By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Jun 16, 2005 at 5:26 AM Photography: Jeff Sherman

Jazz in the Park is a popular and relaxing way to spend a Thursday night in the summer, but if you've ever tried to park anywhere really close Cathedral Square, you might need some of that wine just to unwind from the experience.

Fortunately, a few local bars are trying to make the experience a little easier.

Each Thursday all summer long, Swig (with a little help from, is offering free valet services they're calling "Swig in the Park."

"People can stop at the bar, pick up a bottle of wine to go, and we'll park their cars for them," says Joe Sorge, owner of Swig (1227 N. Water St.). The bar will also act as an after-event stop, featuring drink specials after Jazz in the Park, including 20 percent off any bottle of wine and $2 off all Ketel One martinis.

"The idea came from our guests," says Sorge. "They found our atmosphere to be similar to what they were experiencing at Jazz in the Park, and asked us how we could combine the two." The bar also offers the same deal for Wednesday's River Rhythms at Pere Marquette Park.

A little farther south, The Wicked Hop (345 N. Broadway) also offers a twist on its regular Thursday night specials. Working with the Milwaukee Trolley Loop, their plan has you parking your car at the bar, stopping in for a pre-jazz drink and dinner, and receiving a free trolley pass. Around the corner on Water Street, you can take a scenic ride through downtown and hop off at Cathedral Square to catch Jazz in the Park.

Afterwards, get back on the trolley at Mason and Jefferson Streets and return to The Hop to redeem your trolley pass for half off a glass of the featured wine, two-for-one tap beer or half off an appetizer. Live music on Thursday nights keeps the party rolling.

Here are some other parking options for Jazz in the Park:

  • Milwaukee Street has several valet parking options. Hotel Metro, Eve, Saketumi, Cubanitas and the other restaurants and clubs on the street offer valet for the night at $5. The catch may be that you must stop at one of the venues for the pre-Jazz cocktail.

  • Plenty of good street parking is still available, folks. Seriously -- drive past the Park East Hotel or the Pleasant and Astor Streets area. There are usually several street spots (meters don't have to be plugged after 6 p.m.).

  • It's the only parking structure at a local mall, and The Shops of Grand Avenue structure offers right-off-the-freeway parking.

  • Cathedral Place, the still shiny office and condo tower at the corner of Wells and Jackson Streets overlooking Cathedral Square, has a 1,000-car parking garage. They have special Jazz rates. It's only $5 starting at 5 p.m.

  • The System Parking Lot off Jefferson Street, in the same building as Los Mitos, 770 N. Jefferson St., will set you back $5 (special Jazz rates start at 4 p.m.). It's an easy walk, though, since it's only a block and a half from the park.

  • It's a very easy walk from The Pfister Hotel to Jazz, and parking in the hotel's ramp, if it's not full, is only $6.

  • The Historic Third Ward Structure on Water and Chicago Streets is only $4 if you get in between 4 and 7 p.m., and free after 7 p.m. It's about a mile walk, but it's a lovely stroll on a summer evening.

  • Each 1/2 hour costs $2 at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee ramp, and if you are there for more than five hours it's $16. On some event nights, special rates apply. It's a five-block walk.

  • Depending on the evening's temperature, parking along Lincoln Memorial Drive might be a good option. It's a nice walk and you get to gawk at the Milwaukee Art Museum's wings as you cart your wine and picnic basket to Cathedral Park. The War Memorial surface lot is usually open at special posted rates for events too.

  • Prefer a structure on the Lakefront? Use the $5 flat rate at O'Donnell Park Structure, 910 E. Michigan St. The walk is only four blocks.

  • The various MSOE athletics teams take turns selling the lots on State Street for Jazz. On a recent visit, MSOE's softball team was pitching parking in its State Street lots between Jackson and Milwaukee Streets for $5-$10, depending on weather and demand. These are primo spots, and the teams use your money to fund new uniforms and equipment. Other athletic teams will be out on other Jazz nights, as well as during Bastille Days and Summerfest, during which they also open a lot at Highland and Broadway.

  • Want a really easy way to go? Ride your bike!

Don't think that we are giving you all of our parking secrets, so please use the exclusive OMC talkback feature if you'd like to share your favorite Jazz parking spot.

- Sarah Nelson, Julie Lawrence and Jeff Sherman contributed to this article.