Milwaukee - An Experience You Would Expect and a Whole Lot More

Milwaukee, aptly nicknamed "City of Festivals," is the home of Miller Beer and Harley Davidson, but there is much more to this historic city. If you have yet to experience Milwaukee, let 2016 be the year that you find out why one vacation simply won't be enough to take it all in.

When you talk about Milwaukee you have to start with the people and atmosphere. If you are visiting you will quickly be made to feel like a local and the people, well let’s just say it won’t take long for you to make lifelong friends. Stating that Milwaukee has a Midwest charm to it is an understatement. If you pick the right hotel location, you can experience Milwaukee on foot and never be bored. Festivals, food, beer and the lakefront are only the beginning. You are going to find beautiful and historic architecture and picture perfect scenes around every corner. You literally can walk the day away before you know it.

You will be hard pressed to find an experience like Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival. Eleven days of 10 stages featuring every type of music imaginable and a 23,000-seat amphitheater that features some of the biggest acts in the world. Yes music is the focal point of this experience, but don't think that is everything. Summerfest is home to some of the finest food in Milwaukee, unique shopping marketplaces, the lakefront and plenty to keep the kids busy as well. Bring your sunscreen and some comfortable shoes because the best way to experience Summerfest is from when the gates open at noon until the last act finishes playing well after the sun goes down.

BMO Harris Pavilion

Summerfest brings the world of music to the lakefront in 2016 from June 29th through July 10th and as usual the musical acts are second to none. Paul McCartney will be at Summerfest on July 8th, but there are plenty of other big names as you can see; Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan, Def Leppard, Selena Gomez and that is just the main stage. The other stages are home to some of the biggest names in music as well as allowing you the chance to see some incredible up-and-coming acts. Summerfest is just the beginning for the peak of summertime. Bastille Days brings everything French to Cathedral Square Park and once Summerfest has finally given you every note of music possible, it turns the lakefront over to Festa Italiana, America’s premier Italian cultural event. Every night offers explosive fun with a dazzling Italian-style fireworks show. What would Milwaukee be without North America’s largest, annually-held German festival, German Fest? German cuisine paired with a stein of ice cold beer and everything and anything German that you can imagine explains why this is the German event to end all in the United States. Don’t forget you can also experience Irish Fest, the Indian Summer Festival and Mexican Fiesta. If you ever wanted to get a world view, festival season in Milwaukee is the place to do it.

Third Eye Blind

If that lineup of festivals is not enough for you, there are plenty of more options to choose from. The Wisconsin State Fair is an 11-day experience and if you love all of that creative fair food, well Wisconsin is home to an endless list of it along with what might be the best cream puffs you will find anywhere. Thousands of animals, music and just fun whether you are with family or friends. The Milwaukee Rally rolls into Milwaukee Labor Day Weekend. Activities include bike shows, special exhibits at the Harley-Davidson Museum, street parties, organized rides, live music, poker runs and more. If you want to experience one of the unique neighborhoods in all of Milwaukee, the annual Brady Street Festival showcases one of Milwaukee’s most unique neighborhoods. Rock out to live music on three live stages featuring favorite local artists and check out the variety of vendors selling everything from food to jewelry!

Miller Lite Oasis

Milwaukee might be more known for cheese, brats and beer, but in terms of a culinary experience, they have come a long way. Milwaukee is home to a number of great spots that you have to search out and or hopefully get steered to and Bavette is one of those locations. A combination of a classic butcher shop and a simple yet modern feel dining room that produces locally sourced food that is anything but simple. As you can imagine with a plethora of their own fresh cut meat, Bavette takes the term sandwich to a much higher experience than your typical sandwich shop. You can choose from a sandwich such as the Porchetta with sundried tomato aioli, a unique and tasty appetizer like the smoked trout deviled eggs and the true showcasing of the butchering skills with either the carpaccio or steak tartare. Another fabulous restaurant that focuses on local sourcing is Braise, Milwaukee’s first community-supported restaurant. Chef and owner David Swanson changes his menu daily based on what he can source from the more than 40 Wisconsin farms that he works with. Sanford Restaurant is also a must visit. Opened in 1989 by the first Milwaukee chef to win a James Beard Award, Sandy D’Amato, this award-winning restaurant is still receiving accolades under longtime Sanford Chef De Cuisine Justin Aprahamian.

Beef Carpaccio at Bavette

Meat selection at Bavette

One thing about traveling, locals know more about where to find food than the food critics and certainly your research on yelp. The Plaza Hotel is the perfect example of that as people from the neighborhood line up to get in the cramped Café at the Plaza. Don't take cramped as a bad thing, this a café in the true classic sense. Small but cozy, a great counter to chat with other diners as well as friendly servers. A menu that is comprised of fresh, locally sourced ingredients and everything is made from scratch and you get to see up close and personal how it is put together. You are going to find such amazing items as the braised beef short rib stack and the breakfast poutine. There are some dishes that are ingrained in your memories for years and that is the breakfast poutine. You are on vacation, indulge and you are not going to find a more decadent dish than this. Waffle fries topped with chorizo sausage gravy, two poached eggs, avocado cream and deep fried Wisconsin cheese curds. I don't think you could fit anything else in this dish and honestly you wouldn't want to, flavor perfection. If you are not staying at the Plaza Hotel the Café is still a must visit and speaking as someone who despises lines, this is one line that is worth the wait.

Cafe at the Plaza Courtyard

Breakfast Poutine at Cafe at Plaza Hotel

There is one last piece of Milwaukee that you must try before you head home and longingly remember all of the decadent food that you took in on your vacation. That would have to be custard. A dessert that spells richness and flavor with every bite that you won’t find in ice cream, as custard is created with eggs and cream to give it a dense texture. You will find local spots such as Kopp’s, Leon’s and Culver’s that take custard to a new level with daily flavors that incorporate other sweet treats such as candy bars or fruit, really any type of goodness only takes they custard experience to greater heights. Culver’s is not only home to custard, but the butter burger that you could put up against any burger joint across the country, including the west coast landmark In n’ Out.

Once spring hits enjoying downtown and taking in all of the nuances of Milwaukee is the way go, but getting around downtown will soon be even easier, as construction began in early 2016 on the highly anticipated Milwaukee Streetcar system. The Streetcar system will connect 80,000 downtown workers, 25,000 downtown residents and millions of annual visitors. In its first phase, the 2.5-mile route will link the Milwaukee Intermodal Station (and its 1.4 million annual users) with hotels, businesses and attractions downtown, in the Historic Third Ward, Lakefront and lower East Side.

In addition to all of the beautiful historical buildings that make up Milwaukee, the thriving city is not being left in the past with two billion in investment in the way of construction projects ranging from a new sports arena, hotels, streetcar, office buildings and highways.

Slated to open on July 1st, 2016 opening in the heart of the Historic Third Ward, a new 158-room Kimpton boutique hotel will feature an eight-story building housing a chef-driven, destination restaurant on the ground floor, plus a rooftop bar and expansive meeting space. The new nine-story property will feature 158 guest rooms and a destination restaurant on the ground floor, along with a fitness center and an expansive rooftop bar and lounge area. Originally an industrial and warehouse district in the 1800’s, the Third Ward is now home to the Milwaukee Public Market and the center of the city’s exciting culinary and arts & fashion scene. In addition to some recent openings such as ; you can always visit one of Milwaukee's favorites the Pfister Hotel or if you want to mix in a little gambling with your visit the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino the fabulous option. One of our other favorites the flies under the radar is The Plaza Hotel.

The city of Milwaukee is more synonymous with beer and for good reason. The history of Milwaukee is linked more closely with beer than anything else and to this day that bond is still there and you have the ability to take a walk through time looking at the past and then entering the present and tasting the latest that this great city has to offer. From legendary German brewers Blatz, Pabst, Schlitz and Miller to modern craft brew masters, Milwaukee's beer heritage and culture could be a vacation experience all by itself.

If you truly love beer, the only place to rest your head on a visit to Milwaukee is the Brewhouse Inn & Suites. Now visitors can even sleep while immersed in brewing history at the former Pabst Brewery. Historic highlights of this 90-room, all-suite hotel include five original giant copper brew kettles in the second floor lobby and a stained glass window depicting King Gambrinus, the patron saint of beer. 

While sleeping with thoughts of beer in your head is nice, touring an actual brewery is even nicer. Take a step back in time when you journey through more than 150 years of brewing history at one of the nation’s brewing giants, MillerCoors. The hour-long, FREE tour walks guests from the historic, underground caves where Frederick Miller cooled his brew to the modern, high-speed production lines that crank out some of the most popular beer in the U.S. Enjoy a few samples after the tour in the historic, Bavarian-style Miller Inn.

Wisconsin Avenue Bridge

If you like PBR, you’ll love Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery. This retro tour sets the stage with vintage beer commercials and your choice of an ice-cold Pabst, Schlitz or root beer. The “Best” buildings are the site of the former Pabst Corporate Offices, which include Captain Pabst’s office, the Blue Ribbon Hall and cozy Captain’s Courtyard.

Grab a cold brew upon arrival at the Lakefront Brewery and enjoy quirky guides who serve up belly-busting laughs on what ranks as the fourth best brewery tour in the nation. This progressive, award-winning brewer is the first beer company to bottle fruit beer since prohibition and the first beer to be certified gluten-free in the U.S.

Lakefront Brewery Tour

Find a modern twist on old-world brewing tradition at Sprecher Brewing Company, including a tasting in their Munich-style beer garden. Sprecher’s Black Bavarian is ranked one of the top American Beers in the country. Don’t drink? Don’t worry. Quench your thirst with the root beer ranked the best in the U.S. by the New York Times.

Make your way downtown for the Water Street Brewery tour. This local favorite, which is part brewery, part restaurant, boasts the production of 10.5 million glasses of beer. Water Street Brewery has three locations, Downtown, Grafton and Delafield. For a new way to enjoy a brew, check out the Pedal Tavern, Milwaukee’s 16-person, bicycle-powered pub crawl on wheels! Create your own stops or have a Pedal Tavern guide assist you in selecting watering holes and restaurants in the Historic Third Ward and Walker’s Point neighborhoods. The Seventh Annual Milwaukee Brewfest takes place on July 30th on Milwaukee’s lakefront. Sample craft beers, micro brews and ciders from around the world and enjoy live music.

For those who are golf aficionados you will know that Wisconsin as a hole is an amazing location if you are a golfer. The award-winning Milwaukee County Parks System is not only a fabulous place to relax and enjoy the plush greenery of Milwaukee, but it is also home to 15 golf courses, including the Brown Deer Golf Course where Tiger Woods began his PGA career. Less than an hour from downtown you can experience Golf Digest’s number 10 rated public golf courses, Erin Hills. Get an early look at the course that will be hosting the 2017 U.S. Open. You can also experience The Bull, The Bog and two championship golf courses at the beautiful Grand Geneva Resort & Spa.

You can go to Disneyland, take a cruise or travel abroad, but Milwaukee gives you a little more on your vacation than most. Beyond all of the experiences before mentioned, you get something else. You get the warmth and friendliness of Milwaukee. The city makes you feel like an old friend, not a visitor and it will take you on many adventures during your stay if you give it a chance.

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