10 Aug A Photo Essay: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Located on the shores of Lake Michigan sits Milwaukee, the largest city in Wisconsin. Home to plenty of breweries, impressive museums, delicious restaurants focused on locally sourced ingredients, festivals, and fantastic opportunities for adventure, Milwaukee has so much to offer.
Milwaukee is a city that has been on my radar for quite some time–we live only five hours away, so it’s a shame we hadn’t visited prior to this year! We tried planning a Milwaukee road trip last fall, but due to a last-minute job, we had to cancel the trip. So, when I had the opportunity to join a press trip to Milwaukee this summer, I was extremely excited. The trip was focused around urban adventure, and the itinerary was filled with so many amazing adventures. I was flying solo for this trip, as it was a small group and Micah had a photo job in Minnesota, so my crew for the week was Lauren from Justin Plus Lauren, Maggie from Mags on the Move, Red from Red Hunt Travel, Cedric from Continents & Condiments, several writers from On Milwaukee and the Visit Milwaukee team.
Our adventures consisted of kayaking, biking, sailing, exploring museums and a zoo, bouncing in bounce houses, bar hopping on the Pedal Tavern, touring a brewery, eating at amazing restaurants and on a food tour, tailgating at a Milwaukee Brewers game, and attending the Summerfest music festival. It was five days full of excitement and great company, and with that, here’s a photo recap of our urban adventures in Milwaukee.
Our base for the week was the Milwaukee Marriott Downtown. The hotel is in a fantastic location right in the historic district and walking distance from the Milwaukee Public Market, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and so much more.
Millioke is a restaurant located in the Marriott, and it was our dinner stop on our first night in Milwaukee. The restaurant focuses on what Milwaukee does best: meat, cheese and beer, and they do a wonderful job with it!
Safe House is a bar that I’ve heard about for such a long time, so I was excited to finally check it out. A password is required to enter, but if you don’t have the secret code there is no need to worry. All you have to do is a goofy test to gain entrance; however, be aware, patrons inside are watching your every move on TV! Our test was to touch a nose that wasn’t your own and spin counter-clockwise without letting go of the nose.
Once you get inside the spy-themed bar and restaurant, you will find a world of crazy antics, interactive spy adventures and historical references. There is something new to discover around every turn, such as a puzzle wall, a rotating booth, and even a photo of Burt Reynolds in the women’s bathroom that you have to touch to believe!
Another stop we enjoyed on our first evening in town was Bounce Milwaukee. You would think a spot filled with bounce houses, laser tag, video games and a rock climbing wall would be just for kids, but Bounce Milwaukee doesn’t discriminate! Adults are able to join in on the fun, too; in fact, admission is 21+ after 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. In addition to the games, they have a full bar and offer a fresh, delicious menu–the pizza was so good and I loved their creative topping combinations!
This place was an absolute blast–we acted like kids again by flying down slides and around obstacles in the bounce houses, playing laser tag, video games, and even relaxing in massage chairs to wind down the evening.
Colectivo Coffee is a Wisconsin based coffee shop, and the Lakefront location is situated inside of a historic pump house right by Lake Michigan. There is a fantastic outdoor patio and I had a delicious breakfast burrito and coffee–it was the perfect way to start an adventurous day.
Bublr Bikes is Milwaukee’s bike share program–there are over 100+ locations to check out a bike and they can be returned at any nearby station no matter where you are in the city.
We went on a bike ride with the Bublr bikes to explore some of the great trails available in Milwaukee. Our path led us along the lakeshore, through parks and down neighborhood streets. The bikes were easy to ride and a great way to explore on two wheels.
The lunch views from the patio of the Harbor House were perfect! We were lucky to have clear blue skies and amazing views of the Milwaukee Art Museum.
For my lunch at the Harbor House, I decided on the Lobster Louie Salad, and I definitely made the right choice. It was so good–just look at all that lobster, and this is the half size!
Sea Dog Sailing takes guests out for a spin on Lake Michigan. We spent the afternoon with Captain Bob on his 38-foot yacht, Quinn Marie.
We had an ideal day for sailing; the wind was just right and the water was calm. I loved checking out the views from different areas of the boat, and the Milwaukee skyline was beautiful from the water.
The urban adventure crew chilling on the bow of the boat.
Lakefront Brewery offers some of the best tours around. The guides are hilarious and the tour is almost more like a comedy show than a brewery tour!
In addition to learning about the brewing process and all the jokes, we received four tasty beer samples.
Wolf Peach was probably one of my favorite restaurants we visited. They focus on creating dishes with fresh, local ingredients, and there is even a 1,000+ square foot garden on-site.
Dishes are plated and served as they are ready, which means you receive your food when it is hot and fresh–it also creates a perfect setting for sharing plates and trying multiple dishes from the unique and creative menu.
We ordered practically all the food at Wolf Peach, and everything was amazing–I ordered the poached egg pizza, but we shared and tried what felt like every dish on the menu. I’m hard pressed to pick a favorite, but I really loved my pizza as well as the crispy cauliflower.
As my alarm rang at 5 a.m., I was certainly questioning my judgement for agreeing to a 6 a.m. spin class. I am not a morning person, but all that questioning quickly faded away after we walked into the beautifully designed Spire Fitness.
When the lights went down and the music was cranked up, I knew the Rhythm Ride indoor cycling class was not your normal morning workout. Who knew cycling indoors could be so much fun?! I had a blast getting a full body workout, but I have to admit, it definitely kicked my butt!
Breakfast at Engine Company 3 was a treat after the early morning workout. Engine Company 3 is committed to cooking with locally sourced, sustainable ingredients, and inspiration for dishes on the menu comes from countries around the world.
I ordered the Brekkie Scone, which was a house-made bacon and cheese scone with eggs, bacon, cheese and smoked red potatoes–yum!
One of my favorite things to do is kayak, so I was excited we had the opportunity to get out on the Milwaukee River for a paddle.
We made our way to the Milwaukee Kayak Company and paddled our way along the Milwaukee River right through downtown.
As if we hadn’t had enough to eat already, a food tour was also on the itinerary! We explored some great restaurants with Milwaukee Food & City Tours.
Our stops on the food tour included Smoke Shack for the delicious BBQ and cornbread (above), The Hudson Business Lounge for a breakfast burrito, Belnux for chicken sliders and the Milwaukee Public Market for Kehr’s Candies chocolate.
Milwaukee is a city with some epic Bloody Mary creations, so it only made sense that three of the stops on the tour also included some tasty Bloody Mary cocktails.
I loved the message of this street art that we passed while walking through the city.
Our last stop on the food tour was a visit to the Milwaukee Public Market–the market was modeled after Pike Place Market in Seattle and is home to a variety of food, drink and gift stalls.
Our last treat on the food tour was a sweet chocolate treat from Kehr’s Candies.
After we filled our bellies it was time for some shopping and wandering around the market.
The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is a gorgeous slice of nature along the shore of Lake Michigan. The nature center is 185 acres of natural habitat for plants and wildlife, and the facility is home to a variety of nature programs and a preschool.
The center has plenty of hiking trails, a fire tower with fantastic views, and rescued animals such as owls and eagles.
Tailgating and a Brewers game was also on our schedule. Miller park was a great stadium for watching a game, and we even made it on the Jumbotron!
The National is a cafe located in Milwaukee’s Walker Point neighborhood. With delicious made from scratch menu items and an adorable backyard patio, it’s the perfect lunch spot when exploring this historic neighborhood.
The Milwaukee County Zoo is home to a 45 foot tall ropes course and zip line. There are three levels of wobbly obstacles to shimmy your way across, and we managed to make our way through the majority of the course after soaring along the zip lines.
In addition to the ropes course, we also took a behind the scenes tour of the zoo and fed the giraffes.
The “wings” of the Quadracci Pavilion at the Milwaukee Art Museum open and close every day and they flap during the middle of the day, as well.
The Milwaukee Art Museum is home to both modern art and historic art dating all the way back to 1888.
While I normally prefer older art and paintings, I really enjoyed all the modern and contemporary art at the museum, too, especially the photography exhibit.
We also made our way to Discovery World which is a science and technology museum located near the Milwaukee Art Museum. Although we were limited on time, we did get a chance to play with a few interactive exhibits such as laying on a bed of nails, checking out our reflections with the infrared cameras and making music with a theremin.
To finish off our last evening in Milwaukee, we hopped on the Pedal Tavern to do a bit of bar hopping.
We peddled our way to The Irish Pub, Camp and Central Standard Craft Distillery for some great cocktails and beers.
Between each bar stop, we jammed to music and sipped our brews as we peddled. It was such a blast and a great way to get excited for our next event, Summerfest!
Summerfest is an 11 day long music festival with over 1,000 bands taking the stage. The 75 acre festival grounds have 11 stages and over 900,000 people attend each year.
To kick off the festival, Summerfest puts on a firework show called “The Big Bang”–the show was super impressive and it definitely helped our trip end with a bang!
Have you ever been to Milwaukee? Which adventure sounds most fun to you?
Special thanks to Visit Milwaukee for organizing and hosting me on so many amazing adventures in Milwaukee. As always, all opinions are our own.