When I was a kid, I remember my dad waking me up in the wee early hours of the morning one time to see a lunar eclipse. Blearily and, at the time, utterly unappreciative of the experience, I trudged outside to the front yard with him to look up at the sky. Cool; there it was, I thought, an eclipse.
Even though I didn’t really care back then, and despite being partially asleep, I still have that memory now and I cherish it. Cue "Cat’s in the Cradle." No, just kidding, don’t. The point is, that was a special moment for me and my dad, and that was just a freakin’ lunar eclipse. Those things happen every year! And heck, it might even have been just a partial eclipse; my dad really likes science.
The last total solar eclipse to cross the contiguous United States was Feb. 26, 1979, more than 38 years ago. The last time one was visible across the entire country, from coast to coast, was in 1918. The next one won’t be until April 2024. So this is a big deal – though you already knew that, which is why you have purchased your solar specs and bought your celestial snacks.
So, as someone whose only previous recollection of watching an eclipse was doing so shivering and mildly resentful from the front yard of my parents’ house, I am here to recommend some better places to see this singular solar spectacle in Milwaukee (or, at least, to see 83 percent of it) on Monday afternoon.
1. Milwaukee Public Library
Ten library branches around the city are holding viewing and/or programming events on Monday. There will be educational opportunities and free eclipse glasses (subject to availability). Check out details and find a location near you here. For the similarly scholastic, the Milwaukee Public Museum will be hosting a Solar Eclipse Day with various activities.
2. Estabrook Beer Garden
The first public beer garden in America since Prohibition, 4600 Estabrook Dr. in Milwaukee, is open at noon on Monday. With fresh park air and delicious German beer – plus Trivia at 6 p.m. if you want to stick around – the Estabrook Park Beer Garden is a great naturalistic spot to witness this astronomical marvel. Really, though, any Milwaukee County Park would make an excellent viewing site.
3. Texas Rock Overlook
Just east of the intersection of South Superior Street and East Texas Avenue, between South Shore Park and Bay View Park and above the Oak Leaf Trail along the lakefront, there is a hidden-gem overlook of Texas Rock with an amazing view of Downtown. Go there if you want to see Earth’s solar eclipse and the city’s expanding skyline at the same time; just be respectful of the private homes nearby.
4. Barnacle Bud’s
OnMilwaukee readers and staff members this year voted Barnacle Bud’s the city’s best bar for day drinking; the riverfront shack opens at 11 a.m. and the eclipse will be best observable in Milwaukee a little after 1 p.m. Even better, Bud’s has a huge patio with ample outdoor sitting that will let you gaze up in awe at the cosmic wonder – before you take another sip of a piña colada.
5. Kadish Park
One of my favorite parks in the city is Kadish Park, 750 E. North Ave., between Humboldt Avenue and Holton Street, the site of the weekly Skyline Music Series on Tuesdays in summer. The park, just above the Milwaukee River, has an unmatched view of Downtown from a distinctive northwestern vantage point, and would be a picturesque setting for seeing the moon (mostly, for us) block out the sun. Just across North Avenue is Kilbourn Reservoir Park, where you can walk up the hill and get an even better view of it all.
6. In the suburbs
At Schoolhouse Park, across the street from the Whitefish Bay Library, 5420 N. Marlborough Dr., there will be a community viewing party starting at 12:45 p.m., when you can gather with the area’s other amateur astronomers (and probably lots and lots of kids). In Mequon, at the Frank L. Weyenberg Library, 11345 N. Cedarburg Rd., there’s also a viewing party, this one from noon to 3 p.m., with activities, crafts and a science-themed storytime. Free solar eclipse glasses will be provided at both events, while they last.
7. Your front yard
If nothing else, there’s always your front yard. You’ll still never forget it. Trust me.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.