Milwaukee: Suds City is Some City

School’s out, you’ve hit all the Chicago hot spots, the beach is overcrowded, and you need new scenery.

It’s time to revisit our cultural cousin to the north—Milwaukee, Wis. Long known for culinary wonders like beer, brats and frozen custard, the city is also a thriving arts and entertainment hub. It’s quietly becoming a nationally recognized destination for must-see museums, culinary experiences, nightlife and more.

Want to get away for a day? We recommend:

With the kids…

Take a brewery tour. There’s several to choose from, but for kids, the Sprecher Brewery Tour is the most fun. Adults can enjoy a beer tasting, and the kids can go crazy sampling every flavor of soda Sprecher has on tap. 701 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale, 414-964-2739

Take a hike. For some fresh air, try the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, a 185-acre natural habitat along the lakeshore. 1111 E. Brown Deer Rd., Milwaukee, 414-352-2880

Milwaukee-Schlitz-nature

Join the clandestine service. If the family is into spy games, make a stop at Safe House for lunch or dinner. Kitschy décor and memorabilia fill this establishment, where you’ll feel as if you stepped onto a spy thriller movie set—but only if you know the password to get through the front door. 779 N. Front St., Milwaukee, 414-271-2007

Rev your engines. Put on your party hats—the Harley-Davidson Museum is celebrating the company’s 110th anniversary this year. This isn’t just Hog heaven; you’ll find a bunch of family-friendly exhibits. Psst … don’t miss the anniversary celebration weekend August 29 to September 1. 400 W. Canal St., Milwaukee, 414-287-2789

milwaukee-harley-davidson

Grab a burger. Ask someone where to go for the best beef, and you’ll be pointed in the direction of Sobelman’s Pub & Grill, situated inside one of the city’s original Schlitz taverns. Go big with the Triple SOB—the house burger, super-sized. 1900 W. St. Paul Ave., Milwaukee, 414-931-1919

milwaukee-sobelmans-burger

With the girlfriends…

Shop ‘til you drop. Milwaukee has several great retail districts, with the historic Third Ward one of the most popular. You can hit some of your favorites and local indie shops all in one spot. 219 N. Milwaukee St., Milwaukee, 414-273-1173

Have some beer with that cheese. Take a break from shopping to enjoy some of the best culinary treats the city has to offer. The Wisconsin Cheese Mart offers cheese and craft-beer pairings at their Über Tap Room. 1048 N. Old World Third St., Milwaukee, 888-482-7700

Grab cocktails. Residents rave about The Iron Horse Hotel, located in Milwaukee’s Fifth Ward. What was once a 100-year-old warehouse has been transformed into one of the hottest boutique hotels in the Midwest. Grab a drink and enjoy live music at the hotel’s outdoor bar, The Yard. 500 W. Florida St., Milwaukee, 888-543-4766

milwaukee-iron-horse
Photo by John Nienuis

With a significant other…

Get artsy. Art-lovers should not miss the Milwaukee Art Museum, located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Its stunning design and world-class exhibits, including more than 30,000 works of art, make the trek worth the trip. 700 N. Art Museum Drive, Milwaukee, 414-224-3200

Go green. Will Allen is a basketball-player-turned-MacArthur-Grant farmer. And his organization, Growing Power, has its headquarters in Milwaukee. If you ever wanted to learn more about urban farming and its benefit to communities around the globe, take a tour. Amazing stuff. 5500 W. Silver Spring Drive, Milwaukee, 414-527-1546

Go big on small plates. For dinner, make a reservation at the Odd Duck, one of Milwaukee’s foodie havens. Its small-plates menu rivals anything on the Chicago food scene. 2352 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee, 414-763-5881

Go sweet with your sweetie. Milwaukee is famous for its custard, and you pretty much can’t go wrong with any of the spots that specialize in

this frozen treat. But if you’re feeling a little nostalgic, head to Leon’s, the location muse for Al’s on Happy Days. 3131 S. 27th St., Milwaukee,

414-383-1784

milwaukee-leons-custard

 

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