As I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan of seasonal events. As a result of my perpetual lack of time and money, I'm also pretty fond of multitasking.
So, when I got an email about Milwaukee Food Tours' inaugural "Ghouls & Spirits Adult Trick-or-Treat Bus Tour," I was sold at the subject line.
The three-hour tour promised appetizers and drink samples at three local restaurants and bar stops, in addition to historic haunted tales from each stop and the area in general. My ticket was a little pricey at $60, but I knew from experience that these tours deliver some serious bang for your buck (I took a fantastic walking tour through the Historic Third Ward this past May).
Our tour was led by Milwaukee Food Tours' founder, Theresa Nemetz, and started in the Third Ward, traveled through the lower East Side, stopped again in the Downtown area and once more in Walker's Point before returning to our meeting place. Admittedly, this description is a little vague for a review, but the mystery of not knowing quite where you're going or what you'll be treated to is also a signature feature of all the Milwaukee Food Tours. I find it adds an extra aspect of fun to the anticipation, but it also allows Nemetz the freedom to make modifications for those with allergies or other extenuating circumstances.
I should also note that contacting Nemetz with any concerns is refreshingly easy, either before the tour by email, or by phone if you're on your way and stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic (no points for guessing how I know that).
Once the tour was underway my fellow "tourists" and I were given our itinerary and promptly seated for our first of three courses and eerie anecdotes. Service was efficient and very well executed, which did not surprise me. Milwaukee Food Tours is an award-winning company and Nemetz, a Certified Tourism Ambassador, has a winning combination of experience and passion for her work.
What did surprise me, however, was that each of the three stops featured a guest speaker from the location who was on-hand to tell their and their coworkers' first-hand haunted accounts. Their stories added a personalized touch to the general spookiness and definitely gave the tour extra character.
Along the route between stops we were treated to a score of historical tales about reported area hauntings (of which there are many). Nemetz proved once again to be very well researched, timing her retellings expertly as we passed each site and even mixing in some classic Milwaukee history and a quick lesson in "Laverne and Shirley" trivia as we passed along Knapp Street.
Our tour's second and third stops were equally entertaining, offering up two more signature entrees and paired "boo-ze." I was surprised once more when both allowed us to explore the purportedly haunted areas of the buildings, which took us behind the scenes through areas usually restricted to the public.
Overall, I was very impressed with the tour. Being a first-year event, I expected things to hit a couple of snags along the way, but was pleasantly contradicted. There were times I felt things were being rushed along a little too quickly for my taste, but I didn't feel constrained to the point where it ruined my experience.
The Ghouls & Spirits Adult Trick-or-Treat Bus Tour season is over now, but I'm eagerly awaiting the Christmas Around the World Bakery Bus Tour, another new holiday bus tour that will visit a collection of Milwaukee bakeries for fun and festive treat samples this December.
According to Nemetz, planning for next year won't get underway until the holiday tours are done, but if ticket sales and Milwaukee Food Tours' reputation are any indication, this spirited new addition will likely be back for a second year.
Contrary to her natural state of being, Renee Lorenz is a total optimist when it comes to Milwaukee. Since beginning her career with OnMilwaukee.com, her occasional forays into the awesomeness that is the Brew City have turned into an overwhelming desire to discover anything and everything that's new, fun or just ... "different."
Expect her random musings to cover both the new and "new-to-her" aspects of Miltown goings-on, in addition to periodically straying completely off-topic, which usually manifests itself in the form of an obscure movie reference.