Milwaukee, Wisconsin is best known for its German beer culture, its waterfront festivals, and for those of a certain age, TV’s Laverne and Shirley. Yet, scratch the surface and you’ll find a host of interesting and personal ways to interact with MKE. Here are a few of my Milwaukee travel favorites.
Bozwell Books, of Course
Book lovers in particular should put Bozwell Books, Milwaukee’s famous independent bookseller, at the top of their list. Bozwell, named after James Boswell, the eighteenth-century British biographer, offers friendly and extremely knowledgeable staff and sponsors scads of author readings, signings and events. It’s the kind of bookstore where you want to wander, browse and then settle in for a while. You can’t leave without chatting about books and buying several.
Pfister Hotel Literature and Art
Speaking of literature, I discovered that the gorgeous Pfister Hotel, which celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, offers art experiences that showcase Milwaukee’s own talent. The Pfister Narrator, a literary artist in residence, hosts seasonal mini-events with book themes, a modern take on a book club, and story prompts for guests and the entire community. There’s a new narrator every year. The current narrator, Nicole Mattke, shares her experiences on the narrator blog.
The Pfister exhibits its extensive Victorian art collection – the largest of its kind of any
hotel in the world – throughout the hotel. And, they host a popular Artist-in-Residence program currently featuring fashion designer Stephanie Schultz. She specializes in historically-inspired couture, a natural fit amidst the hotel’s Victorian art. Watch and interact with her in a working studio and gallery that is open to hotel guests and the public.
Radio Milwaukee 88.9
Radio Milwaukee, an on-air, online, onsite public radio station, uses music as a bridge to bring together the city’s diverse citizens. Jordan Lee, describes the station as “a town square.” For visitors to Milwaukee, Thursday is the big day at Radio Milwaukee because they offer building tours at 4:30 and live concerts from local and visiting musicians. The tour starts in the performance space and include the building’s Green Roof which offers views of the Hoan Bridge, Marcus Amphitheater, Walker’s Point and downtown Milwaukee. After the tour you’ll enjoy live performances at 6:00 and hit the Stone Creek Coffee’s Radio Milwaukee Cafe for coffee, wine and beer and food.
Museums and Motorcycles
Two more well-known Milwaukee destinations are must-dos. Located on the shore of Lake Michigan, the fabulous Milwaukee Art Museum is my favorite place in the city. Burke Brise Soleil (the “wings”) opens at 10 a.m., flap at noon, and close when the Museum closes, as weather permits. The museum is known for modern art, and outstanding collections of folk and Haitian art. I was recently there for that museum’s Art in Bloom, which made the snow- in spring weather bearable.
Finally, tour the Harley-Davidson Museum, with its rows of historic motorcycles for a full throttle experience. Even if you’re not a “hog” afficianado, it’s a fascinating view of Harley history and motorcycle culture in the U.S. Look for special events and activities this year as Harley-Davidson celebrates its 115th anniversary Labor Day weekend.