By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 02, 2002 at 5:58 AM Photography: Molly Snyder

Nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan in South Milwaukee is one of the area's best parks, with something for everyone. Grant Park's 381 acres are diverse, from rolling grassy hills, to a sandy beach and wooded ravines traversed by rustic wooden bridges. It is a jewel in Milwaukee's county park system.

Grant Park was established in 1910 when the Fowle family, whose Victorian farmhouse -- built in 1892 -- now serves as the clubhouse on the park's golf course, sold the land to the county.

Like Lake Park, that smaller sister further north along the lake, Grant Park's diversity is what really provides its charm. Most folks enter the park from one of its main entrances. When we lived on an adjacent street, we walked in through a wooded path barely discernable on Lake Drive. After a few dozen yards of lightly wooded path, we'd emerge into a grassy patch near a park drive surrounded by trees. From there, the park's many amenities were at our feet.

There are soccer fields, softball and baseball diamonds, six tennis courts, pavilions available for rent, concessions, paths perfect for hiking or cross country skiing, picnic areas, sand pits for volleyball. The 76 Bike Trail also passes through the park.

In summer we would watch the Independence Day fireworks bursting in the air right above us, the spent cinders landing at our feet. Later in the season, there's the Civil War encampment set up by the re-enactors, bringing a festive feel to the meadows.


When fall comes, the trees in Grant Park are an explosion of colors and the deer really begin to appear. With the snowfall come the cross country skiiers who make their way among the trees of the wooded paths and out into the open where they can do a quick slalom down the small hills that spill down south toward the golf course.

Aah, the golf course. I'm not proud of my childhood days visiting cousins across the street from the course. They'd convince us to join them in creating divots with our heels until the parkies or irate golfers would rightfully chase us away.

The golf course -- 5,213 yards, par-67 -- was designed by architect George Hansen and opened in 1920 as the first course in a Milwaukee County Park. Recently a practice sand bunker was added to help golfer perfect their chip shots.

Follow a wooded path down to the water's edge and, if you can handle the chilly waters, wade out for a swim, or just spread a blanket and catch some rays.

Whatever the season, Grant Park is the kind of place that inspires memories.

Grant Park is at 100 E. Hawthorne Ave., in South Milwaukee. For more information, call (414) 762-1550.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.