We at OTR had never visited Milwaukee until this trip but a bit of advance reseach convinced us that it would be a good city to spend several days exploring. So after spending a week or so biking and camping in southwestern Wisconsin, we made our way east to the state’s largest city (pop. 595,000).
As some of you may recall, our city visit criteria are well established and straight-forward: third wave coffee and tea cafes, high quality street art, an art museum (or two), an excellent Italian restaurant (and professional baseball is always a plus).
milwaukee Art museum
The Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) and it’s predecessor organizations have been in existence since 1888. The Quadracci Pavilion pictured below was constructed in 2001. The impressive Pavilion with its moveable sail sits on the waterfront of Lake Michigan as the signature work of architecture in the city. http://collection.mam.org/
The MAM has several galleries devoted to modern, pop and abstract art which seems fitting with the architectural style of the Pavilion. The museum collections includes a number of works by major Pop and Abstract icons including Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.
Colectivo Coffee served as our cafe host for our stay in MKE. Colectivo is MKE based with cafes on the waterfront and in the Historic Third Ward. Colectivo is also a force in the roasting business and operates the Troubador Bakery as well.
Colectivo has been in a business for quite a while but clearly has not lost its edge and sits firmly in the realm of third wave coffedom. Our experience was excellent because of the professional baristas, friendly staff, great coffee, tasty sandwiches and treats along with an interesting and comfortable cafe space.
There are other solid third wave coffee cafes in MKE which are worth visiting but for a short stay in town you cannot miss with any of Colectivo’s locations.
MKE provided us with several excellent street murals nicely placed in the Historic Third Ward while the epic mural by @AEROSOLKINGDOM pictured above and below required a short drive down to an industrial area along the waterfront.
As you can see from the photographs there is an eclectic mix of fun and serious art to be found in MKE.
Historic third ward and Riverwalk
The Historic Third Ward District is a former warehouse area which has been revitalized into a thriving entertainment district. There are over 450 businesses in the district. The center piece of the district is the Milwaukee Public Market which houses restaurants, bars, wine shops, live entertainment and retail shops in an large open space.
The district is bounded by the Milwaukee River and the riverwalk which allows pedestrians to stroll along the river and of course provides direct access to the district. Nicely done MKE!
Our recommendations for the district – Onesto for excellent Italian fare, Thief Wine Bar for delicious and very reasonably priced wine, St. Paul Fish Company for fresh fish from the Lake and of course Colectivo Coffee.
Our timing was fortuitous in visiting MKE while the Brewers were at home. The Brewers did not play when we saw them, but have played better since we were in town (won nine of last ten games). Nonetheless, it is always fun to take in a MLB game, particularly in a stadium not previously visited.
The stadium – American Family Field – opened in 2001 and, like the MAM, is architecturally impressive. The stadium has the only fan-shaped convertible roof in the United States – which worked out well for us as rain moved into the MKE area on the afternoon of the day we were attending.
As you can see in the photos below the crowd was sparse as the city was still limiting attendance to 25% of capacity. The bewildering part of the rule was that while attendance was limited there was no social distancing with seating.
We had a great time visiting MKE. The city is a good stop for three to four days, depending on your interests. There are plenty of options with professional sports teams, museums, fine and casual dining and live entertainment.
MKE is also very pedestrian- and bike-friendly with numerous paved paths in downtown and along the waterfront. Also, and very importantly from our perspective, is that the local folks we met were uniformly very friendly and open.
MKE – modern and friendly – worth a visit!
Our next planned post will be based on our travels through Minnesota.
Be seeing you!