Depending on how raucous your Friday night was, you might want to hit the snooze alarm a few times on Saturday morning. If you’re raring to go, though, why not start the day right at the obviously-named Brunch on Wells and Plankinton?
Before or after, make sure to take a quick pic with the Bronze Fonz just across the Milwaukee River. Yes, we have a statue of Arthur Fonzerelli of Happy Days on one of our most picturesque points. Turning around, you can see the beautiful Pabst Theater and glimpse the Milwaukee City Hall, once the 3rd tallest building in the nation and featured prominently in the opening scenes of Laverne and Shirley.
Drive or walk down to the lakefront for a stroll through Lakeshore State Park, grab a glimpse of the impressive Discovery World (and the Dennis Sullivan schooner), and the iconic Calatrava-designed Milwaukee Art Museum. If you’re an art fan, stop inside for an astounding collection. If not, cross the pedestrian bridge above the museum towards downtown to Wisconsin Ave. A jaunt down this main thoroughfare will take you past the tallest buildings in the state, as well as a unique, castle-esque Milwaukee Federal Building. Across the street is the historic (and haunted) Pfister Hotel, with a wonderful artist-in-residence workshop on the first floor open to visitors.
Take Wisconsin until you hit Broadway, then hang a left to head south. You’ll pass a classically-restored Hilton Garden Inn. A quick stop in to look around the lobby and dazzling center staircase is all you’ll need. Across Michigan Street to the south are the twin Mitchell and Mackie Buildings, the latter also known as The Grain Exchange. If it’s open today, take a quick peak inside the grand ballroom on the second floor. When you come back out, stop into the Swingin’ Door Exchange for a retro Milwaukee bar experience. We recommend a tall glass of Schlitz and their signature vermouth carrots. But save some room for our next stops.
Follow Broadway south under the I-94 overpass, to enter the chic Historic Third Ward. You won’t be able to miss the Milwaukee Public Market on St Paul Avenue. Spend some time wandering the stands here: grab some lunch from the numerous food options (get the freshest seafood in town at St Paul’s Fish Company), take home some local goodies from Kehr’s Candies or Brew City Brand, or take a load off your feet with a beer at the hidden Cutting Room Bar behind Nehring’s Family Market or a glass of vino at Thief Wine.
We recommend taking a stroll down Broadway, Milwaukee St (1 block east), or Water St (1 block west) through the Third Ward just to take in the feel of the buildings. This historically Italian neighborhood was destroyed by a fire and rebuilt almost completely within a few years, thus the buildings are almost all of the same style. If you’re a high-end spender, or just window-shopper, you could spend all day on these blocks. Quick stops at Broadway Paper Company, Hot Pop, or Too Much Rock For One Hand are good for perusal-ers.
In the late afternoon, you have to go to a brewery. It’s mandatory when you visit Milwaukee. You can see all the options on a map right here, but the big hitters are Lakefront, Milwaukee, and of course Miller. Drive or take a cab/Uber/Lyft to any of them.
Depending on your Saturday night mood, Milwaukee’s got you covered:
All photos by Joe Powell for The Squeaky Curd.