Milwaukee is sometimes called the “Cream City” for its light-colored clay bricks in its buildings, but many SW Lake County folks miss seeing that detail as they drive up I-94 toward American Family Field for a Brewers game. Instead, do a little exploring. There is more to this great city than just baseball and cheese curds. You have the makings of a perfect day trip.
First stop: the Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM.edu) for natural history with a side of living creatures like sloths and boa constrictor, featured in a “Survival of the Slowest” special exhibit closing May 19. From butterflies to dinosaurs, and from the cobblestones of Old Milwaukee to the canopy of a two-story rain forest, there is something for everyone.
From the museum, make a quick walk down a lonely alley and look for a plain red door near an ornate lantern with a small plaque reading “International Exports Ltd.” There are no other markings to confirm you have arrived at SafeHouse (Safe-House.com). During the day, junior spies will go through their mission log while enjoying eats and treats. On weekend evenings, missions are reserved for spies 21 and over. Just one catch: don’t expect to get in unless you know the password. (No hints here, dear readers!)
After completing a proper meal and mission, move on to research your next assignment. Floor-to-ceiling reads await you at independent bookstore Downtown Books Bought and Sold (DowntownBooksOnline.com). This hidden gem has friendly staff, well organized shelves, and resident cuddly kittens to help you browse. The selection is impressive, and you can easily spend a few hours lost in the stacks.
When it’s time for drinks along the Milwaukee River check out the fantastic Lakefront Brewery (LakeFrontBrewery.com). Tours are offered daily and boast facts, jokes, and a souvenir pint glass with your pours. It’s an easy vibe here, with a large open beer hall with counter service for food and drinks, all of it delicious. The brewery offers ales, stouts, lagers, and IPAs, even a delicious non-alcohol root beer made with real maple syrup. One order of fried cheese curds will not be enough.
According to VisitMilwaukee.org, Milwaukee has more frozen custard stands per capita than any other city. While we enjoy Culver’s here at home, Milwaukee visitors should head straight for local favorite Kopp’s (Kopps.com). Opened in 1950 by Elsa Kopp, the Milwaukee metro area now has three locations scooping frozen custard across a gleaming silver countertop then runs the length of the store. Try the ever-surprising flavor-of-the-day (like German Apple Streusel or Red Velvet Oreo) or stick to classic vanilla or chocolate. Each scoop is served with a triangle-shaped wafer cookie and a smile.
In line for our custard, a lady grabs me and says, “There’s a lot of people in here, that’s how you know it is good.” Then she toasted me with her waffle cone and headed out the door. Cheers to you, Milwaukee: you’re our great neighbor to the north.
There is more to this great city than just baseball and cheese curds. You have the makings of a perfect day trip.