Your last day in Milwaukee will be a bit more relaxing, regardless of whether you visit one or both of these exciting neighborhoods of Milwaukee:
The near south-side Bay View neighborhood was once its own town, and it still retains a lot of that charm. Expect old hipsters, young families, and a lingering working class feel while you bounce from new-age restaurants to living-room watering holes. Almost everything is situated on KK (that’s Kinnickinnic Avenue for visitors) or east towards the lake.
Grab your morning coffee at Colectivo Bay View or Stone Creek Bay View, local roaster rivals across the street from each other. Other independent options include the tiny Sven’s European Cafe or even tinier Sprocket Cafe. Brunch is an event in Milwaukee, and few do it better than HoneyPie, Cafe Centraal, and LuLu Cafe.
Take a short drive, or better yet a stroll, to the lakefront. Walking up and down Wentworth, Superior, or South Shore Drive you can take in the mix of stately old mini-mansions next to company-town flats. When you hit South Shore Park and the Oak Leaf Trail along the water, stop in for a beer at the recently renovated beer garden and take in one of the best views of the city and lake.
If it’s too cold or rainy by the lake, a stop at some of the other Bay View drinking establishments for an afternoon pick-me-up. Beer-Mecca Burnhearts Bar is a mainstay, as is trendy Boone & Crockett (where Old Fashioneds are served from the sky). Otherwise, a quick matinee movie at the restored Avalon Theater, with it’s beautiful star-filled ceiling/sky.
If you’re in need of a snack, the classic Italian deli at Groppi’s or the overloaded sausages at The Vanguard have you covered. Otherwise, an early dinner at the classy Tenuta’s, daring Goodkind, or classic Little DeMarini’s Pizza could round out the day nicely.
Don’t forget some local souvenirs from Sparrow Collective or Halo Soap. As you say goodbye to your weekend in Milwaukee, we recommend taking the Hoan Bridge from Bay View back towards downtown (I-794 North) for arguably the best view of the entire city.
Lower East Side
Kick off your morning with a coffee at Colectivo Lakefront, off Lincoln Memorial Drive. This converted pumping station gets packed – if so, take your coffee to go and stroll north along the lake towards Bradford Beach. Along the way, take in the mansions overlooking Lake Michigan up on the bluff.
Catch brunch at either the nearby Comet Cafe or Simple Cafe before starting to walk west down Brady Street where it starts at Farwell Avenue. When the Italians moved out of the Historic Third Ward, they settled along Brady Street and its surrounding veiny streets (among Poles and Irish). A Sunday stroll down this avenue, whether window-shopping, stopping along the way, or cruising on local bike-share Bublr Bikes, is common for many Milwaukeeans.
If you didn’t get a coffee before, don’t miss the tiny Dryhootch Coffeehouse, set back off Brady near Humboldt Avenue. This not-for-profit indie shop supports our local veteran population. Across the street, Peter Sciortino’s Bakery will test your ability to say no to fresh cannolis, and you won’t be able to leave Art Smart’s Dart Mart and Juggling Emporium without some sort of knick knack.
A block down Brady, off Astor, is Glorioso’s Italian Market. Pick up a few essentials before plopping down at their small deli counter for the best homemade Italian sandwich you’ve had. Fill in the gaps left in your stomach across the street at Regano’s Roman Coin, a dog-friendly, cash only bar that’s been there forever.
Hop back into your car or call a cab for a beautiful and historic way to finish the afternoon. Start at the corner of Lafayette Place and Terrace Avenue, next to Back Bay Park, and head north along Terrace, slowly. Your car will crawl past the house of past Milwaukee barons and their heirs, most immaculately maintained to this day.
Once you pass the North Point Water Tower, take a right down Wahl Avenue. A few blocks down, at the corner of Wahl and Belleview Place, park the car. Take the Oak Leaf Trail path a little ways down before crossing one of the two iconic Lake Park “lion bridges”. This park, and many in Milwaukee, was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted who also designed Central Park in New York. Once over the first bridge, to your left you won’t be able to miss the North Point Lighthouse. Open 1-4PM on Sundays, it’s worth the small donation fee for a history lesson and a panoramic view of Milwaukee.
All photos by Joe Powell for The Squeaky Curd.