Welcome to Wisconsin, Milwaukee, to be exact! This past month, I was invited to discover the hidden gems of Wisconsin. As a person who prefers to travel without any expectations or preconceived notions, I am able to truly experience destinations at face value. Milwaukee. At first impression, Milwaukee is a very walkable city with gorgeous architecture. Something about the layout of the city felt very European. It sits on the shore of Lake Michigan and we LOVE a city that provides the best of both worlds: city vibes & natural beauty. I can’t speak on the weather in the wintertime, but I happened to arrive when the temp was a sunny 75 degrees and the energy of the city was very much alive. I explored the city by kayak, bike, cruiser, and foot…yet I hardly covered any ground. I crossed another US state off of my bucket list and I’m excited to share how I spent my time in Milwaukee. As always, I hope I can convince you to visit a place that you might not have considered otherwise. After all, you never know until you go. Before I share everything I did, here are some facts about Milwaukee:
What To Know About Milwaukee
Milwaukee is the largest city in Wisconsin.
Milwaukee is nicknamed ‘Cream City’ after light colored bricks that we’re used on buildings since the 19th century.
There are over 30 breweries in Milwaukee. It’s also known as ‘Brew City’
Milwaukee is also known as the ‘City of Festivals’, due to the abundance of festivals throughout the year – nearly every weekend in the summertime.
Milwaukee is home to the world’s largest dinosaur skull in the Milwaukee Public Museum.
Milwaukee is home to the oldest bowling alley in the US, the Holler House.
Milwaukee has an endless variety of cheese curds at your disposal.
As a fan of the Kimpton hotel line, I truly enjoyed my stay at the Journeyman. It was the perfect base for my Milwaukee explorations. It’s set in the historic third ward district, in walking distance to the Milwaukee Public Market and the Milwaukee Art Museum. There is a rooftop restaurant/bar and cafe on site!
In regards to Covid 19 safety precautions, the hotel is currently requiring masks to protect both hotel guests and employees.
Other hotels to consider:
Saint Kate Arts Hotel
Hyatt Place Milwaukee
Hotel Metro Autograph Collection
The Pfister Hotel($$$)
The Saint Kate Arts Hotel / @saintkatehotel – This boutique hotel is a one-of-a-kind destination where you can sleep AND appreciate local art & culture. You can sip Champagne while *perusing* art inside of the museum at the @saintkatehotel. Yes, you read that right. An art museum inside of a hotel. Sign me up!
Tour The City By Cruiser – You can get a unique perspective of the city in an MKE Cruiser! A local guide will take you to some well-known sites and hidden gems around Milwaukee. It’s the perfect introduction to the ‘Cream City’. Book here!
Shopping At Sherman Phoenix/ @sherman.phoenix – After a fatal shooting shook the Sherman Park neighborhood in Milwaukee, Sherman Phoenix was introduced as a safe space for the local community. An old bank was transformed into a hub for small, black owned businesses. You can grab some food, purchase art, attend a yoga class, etc. to support the businesses in this community.
Explore Milwaukee by E bike – Bublr Bikes has set up it’s bike share program, bringing hundreds of electric bikes into the city. You can rent this bike by the hour and return it to any station around the city. This is such a fun and exciting way to explore Milwaukee.
Kayaking Milwaukee River/ @brewcitykayak – You can rent a kayak or Stand Up Paddle Board to see Milwaukee from the water. Sign up for a 2 hour tour that takes you along the Milwaukee River, providing a new perspective to see the city from.
Get Lost in The Milwaukee Public Museum/@milwaukeepublicmuseum – Seeing the Nelson Mandela exhibit & feeling like I took a step back in time. You can’t leave without seeing the butterfly room.
Taste Bitters and Tour Bittercube Bazaar /@bittercubebazaar – Tour and taste spirits or liquor at Bittercube Bar and Bazaar.This was honestly my favorite experience of all. Sip cocktails, taste bitters, and/or craft your own.
Stroll Through Blackcat Alley/ @blackcatmke – Stroll through Black Cat Alley to admire the local street art. You’ll find plenty of murals and photo opps in this outdoor gallery. If you’re a cat lover, you’ll definitely want to stop by Sip & Purr Cat Cafe to play with cats while you sip on coffee. You can even adopt or sponsor a cat!
Relax at the beach – Yup, I didn’t know Milwaukee had beaches either. Grab some take out, set up a picnic, & sit by the shore. Hit up Atwater, Klode, Grant, or Doctors Parks!
Other Things To Do – I barely had a chance to scratch the surface when it comes to exploring Milwaukee. If I returned, I’d visit the Harley Davidson Museum/@hdmuseum, wander through the Milwaukee Art Museum/@milwaukeeart, or even tour the Pabst Mansion.
Have you ever taken a trip where you ended up eating 5 meals a day, simply because you wanted to taste EVERYTHING? Yup, that’s exactly what happened in Milwaukee. I found myself running from one restaurant to the next, hoping that I could squeeze in as much as humanly possible. Here are my favorite food spots in Milwaukee:
Zocalo Food Park/@zocalofoodpark – Zocalo is Milwaukee’s first and only food truck park. From Arepas to Ice Cream, there is a wide variety of food to choose from. It’s basically foodie heaven. Grab a bite(or three) to eat and reserve a greenhouse to enjoy your meals in open air seating!
Sweet Diner/@sweetdinermke – If the long wait-list doesn’t make it clear enough, you should know that this is the place to be for Saturday and Sunday Brunch. I like to call myself a French toast connoisseur and this *might* be the best French toast I’ve ever had. Definitely top 3. I know, bold statement…but I stand by it. Sweet Diner only serves breakfast, lunch, and brunch so be sure to get in early – first come, first serve
Milwaukee Public Market/@milwaukeepublicmarket – Milwaukee Public Market is an absolute must during your visit. From vegan food to all the cheese, you’ll be able to find plenty of fresh food from local vendors. In other words, you can expect to eat your heart out at this indoor market.
The Outsider/ @journeymanhotel – We love a good rooftop bar! Head to the top of the Kimpton Journeyman to sip cocktails and dine with a view of the Milwaukee skyline.
Gloriosos Italian Market/ @gloriososmarket – If you love Italian food, then this place will feel like home. I left with about 5 different types of food. No regrets. You can grab some freshly cooked food or pick up the ingredients to craft your own Italian dinner.
Jewels Caribbean Restaurant/@jewelscaribbeancuisine – Watch live music & eat Jerk chicken at this local Caribbean restaurant. Get. the. Plantains.
Colectivo Coffee/@colectivocoffee – At Colectivo, every coffee batch is roasted by hand and all of their baked goods are made from scratch daily. Need I say more? Sip coffee on a lakefront and do some people-watching in the summer weather. Bakery
I’m sure I’m barely scratching the surface, but these were some of my favorite food places while visiting Milwaukee. A girl can only eat so much!
I left Milwaukee with a desire to extend my trip for *just* one more day. I wanted to eat at *just* one more restaurant and squeeze *just* one more stop into my itinerary. However, like all good things, my trip had to come to an end. Would I return? Absolutely! I feel extremely privileged for the opportunity to discover Milwaukee as somewhat of a hidden gem before the rest of the world catches on!
Needless to say, don’t sleep on MKE!
Hey, I'm Ciara. I’m a global citizen and lover of travel. Want to know more?
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