Two-Day Getaway to Milwaukee | Midwest Living

Two-Day Getaway to Milwaukee

Brew City maintains ties to its German heritage (beers and brats, anyone?) while celebrating the present at an iconic art museum and fantastic festivals along Lake Michigan in the state’s southeast corner.
Milwaukee's largest festival, Summerfest, brings rock, pop, country and blues acts to play on 11 stages.
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Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub
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Pabst Theater
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Splash Studio
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Pfister Hotel
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Day 1

Snap a photo of the Bronze Fonz (from TV’s Happy Days) on the RiverWalk.

Grab a slice of hot pizza at Pizzeria 3301 after the Palermo’s Pizza Factory Tour.

The Historic Third Ward encompasses a 20-square-block neighborhood of 1890s warehouses filled with boutiques, galleries and cafes. One highlight: Milwaukee Public Market, an indoor collection of specialty vendors.

Relish dinner at Coquette Cafe, known for high-end service and pork chops with mustard spaetzle, before turning in at The Iron Horse Hotel (from $249).

Day 2

Colectivo Coffee serves smoked salmon breakfast sandwiches and great joe.

The 20-acre Harley-Davidson Museum campus is a must-see for its hands-on exhibits and nine Harleys to “ride” past Midwest farms and rivers.

Art-lovers appreciate the 90-foot-high vaulted ceiling and 217-foot moveable sunscreen wings that sweep over the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Craft beers and burgers pair at casual-cool Stack’d Burger Bar. Some festivals, such as Irish Fest and German Fest, reflect the city’s heritage, but the largest and best-known is Summerfest, over July 4th.

Don’t-miss Milwaukee

Plate-filling pannenkoeken (a cross between a crepe and a pancake) at Cafe Benelux tastes even better when topped with apple and cinnamon.

Learn about Pabst Brewing Company on two tours: See Frederick Pabst’s 1890s Flemish Renaissance Pabst Mansion, and then enjoy beer history in the Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery.

Scope out architecture and views from Lake Michigan on a cruise with the Milwaukee Boat Line.

If you haven’t filled up on hot dogs at a Brewers baseball game in Miller Park, stuff yourself with sausages or whole grilled trout at Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub.

More information: (800) 554-1448;

Five great places to take in culture

1 Splash Studio At this bar-art studio in the Historic Third Ward, participants follow along with staff artists to create paintings while sipping wine. (414) 882-7621;

2 Mader’s The recipes are as German-centric as they come; try the Wiener schnitzel or Bavarian bratwurst with sauerkraut. Open since 1902, Mader’s wealth of art and antiques establishes a high-class tone and turns dinner into a gallery visit. (414) 271-3377;

3 Marcus Center for the Performing Arts Broadway and off- Broadway shows find a home here, as do kids’ activities and community events. (414) 273-7121;

4 Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra For more than 50 years, the orchestra has garnered critical acclaim. This year’s lineup includes Bolero and Romeo and Juliet; digital downloads of live concerts bring another way to enjoy the music. (414) 291-7605;

5 Milwaukee Ballet and Pabst Theater Patrons sit in awe of ballets and soak up history in this German Renaissance Revival-style building designed by Otto Strack and funded by the famed beer magnate Frederick Pabst. (414) 286-3663; | (414) 902-2103;

One big party

Known for its clam chowder, oyster bar and bloody marys on Sundays, Barnacle Bud’s Fish Shack, with a view of the Kinnickinnic River and outdoor patio, is a summertime oasis. Try the grouper fish fry served with coleslaw, fries and chowder; wash it down with the Dumpster Punch, a mix of vodka, rum, liqueurs and juices. (414) 481-9974;

Stay to remember

Milwaukee’s grand Pfister Hotel successfully marries 19th-century elegance with luxe modern amenities. Unwind in suites known for whirlpools, overstuffed couches, and king-size beds. Some rooms also have marble fireplaces. Ever-changing spa packages and an immense collection of Victorian oil paintings set the romantic ambience. From $179. (800) 558-8222;

By the numbers

There are 36 guitars on display at Les Paul’s House of Sound in the Discovery Museum. Twenty miles west, Les Paul: The Wizard of Waukesha in the Waukesha History Museum honors the hometown musician and inventor of the solid-body electric guitar. (414) 765-9966; | (262) 521-2859;

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