An Overnight Getaway to Milwaukee, WI

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We’ve been incredibly busy with work and our weekday evenings have been dominated by coaching and a variety of youth sports – we’re in the season of our lives where time is by far our most precious commodity. It’s why it has taken me almost a week to write this post. It is why our weekend adventures are mainly limited to just overnight excursions, and it is why there are days when I want nothing more than to sell of our belongings and become nomads exploring the world.

We had plans to go camping on Saturday night this past weekend but Mother Nature convinced us to cancel our reservation in Kettle Moraine State Park and book a hotel in downtown Milwaukee instead. We’ve been wanting to check out The Cream City since arriving in Chicagoland and now that we can say that we’ve been to Milwaukee, we’ve been wondering what took us so long.

We drove up after a full morning of softball, baseball, and soccer games. We stayed in the Westown area of downtown Milwaukee and after checking-in around 3pm, we set off on foot to explore the city before our scheduled Milwaukee Brewing Co. tour at 5pm.

We passed the the Milwaukee County Courthouse, which is a huge and forbidding NeoClassical Revival building completed in 1931 that is known as one of the grandest courthouses in the county. However, Frank Lloyd Wright famously called it a million dollar rockpile so the building isn’t universally loved.

We walked around The Brewery, which is one the newest neighborhoods in downtown Milwaukee. Philanthropist Joseph J. Zilber redeveloped the abandoned 21-acre Pabst Brewing Company campus beginning in 2006 and now serves as a residential, office, and retail campus.

After walking around The Brewery, we popped into the Best Place Coffee & Spirits, were Clay and I grabbed cans of some of Milwaukee’s finest and the kids had Sprecher root beer, which is from the oldest brewery in Milwaukee. We sat outside (it was quite chilly) and played 20 questions as we passed the handful of minutes before our reservations to tour the Milwaukee Brewing Co. across the street.

The Milwaukee Brewing Co. offers tours to the public throughout the week. For $15/person (kids are welcomed and free), you get a souvenir glass and unlimited samples for the duration of the one hour tour and the 30 minutes of pub time prior (1.5 hours total).

The tour was excellent! Clay and I enjoyed a sampling of craft beer and the kids had quite the science lesson. Thanks to the tour, Weston can now identify the four core components of beer and is well-versed in the chemistry behind amylase, protease, fermentation, and conditioning.

Our tour guide was funny and extremely knowledgeable and had many interesting tidbits sprinkled into the typical brewery tour spiel.

After the tour we played some corn hole on the outdoor patio and then set off to explore more of the city and find a place to eat a late dinner.

We ended up at the Old German Beer Hall on Old World 3rd St. You can’t really go wrong with pretzels and schnitzel, especially when in Milwaukee for the night.

While cheese curds may not be a traditional Germany Beer Hall item, they are a necessity when in Wisconsin. And these cheese curds were the best we’ve had yet. After dinner we walked back to our hotel and enjoyed absorbing Milwaukee at night. We commented on how much it reminded us of downtown Kansas City, another ‘small’ city we enjoy.

The next morning was Mother’s Day so I was greeted with a cup of hotel coffee in bed….living the dream. We had a quick breakfast at the hotel restaurant, checked out, and set off to explore more of the city.

Milwaukee is not only nestled on the Lake Michigan coast but it also located at the confluence of three rivers. It was a chilly 40 degrees so we didn’t see anyone enjoying the water but from what we’ve heard, Milwaukee is no stranger to water sports in the warmer months.

Our architecture-obsessed son was sure to point out that the US Bank building was the tallest in Milwaukee (and Wisconsin) and the tallest building between Chicago and Minneapolis.

One thing we thought was really cool was Sculpture Milwaukee, which is an annual outdoor exhibit of sculptures throughout the downtown. The initiative is privately-funded and based on the belief that great art has the power to rouse individuals, bring people together, and make Milwaukee an even better place.

Violet enjoyed trying to emulate some of the sculptures.

This one was my personal favorite.

We were cold after walking around the area near the water – Lake Michigan wind chill is no joke! We opted to head back to The Brewery and check out the first tour of the the Best Place at Historic Pabst Brewery of the day. Again – this tour was kid-friendly and involved a pint of beer. Our tour guide was fantastic and extremely knowledgeable about the history of the Historic Pabst Brewery and the beer itself. No beer is brewed at the facility (operations ceased in 1996) – it is now an event space and museum of sorts.

I loved the wall of vintage beer cans. Everything was for sale!

In the bar was the above mural. Translated it reads:

Eat what is done.
Drink what is clear.
Speak what is true.
Love what is rare.

How can you not love that? Our original plans were sidelined by weather but we quickly pivoted and thanks to a last-minute opening at Teddy Girl’s boarding facility, we were able to spend a night in Milwaukee. We can’t wait to do some day trips and hit up a Brewer’s game, check out the Milwaukee Public Museum, and wander around the Milwaukee Art Museum. If you ever find yourself in the Cream City, stay a night or two…you won’t be disappointed!

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