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A Beginner’s Guide to Cheese Curds

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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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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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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?


How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

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Happy New Year! With the year properly underway, now’s the time to take stock: how well are you doing on your resolutions? It’s easy to make a vacation an excuse to indulge in things you wouldn’t at home (and we totally support that!), but you don’t have to forget about your resolutions while you’re traveling. Whatever pledge you made to yourself as 2016 dawned, we rounded up a few ways to help you stick to the most common options while in Milwaukee.
Get Active
There’s no reason to skip an outdoor adventure just because of a little chill in the air! Milwaukee was named one of USA Today’s top destinations for urban cross-country skiing, and our award-winning county parks are great for running, walking and biking all year round (I’d maybe leave the rollerblades at home until the ice melts, though.) Plus, Bublr Bikes, Milwaukee’s bike share system, is staying open all through the winter. With a network of more than 20 stations throughout downtown, why not hop on a bike next time you need to get from point A to point B? If outdoors in the winter really isn’t your style, burn some calories inside with a visit to CMP Tactical Lazer Tag, where a multistory cityscape arena takes you inside the heart-pounding action of your favorite video games, or family-friendly Bounce Milwaukee, home to laser tag, inflatable obstacle courses and a rock climbing wall – all open to both kids and adults!
Eat Healthier
Sure, Milwaukee may be known for some of our…more indulgent dining options, but there are plenty of great spots that won’t break your resolve. Located right downtown, Colour Palate lets you build your own custom salad or wrap, or pick from menu options like a classic Caesar, quinoa & corn or the Bombay chop. With four locations throughout the area, Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative is a great place for a healthy meal wherever you are. A full-service grocery store specializing in local, organic and natural foods, Outpost also has an in-store café with made-to-order juices and smoothies and an organic soup and salad bar. The Milwaukee Public Market is a must-visit spot; there’s a wealth of delicious vendors inside, but health nuts will make a beeline for the fresh juices, smoothies, salads and sandwiches at The Green Kitchen.
Learn Something New
You promised yourself you’d pick up some fresh knowledge in the new year – commendable! A brewery tour is classic Milwaukee fun that’s educational too; check out the high-speed production lines of an industry giant on the free tour at MillerCoors, or get a taste (literally) of craft brews at local microbreweries like Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee Brewing Company and Sprecher Brewing Company. For a more hands-on approach, why not try a cooking class? Head into the kitchen with Chef Michael Feker at his culinary studio, get some training at Braise Culinary School or stop by Superior Equipment & Supply for classes for all ages.
Travel More
Hey, this one is a no-brainer: come to Milwaukee! We’ve been named one of the hotspots to visit in 2016 in The Boston Globe, so what are you waiting for? Check out our itineraries for tons of vacation inspiration for foodies, families, beer connoisseurs, couples and more to jumpstart your planning. See you in 2016!


Shopping the Pfister Holiday Marketplace

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By Katy Deardorff
Communications Manager
VISIT Milwaukee

Shopping at the Pfister Holiday Marketplace

The Pfister Hotel is stepping up its holiday game this year with the addition of its first ever holiday market. The Pfister Holiday Marketplace, which is located on the first floor of the hotel, will be open through Dec. 24, 2015 – just in time for you to pick up some last minute gifts.

As I am in need of some local, handcrafted Christmas gifts, I skipped down Wisconsin Avenue to check it out last week. It turns out that the Pfister Holiday Marketplace has the perfect gift for everyone in my life. Here are my top choices:

For my botanical friends:

Planters at the Pfister Holiday Marketplace.

For my MKE downtown dwellers:

Map print at Pfister Holiday Market

For my bird lovers/travel enthusiasts – because if I can’t buy my own airstream, then at the very least, my finches should have one:

Airstream trailer birdhouse at Pfister Holiday Marketplace

For my many dinosaur enthusiasts:

Painted creatures at Pfister Holiday Marketplace

To check out all of the amazing handcrafted gifts by local artists, make sure to check out the Pfister Holiday Marketplace before it’s too late! Do note that the market is not open all of the time, so check your watch before heading over on a lunch break.

From Nov. 28 – Dec. 21
Thursdays – 3:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Fridays – 3:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Saturdays – 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Sundays  – 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Christmas Week Hours
Tuesday, Dec. 22 & Wednesday, Dec. 23 – 3:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 24 – Christmas Eve / Final Day –10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Happy gifting!


Milwaukee Holiday Round-up

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By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee

Milwaukee's Old-School Bar Scene

‘Tis the season for holiday fun! If you’re in Milwaukee this December, there are so many options for making your spirits jolly, whether you’re in the mood for a classic holiday show, something new and a little snarky or getting outside to enjoy the winter air! We’ve rounded up 20 great ways to celebrate the holidays in Milwaukee this month – how many will you do?
  1. Take in the Holiday Lights Festival with a ride on the Jingle Bus or on a walking tour led by your very own holiday elf!  
  2. Taste the treats on a holiday food tour
  3. See a holiday show like the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s A Christmas Carol (celebrating its 40th anniversary this year!)
  4. Or Black Nativity
  5. Or The Nutcracker
  6. Or Second City’s Holidazed and Confused Revue
  7. Or A Wonderful Life: The Musical
  8. Or A Charlie Brown Christmas
  9. Or A Twisted Carol
  10. Or An L.M. Montgomery Christmas
  11. Or Christmas in the Basilica
  12. Or Darlene Love: Love for the Holidays
  13. Go ice skating in the heart of downtown at Slice of Ice in Red Arrow Park
  14. Experience a Victorian Christmas at the Pabst Mansion, halls thoroughly decked for the season
  15. Go even further back to Wisconsin’s immigrant past for an Old World Christmas at Old World Wisconsin
  16. Dine with Charles Dickens at the Dickens Dinner at the Grain Exchange
  17. Visit the Kooky Cooky House, a Milwaukee holiday tradition reborn at Discovery World
  18. Enjoy a stunning light display in the Miller Valley at MillerCoors Holiday Lites
  19. Take a drive through Wisconsin’s largest outdoor drive-through display, Country Christmas
  20. Ring in the New Year with The Crystal Method at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
Still craving holiday cheer? Find more events on!


Weekend Getaways: Milwaukee for Foodies

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Milwaukee for Beer Lovers
Photo Credit: Matt Haas

Expedia and VISIT Milwaukee created a list for food lovers as the final piece in our three-part series.

At, we partnered with VISIT Milwaukee to showcase some of the best places in town for beer lovers and those traveling with families, but what about visitors on a mission to treat their taste buds? Some of the best Milwaukee attractions are those that will have you asking for a second helping, so we rounded up several of our favorite eateries for you to chew on. From avant-garde recipes to seven-course delicacies, we’ve planned out all your meals for your weekend getaway in MKE. When you’re traveling to a place like Milwaukee, where the state’s nickname mentions cheese, you’d better arrive with an appetite.

Milwaukee for Beer Lovers
Photo Credit: Matt Haas

Sit-down Spots

At Wolf Peach, it’s not considered rude to start nibbling on your dish before everyone’s meals are served. This alternative restaurant is committed to a “como viene” or “as it comes” approach, which means the wait staff brings out each dish as soon as it’s cooked to ensure the ultimate freshness. The menu includes a variety of innovative items, many of which are picked straight from its urban garden. Try the slow-poached egg wood-fired pizza, or sample the Buddha baby mustard mix.

While you’re in town, get a taste of what Sanford Restaurant calls “modern ethnic” cuisine, a contemporary twist on traditional dishes. Every Monday through Friday, the sous chef conceptualizes the Four-Course Exploration Menu, and the chef whips up the Seven-Course Surprise Tasting Menu. Prefer to play outside the boundaries? Pick your own dishes off the daily menu—with fennel-dusted beef tenderloin and lamb consommé with shrimp flan, any choice is a good one.

Milwaukee for Beer Lovers

Meals and Wheels

The struggle of deciding between sushi and burritos is over thanks to the Sushi Go food truck. Enter this truck’s specialty: a massive sushi roll, wrapped in a nori, like a traditional burrito. The TunaGeddon is packed with raw escolar and yellowtail tuna, while The Instigator, loaded with marinated flank, is perfect for those who prefer turf over surf. Swing by Schlitz Park on Tuesdays or Central Standard Craft Distillery on Fridays for a Mexican twist on your Japanese favorites.

Also, chase down Yellowbellies when it rolls through town. Famous for its rotisserie chicken sandwiches, this food truck knows just what you’re craving. From the Mother Clucker, served with a blue cheese spread and bacon, to the Hail Hail with Caesar dressing and crumbled croutons, these flatbread sandwiches take lunch to a whole new level.

Some food trucks operate on a seasonal schedule, so check with the individual food truck’s event calendar to ensure they’re serving during your visit.

Milwaukee for Beer Lovers
Photo Credit: VISIT Milwaukee

Lodging Fare

When it comes to deciding where to stay, a comfortable bed shouldn’t be your only criteria. Choose a place like the Iron Horse Hotel, where you’ll be well rested and well fed. The hotel’s on-site restaurant, Smyth, serves exquisite and sophisticated dishes, including duck pate, charcuterie boards and rabbit meatballs.

For those who prefer some variety, consider making reservations at The Pfister Hotel, which boasts a number of dining options. However, you don’t have to stay at the hotel to enjoy the restaurants, such as Mason Street Grill, which uses a wood-burning oven and grill to create its flavorful signature dishes. Dive into the shishito flatbread or savor the bone-in filet mignon. Craving something lighter? Stop in the Café at the Pfister for Wisconsin ham and cheese or a grilled salmon salad.   

Whether you’re a grazer or a devourer, Milwaukee has an eatery for you. Satisfy your appetite by noshing and nibbling your way through the city’s foodie scene on your next trip to the Cheese State.

Written by Chloe Mulliner

Weekend Getaways: Milwaukee for Families

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Expedia teamed up with VISIT Milwaukee for its second post in a three-part series focused on weekend trips to Miltown.

Milwaukee for Beer Lovers
Photo Credit: VISIT Milwaukee

We recently joined forces with VISIT Milwaukee to highlight some of the beer spots in town, but we didn’t want to leave your little ones out of the Cheese State fun. Because there are so many attractions in town that are suitable for your under-21 crew, has created an itinerary filled with family-friendly hangouts, eateries and hotels. For your next weekend getaway in Milwaukee, round up your gang and add these attractions to your schedule:

Milwaukee for Beer Lovers
Photo Credit: Expedia

Activity Time

Discovery World isn’t just for kiddos. The science and technology exhibits at this museum will fascinate both you and your youngsters. A place where you can expand your knowledge and imagination, Discovery World invites you to learn about everything from energy to sound. Explore Rockwell Automation’s Music Factory, and get your hands on the “Wind Leaves,” an outdoor musical structure of rotating aluminum columns and giant xylophone benches.  

Next, burn off some of that built-up vacation energy at the ice rink. Pettit National Ice Center, which is an Olympic training facility, offers public skate sessions, where the whole family can put on mittens and carve up the ice. Show off your figure 8’s or let your kids school you in a speed race. Rain or shine, pencil this indoor activity into your travel itinerary.

Milwaukee for Beer Lovers

Grub Time

If you’re dealing with some picky palates, you can’t go wrong with pizza. Head to Palermo’s Pizzeria 3301, where the simple pepperoni and four cheese pies will have your munchkins asking for seconds. Looking for a little more grown-up oomph for the adults? Order the prosciutto and arugula or go with the Calabrese, which includes Calabrian chili paste, hot soppressata salami and green olives. What’s more, Palermo’s hosts factory tours, giving families a sneak peek into the wonderful world of frozen pizza manufacturing.

For some much-deserved vacation sweetness, treat the fam at Leon’s Frozen Custard. This family-owned business has been serving up the cold stuff since 1942. Go the traditional route with some chocolate and vanilla frozen custard, or kick it up a notch with a butterscotch malt or root beer shake.

Milwaukee for Beer Lovers
Photo Credit: Visit Milwaukee

Sleepy Time

There are a number of family-friendly Milwaukee hotels in town, but if your kids are notorious for bouncing off the walls, consider staying at the Milwaukee Marriott Downtown. This accommodation features an indoor pool, where you kids can make a splash while you put your feet up and lounge. There’s also an on-site restaurant, Millioke - Meat. Cheese. Beer., which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, so your clan won’t go hungry. To top it all off, the hotel is within walking distance of the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Lake Michigan, and the Milwaukee Riverwalk.

Another family favorite is the Hilton Garden Inn. While the spacious hotel is located in the heart of all the action, it also offers a complimentary shuttle, which provides hassle-free transportation to the local attractions. What’s more, The Garden Grille & Bar features a menu that serves up kid-approved meals. With chicken tenders and peanut butter and jelly for the rugrats and grilled steak forestiere flatbread for the grown-ups, this hotel restaurant is a win-win.  

While traveling with children may slightly alter your adult vacation plans, thanks to Milwaukee’s countless attractions, you’ll hardly even notice. Venture to Milwaukee with your pack, and you just might end up feeling like a kid again.

Written by Chloe Mulliner

Looking for even more? VISIT Milwaukee has itineraries made for families of all ages.

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