Fun things to do in Milwaukee

  • Looking Toward Usinger's Sausage Building
    Looking Toward Usinger's Sausage...
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    The Art Museum Looking North
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Milwaukee

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    Ferch's Frozen Custard -- Greendale, WI

    by londonlover Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Ferch's Frozen Custard in Greendale, Wisconsin.

    Fabulous 'marble top creamery' frozen custard, made to order from a great variety of flavors and fillings. And the best chocolate malt in the world! It's decorated in classic 50's diner style--just adorable! Here, my parents mimic an old Coca-cola advertisement by sharing a malt. :)

    Greendale is a south suburb of Milwaukee that was created during the Great Depression as a source of jobs and as a home to people who couldn't afford traditional housing. It's more middle class now, and the main street is an almost touristy destination now.

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    Summerfest Music Festival

    by lauraherrmann Updated Jan 22, 2011

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    One of the largest music festivals in the world. Eleven fun filled packed days of music, food and beverages.
    Artists from all over the world come to play in this festival.
    Music ranges from Jazz, to rock, to country Western , to Blues to Hip Hop, to just about any type available.

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    Take a Walk Along the River

    by riorich55 Written Sep 5, 2010

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    To show you just how much I didn't know about Milwaukee. I never realized that a river ran through the downtown area. Much like Chicago which has the Chicago River, Milwaukee and the Milwaukee River is bordered by a number of restaurants and the evening we took a walk they had a Wednesday evening concert going on in a park right by the river.

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    Lakefront Brewery Tour

    by Heatonkbrewer Written Jun 23, 2010

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    As Milwaukee has the reputation of being a "brewing" city and has the nickname of Cream City, it is no surprise that beer is a large part of the culture and history here. Although the Miller Brewery tour is probably the first that would come to mind, I'd recommend checking out the Lakefront Brewery situated in downtown Milwaukee in a warehouse district that is being revitalized. The tour is approx. $6 per person, includes the tour of the brewery where the colorful tour guides will passionately walk you through the history of the brewery, process of brewing beer, and make sure you are well refreshed along the way. This brewery offers many craft brews that can be sampled or bought depending on the season. On weekends you might want to call ahead or arrive early, as the tours fill up. Also, if you attend a tour on a Friday, consider staying for the Friday night fish fry. mmm. Another note, is that the brewery recently added an outdoor patio along the river to enjoys brews after the tour.

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    The Polar Bear Plunge!

    by Sunuwavi Written Jan 1, 2010

    This is an annual tradition in many cold climates around the world. In Milwaukee, it's held at Bradford beach at noon on New Year's Day. I did it for the first time today (Jan 1st 2010) and, yes, I'd do it again.

    For those of you who don't know, a "Polar Bear Plunge" is when you jump into freezing cold water, sometimes for charity, sometimes to prove yourself, but usually just for fun. Yes, that's right... fun.

    The icy waters of Lake Michigan in January is not someplace where I would normally want to spend a whole lot of my time. In fact, if it weren't for some friends who were going, I may have never tried it. I was surprised to see a TON of people on the beach. There were just as many people there as during the 4th of July fireworks. This is a big event!

    So, I wore warm clothes with a bathing suit underneath, and when it came time I stripped down and walked into the water. I didn't have the guts to dive in head first like many of the others... next year. It was exhilarating, though obviously quite cold. Thankfully my friends were waiting with hot cider and towels and a camping stove to warm up next to.

    Lots of people go there just to watch, which is probably the best part. People really go all out. I saw a guy dressed up as a polar bear, a very large man sporting body paint and mardi-gras beads, and a surprisingly large number of cute girls in bikinis.

    I highly recommend checking it out if you happen to be in Milwaukee for the New Year. Definitely a great way to immerse yourself in some loony Wisconsin winter culture. Dive in!

    Here's a blurb from the local newspaper: "Surviving the Polar Bear Plunge"
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/80479922.html

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    See a Movie @ the Oriental Theater

    by Sunuwavi Written Jul 18, 2009

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    This 75 year old theater is a gem in the crown of Milwaukee's hip & trendy East Side. Milwaukee's only living "Movie Palace," the building was built in the 20's and is miraculously intact (in all of its fun, outrageously gaudy grandeur) today. The decor is East Indian. Ornate elephants, lions and giant Buddha statues with glowing red eyes delight visitors and send you back to a time when going to the movies was an experience of luxury. There's even a pipe organ in the main theater (the largest of its kind) which is played before 7pm shows on Friday and Saturday, just like in days of yore!

    The theater plays a mix of blockbusters, foreign, indie, and art house films. It also boasts the longest continuous showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which now plays at Midnight on the 2nd Saturday of each month and is accompanied by a live performance called Sensual Daydreams. This is a show which requires maximum audience participation. Go if you dare, but be prepared to get wet, shout, throw bread crusts, and do the Timewarp!

    Bottom line:
    This is an INSIDER TIP. Not many non-locals know about the theater. Check it out, you won't be disappointed.

    AND there are tons of great bars and restaurants within a block of the theater. My picks? Coffee at Alterra and then dinner at Izumi's Japanese Restaurant. After the show, try Vox for a couple drinks in their UK lounge atmosphere. (All are right around the corner on Prospect Ave.)

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    Take a trip up (or down) the river!

    by illtryanythingonce Written Jul 16, 2009

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    Get a great overview of the downtown Milwaukee area including the lakefront by going on a boat tour with Riverwalk Boat Tours out of Pere Marquette Park. Open air boats, captained by seasoned veteran boat captains, go daily up the river and out to the breakwater (and beyond if the water/weather cooperates!). For $25, you get a 1 1/2 - 2 hour boat tour, all the hot/cold appetizers and drinks you want. Drinks include beer (local breweries sponsor the tours), wine, margaritas, hurricanes, vodka lemonades and appetizers include hot meatballs, fresh fruit, chips & salsa, quesadillas and much more. Relax while the Captain and mate take you past riverfront condos (look in - see how the rich live!), waterfront restaurants, and the spectacular Lake Michicgan shoreline (including the Calatrava "wings" at the Milwaukee Art Museum). Stop for lunch or dinner at Cafe Vecchio or one of the german pubs along the street.

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    Fun Brewery Tour

    by Tom_In_Madison Written Jun 27, 2009

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    The best, funnest beer tour I've taken. It's $6 for the tour, but you get in return a tour, 4 8 ounce samples, a pint glass and a coupon for a free beer at one of 10 local establishments. They give you the tokens for free beer when you pay your $6 for the tour, so you can use them before the tour. THey also have a station for samples halfway thru the tour.

    During the tour you will see Bernie Brewer's Beer Mug and Alpine Chalet he hung out at in old County Stadium during Brewer Games. They put it up in the brewery.

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  • Trainfest

    by bethtop Written May 19, 2009

    Trainfest is held the second week in November every year at the Expo Center at State Fair Park. Lots of things pass through the Expo Center, but Trainfest is always a favorite among kids and train enthusiasts alike.

    Last year Trainfest had record attendance (more than 21,000 people from across the country)! Every year, more than 50 detailed, operating model railroad displays are featured. Several show aspects of Wisconsin tourism, like lake cottages and river trips, and a whole mess more show historical mining and logging scenes. A dozen historical groups are present, too.

    The kids I saw got a kick out of the train built entirely from LEGO blocks and from riding a circus train replica. Radio Disney is present with a craft booth and a show catering to the little ones. There are also clinics and demonstrations to help you get started model railroading, and they also provide useful information for the veteran. 70 manufacturers and 60 hobby dealers are also present.

    Trainfest is cheap (only $12 for an adult...all kids are free when you download a coupon off the Web site) and FUN! It's a great way to get the kids together for an outing with Grandpa, or just to indulge your little ones as they stare at the trains. You'll never see them stand so still!

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    Cooler by the Lake

    by sophiebeans Written Jan 13, 2008

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    The lakefront in Milwaukee is great all year round, but is best to visit in the the summer if you can't ahndle the cold. Tou can rent bikes, boats, kits and jet skis there if you want, or bring your own fun!

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    Big Churches - Gesu (1893, 1902)

    by yooperprof Written Aug 19, 2007

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    The Church of the Gesu is a Jesuit-affiliated parish church located in the middle of the Marquette University campus. In keeping with Jesuit tradition, the church maintains a number of outstanding urban outreach programs for Milwaukee's poor. It's also a beautiful building, whose spires (often illuminated at night) add a great deal to the Wisconsin Avenue streetscape. The taller spire stands 180 feet high.

    The original architects of the Gesu Church were the firm of H.C. Koch, also responsible for the spendid Milwaukee City Hall, located several blocks to the east.

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    Big Churches - St. John's R.C. Cathedral (1847-92)

    by yooperprof Written Aug 19, 2007

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    St. John's was originally constructed in a simple Germanic classical style in the late 1840s, with architectural supervision by Victor Schulte and James Douglas. Note the "square solidity" of the base. The original spire was structurally unsounded, and in the early 1890s it was dismantled and replaced with a much more exuberant and baroque lantern tower. Note the rounded arches, the corinthian columns, and the numerous copper urns. The Cathedral tower was designed by Milwaukean George Bowman Ferry.

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    Big Churches - All Saint's Epis. Cathedral (1869)

    by yooperprof Updated Aug 18, 2007

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    All Saints Episcopal Cathedral is the center of the Diocese of Milwaukee, and one of the oldest and most dignified anglican churches in the upper midwest. It was actually one of the first churches to be designated a Cathedral in the Episcopal church, largely in recognition of the pioneering work of the great missionary bishop Jackson Kemper.

    An interesting sidelight is that All Saints was constructed to be a Congregational Church, which was however unable to maintain the structure and soon sold the completed building to the local Anglicans. Architect Edward T. Mix was at this time in his career was still working in the Gothic Revival style popularized in the 1820s and 30s. The eight-sided steeple - some 200 feet tall - easily dominates the streetscape here.

    The steep pitched structure just to the left of the steeple is a later addition, constructed as a Guild Hall in 1891 to a design of William D. Kimball.

    Note that there is a large Episcopalian parish church - St. Paul's - just around the corner. It was also designed by E.T. Mix, but in the vein of Richardsonian Romanesque.

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    Big Churches - St. Paul's Episcopal (1890)

    by yooperprof Written Aug 17, 2007

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    No wonder I like this building - it's made of Lake Superior red sandstone! (Moreover, this Milwaukee church has a great deal in common with another St. Paul's Episcopal from my own home town of Marquette Michigan. Both St. Paul's have spectacular Tiffany windows.)

    Architect Edward Townsend Mix was greatly influenced by the eclectic and romantic style of Henry Hobson Richardson - i.e. Richardsonian Romanesque. Note the rounded (not pointed) windows, the square Norman towers, the triangular vaulted ceiling - all important components of H.H. Richardson's late 19th century architectural vocabulary.

    E.T. Mix also designed the nearby All Saint's Episcopal Cathedral - which however was constructed in a simpler architectural idiom.

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    Pabst Mansion (1890)

    by yooperprof Updated Aug 17, 2007

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    This is from the historic marker that stands outside the mansion:

    Captain Frederick Pabst (1836-1904)

    Of German birth, Pabst became a ship's captain in the 1850s and moved to Milwaukee in the 1860s. He later joined his father-in-laws's brewery (founded 1844), which was renamed the Pabst Brewery in 1889. By the 1890s it was the world's largest lager beer brewery, and he was Milwaukee's leading citizen.

    The Captain's elegant Flemish Renaissance Revival mansion was designed by George Bowman Ferry and constructed on fashionable Grand Avenue [now Wisconsin Ave.] 1890-93. Its pavillion housed the Pabst Brewery exhibit at the World's Columbian Exhibition in 1893. Between 1908 and 1975 five Catholic Archbishops lived here. In 1978 Wisconsin Heritages Inc. purchased the property.

    Pabst also erected the city's first skyscraper (1891-92), rebuilt the Pabst Theater (1895), operated the Whitefish Bay Resort, headed the Wisconsin National Bank, owned a local hotel and many saloons, a hops farm and street railway in Wauwatosa, and hotels and restaurants elsewhere in the nation.

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