaukee. I did, except for slightly harsher weather than here and a few things. But it built my recognition and love for midwestern-ness, and it’s a great, vibrant city, many artists and public love for the arts and . . . beer. I love the way the neighborhood streets mix it up with businesses, very intertwined, old-fashioned in ways but with much that’s new and seemingly many young people.

    Oh, people recommend Brady Street for some nice shops and restaurants. Casual, with color and charm.

    * * *
    We rode the high-speed ferry there, the one from Muskegon to downtown Milwaukee. Can take car or go w/o and just get a cab. (Very good bus system in Milwaukee too.) It only runs during the good-weather months, though; I’m not sure when it begins again for the season. Was wonderful going that way. Pass through farm country in Michigan, pass people selling produce in front of their homes, get to ferry, leave with a gorgeous view of dunes, nature. Ride a quick while–can stand outside or inside, with seats. In something like 2 or 2.5 hours you’re in Milwaukee, pulling up just south of a fairly shimmering downtown.

    This was how I saw it, my first time arriving there. Really do like the place and the ways of getting there.

    Last but not least: there’s a store I’ve wanted to get to, on Brady Street, called Glorioso’s. Old Milwaukee establishment, Italian. I’m afraid it might be gross for vegetarians because I think there’s much meat, sausage, etc., but I think it might be worth checking out anyway. Just have a feeling–okay, my sister told me so. Good Italian coffee (Illy) maybe even semi-affordable there?

  9. egpenet
    Posted March 9, 2008 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    The ferry ride! Wowza!

    In the Fall, it’s the drive all the way around through the U.P. and down or through Chicago and up and around … fabulous.

    Great people, food, lots to see and do in the Kee.

    All the sewer covers and grates (not all but many) in the USA are made in Neenah … used to be a good stop.

    Then, there’s S.C. Johnson HQ in Racine (between Chicago & the Kee) … HQ designed by Frank Lloyd Wright … fabulous tour.

    Racine is a cool town, too.

    I went to college in Minnesota and used to drive the old U.S. 12 across Wisconsin and then I-94. I LOVE Wisconsin … especially the West and Northwestern parts. The Dells are a great vacation spot in the Spring/Summer/Fall.

    One hour listening to Michael Feldman on NPR will tell you all you need to know about how disarmingly nice those folks are. When we got the U.P. from them, we should have asked for the whole place.

    I recommend Linenkugel (sp) beer … best midwestern beer. Pabst may be cheap, but a Linie’s is a taste treat!

    Have fun.

  10. Amanda
    Posted March 11, 2008 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    go see growing power. website isn’t grand, but an amazing place that people come from internationally to see. we’ve gone to lots of trainings there.

  11. Great Lakes Kent
    Posted March 11, 2008 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    The Milwaukee Summerfest is seeking bands.

  12. Posted March 11, 2008 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    I love the Sprecher Root Beer.
    Outpost Co-ops are great.

    The US Bowling Congress is splitting, though… (Get it? Splitting?!?)

  13. egpenet
    Posted March 11, 2008 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Never, know. They might convert.

    (Get it? Convert!)

  14. mark
    Posted March 31, 2008 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Thank you all for taking the time to leave these ideas.

    I love having a blog.

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