I haven't been a parent long enough yet to partake in every memory-building activity that I remember from my own childhood. But as my toddling daughter gets old enough to start to appreciate things like dinosaurs, the Hokey Pokey and flamingos, I'm starting to see Milwaukee through a whole new light -- all over again.
I know this list will grow and grow over time, and I've just scratched the surface. But two years into this journey, I've already relived a few experiences and I can't wait to see more.
Newbie parents, I'd love to hear your stories, too. Please share them using the Talkback feature below:
Milwaukee County Zoo
10001 W. Bluemound Rd., (414) 771-3040
Other than a special event or two, I realized recently that it's probably been about 25 years since I visited the zoo. In that time, plenty has changed, and plenty has stayed the same. That tiny train and the carousel continue to delight, and little kids still go nuts when a peacock goes walking by. I do, however, miss Samson, who died in 1981. Milwaukee truly has an exceptional zoo.
Milwaukee Public Museum
800 W. Wells St., Milwaukee, WI (414) 278-2702
I forgot how much I loved going to the Public Museum, and in many ways, it's exactly how I remembered it as a kid. Sure, the butterfly exhibit and the IMAX weren't there, but the Streets of Old Milwaukee, many of the dioramas and most importantly, the buffalo hunting scene (with snake button) remain intact. Upon returning, I found the museum a little on the dated side, actually, but my nostalgic side was giddy as a kindergartener, and helping my daughter push the snake button filled me with glee. Be aware, though, that MPM isn't cheap. If you want to see a special exhibit like "Frogs: A Chorus of Colors," a ticket will set you back $18.50.
Organ Piper Pizza
4353 S. 108th St., Greenfield, (414) 529-1177
I loved this place as a kid, and I love it as an adult, too. Though, to be honest, my family used to go a different organ piper pizza place as kid (I think it might've been called Pipe Organ Pizza, actually), but I can't for the life of me remember where it was or what happened to it. Still, your kids will go nuts at this place and classically-trained organists take requests (expect to hear the "Star Wars" theme several times a night; some things never change). The pizza, too, is really good, and because the restaurant is so large, you shouldn't need a reservation. Kids of all ages will thank you for introducing them to this new memory.
Of course, there are also some places that I wish I could take my kid that aren't around anymore. They include:
- Farrell's in Northridge
- Showbiz Pizza on Mill Road
- The Public Natatorium with its dolphin show
- Shakey's Pizza
- The ice skating rink at Mayfair
- 41 Twin Drive-In
- Captain's Steak Joynt
Andy is the founder and co-owner of OnMilwaukee.com. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.