By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Feb 05, 2001 at 12:02 AM

While many travel publications haven't been discovered what a great place Milwaukee is, there are a few books and online travel sites giving Cream City the recognition it deserves.

Milwaukee is only addressed as a side trip out of Chicago, but London-based Time Out can't deny our town's appeal, writing, "While the attractions of Chicago are obvious, Milwaukee is by no means without its charms."

They go on to applaud Brew City for these charms, claiming, "Swathes of the admittedly small downtown area have been redeveloped to pleasing effect -- most notably the Historic Third Ward, which has been developed from dilapidated warehouses into a lovely, boutiquey shopping and dining district - and new businesses seem to be springing up all over."

As far as our cultural scene goes, "Milwaukee's on the up and up."

They're not the only ones with a clue. Fodor's "Mobil Travel Guide 99 For Major Cities" is hip to Milwaukee's cultural appeal, calling it, "Thriving and progressive, Milwaukee has retained its gemutlichkeit -- although conviviality is as likely to be expressed at a soccer game or at a symphony concert as at a beer garden. This is not to say that raising beer steins has noticeably declined as a popular local form of exercise."

This sentiment of Milwaukee as a frolicsome city of beer lovers is echoed as Joan Strasbaugh kicks off the "Acorn Guide to Milwaukee" by saying, "Yes, Milwaukee is beer, brats and bowling."

On that note, where would Milwaukee be without our status as America's beer capital? Fodor's website has a feature on this topic with some interesting information, noting, "When fire burned down Chicago in 1871 and its water supply was knocked out, Milwaukee's Schlitz brewery donated hundreds of barrels of beer to help the locals slake their thirst."

But that's not all. At the Rough Guides site, Milwaukee's beer-guzzling legacy is hailed once again and illustrated with some interesting stats on our brew houses.

"By 1850, less than two decades old and with a population of 20,000, Milwaukee already had a dozen breweries and 225 saloons. The contemporary estimate of 6,000 bars -- one per 100 residents -- is not necessarily apocryphal."

But for those of us who live here, we know our beloved city comprises more than steins and pubs. Rough Guide lauds Milwaukee for its "combination of the down-home and the sophisticated, known for its lakeside and ethnic festivals and huge breweries. Visually it's a mix of elegant Teutonic architecture, rambling Victorian warehouses and tasteful waterfront developments."

Ann Angel's book "City Smart Guidebook -- Milwaukee" provides another pleasant commentary on our city's visual charm with, "Lake Michigan's pristine waters and the surrounding rolling hills and far meadows frame Milwaukee's brass-crowned cathedrals, church spires, art deco office buildings and contemporary skyscrapers, giving visitors the picture of a city rich in history, tradition and abundant natural beauty."

However, Angel's edition was superceded by Nathan Guequierre's excellent version, which does the best job of any guidebook in cataloging Milwaukee's charms. Admittedly, the author is a long-time Milwaukee resident, which certainly helps.

But, perhaps, the simplest statements are the most truthful. In "Milwaukee and More: The New Guide For All the Things You Want to Do for Ages 1-99," authors Pamela Nonken and Gertrude Kaslov write, "The flavor of Milwaukee is subtle and delightful."