We spent Chrismtas Eve and Christmas with my mom and siblings (minus Brett :( ), then flew at 5 am to Milwaukee to spend the week with Ben's brother, Steve, and our sister-in-law, Tamara, and their children in Jackson, WI. We spent some time there, drove down to Chicago for his sister, Betsy's sealing, then back to Jackson.
I was left with just one question...
Why didn't anyone tell us how much fun Milwaukee is?
Here is our downtown tour of the big city:
The Public Market
The Public Market was awesome! It is a large warehouse filled with stalls of local specialties.
We tried cheese curds from a local dairy farm, watched and learned about spices from
around the world, and lots of other fun stalls representing Wisconsin favorites.
It was a crowded atmosphere bustling with the scent of flowers, local store-goers, and fun colors. Just we like to stumble upon in a new city :)
Historic 3rd Ward
We never found out why it's called the Historic 3rd Ward, but we fell for it! This is a collection of a few streets downtown that are, in a word, charming! Complete with bronze street names on corner sidewalks, old-fashioned street lamps, and dental molding.
The district is also known for it's collection of unique streetside shops
... and not so classic.
Milwaukee, like all my favorite cities, has bodies of water in every direction. A lake here, a river there, the city is filled with fun water walkways and beautiful city/ nature landscapes.
Check out my hunky husband on this great circular walkway thingy
we found between old buildings on the river:
I think I drove Ben crazy comparing Milwaukee to Seattle (my favorite city in America. Yes, it beats out NYC!) . I just loved seeing water surprise me in every direction and all the fun art and architecture tucked around the corners. (Ben says Milwaukee was founded before Seattle, so I should have been comparing Seattle to it, instead of the other way around. Though Seattle still takes my cake, Milwaukee has one thing Seattle definitely doesn't: citizens with good fashion sense.)
Wisconsin Cheese Mart
The Wisconsin Cheese Mart is truly a state legend. In a word: amazing. But, hey, we love cheese ;)
This is a large, open store that sells more types of cheese than I could count from all around the world. It's specialty, of course, is locally-made Wisconsin cheeses, especially varieties of cheddar. We were greeted by this life-size heifer and a stand of cheese hats and other accessories which set the tone for the whole store. It's a place where anyone who loves cheese can come to sample, stare, and savor! And the prices were great, too. We brought home a block of WI sharp cheddar, a section of white cheddar + peppercorn wheel (the 2010 World Cheese Competition Winner), and a bag of freezable cheddar cheese curds.
Usinger's Sausage House
Usinger's is next door to the Wisconsin Cheese Mart on 3rd street, very conveniently. We could get our famous Wisconsin cheese then go next door for it's sausage pair!
We bought summer sausage, bratwurst, and kielbasa. The summer sausage was amazing, but the other two were lacking. That was disappointing, but I blame myself. Maybe we chose the wrong pieces of meat. It is a really popular place; a fixture in the community. Tamara even said her parents require her to bring Usinger's hotdogs when she visits them in Charlotte :)
I'm willing to take the blame.
I have been hearing about this place for the last two years. Given the family's fondness for this Wisconsin treat, my love of beverages (thanks, Opa), and our mutual attraction to factories, I have been dying to come! This was our fourth trip to Milwaukee, and my first to Sprecher's.
They conduct tours for $5/ person which includes the tour, four beer samples (which we, of course, didn't use), endless soda samples, and a free commemorative glass. The tours have always been full when we've tried coming in the past, and it was full this day, too. Tamara pointed out that there aren't many places where a person could get four beers + a glass for only $5-- explaining the hefty German-descent crowd!
Kara chose milk over all the other options... strange... ;)
All-in-all, I count our trip to Milwaukee a 9.8 success! We loved it, and can't wait to go back.