Located on the southwest shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee, known as "A Genuine American City," is rich in history and culture. Milwaukee attracts visitors year-round thanks to the popularity of local breweries such as
Juneautown, the city's downtown area, is named after Solomon Juneau, the city's founder. Water Street and Wisconsin Street, both located in the heart of Juneautown, are considered two of the city's liveliest streets. This area is also home to many historical buildings including
Kilbourntown, separated from Juneautown by the
Yankee Hill exudes old-fashioned, high-end charm. This neighborhood was once owned by Solomon Juneau, the city's first mayor. It was therefore a hub for the city's government and business. Today visitors will find several beautiful churches as well as many lovely row houses designed in various styles including Victorian and Gothic. Two of the city's most beloved hotels, the
Brady Street, a bustling area near the Yankee Hill neighborhood, had already become a commercial district by the 1880s. Once considered the city's version of Little Italy, Brady Street then became an example of New Urbanism thus attracting those whom some refer to as hipsters and bohemians. Following an effort to gentrify the area, Brady Street is now filled with cafés and boutiques, but it has still managed to maintain some of its eclectic, avant-garde flair. Aside from shopping and dining, notably
The Lakefront is the beautiful area along Lake Michigan. Aside from all of the outdoor activities the lake has to offer, this area is also home to
Walker's Point has a slightly industrial yet hip feel as it encompasses many trendy warehouse-turned-lofts, art galleries, restaurants (notably
Avenues West, boasting such notable establishments as
Brewer's Hill, named for its proximity to the former Schlitz Brewing Company and the
Menomonee River Valley
Much like Walker's Point, the Menomonee River Valley is a trendy neighborhood filled with hip lofts and funky establishments, most of which are former warehouses. It is not surprising that this neighborhood has attracted an increasing number of real estate developers. The area is frequented by a very bohemian, artsy crowd. The Menomonee River Valley's pride-and-joy is the
Milwaukee, the capital of Wisconsin, is a large city located in the eastern part of the state. Today Milwaukee is famous for its popular breweries and is also home to the Harley Davidson Motor Company, a motorcycle manufacturer that has become a household name. While it's difficult to look beyond the appeal of beers and bikes, Milwaukee has a deep history, which, like many American cities, began with Native American tribes followed by European settlements
The Algonkian Indians are credited with the first form of the name Milkwaukee. They used the word Millioki which meant "gathering place by the waters." The first written mention of the name dates back to 1761 when British officer James Gorrell transcribed the name "Milwacky." Other variations of the name Milwaukee have also been documented.
The area's first settlers were primarily French missionaries and fur traders. In fact, one of the city's most lively neighborhoods, Juneautown, is named after French-Canadian explorer Solomon Juneau who settled in the area in 1818. Solomon Juneau went on to be elected the city's first major in 1846. While Juneau is considered the city's founding father, two other settlers, Byron Kilbourn and George H. Walker, are also credited with establishing communities in the surrounding areas, Kilbourntown and Walker's Point, respectively. Following a number of French settlers, the city witnessed an influx of German immigrants in the 1840s. In an effort to escape the Revolution of 1848, a revolution during which German citizens fought against the traditional political structure, many Germans flocked to the area thanks to inexpensive land and the hope of freedom. In fact, at a certain time, the number of German speakers and German-language newspapers actually exceeded that of English speakers and English-language newspapers. The Germans were eventually followed by a large wave of Polish immigrants. Like the Germans, most of these immigrants were hoping to escape the oppression of their homeland. Today Milwaukee is home to the nation's third largest Polish community.
It is also worth noting that in the city's history, it fell victim to several vicious fires, one which particularly affected City Hall requiring the upper tower to be rebuilt. City Hall, as it is known today, was completed in 1895. The building, which was designed in Flemish Renaissance style, is considered a landmark not only thanks to its history but also thanks to its large clock with numerals of opaque glass located in its bell tower. In fact, at the time of its completion, the bell tower was the third tallest structure in the country.
Today Milwaukee has grown to be the country's 22rd largest city. Its various neighborhoods are rich with culture and diversity. The Milwaukee metropolitan area is home to several Fortune 500 companies and also boasts a booming tourism industry thanks to many brewing companies, the activities available on Lake Michigan, and many cultural events, notably, Summerfest, a musical festival that attracts thousands of people each year.
Museums & Historical Buildings
Milwaukee is home to an impressive number of museums and historic buildings. The Milwaukee Art Museum, the Harley Davidson Museum, and the Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion draw impressive crowds year-round. Art lovers will also appreciate the Haggerty Museum of Art, and the Eisner American Museum of Advertising & Design. The Mitchell Gallery of Flight, an aviation museum located inside the Mitchell International Airport, the Milwaukee Public Museum, which also houses an IMAX Theater and Planetarium and the Discovery World located at Pier Wisconsin are perfect for those with an interest in science or for the curious child in your family. Other destinations geared towards children include the Betty Brinn Children's Museum and the International Clown Hall of Fame. Also worth visiting, especially for the history buff in your family, are both the America's Black Holocaust Museum and the Milwaukee Jewish Museum.
Avid shoppers will not be disappointed; Milwaukee is home to a bevy of shopping malls and specialty stores selling everything from souvenirs to fashion to spirits. Grand Avenue Mall is the city's premiere shopping center with over 50 stores and more than a dozen restaurants. The Bayshore Town Center is another upscale mall offering various shopping and dining options. There are bookstores, toy stores, and countless apparel stores.Brady Street in another excellent option for shopping. Lined with countless boutiques and specialty shops, visitors and locals alike are bound to find that perfect item. Shopping can be exhausting, so it's important to note that Brady Street also offers a variety of restaurants and cafes. And last but certainly not least is the Milwaukee Public Market located right off the Milwaukee River. The public market houses various specialty food shops, delis, cafes, and the famous Spice House.
If you're hoping to catch a concert or a stand-up comedy act while you're in Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Theater is the place. Another popular theater is the Northern Lights Theater located inside the Potawatomi Bingo Casino. The casino is a popular destination in and of itself. The Milwaukee Repertory Theater, known by locals at the Rep, is considered one of the best regional theaters in the U.S. featuring comedies, classics, contemporary drama, and cabaret. The beautiful Pabst Theater and the Milwaukee Theatre also host concerts, and theatrical productions. For a unique experience, don't miss out on the Fireside Dinner Theater located in neighboring Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. The Fireside Theater presents family-friendly performances such as the Sound of Music and High School Musical. The cuisine is exceptional as are the performances, and the venue even throws a traditional Milwaukee fish fry on Fridays. For a hilarious comedy show, Comedy Sportz is the place. This "interactive improv experience" has been hailed as one of the best comedy clubs around.
Milwaukee's most popular festival is Summerfest. This musical extravaganza is held every summer from late June to early July. Summerfest draws thousands of concert-goers as well as popular musical acts. It takes place over the course of 11 days on 11 stages and features 700 bands. Another popular festival is Irish Fest. Held every August, this festival aims to promote Irish culture. Held in September on Milwaukee’s Lakefront, Indian Summer Festival draws large crowds as well as talented musicians and artists. Thanks to great food, fireworks, and lots of family fun, Festa Italiana has continued to grow in popularity. It is the self-proclaimed premiere Italian cultural event in America. And, it is no surprise considering the city's large Polish community, that the Polish Fest, one of the city’s many summer festivals, is in fact the country's largest Polish festival. Last but certainly not least is the Lakefront Festival on the Arts. This three-day festival is held every June along the shores of Lake Michigan. Many artists, both local and national, displays their works. Whether you're looking to buy that perfect piece of art or simply to browse, this is an enjoyable festival for the entire family.
Whether you're looking for a friendly pub, a sleek lounge, or a pumping nightclub, Milwaukee has what you need. Popular pubs and taverns include Steny's Tavern & Grill, Café Hollander, and Mo's Irish Pub. All three offer a full menu as well as excellent brews. Some broadcast sporting events and host trivia nights as well as generous happy hours.Fluid is one of the city's most popular gay bars thanks to its inviting ambiance and its elaborate drink menu. For those who enjoy dressing to the nines and sipping snazzy martinis a la "Sex and the City" Swig, combining haute cuisine with mellow grooves, and Cush, combining sleek design with diverse musical selections, are hot spots on the lounge scene. Kil@wat is another popular choice. Located inside the InterContinental Hotel, Kil@wat boasts an impressive drink list and a creative design. If you're simply looking to cut a rug on the dance floor, tried-and-true nightclubs like Texture, Three and Rain won't disappoint.
Aside from numerous summer festivals, notably Summerfest, Milwaukee offers a wide range of outdoor activities. The Milwaukee Zoo is an excellent activity for the whole family. One of the premier zoos in the country, the Milwaukee Zoo sits on 200 acres and is home to 2500 animals of 300 different species. While Lake Michigan may be the city's first love when it comes to the outdoors, the city also boasts several lovely parks. Milwaukee County actually has 136 parks, the most notable being Lake Park. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the man behind New York's Central Park, Lake Park offers various sporting facilities, playgrounds and green space. Also worth noting is the Lakeshore State Park. This state park is small but picturesque as it runs along the shores of Lake Michigan. In the summer months it is the ideal spot for picnicking or sunbathing.
Milwaukee accommodations run the gamut of quaint bed-and-breakfast to high-end establishments. Whether it is for business, pleasure—even a honeymoon—Milwaukee has something for everyone. Keep in mind that prices tend to rise in late June to early July due to the popularity of Summerfest, an annual music festival that draws thousands. The city also hosts a number of conferences throughout the year, so be sure to check prices before booking your stay.
Juneautown is Milwaukee's downtown area. It is therefore not surprising that a number of hotels, many suited to the business traveler's needs, can be found in this neighborhood. The Pfister is the city's most historic hotel. It is located just three blocks from Lake Michigan and just minutes from many of the city's major attractions. If you are looking for top-rate amenities and don't mind paying the price, the Pfister is an excellent place to stay. Another high-end option in the area is the InterContinental Milwaukee. This four-star establishment is ideally located near Milwaukee's RiverWalk, a lively stretch of shops and cafés. The InterContinental's restaurant, Kil@Wat, serves up delicious twists on American classics for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Considered the "leading eco-friendly luxury hotel" in the downtown area, Hotel Metro is another exceptional option. It is one of the city’s premier European-style boutique hotels. It features the full range of amenities (all green, of course), is centrally located, and has been featured on the New York Times's list of "Where to Stay." For a more reasonably-priced option in Juneautown, visitors will be happy to find the Baymont Inn. This affordable accommodation is also located near lovely Lake Michigan.
Kilbourntown, Juneautown's rival, is also home to many hotels. Most fall into the mid to moderate price range. Overall, it is a slightly more affordable place to stay in comparison to its neighbor. However, those looking for some luxury can still find high quality at the Hyatt Regency, the Doubletree Hotel Milwaukee City Center and the Hilton Milwaukee City Center. All offer state-of-the-art amenities, a convenient location and excellent facilities for the business traveler. More affordable options in the area include the Best Western as well as the Hotel Wisconsin.
Yankee Hill is one of the city's most exclusive neighborhoods. It boasts various architectural styles, and many of the area's accommodations live up to its high-end stature. The Astor Hotel is one such example. This historic hotel, dating back to 1920, is near Lake Michigan. In 1984 it earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel's impressive architectural design and attention to detail make it a popular destination for tourists. The Knickerbocker is another elegant option in Yankee Hill. It is one of the city's premiere boutique hotels. It succeeds in balancing old world charm with modern amenities. The hotel was built in 1929, and like many of its neighbors, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For a more moderately-priced accommodation, visitors may opt for the Comfort Inn. Located near many of the city's points of interest, the Comfort Inn has 159 rooms at reasonable prices, and just like its high-end neighbors, it too is located near Lake Michigan. And last but certainly not least is a unique option, the County Clare Irish Inn and Pub. The only one of its kind in Milwaukee, this small, charming establishment will make guests feel at home. There is a full service restaurant serving hearty Irish favorites, and the pub offers live music and drink specials.
Avenues West refers to anything west of downtown. This area had fallen onto hard times at one point but has since rebounded. Today there isn't even a trace of the struggles the neighborhood once faced. The Ambassador, a well-known art deco hotel, is one establishment that greatly benefited from the area's renovation efforts. Considered an upscale boutique hotel, the Ambassador provides luxurious rooms, every desirable amenity, is popular for weddings, meetings and other events, and even offers fine dining at its restaurant, Envoy as well as casual dining at Café Deco. If the glitz and glamor of the Ambassador isn't your style, there are two other options. The first, the Biller Hotel, is moderately priced and offers the basics to any business traveler or tourist. And, if charm is the name of the game, then Shelly's Bed and Breakfast might just be the perfect place.
Menomonee River Valley
With its trendy lofts, galleries and boutiques, this warehouse district is a great place to stay during a trip to Milwaukee. One of the shining stars on the city's hotel scene is the Iron Horse Hotel. It earned a spot on Condé Nast Traveler's Hot List for 2009. This luxury boutique hotel offers 100 loft-style rooms and serves rustic American cuisine at its restaurant, Smyth, and tasty cocktails at its bar, Branded.