Renaissance Books: A Mitchell Airport Gem
An advantage of flying into Milwaukee's Mitchell Field - and incentive for changing planes there - is the opportunity to visit Renaissance Books, an excellent independent bookseller that leases space in the main terminal. I always find books here that I NEED. It is SO REFRESHING to visit an airport bookstore that is not just a watered down "chain" that is pushing EXACTLY the same books that you will find in 287 similar airports around the world.
And how wonderfully quirky for Milwaukee to have a USED BOOK STORE in its main airport terminal! (They do have a few recent issues, but it's mostly "used".)
New Intermodal (Bus & Train) Station Downtown
Milwaukee has a nifty new downtown train station, actually an "intermodal" which also serves connecting bus routes. (It was officially opened in late fall 2007) It's convenient, clean, and easily accessible. Kudos to the Civic and State leaders who found the money for this new and thoughtful public facility! And yet more praise to architect Greg Uhen, who found a way to make a dramatic space for not too much $$$$$.
Lately, I've discovered the great advantage of taking the train from Milwaukee to Chicago. It's one way to avoid the mess on the Edens Expressway - and it also gives men great pleasure to know that I Am Doing A Good Thing by not bringing my car into the city.
The station is at the south end of downtown, at 433 W. St. Paul.
Tons of info on transportation here...
I found this site that has tons of info on getting to and from Milw, WITHOUT a car.
Lots of things even I didn't know, and I grew up here.
Has Megabus, amttrak, greyhound, car ferry, airport info, Badger Bus, and other stuff.
MegaBus is now in Milwaukee. they only go to Chicago or Minn, but you can leave form Chicago and go to about 8 other locations.
The cost from Milw to Chicago is either $1-$3. Return is the same. Cheap.
The station in Milw is at the Amtrak station. In Chicago, Union Station.
From the site:
Downtown Milwaukee, WI: This stop is located at the Milwaukee Amtrak Station, 433 St Paul Ave. The station is close to many, many local transit services. See our Downtown Milwaukee Map for convenient connection information. Paid parking is available nearby, and free 30-minute parking is available at the station. There is a taxi stand at the station, served during train arrivals.
Convenient Amtrak at the Airport
Say, isn't it time that we in the USA start to improve our rail-air connectivity? Don't you just burst with envy when you see how easy it is in so many European cities to transfer from flights to trains - often with train stations right in the terminal building? (i.e. Stansted in London, Oslo Gardermoen, Dusseldorf, Amsterdam Schipol, etc.)
Well, Milwaukee provides a good example of the potential for decent passenger rail travel in the USA. Not only do they have a convenient train station in downtown, there's also regular and timely service to the Milwaukee airport. With seven trains daily to Chicago, Amtrak offers a credible and realistic alternative to driving. Trust me, it's great to rest and relax on the train - and it beats fighting the traffic on the Tollway or the Edens so-called Expressway.
Parking is just $5 a day, and the modern, well-designed station is just a few minutes off I-94, at the airport exit.
Hoan (I-794) Bridge
The Hoan Bridge is an impressive - and controversial - transportation landmark in Milwaukee. It carries traffic on I-794 south from the Lakefront and downtown neighborhoods across the busy Milwaukee River - a factor which necessitated its considerable height.
The controversy arose originally because the bridge as planned didn't actually provide an important transportation link with other communities. While the bridge was built between 1970 and 1972, it wasn't actually opened until 1977, because there simply weren't connecting roads on the south side of the River.
In the interim period of 1972 to 1977, the Hoan bridge was occasionally used to film commercials, tv shows or movies. It's most famous appearance was in the "Blues Brothers" where it is the highlight of one of the many car chases in the film.
More controversy arose in 2000, when a significant section of the roadway sagged dramatically, leading to a near collapse of the structure. Repairs closed the bridge for a full year.
Thankfully now the Hoan Bridge is now completely safe. (Yeah, whatever.) Driving across the bridge from the south allows passengers a dramatic view of the Milwaukee skyline - and one of the best views of the Calatrava Pavillion at the MAM.
- Road Trip
Rent a car
Milwaukee was not planned well as far as transportation goes. The city grew too fast for the roads that we had and it seems like the city has been trying to fix it ever since. Every summer it seems like half of the exits are closed and all of the freeways back up as stretches are closed down to one lane. It is kind of insane, but hopefully it's getting better with time?!?!
Public transportation is almost non-existant. Yes, we do have buses and if you can get a handle on the schedule and you can find one that is going to your destination go for it (the buses are clean and safe), but the routes are limited and you'd be better off renting a car. Also, I swear that we only have 10 taxis! Okay, probably a few more, but don't expect to just be able to easily hail a cab.
If you don't plan on leaving downtown or exploring anything outside of the city you may be able to get away with not having a car, but why limit yourself? Luckily, if you're from out of town it's fairly easy to get around on your own with a car (well, except for those darn closed exits). One of the things I love about the Milwaukee area is that there are a lot of street signs to point you in the right direction. Parking can be tricky downtown, but there are a lot of parking lots (usually $5) that you can hop into if you don't feel like searching for street parking.
Cruise America's 'Venice'
One way to enjoy the scenes along the Milwaukee River is to take a cruise on one of the 'Edelweiss' restaurant and tour boats. These low-slung craft are built to sail easily under the many bridges over the Milwaukee River in the downtown area of the city. This is merely to ensure that the ride goes as scheduled because the bridges can be lifted to allow taller boats to pass when necessary. The cruise continues on into the harbour area of the city. The photo shows the boat passing under one of the pedestrian walkways that come in handy during the winter months, with one of the many lift-bridges off in the distance.
- Business Travel
Lake Express High Speed Ferry
A great break from Chicago traffic. Lake Express is a modern high speed catamaran ferry that's more like a first class flight than what you'd expect out of a trip on a ship. Coast to coast from western Michigan (Muskegon) to Milwaukee, WI takes just 2-1/2 hours. Compare that with 5 + hours and innumerable traffic hassles that come with driving around through Chicago and you have an absolute winner of a proposition. Spend those hours resting, reading and feeling the wind on your face on the outdoor deck and leave the stresses of traveling behind.
- Road Trip
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Business Travel
Driving from Chicago
From Chicago you can take either 94 or 41 which merge back together around the state line.
We drove up on 41, the downside to this route is that there are several stop lights and a lower speed limit but there are no tolls and it might be a quicker route if the tollway has a lot of traffic.
We drove back on 94 which is a toll road from the state line to Deerfield where it becomes a non toll highway. There were two tolls, the first was 75 cents which you pay near the Wisconsin border and another for 50 cents when you merge onto the non toll portion. 4/2/05 update-Illinois recently doubled the tolls for people not using the I Pass, so I think those tolls are now $1.50 and $1
The speed limit is 65 for a portion of 94 so if traffic is flowing, that is the quicker route.
Billy Mitchell Field, or Milwaukee International Airport (MKE) is the way to fly in. There are numerous little airfields, but commercial planes come in through Mitchell field. Not too big, but big enough.. You can catch a taxi here to be on your way, or a friend can easily pick you up. It is off of 894 on the way to Chicago (South of Milwaukee).
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
In the downtown area, it seemed like you could either park at metered spots or in low cost garages. We didn't see any non metered spots but honestly we didn't look very hard.
We misread the sign, it said on Saturdays until 6 pm there was a 2 hour limit, during the week there was a 2 hour metered limit. So I don't think we needed to feed the meter on Saturday but I think I will get over the $1.50 it cost me.
Take the Trolley!
For $1.75 you can see many of Milwaukee's locations of interest. You can travel through East Town, Westown, Water Street, Brady Street, Old World Third Street and the Historic Third Ward.
The trolley runs May 26 through September 5, 2004; and operates every 20 minutes during the summer. It runs from 11:00a.m. to 10:00p.m. most days.
Milwaukee Highway system
Interstate 94 mainly goes east west through the heart of Milwaukee and then also leads you to Madison and Chicago. 894 is the bypass that goes around Milwaukee. 43 goes north south and comes from Green Bay and reach Milwaukee along the lakeshore. 41 takes you from Milwaukee to Fond du Lac, Appleton, and then Green Bay.
No Subway, just Buses
Some bus lines are free on New Year's Eve. The bus company is really helpful when you need to get around on teh bus. Give them a call and tell them where you are, where you're going, and at what time, and they will tell you how to get there fastest by bus. Calling the BusLine at (414) 344-6711 is a great way to get the route, schedule and fare information you need.
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