Earlier this week, a friend of a friend from Minneapolis e-mailed looking for road trip advice. Planning to come to Milwaukee this weekend, he wanted suggestions on where to stay, where to eat and watering holes not to be missed. More or less, he wanted to know what I'd do if it was my first and only night in Milwaukee.
My mind immediately and uncontrollably rattled off a mental list of all the places I tend to go on and on about to the unknowing; all the places distinguishing Milwaukee from surrounding cities and embracing all that makes Milwaukee surprisingly refreshing to the typical visitor.
But, then I stepped outside myself and realized it'd be best to get a bit more info before accidentally sending this guy, who've I've only had the chance to meet once, to romantic spots if he was coming to Milwaukee with his three male friends.
So, I started to come up a variety of ideal nights on the town; considering the friends you're with, the ambiance you want to create and overall the price you want to pay. Where would you go if you were only in Milwaukee for one night?
I love Milwaukee and so there is a nagging need to ensure I do everything I can so that others see it the same; needless to say, I tried to choose my suggestions carefully. One wrong choice and I know I'll never hear the end of it.
Take a look below at some recommended evenings. Perhaps, not exactly what I would do, but they all include a savory taste of the best Milwaukee has to offer.
Think I missed any? Use the talkback feature below to add in your recommendations or throw out some of mine.
A EUROPEAN TRIP ON THE CHEAP DOLLAR
European classics like Paris, Amsterdam and Venice prove there's something undeniably romantic about strolling through city streets. A stay at the luxurious Hotel Metro and stroll on Milwaukee Street's cobblestone transform this Midwestern city into a foreign affair. In Milwaukee, it doesn't get more European than bicycles waiting outside your window and a cozy, laid back hotel lounge. Embark on tall pints at County Claire followed by dinner at Coquette Cafe and late night chocolate cake or biscotti at Café Brucke. Not exactly within walking distance but well worth the short drive, hit up Trocadero for a breakfast of crepes and stuffed French toast.
THE DIVE BAR DOWNER
Milwaukee's low-key nature and undying support for Pabst Blue Ribbon nourish some of the trendiest dive bars around. Start with the illuminating fluorescent lighting and unbeatable pizza at DeMarini's in Bay View and then head out on a tour of worn leather booths and great jukebox music. Must see's include Burnhearts in Bay View, Jamos off Brady Street, The Foundation in River West, The Swinging Door downtown and North Avenue's Landmark Lanes. Need a place to stay? The renovated Ambassador Hotel boasts great deals on art deco charm.
THE HARD CORE MILWAUKEEAN
Make a day trip to the Harley-Davidson Museum followed by the classic burger at Sobelmann's. A stay at The Pfister is definitely in order; located Downtown, visitors get a sense of the true Milwaukee feel. There's nothing more classically Milwaukee than fish and beer at Lakefront Brewery or coffee at Alterra on the Lake. For nightlife, common recommendations range from espionage at The Safe House or a shot and a beer at The Nomad World Pub to ice cream and alcohol at At Random or homemade brew at the Milwaukee Ale House. Save time and room for late night strawberry shortcake or golden gate cake at Elsa's on the Park.
THE EAST SIDE SEARCHER
Cempazuchi serves up some of the most authentic and best prepared Mexican in Milwaukee. Located on Brady Street, it's the perfect place to finish a day of shopping or start a night out on the town. Home to Boutique Vieux et Nouveau, Detour and Sweet Kicks, pick up some macaroons from Scortino's Bakery to munch on while you shop. Grab a glass of wine at Balzac, cocktail at the Hi Hat Lounge or coffee at Brewed Cafe on Brady St. Plan a night at the Intercontinental Hotel; prime Downtown location and trendy Zen Den Lounge is the motivator to keep going all night long.
THE BEST MILWAUKEE HAS TO OFFER
This would be my Milwaukee recommendation, hands down, I suppose, if I only had myself to consider. Check in for a stay at Milwaukee's newest boutique hotel, the Iron Horse Hotel. Complete with a Harley in the lobby, comfy hotel bar and new take on age old bar food, I'd love a nice stay at the Iron Horse. Stop by the Eisner Museum of Advertising and Design or Milwaukee Art Museum with lunch at the Milwaukee Public Market. Shop at Downtown Books and Chartreuse and grab coffee at Alterra or Stone Creek Coffee. Score a reservation at La Merenda for dinner where you won't be disappointed by the Sambal Goreng Udang, Tostones and Humba. And don't forget the house-made Sangria. Still up for drinks? Embrace the open air at Good Life or cozy up at Redroom.