I had been planning a tour of Wisconsin for the better part of the past six months. Recently, I was able to undertake this extensive tour which goes to Milwaukee, the Apostle Islands, and areas around Madison. I tried to incorporate every part of the state in this tour in a timely and budget conscious fashion. I started the tour with a trip to downtown Milwaukee…
Drove to Milwaukee
Flat tire while attempting to tour the Lakefront Brewery
Checked into the Hotel (Days Inn Hotel of the Arts — Highly recommended!)
Spare tire flat on the way to Harley Davidson Museum & a tow to Firestone by the Better World Car Club
Dinner at Moe’s Irish Pub & Riverwalk along the Milwaukee River
The trip to Milwaukee began early afternoon with a small commute from Madison. I made the long trek from Kentucky a couple days before (9 hours!), but was glad to be in Wisconsin and ready for a jam packed vacation.
Our first stop in Milwaukee was to be Lakefront Brewery which is on the Milwaukee River. We made it to the brewery just in time for the tour…except they were sold out of tickets… So we figured we would go ahead and check into the hotel and go from there. Except….we had a flat. So while Boo changed the tire, I made sure traffic was slowing down, since we were parallel parked. There were a few close ones… I was glad Boo knew how to change a tire, even though I was already bummed out. We made it to the Days Inn Hotel of the Arts, which was really nice (I recommend). We took a mini siesta and planned to go on to the Harley Davidson Museum, since they were still open. So we set the GPS and made our way. However, the GPS took is a really weird way to the museum, including a backroad by some warehouses. The road was filled with potholes…and as soon as I said “We’re going to have to get the spare patched…” it happened…another flat! I would say that the Hotel of the Arts is highly recommended for anyone staying in the Milwaukee area.
Thankfully we had an auto service. So nearly two hours of sitting in a hot car, a tow truck came to pick us up and take us to Firestone to drop it off. I also recommend the Better World Car Club to those who like having an auto service which is more environmentally sound than its other AAA counterpart. This service offers competitive pricing on its plans and even has a bicycle package. The service also supports environmental initiatives which is included in its yearly dues.
We decided all we would just be grateful to eat some dinner and get back to the hotel. We found Mo’s Irish Pub, then afterwards walked down the Riverwalk toward our hotel. The Riverwalk was really nice and boosted our spirits again. It was nice to walk along the river and see all the buildings lit up and people out eating dinner and having drinks. Thankfully though, the hotel had a free shuttle within 2 miles, so we called for help as soon as we could since we had been walking for miles!
Milwaukee has some neat lighting around the city and the river walk is a great feature, especially those who want to relax or be social.
Mitchell Domes Conservatory
Lunch at Potbelly’s Subs
Tour of Growing Power
Tour of Pabst Mansion
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball Game at Miller Stadium
Late dinner at Rockbottom Brewery
We opened our eyes that morning with better hopes for the day. We stuck to the schedule we had set for that day, which began with a visit to the Mitchell Domes and Conservatory. They’re three domes, which exhibit tropical, desert, and a featured exhibit in the 3rd dome. This season’s was the river and steamboats. The domes were neat, but they are in need of some maintenance, especially on the grounds around the domes.
Desolate grounds around the Mitchell Domes
Cactus in the Desert Dome
The Exhibit Dome with a Steamboat Theme
Next we went to Growing Power
, which was Boo’s suggestion. It was quite far from downtown Milwaukee, so we decided to head that way and find some lunch. It wasn’t in the best part of town, so once we found where it was, we drove a ways to a small urban town center to find lunch. It was pretty neat, and an example of what is being done in new urbanism.
It was really hot outside as we made our way back to Growing Power. We started the tour with a little history about the program. Then we entered the extremely hot greenhouses! I was close to passing out… We also learned that it is using new technologies in agriculture and is located on a few acres within a surrounding neighborhood. It was really neat to learn how it started and how much it’s doing on such a small scale. The neatest thing to see was the aquaponics, which grew vegetables using a constant flow of nutrient filled water. The circulation of the water was non-stop and was given nutrients by the fish in the water basin.
Growing Power grows everything in pots. They don’t trust the city soil, and it’s an easier method for them
I would say that the Growing Power tour was the best of the Milwaukee experience for me. Urban agriculture has been an interest of mine since coming to Madison to go to graduate school and this is the best example to be found anywhere. If you are in the area and have a few hours to spare, I would strongly encourage you to stop in for a tour of their state of the art facility! I was very impressed and inspired by their gardening techniques…
After growing power we made our way back downtown to the Pabst Mansion
. We learned a lot about the Pabst family (who brewed Pabst beer), and their household. They had a lot of the latest technologies of the time. It is also one of the few left standing mansions along the street because they have all been torn down, for various buildings and parking lots. The mansion was really nice, but a lot of it is still being restored. It was shocking to hear about all their renovations and its cost. I’m glad they saved this mansion!
The Pabst Mansion
Being tired from so much standing and walking, we went back to the hotel for a nap before making our way to see a Milwaukee Brewer’s game. We took the shuttle again, and met some New Yorker’s who were also going to the game. We found out later they had used the shuttle for some bar hopping trips all around Milwaukee! The game was fun to go to and a nice time to relax.
Milwaukee Brewer’s Game against Arizona
After the game we took the shuttle down to Rock Bottom Brewery
for some dinner. We saw this place while walking along the Riverfront Walk the previous night and thought it looked like a good place, and it was! We found out it was happy hour, so we made a dinner out of some appetizers. If you ever go to Milwaukee, you have to make it to this place, they have great food and even better beer (and this is coming from me, who doesn’t drink too much beer!)
Milwaukee Art Museum and lunch at their cafe
Milwaukee Boat Line tour of Milwaukee
Ice Cream, Oysters, and Beer at the Public Market in the 3rd Ward
Opera at the Park in the Historic 3rd Ward
Dinner at Rip Tide Seafood Restaurant
Riverwalk to Rockbottom Brewery for a sampler of their beer
Our spirits were still in good shape the third day as day two went really well. Our first stop was the Milwaukee Art Museum
. We were amazed by the building and it’s gardens, which were designed by Dan Kiley, a famous landscape architect. There were some neat exhibits inside, including a temporary exhibit on quilts, and many more permanent exhibits from oil paintings to modern furniture to orange acrylic boxes. Afterwards, we ate lunch in the museum’s cafe overlooking Lake Michigan.
The Lobby of the Art Museum
Fog Hovering Over the Museum
We decided we should also make it over next door to Discovery World
, since we heard it was a neat place. Discovery World was awesome, and it was probably my favorite thing in Milwaukee. We saw an aquarium, and exhibits about Les Paul, fresh water systems, and other scientific wonders. This place was so neat and was really into getting people involved to see how science works. It was a blast!
An Exhibit on Freshwater
The Les Paul Exhibit
An Exhibit On How Machines Work
I was really struck by the innovation of the Les Paul exhibit! This was a pretty amazing thing to see… After playing the guitar for nearly 7 years, I have always held L.P. as an idol. I think this exhibit reinvigorated my passion for the instrument. L.P. was an extremely creative person and paved the way for many musicians… I am forever indebted to his innovation, creativity, and inspiring nature!
It was time to relax for a nice cruise around Lake Michigan with the Milwaukee Boat Line
for a tour. We made our way down to the Riverfront Walk again and onto the cruise ship. They began by going down the river and to Lake Michigan. However, it was extremely foggy! Cold air had made its way down from the north and made fog when it hit the warm lake. So, instead they guided us down the rivers, which was just as fun and we saw a lot more of Milwaukee.
Many boats line the river next to apartments and restaurants
After the cruise, we walked down to the Historic 3rd Ward
, where there are some galleries, shops, and restaurants. We went to the Public Market
, where Boo made me try oysters for the first time. They’re okay, they didn’t really taste like much to me! The market was a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be, but still offered a place to get a snack and sit down for a while. Then we headed towards a seafood place we saw on the river while on the cruise. After a short walk, we stumbled upon a small outdoor concert of some opera, so we sat for a while and enjoyed ourselves a bit.
An Operatic Concert
Part of the Riverfront Walk, and a Foggy Lake Michigan Next To the Seafood Place
Harley Davidson Museum
Lunch at Casablanca Mediterranean Cuisine on Brady Street
Lakefront Brewery Tour
Shopping along Brady Street Historic District
Dive to Madison
Sushi and Ice Cream at Home
We decided to spend day four mostly in Milwaukee, instead of going to Old World Wisconsin that day like we had planned. The first day set us back badly, and we were really enjoying Milwaukee. First we went to the Harley Davidson Museum
, which just opened last year. It was quite impressive! I enjoyed the landscape and architecture of the place almost as much as the motorcycles.
The Entrance to the Museum
Some Vintage Motorcycles
Our last stop in Milwaukee was going to the Lakefront Brewery
, which was supposed to be our first! We headed there early to try to get tickets, but we weren’t allowed to purchase them yet…So we walked over to nearby Brady Street
, another place to eat, drink, and shop. It was more laid back than the 3rd Ward, and has also been a recent project for Milwaukee. It seemed to be geared towards a younger crowd. We stopped in at Casablanca for an amazing Indian vegetarian buffet and then stopped in at a few shops. We then walked back down to Lakefront Brewery for the tour. It was fun, but it was so crowded and small, we missed a good part of the tour! It was okay though and it was fun. It was interesting to see how small the brewery was and how it began. They also had a restaurant there, and gave tokens for free refreshments to be drunk while on the tour.
A View of the Brewery from a Pedestrian Bridge
After the tour we went back down to Brady Street for a while longer, kind of wishing we could enjoy Milwaukee for even longer. But it was back to Madison. We were exhausted from all we did in Milwaukee, but were in good spirits from all the neat stuff we did do. And after all, we still had many more good times ahead of us!