By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Mar 17, 2010 at 8:17 AM

March Madness is here, and the basketball action heats up in Milwaukee this week as the Bradley Center hosts the Midwest and West regional rounds of the "big dance." With fans flocking from near and far, the editorial staff at thought we'd help greet our new visitors with a week's worth of features and guides to everything that makes our city a great place to visit.  It's "Welcome to Milwaukee Week" at

Harley-Davidson Museum
400 W. Canal St., (414) 287-2700

Harley-Davidson's history spans 107 years in Milwaukee, but the museum dedicated to it is a much newer local institution. The Harley-Davidson Museum opened in 2008 on a 20-acre plot in the Menomonee Valley, an historically industrial area near Downtown.

Fittingly, the industrial architecture of the 130,000-square foot complex was crafted to reflect and complement the feel of the neighborhood and features exposed brick, steel beams and glass wall that allows for a lot of natural light.

The museum is home to more than 450 motorcycles and its exhibits display engine parts, photographs, videos and advertising materials that trace the roots of a company that celebrates its history like few others.

When to go: The museum is open Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Cost: Adult tickets cost $16; children (5-17) cost $10. H.O.G. members, seniors, military and students pay $12.

Attractions: The first floor features famous bikes from pop culture, such as replicas of the "Easy Rider" bikes, Elvis Presley's first motorcycle (complete with paperwork on which Presley's job is noted as "self-employed vocalist") and customized bikes such as "King Kong," a 13-foot monstrosity that brings a smile to everyone who drifts past it.

Other highlights include interactive exhibits, video and a gallery dedicated to racing and hill-climbing bikes, complete with a portion of a dramatically banked velodrome. The second floor Motorcycle Gallery is especially impressive, as a building-length procession of bikes allows you to visualize the company's evolution.

Don't miss: Among the motorcycles on display is a circa 1903 bike with serial No. 1. It's believed to be the oldest Harley-Davidson bike in existence, but company historians aren't certain whether some of the parts came from 1905. Impressive, nonetheless.

Where to eat: Motor is the museum's main restaurant featuring a menu crafted from bold, hearty, Americana cuisine inspired by the open road. The dining room boasts long, steel communal tables, a room partition welded out of bike parts and spare metal, bar stools with built-in helmet hooks and walls of windows looking out over the canal.

Cafe Racer is the more casual of the two restaurants and offers great grab-and-go items for breakfast, lunch or a light dinner.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”