Located on the southwest shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee, known as "A Genuine American City," is rich in history and culture. Milwaukee attracts visitors year-round thanks to the popularity of local breweries such as MillerCoors and Sprecher , and thanks to Summerfest , a hugely popular annual music festival. Milwaukee also boasts several museums and numerous outdoor activities offered by the beautiful Lake Michigan. A great way to get to know the city is to take a look at a few of its neighborhoods.
Juneautown, the city's downtown area, is named after Solomon Juneau, the city's founder. Water Street and Wisconsin Street, both located in the heart of Juneautown, are considered two of the city's liveliest streets. This area is also home to many historical buildings including City Hall , the Pabst Theater , the Iron Block Building , and the Mitchell Building as well as many other historic sites. St. Mary's Church , located on North Broadway Street is the city's oldest Catholic church. This church boasts a beautiful Annunciation painting located above the altar. The painting was actually a gift from King Ludwig I of Bavaria. Another church of interest is the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is important to note that depending on whom or what you consult, sometimes both Juneautown and Kilbourntown, a neighboring district, are actually considered smaller areas within a larger district known as the East Town.
Kilbourntown, separated from Juneautown by the Milwaukee River , was founded by Bryon Kilbourn, Solomon Juneau's rival. As the two men were rivals, so were the neighborhoods they established. Kilbourn refused to align his bridges with those of Juneautown, a decision that anyone who visits the city can see today. Kilbourntown is home to many large architectural projects. Today one will find the Riverside Theater (designed in Mediterranean Revival style), the Milwaukee Public Museum , the Milwaukee Public Library and the Grand Avenue Mall .
Yankee Hill exudes old-fashioned, high-end charm. This neighborhood was once owned by Solomon Juneau, the city's first mayor. It was therefore a hub for the city's government and business. Today visitors will find several beautiful churches as well as many lovely row houses designed in various styles including Victorian and Gothic. Two of the city's most beloved hotels, the Astor and the County Clare Irish Inn and Pub are located in Yankee Hill, and the neighborhood also hosts the annual summer jazz celebration in Cathedral Square Park, which lies between Yankee Hill and Juneautown. Yankee Hill is also home to Shank Hall , a small but popular local concert venue.
Brady Street, a bustling area near the Yankee Hill neighborhood, had already become a commercial district by the 1880s. Once considered the city's version of Little Italy, Brady Street then became an example of New Urbanism thus attracting those whom some refer to as hipsters and bohemians. Following an effort to gentrify the area, Brady Street is now filled with cafes and boutiques, but it has still managed to maintain some of its eclectic, avant-garde flair. Aside from shopping and dining, notably Dragonfly Vintage Goods and Gifts and Apollo Cafe , St. Hedwig's Roman Catholic Church , a well-known Polish church built in 1871, is also located on Brady Street.
The Lakefront is the beautiful area along Lake Michigan. Aside from all of the outdoor activities the lake has to offer, this area is also home to Discovery World , the Milwaukee Art Museum , the Betty Brinn Children's Museum , the Milwaukee Country War Memorial , and the Henry Maier Festival Park , and outdoor entertainment venue where many concerts take place. Each June locals and visitors alike can take part in the Lakefront Festival of the Arts .
Walker's Point has a slightly industrial yet hip feel as it encompasses many trendy warehouse-turned-lofts, art galleries, restaurants (notably La Perla and Steny's Tavern & Grill ), and nightclubs including several gay bars such as Fluid . Thanks to its rising popularity, real estate in the area has become increasingly expensive.
Avenues West, boasting such notable establishments as Marquette University , the St. Joan of Arc Chapel , the Haggerty Museum of Art , the Rave Eagles Ballroom , the Tripoli Shrine Temple , and the Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion refers to the area west of downtown. Once known for drug dealing and prostitution, the entire area has undergone some serious revamping. One of the city's most popular hotels, the Ambassador , is located in this neighborhood, and it, like the surrounding area, has regained its upscale reputation. In 1996 some human remains were unearthed leading the city to believe that this was the site of Milwaukee's first cemetery potentially dating back to Native American tribes.
Brewer's Hill, named for its proximity to the former Schlitz Brewing Company and the Lakefront Brewery is one of the city's highest points of altitude. Considered a very family-friendly neighborhood, Brewer's Hill features a variety of architectural styles including Greek Revival and Queen Anne homes. While the neighborhood fell into a slump in the 1960s and 70s, it has subsequently been revitalized causing real estate prices to rise drastically.
Menomonee River Valley
Much like Walker's Point, the Menomonee River Valley is a trendy neighborhood filled with hip lofts and funky establishments, most of which are former warehouses. It is not surprising that this neighborhood has attracted an increasing number of real estate developers. The area is frequented by a very bohemian, artsy crowd. The Menomonee River Valley's pride-and-joy is the Iron Horse Hotel , a state of the art boutique hotel that opened its doors in 2008. It boasts the chic Branded bar/lounge and the trendy Smyth restaurant. The Menomonee River Valley's other famous resident is the Harley-Davidson Museum .
As Milwaukee's downtown area, Juneautown is packed full of restaurants, bars and nightclubs ranging from expensive gourmet establishments to Irish pubs to laid back coffee shops. Karl Ratzsch's is one of the city's most beloved restaurants. This German-American eatery, in existence since 1904, serves hearty favorites that keep locals and visitors coming back for more. Eagan's on Water is another local favorite. Eagan's serves American classics in an upscale dining room adorned with impressionist paintings. If you're exhausted after a day of sightseeing and just need a quick coffee to recharge, stop in Fuel Cafe. This hip little coffee shop serves various coffees and teas as well as sandwiches and salads. For a night out on the town, this neighborhood also offers a bevy of laid back Irish pubs as well as trendy cocktail lounges. Mo's Irish Pub definitely falls into the laid back category. It broadcasts sporting events, offers drink specials and serves some of the city's best bar food. A snazzier option is Kil@wat , an elegant restaurant and bar located in the InterContinental hotel .
Much like neighboring Juneautown, Kilbourntown offers a diverse selection of restaurants, cafes and bars. Kilbourntown is home to none other than Turner historic restaurant , the best place for a Friday night fish fry. A trip to Milwaukee wouldn't be complete without a visit to a brewery. Stop by Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery for a bite and a beer. The menu features American staples, but it's the beer that's worth bragging about. For a juicy steak reserve a table at the Milwaukee Chophouse , and to wind down the day with friends and a beer in hand, stop by the Miller Time Pub located in the Hilton Milwaukee City Center , which offers a generous happy hour during weekdays.
Avenues West, the area west of downtown, offers almost as many dining options as downtown itself, most at fairly reasonable prices. One such example is Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches . These deli sandwiches are piled high with any sort of meat imaginable. Miss Katie's Diner is another low cost option serving great home-style meals. This 1950s-style diner has a surprisingly extensive menu that goes beyond standard diner fare. Envoy is a slightly more upscale establishment located in the Ambassador hotel . This bar/restaurant serves sophisticated American cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the Envoy Lounge mixes up tasty cocktails from their extensive drink list while Cafe Deco offers slightly more casual fare. Fans of live music won't want to miss The Rave Eagles Club . This bar and concert venue hosts local and regional bands as well big name musical acts. It is one of the city's premiere events venues.
The Knick, located inside the Knickerbocker Hotel , is an excellent dining option in Yankee Hill. The menu is a mixture of Mediterranean and American with a few oddball items. Whether you're looking for seafood, poultry or burgers, The Knick has the knack for all of it. Another favorite Yankee Hill restaurant is Osteria Del Mondo located inside the Astor Hotel . This upscale Italian eatery goes above and beyond traditional Italian fare, and reservations are recommended. The County Clare Irish Inn and Pub is equally lovely as a dining option serving up hearty Irish staples.
In keeping with its artsy, bohemian feel, Walker's Point offers an array of trendy dining options that are considerably reasonably priced. One such option is La Perla . La Perla is one of the city's most popular Mexican restaurants. The food is fresh and tasty, and the dishes can be paired with a margarita or even a shot of tequila. One of La Perla's competitor's Botanas , is another popular destination for Mexican cuisine. If you've spent some time in Milwaukee, but you still haven't had your fill of beer bars and pubs, check out Steny's Tavern & Grill serving the best in bar food and of course, lots of beer. For a more lively nightlife experience, check out Fluid , one of the city's most popular gay bars. The list of signature drinks and martinis is extensive.
East Side/North Point
Due to such close proximity, the East Side and North Point neighborhoods are usually lumped together. Both offer numerous drinking and dining options. Japanese restaurant Ichiban is one of Milwaukee's top restaurants. It claims to have the "largest sushi selection in Milwaukee," so there should be something on the menu for everyone. Located in the same neighborhood is its competitor, Izumi's, which has been voted "Best Sushi in Milwaukee." For a high-end dining option, North Point is proud to offer Sanford , one of Milwaukee's most distinguished high-end restaurants. The cuisine is a mix of French, Mediterranean and continental, and the seven course chef's surprise tasting menu with wine pairing is divine. If you're just looking for a light lunch or a coffee break, Alterra Coffee Roasters will hit the spot as will Breadsmith , located inside the Milwaukee Public Market . This popular bakery has several locations nationwide. The Original Pancake House is the perfect place for a hearty breakfast before a day of sightseeing or before heading out of town. Who doesn't love pancakes? And what may be the city's most eclectic establishment, the Chocolate Factory, Subs & Ice Cream covers just about every base. Moving closer to the East Side lies an impressive array of multicultural cuisines. The East Garden Chinese Restaurant, Maharaja Indian Restaurant, and the Apollo Greek Cafe are all located within close proximity and all offer solid cuisine at affordable prices.
Milwaukee is a city filled with rich culture and a deep history. As a result, a number of enjoyable, self-guided tours are available that will enable the first-time visitor or a seasoned veteran to appreciate all Milwaukee has to offer.
Located in Juneautown, Milwaukee's downtown area, City Hall boasts a history that is almost as old as the city itself. After falling victim to a fire which required the upper tower to be rebuilt, City Hall, as it is known today, was completed in 1895. At the time, its bell tower was the third tallest structure in the country. Thanks to its remarkable history and beautiful bell tower, it is definitely worth a visit. After taking the opportunity to tour City Hall, work your way through the area of Juneautown stopping to appreciate the Pabst Theater , the Milwaukee Repetory Theater , the Iron Block Building , the city's only remaining building with an cast iron façade, and the Mitchell Building . Conclude your day with a hearty meal at either Karl Ratzsch's , a popular German restaurant, or at Eagan's on Water .
All nine blocks of Brady Street , running from the Milwaukee River to Lake Michigan, are filled with some of the city's best restaurants, cafes, and shops. Brady Street is even home to St. Hedwig's Roman Catholic Church , a well-known Polish church that was built in 1871. Start at one end and work your way to other while stopping to appreciate all the street has to offer. Popular boutiques include Boutique Vieux et Nouveau and Yellow Jacket Vintage Clothing . There is also an excellent wine merchant, the Waterford Wine Merchant , as well as a unique interiors store, Dragonfly Vintage Goods and Gifts . A popular dining option is Apollo Cafe , a Greek restaurant.
Milwaukee Public Museum
The Milwaukee Public Museum is a museum of human and natural history. It houses six million specimens, several permanent expositions and often hosts temporary expositions. The museum is also home to the Humphrey IMAX® Dome Theater as well as the Daniel M. Soref Planetarium. The Milwaukee Public Museum is a great experience for adults and children alike. Also located in the area of Kilbourntown is the Milwaukee Public Library , the historic Riverside Theater as well as the Grand Avenue Mall , the city's premiere shopping center. For lunch or dinner in this area stop by Mo's Irish Pub .
Located in Avenues West, the area west of downtown, the Ambassador hotel is a landmark in and of itself. This lovely art deco hotel is part of the Historic Hotels of America organization. If you're a guest in the hotel looking to explore the neighborhood or have simply stopped by to take a peek inside, take the time to explore what else Avenues West has to offer. Take a tour of the magnificent Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion . Also worth a look is the ornate Tripoli Shrine Temple . Conclude the day by heading back to the Ambassador for an upscale meal at Envoy .
Another option is to contact a professional tour company for a convenient way to see the city's hot spots whether you prefer to travel on foot, aboard a boat, or on a bike.
Historic Milwaukee Walking Tours (+1 414 277 7795 / http://www.historicmilwaukee.org/)
Tour Milwaukee (+1 414 232 9348 / http://www.tourmilwaukee.net/)
KBC Tours (+ 1 800 704 9049 / http://www.kbctourcompany.com/index.htm)
Milwaukee Food Tours (+ 1 800 979 3370 / http://www.milwaukeefoodtours.com/)
Milwaukee Boat Line (+1 414 294 9450 / http://www.mkeboat.com/)
Riverwalk Boat Tours and Rentals (+ 1 414 283 9999 / http://www.cafevecchio.com/riverwalkboat/)
Brew City Bike Tours (+ 1 414 336 9610 / http://brewcitybiketours.blogspot.com/)