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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!


Q&A with Christine Specht of Cousins Subs

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By Katy Deardorff
Communications Manager
VISIT Milwaukee

Milwaukee is proud of its homegrown businesses, from breweries to sandwich shops! Christine Specht, president and chief operating officer at Cousins Subs, was kind enough to take a moment to chat with VISIT Milwaukee about what makes our city’s culinary scene so fantastic.

Q: How do you feel that food and a city’s culinary scene make an impact on a destination?

A: Most major cities offer a wide variety of food and culinary delights so it is important to differentiate from the rest. Milwaukee has a lot of fantastic restaurants that celebrate our German heritage as well as restaurants that speak to what Milwaukee was built on – industrious people who were looking to better their life through hard work. I’d say Cousins Subs certainly tips its hat to those folks. When travelers visit a region, they can learn so much about the people and culture through its restaurants. You can see the diversity of the residents as well as the generations that continue to build on the foundation. In my opinion, the culinary selection a destination has to offer is just as important as a museum, landmark or sporting venue. 

Q: How do you see Cousins making an impact? 

A: I’m proud to say that Cousins was founded right here in Milwaukee by my family and my dad’s cousin in 1972. We celebrate the best Milwaukee has to offer and we understand that the sub sandwiches we serve have to be better. Our products are a nod to the industrious work ethic the city was founded on by being heartier, fresher and more authentic. Our staff serves our guests as if they are an extension of our family. 

Q: Why do you think that Cousins is such a great fit for a traveler? Specifically a family? 

A: Cousins is great for travelers because of the portability of our product. You can very easily take our subs to go so that you get to see all of the fantastic Milwaukee sites. Of course we welcome our guests to visit one of our restaurants to enjoy a cheese steak hot off the grill and don’t forget to pair that with deep-fried Wisconsin cheese curds – a dairy state classic. We are the perfect lunch and dinner spot for families because our subs are completely customizable and will accommodate even the most particular guests. 

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in Milwaukee?

A: My husband and I love to eat at the fabulous restaurants found west of the city to downtown. Residents of Milwaukee are very fortunate to have nationally recognized chefs and specialty restaurants right in their hometown. Not only is it wonderful to experience their creativity but the service is nothing short of warm and genuine.  

Q: What is your favorite family vacation memory?

A: When I was a kid my family would hop in our van and drive to New Jersey for a few weeks each summer. My dad is from Atlantic City so when my grandparents were alive we would stay with them. We would visit my dad’s favorite submarine shop in Atlantic City (the inspiration for Cousins Subs) and we’d also hit the beaches and the boardwalk.  Good times!


5 reasons why you should visit Milwaukee’s Soldiers Home

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By Katy Deardorff
Communications Manager
VISIT Milwaukee


“Care for him who shall have borne the battle…” – President Lincoln

Recently listed as one of Milwaukee Magazine’s “Reasons to Love Milwaukee,” our Soldiers Home is a unique tribute to our city’s history of honoring veterans. With fall dwindling away, now is the perfect time to download the free smartphone walking tour app made available by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, bundle up and get outside before it’s too late.

A historic building part of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home

5 Reasons why you should visit Milwaukee’s Soldiers Home

  1. Milwaukee’s Soldier’s Home is one of the three original Soldiers Homes in the country. Built in 1867, Milwaukee joined Chelsea, Maine and Dayton, Ohio; however, it is the only Soldiers Home that retains the majority of its recuperative village and designed landscape. The Soldiers Home is very much the start of the modern-day Department of Veterans Affairs and its establishment was signed by President Lincoln just before his assassination.
  2. Milwaukee was chosen because a veteran care system was already established by the West Side Soldiers’ Aid Society. In February 1866, the West Side Soldiers Aid Society had provided temporary lodging to more than 16,000 men and served more than 70,000 meals in the previous 13 months.
  3. Originally almost 400 acres, the VA Campus grounds were designed by landscape architect Thomas Budd Van Horn. The grounds became one of Milwaukee’s first city parks and attracted Milwaukee residents each weekend. (The grounds are now 90 acres.)
  4. Old Main, which sits on the highest point of the campus, was the original domiciliary. It was designed to be an all-purpose building for veteran care, including dorms and parlors. The remarkable building has sat vacant since 1988. The rest of the campus was designed to feel like a small village that provided supporting services, such as a recreation hall and library, to veterans.
  5. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance are at work to Save the Soldiers Home. Though many of the Soldiers Home buildings remain in use, some of the largest and most visible – Old Main, Ward Memorial Hall, the Chapel, the Power Plant and the Administration Building – are currently unoccupied and rapidly deteriorating. The National Trust and MPA, in partnership with a broad-based coalition of civic and veteran organizations, have come together to urge the Milwaukee VA Medical Center to renew and restore this living landmark in a way that rehabilitates and reuses the historic buildings on the site, while providing enhanced services to veterans.

For more information about the Soldiers Home, click here. Otherwise, continue the conversation below with your comments. 


Top 10 things to do with your family over the holidays

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By Katy Deardorff
Communications Manager
VISIT Milwaukee

‘Tis the season for holiday travel! Milwaukee is home to great festive events that will get you up and moving into the holiday spirit. Grab your family and friends, a warm winter coat, and your best holiday cheer and check out these top 10 things to do in Milwaukee this holiday season.

1. Hop on the jingle bus and tour Milwaukee’s Annual Holiday Lights Festival starting Nov 20. For just $1 visitors and locals alike can explore thousands of lights and dozens of displays in the downtown area.

2. Be sure to enjoy the holiday lights while riding in style in a cozy mini coach bus and sampling some delicious desserts with Milwaukee City Food Tours Dec 5-22!

3. There’s no better time to catch a show than during this festive season. Experience the magic of Disney’s The Lion King, playing at the Marcus Center for Performing Arts through Dec 7.

4. Witness a classic holiday spectacle with the Milwaukee Ballet’s annual performance of “The Nutcracker” from Dec 13-27.

5. Be sure to catch the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s production of the treasured holiday classic “A Christmas Carol” at the Pabst Theater from Dec 2-24 and watchRep favorite actor Jonathan Smoots debut as Scrooge. It’s certain to fill your heart with cheer!

A performance of A Christmas Carol by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater

6. Get out and enjoy scenic downtown views and have great fun skating with family and friends at the “Slice of Ice” outdoor ice skating rink at Red Arrow Park. Skating is free with your own skates!

7. Too cold outside? Then head to the Petit National Ice Center, a U.S. Olympic Training Center! Don’t miss out on skating with the country’s best.

8. Football may be in full swing, but make sure to get in on the basketball action while in town. Spend a night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center and catch the exciting action happening in collegiate basketball with the Marquette University Golden Eagles or cheer on Jabari Parker and the rest of the Milwaukee Bucks as they bring home victories for Brew City. Nearby, the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena hosts home games for the Panthers.

9. Ring in the New Year with an extravagant dinner at Ardent, a semifinalist for the Nation’s Best New Restaurant Award from the James Beard Foundation Awards.

10. Be adventurous and kick start your new year joining hundreds of locals and visitors as they plunge into the icy waters of Lake Michigan at this year’s Polar Bear Plunge.

Looking for more ideas? Check out Milwaukee for the most up to date happenings in the city! With a variety of ways to filter and find things to do, there’s bound to be something for every family member you’re inevitably hosting. 


Oktoberfest Interviews: Big Head Brewing

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By Katy Deardorff
Communications Manager
VISIT Milwaukee

Sometimes you just have to “spread the love” according to Steve Parkhill, the head brewer at Wauwatosa’s Big Head Brewing Company. When it takes the same amount of time to brew five gallons of beer at home for friends that it does to brew 100 gallons for an entire neighborhood, you choose the entire neighborhood.

The brewery, which opened in Sept. 2013, is located on a State St. corner and the welcoming picnic benches give you a comfortable view of the local crossfitters who are running by while you sip your beer. The location is prime, to say the least. If you’re not interested in watching people work out as you drink, you can turn your attention to the adorable man at the piano or any one of the large-screen TVs for a sports game.

What does a day in the life of a brew master look like? Sometimes your average 8-5 job just doesn’t seem to take enough energy, so Parkhill, who is an engineer at Rockwell Automation, spends two nights a week brewing beer from 6 p.m. to midnight. “I would be doing it anyway if I were at home,” Parkhill said. “So I might as well make more and get it in the hands of more people.”

How did you get started brewing beer? Parkhill moved to Milwaukee about five years ago for work, where he met a co-worker who was big into home brewing. Since that fateful first night spent brewing beer, Parkhill has been’s become a passion.

How does being an engineer translate into being a brewer? It should come as no surprise that brewing beer is hugely technical and scientific in nature (much like engineering). “You have to go into every batch with an intention for what you’d like the beer to be,” Parkhill said. While not at the brewery, Parkhill’s friends and family can find him testing pilot batches in his own kitchen, just like the old days.

What beers do you currently have on tap? “Our new Oktoberfest is like our version of liquid bread,” said Parkhill. The beers change seasonally, but Parkhill tries to make each patron’s time at the brewery a new and unique experience. Local beer enthusiasts can even come in and watch Parkhill brew while enjoying a new pumpkin beer and provide much encouraged feedback.

What’s with the name? “Our owner legitimately had a big head—and in grade school he was made fun of for it,” Parkhill explained. This is apparently an opportunity to get back at the bullies, and, luckily, it applies to beer as well. Nice pun!