Over this past weekend, I attended the Women in Travel Summit (WITS), a conference for women in all aspects of the travel space, or who just simply love to travel. When I bought my ticket back in December, I was less than enthusiastic about the location: MIlwakuee, WI. But hey, another state and city I can cross off my list, right? I never expected to like MIlwakuee. I put it on the same level as some other small midwest towns I had been to for work - they were just kind of...there.
So when I arrived on Friday and got the whole day to walk around and explore, I was shocked to find how cool this small city (It's about half the size of Philly) was.
Brews on Top of Beer
It shouldn't haven surprised me that "Brew City" had some good craft beer, but I didn't quite realize just how much there was in such a small area. I've been on many a beer tour, and for the most part, they are all the same. But then I got to Lakefront Brewery, and damn did they put on a good tour. Their guides are loud, energetic, and absolutely hilarious. Oh, and did I mention that for just $10 you get the tour, 4 sample drinks before, during, and after the tour, AND a souvenir pint glass? AND on Friday's they have their famous Fish Fry which, was surprisingly awesome! #winning
Total New Beers Tried: 6 (I think there might be one more but forgot to log it in) Follow me on Untapped!
All The Food (Minus The Cheese)
Did you know Milwaukee actually has a decent food scene? No? Me either. Home to 9 James Beard restaurants, this city is a mini foodie haven. In addition to the more upscale restaurants, they have some pretty cool brunch spots, and the Public Market has that farmers market feel with fresh food vendors and specialty treats.
The River Walk
I love me a city with some good outdoor space and a place to go for a run. In Philly, it's Kelly Drive. In Chicago, it's the Lakefront Path. In Milwaukee, it's the RiverWalk. While smaller than some other running paths, the RiverWalk is a 3 mile stretch of pedestrian sidewalk that runs along the Milwaukee river. I went for a run Saturday night and aside from being catcalled (happens everywhere, unfortunately), the path was wide enough for multiple people to enjoy the warm spring weather. Along the path, you pass multiple restaurants and bars, including Lakefront Brewery. There is also a statue of The Fonz!
Public Outdoor Space
Milwaukee is home to Veterans Park which sprawls along Lake Michigan's edge with ample green space to sit and read, get a soccer game together, hold a summer festival, or just take a walk. It's filled with picnic tables, trails, and places for go on a boat tour, jet skiing or windsurfing. I can imagine this space is busy and crowded in the summer months when everyone is enjoying the nice lakefront breeze.
Your interactions with the people in the place you are visiting probably hold twice the weight that the attractions or your physical surroundings do. Paris is a gorgeous city, but all my interactions with the French were not positive (I mean, they're French...). But because of those interactions, I don't look too favorably on Paris or France in general.
And as the political climate becomes tenser, and our differences seem to be talked about more than our similarities, I'm always a little cautious and curious when I travel to the middle of the country. Coming from a very blue city, and being liberal myself, I'm always a little anxious what kind of conversations I'll have with people.
To my delight though, all the people I met in Milwaukee were pretty awesome. From the bartender to the hotel concierge, to my uber drivers and the people I spoke to at the bar, everyone was nothing short of polite, friendly, and they all had a great sense of humor.
Overall, my time in Milwaukee was a pleasant surprise. To be honest, I wish I took off completely on Monday so I could have explored more. I didn't make it to the Harley-Davidson Museum which is supposed to be amazing, and I wish I got to spend some more time in the historic Third Ward neighborhood, but the parts that I did get the opportunity to explore were fantastic and I'm glad I got the chance to visit. Thanks, Milwaukee!