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What To Do in Milwaukee On A Budget

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Friday, May 13, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee
Couple at Hubbard Park Beer Garden
 
The NY Times Frugal Traveler gave two thumbs up to Milwaukee, calling the city “vibrant and cheap,” which, hey – we’ll take it. There are certainly plenty of ways to enjoy the finer things in life in Milwaukee, but it’s also a city where great things come at a great price. These inexpensive or free things to do in Milwaukee are perfect if you’re looking for an easy weekend getaway on a budget or want to save up for a special night out while you're in town (James Beard nominated restaurants, anyone?).
 
Beer gardens
This German tradition is back in a big way in Milwaukee! Beer gardens are springing up at parks all around the city, and they’re the perfect place to hang out when you’re on a budget. Treat yourself to a stein, then take in the atmosphere, the good company and oftentimes live music! Many beer gardens allow visitors to bring their own picnics for extra savings, though there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to resist that giant pretzel once you see it. (Most beer gardens serving in traditional glass steins will charge a glassware deposit, but you’ll get it back before you go!)
 
Lakefront
No, not the brewery…the actual shoreline of Lake Michigan is a great spot to spend your time if you’re short on cash. The stunning views of the lake and the city’s architecture are all free. If you can time your visit right, watch the “wings” of the Milwaukee Art Museum open at 10 a.m., flap at noon or close at 5 p.m. (8 p.m. on Fridays). The trails along the lakefront are great for jogging, biking or just strolling, and if you have a little extra money to spend, you can rent paddleboats, bikes and more.
 
Brewery tours
The MillerCoors brewery tour takes you from the caves where Frederick Miller originally cooled his brews up to today’s high speed production lines and is FREE (that’s right, $0). But your dollar stretches far on any tour in town – $10 will get you a tour and plenty of delicious craft brews at Lakefront Brewery or Milwaukee Brewing Company, and for just $6 you can tour Sprecher Brewery and sample both beers and their popular gourmet sodas.
 
Summer concerts
This one is also totally free! Almost every night of the week, you’ll find free outdoor concerts in parks across the city. Local favorites include Chill on the Hill (Tuesday), River Rhythms (Wednesday) and Jazz in the Park (Thursday). These events vary on their carry-in policies, but enjoying nice weather and free music is always a good time!
 
Free events
From gallery nights and street festivals to museum free days and outdoor movies, there’s almost always something fun and free happening in Milwaukee. Check out the free section of Milwaukee365.com to see what’s on tap while you’re in town.  
 

 

 
Instagrammable Milwaukee

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee
If a person goes on an awesome vacation but doesn’t post about it on Instagram, did it really happen? Better to play it safe and make sure you get some awesome photos during your trip to Milwaukee! Here are some recommendations for can’t-miss shots while you’re in Milwaukee, with a little help from the photographers of DearMKE.
 
 

Sunsets at @milwaukeeart are always so lovely. Photo by @chrisdegnan #dearmke

A photo posted by DearMKE (@dearmke) on

 
It’s a favorite for a reason! The striking Santiago Calatrava-designed Milwaukee Art Museum is one of the city’s most iconic and photogenic buildings. 
 
 

Taking moments to notice the beauty all over in the city with @ben_kral #dearmke

A photo posted by DearMKE (@dearmke) on

 
If clean, modern lines aren’t really your thing, you’re in luck – Milwaukee is filled with beautiful historic buildings just waiting to be captured by your lens.
 
 

Have a wonderful Monday #Milwaukee! #dearmke (thanks for the positivity @andrewhess2 )

A photo posted by DearMKE (@dearmke) on

 
What’s not to love about public art? Murals and outdoor sculptures give a city a personality all its own. Milwaukee’s RiverWalk is lined with sculptures, and you’ll find colorful murals like this one adorning several downtown buildings.
 
 

Lake Michigan was angry yesterday �� (��: @crconnell89) #dearmke

A photo posted by DearMKE (@dearmke) on

 
Milwaukee is right on the coast of Lake Michigan, so there’s plenty of opportunity to get some great nature shots without having to leave the city.
 
 
 

Amazing capture by @sheaavril �� #dearMKE

A photo posted by DearMKE (@dearmke) on

 
The golden Hoan Bridge that stretches across the harbor is another favorite photo spot, especially at sunset.
 
 

Ice cream... Correction *custard* is always a good idea. #dearmke

A photo posted by DearMKE (@dearmke) on

 
Ah yes, the classic food shot. Even if you’re not usually the kind of person who refuses to take a bite of your meal until you get the perfect shot, it’s still worth your time to get a snapshot of some local delicacies like custard or cheese curds.
 
Check out DearMKE.com to see more photos from locals showing off their Milwaukee pride – you’ll get some great inspiration from these talented local photographers! And make sure to share your own Milwaukee adventures with #VisitMKE.
 

 

 
Vegetarian and Vegan Dining in Milwaukee

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Monday, April 18, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee
Couple eating at Bel Air Cantina
 
You may think of cheese and bratwurst when you think of Milwaukee, but there’s no shortage of delicious vegetarian and vegan food being served up in our restaurants! Milwaukeeans love their local food, and you’ll find fresh farm-to-table favorites all across the city. Most restaurants offer vegan and vegetarian entrées, but the variety available at these local spots make them favorites for veggie lovers and omnivores alike!
  • Colour Palate – Enjoy specialty salads and wraps or build your own at this café conveniently located right downtown! All dressings are vegetarian, with several vegan options.
  • Bel Air Cantina – The city’s home for Mexican food with a twist offers several creative vegetarian and vegan tacos incorporating soy chorizo, grilled cauliflower and more.
  • Fuel Café – Fuel up in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood with vegetarian and vegan sandwiches, paninis, burritos and more, including their famous homemade vegan chili on the weekends.
  • Outpost Natural Foods Co-Op – Get your shopping done at this local co-op or just stop at one of their in-store cafes for delicious from-scratch, organic vegetarian and vegan meals.
  • Comet Café – This popular local diner focuses on from-scratch comfort food. There are lots of vegan and vegetarian entrees on the menu, and you can sub field roast in on any of their sandwiches for just $1.
  • Casablanca – In addition to vegetarian options on the regular menu, this Middle Eastern restaurant is a must-visit spot for their vegetarian lunch buffet, available Monday-Saturday.
  • Ian’s Pizza – There’s always a featured vegetarian slice on the menu at Ian’s, and many of their famous specialty pies (including the best-selling Mac n’ Cheese pizza) are vegetarian and can be made vegan.
  • Wolf Peach – Experience Milwaukee’s small plates scene through the vegetarian and vegan-friendly menu at this farm-to-table restaurant. In addition to an off-site farm, much of the produce and garnish is grown at their on-site garden.
Where do you go for the best vegetarian and vegan food in Milwaukee? Let us know!

 

 
Retro Dining & Drinking in Milwaukee

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Friday, April 01, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee

Cocktail at Bryant's Cocktail Lounge

Milwaukee is a city that honors its history, so it should come as no surprise that classic favorites like diners, supper clubs and cocktail lounges are still thriving alongside the innovative restaurants that make up the city's new-school dining scene. If you're looking to party like it's 1938 or just want a killer #ThrowbackThursday post, don't miss these retro-fab dining and drinking establishments while you're in town.

Founded in 1942, Miss Katie’s Diner is a 1950s throwback serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner along with a full cocktail menu. Start off your flashback day with their famous corned beef hash for breakfast.

From the relish tray to frosty ice cream drinks, the supper club is a Wisconsin institution that locals have loved since the 1930s. Get a taste of the classic supper club experience at Five O’Clock Steakhouse, serving up supper club staples like the relish tray, fresh salads prepared tableside and, of course, premium steaks since 1946. Travel & Leisure described this steakhouse as a “classic supper club setting with a Mad Men vibe.” Or try Joey Gerard’s, a new restaurant with nostalgic feel. This Hollywood-style supper club brings traditional favorites to modern families, including an impressive menu of ice cream drinks.

If cocktails sound more tempting, don’t miss Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, a local gem open since 1938. A semifinalist for the James Beard Awards’ “Best Bar Program” (2013), Bryant’s repertoire includes over 450 specialty and classic cocktails, but you won’t see any menus in this stylish, intimate lounge. Instead, let one of the knowledgeable bartenders on staff use your preferences and tastes to guide you to the perfect drink. Up on the East Side, drink in vintage style at Vitucci’s. This cocktail lounge has been family-owned for 80 years!

Want to throw it back even farther? Learn more about Milwaukee's old school bar scene - including the oldest tavern in the city (built in 1850!).

 

 
How to Travel Solo in Milwaukee

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee
 
No travel buddy? No problem! More and more travelers are discovering the fun and adventure of traveling solo. It can be intimidating to plan your first unaccompanied trip to a new city, but once you catch the bug it can be hard to find a travel experience that matches the freedom and adventure of going solo! Here are a few tips for what to do alone in Milwaukee.
 
Museums
Museums are the perfect spot to visit as a party of one. How many times have you been entranced by an exhibit or piece of artwork only to be dragged away by an impatient friend (or been the one trying to keep a pokey buddy on the move)? No thanks! When it’s just you, you can enjoy at your own pace. The Milwaukee Art Museum recently completed a full renovation of their galleries and nearly doubled the number of works on view (and added a coffee shop and wine bar – the perfect spot for a little solo chill time!). At the Milwaukee Public Museum, local favorite exhibit “The Streets of Old Milwaukee” is newly updated for a more immersive look into Milwaukee’s past; pop your headphones on and check out the Streets of Old Milwaukee app for ever-changing stories from turn-of-the-century Milwaukeeans.
 
Outdoors
Communing with nature is the perfect one-on-one activity: just you and the great outdoors. And Milwaukee’s urban outdoors are pretty darn great – with Lake Michigan, three rivers, more than 150 state and county parks and more than 130 miles of bike trails, there’s an option for everyone. Rent a kayak to explore Milwaukee’s waterways, hop on a bike (if you didn’t bring one, check out Bublr Bikes, the city’s bikeshare system) or just take a stroll. Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead (of Central Park fame), Lake Park is a local favorite spot for nature lovers and photographers thanks to waterfalls, stunning stone bridges and historic Northpoint Lighthouse. 
 
Dining
Eating out is often the most intimidating part of a solo trip, but it doesn’t have to be! If you’re shy about being alone at a sit-down restaurant, cafes and counter service restaurants are great options. Colectivo Coffee has been handmade in Milwaukee since 1993, and no one will look twice if you’re sitting along with a book or laptop at one of their thirteen local cafes enjoying a cup of coffee, soup, sandwiches or baked goods locally baked at their Troubadour Bakery in Bay View. During the summer, sidle up to a food truck for a delicious meal on the go to be enjoyed in any local park (tip: check Twitter to find out local truck schedules…they tend to travel in packs!). Or get a little braver: many popular local restaurants serve a full menu at the bar (and at some, that’s the only place to get a seat without a reservation!), so belly up for great farm-to-table eats at places like Braise and Wolf Peach, or retro-style counters at Comet Café and Miss Katie’s Diner.
 
Nightlife
If you’re the artsy type, use your solo status to your advantage to pick up some last-minute show tickets; pairs and groups are out of luck when it comes to snagging that one awesome seat that’s left! Milwaukee’s arts and theater scene boasts a Grammy-winning opera company, a world-class symphony, a nationally-acclaimed ballet company and an array of professional dance and theater companies performing at venues all across the metro area. Or if you’re more interested in trying some of Milwaukee’s local libations, a craft cocktail bar is the perfect place for a solo traveler. Like-minded patrons and knowledgeable bartenders make great company. Try Distil, Milwaukee’s House of Bourbon, for carefully crafted cocktails and an impressive spirits list. Or visit the tasting room of Great Lakes Distillery and Central Standard Craft Distillery, where you’ll sip on cocktails made with liquors distilled on-site.
 
What's your favorite solo hangout in Milwaukee?

 

 
A Beginner’s Guide to Cheese Curds

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Monday, February 22, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee
 
If you’ve never been to Milwaukee, you may not know what to expect when you see “cheese curds” on the menu at the local watering hole. If you don’t know, you don’t know what you’re missing – and that simply will not do. This quick crash course in the quintessential Milwaukee bar food will have you confidently ordering a basket of curds next time you find yourself in Milwaukee craving something cheesy, gooey, salty and oh-so delicious.
 
What is a cheese curd anyway?
A cheese curd is a small, fresh, springy piece of cheese. During the cheese-making process, the curds are separate from the whey – these bits of cheese can be pressed into a nice block of cheddar or eaten as-is. Cheese curds are mild and slightly salty, and you can tell they’re fresh when they squeak between your teeth!
 
They actually squeak?
Sure do!
 
Okay…so I’m supposed to eat them raw?
Not necessarily! A squeaky cheese curd is a thing of beauty, but we all know there’s one surefire way to make anything better: deep fry it! Battered and fried cheese curds are a staple of bars, festivals, fairs and pretty much everywhere else in Milwaukee. They’re popularly dipped in ranch, marinara, ketchup…the possibilities are endless!
 
Sounds great! Where can I get a basket of these?
Where can’t you get cheese curds in Milwaukee is probably a better question! (Pro tip: museums generally don't have any.) You’ll find curds on the appetizer menu at many local bars and restaurants, but here are a few recommendations for great places to try this local classic:
  • Clock Shadow Creamery: Get it straight from the source for the ultimate in squeaky cheese. If you want to take a tour, try to come on Wednesday or Friday morning…that’s when they make the curds!
  • Wisconsin Cheese Mart: Order some fried curds for here at the on-site Uber Tap Room, then pick up a few packages to take home with you.
  • Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub: These traditional fried curds (pictured above) are a great introduction to what drives locals crazy for curds.
  • Lakefront Brewery: Served in the brewery's German-style beer hall, these curds are dipped in a beer batter from Lakefront’s own Eastside Dark, a Bavarian dark lager.
  • Dream Dance Steak: Try this upscale take on the classic curd with “cheese curd fritters” topped with tomato jam.
  • The Iron Horse Hotel: Unique tempura-battered curds are on the menu at this boutique hotel's on-site restaurants, Smyth and Branded.
Help us out, locals -- who serves up your favorite cheese curds?
 

 

 
Offbeat Date Ideas

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Monday, February 08, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee

Laser tag at Bounce Milwaukee

You aren’t the white tablecloth and candlesticks type. You’ve sent (or received) enough red roses to do your own American Beauty impression. You’ve eaten enough chocolates that you’re starting to feel like Augustus Gloop. Whatever the reason, you just aren’t feeling the tried-and-true options to say “I love you” anymore (if you ever were in the first place) – and that’s fine! Why not try one of these offbeat Milwaukee date ideas instead?

  • Relive your childhood with laser tag, inflatables, vintage arcade games (all on free play!), a rock climbing wall and more at Bounce Milwaukee. Best of all, Bounce becomes a 21+ adults-only playground on Friday and Saturday nights (and yes, they have a bar).
  • Romantic dinner? It’s been done. Progressive dinner? New and exciting! Instead of picking one spot for your date night, pick three. Start off with drinks and apps, head to a second location for your main course and finish off the night with dessert. This way you can assemble the ultimate dining experience. (Not sure where to start? Click here for some dining ideas and inspiration!)
  • This museum scavenger hunt was originally intended for families, but why not see if you and your partner can tackle it all? Milwaukee’s museums are fun for all ages, so get out there and start exploring.
  • No longer consigned to the basement, play some ping pong at Evolution Milwaukee. Unlike that underground rec room, this high-energy spot has a full bar, food and there’s no need to chase after rogue balls – a staff member will scoop them up and refill your bucket when necessary. Ping pong upgraded.
  • A date at a brewery doesn’t really seem “offbeat” to most Milwaukee residents, so take it from the locals – a brewery or distillery tour is way more fun than just grabbing a drink, and you might even learn something too.
Forget the diamonds and have a fun, creative date night in Milwaukee. (Looking for some more traditional romantic ideas? We’ve got those too!)

 

 
How to make a Milwaukee Bloody Mary

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Monday, January 25, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee
Over the top Bloody Mary from Sobelman's Pub & Grill
 
The Bloody Mary is no joke in Milwaukee. A limp stick of celery as a garnish? Not here. This iconic brunch beverage is turned up to eleven at Milwaukee eateries, topped with everything from mini-burgers to bacon, lobster claws to sushi rolls and everything in between. 
 
Sobelman’s Pub and Grill is famous for their over-the-top Bloody Marys (including the Chicken Fried Bloody Beast pictured above)…learn how to make a classic Sobelman’s Bloody in this video:
 
 
Don’t stop your exploration of Milwaukee’s over-the-top Blood Mary scene here! You can take a walking tour of the Third Ward’s best Bloodys with Milwaukee Food Tours, or check out some of the inventive Bloody Marys at these brunch spots on your own – don’t forget to order a “beer back,” a miniature beer to sip alongside your Bloody.
 
  • Asian ingredients like soy sauce and sake flavor the drinks at Screaming Tuna  – some even come topped with a sushi roll.
  • Home of a famous lobster dinner special, you can still get a lobster claw poking out of your Bloody when you brunch at St. Paul Fish Company in the Milwaukee Public Market.
  • At AJ Bomber’s, your Bloody Mary is basically a burger in a glass, with mustard and “Bomber” sauce in the mix and muenster cheese wrapped in a thin burger patty (and some bacon) to top it off.
  • Try County Clare for some Irish flair – the garnish on this drink includes a house-pickled red potato!
  • Looking for bold flavor? Smyth at the Iron Horse Hotel makes a powerful Bloody featuring horseradish, steak sauce and Guinness.
  • The Lowlands Group is famous for inventive Bloody Marys; you’ll find a variety of exclusive options on the menu at each of their five European-inspired Grand Cafes.
  • Smoke Shack’s signature Bloody Jack is made with Jack Daniels instead of vodka and spiced with barbeque sauce.
  • At the Wicked Hop, your drink comes crowned with a distinctive wreath of mozzarella whips.
The list goes on and on…who serves your favorite Milwaukee Bloody Mary?

 

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