Sunday, August 10, 2008

Destination: Milwaukee

Wisconsin, USA

Okay, so my reasons for going were pretty flimsy:
  1. I'd never been;
  2. AirTran had a fare special; and
  3. That fare special coincided with another special that would earn me triple A+ Rewards points to maintain my Elite status.
Once I got there, though, I was surprised: Milwaukee is quite a town. . Yes, the city comes from an industrial origin, and about half of the buildings there are old brickwork factories, warehouses, and breweries from the early 1900s. But those brickwork buildings restored on the outside now house offices and luxury condos, and the mingle freely with modern skyscrapers that give the whole place an upbeat feel. Milwaukee is probably the most successful example of urban revitalization that I've seen.

Not only that, but there's a lot to do. If the only major brewer still in town (aside from the baseball team that crushed the Nationals 6-0 on Saturday evening) is Miller, there are a lot of microbreweries, like the Water Street Brewery where I had a local Weiss and enjoyed a hot bacon salad while witnessing the aforementioned Brewers-Nats slaughter. You'll also want to make time for dinner at Mader's Restaurant, widely regarded as being among the best German restaurants in America.

The next morning, I had coffee from a roaster in the Milwaukee Public Market--light brew with skim, my preferred way to drink the stuff whatever purists say about bold flavor--and wandered the surrounding area of the Historic Third Ward. I didn't make it down to Henry Maier Festival Park, but something is going on there every weekend during the summer; this time, it was Arab Fest. Definitely don't miss the Milwaukee Art Museum, which includes the lakefront Quadracci Pavilion designed by famed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

You might remember that Harley-Davidson comes from Milwaukee, and you'd be correct. Tours don't go through their operational plant these days, but the Harley-Davidson Museum is within easy distance of downtown. Miller's brewery also offers tours and free samples, which you'll learn are cold-filtered rather than heat-pasteurized like most other beers.


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