This post is written by Kristy Wenz who is a PR mastermind, accomplished blogger, passionate traveler, and a craft beer lover. When she wound up in Milwaukee a few weeks ago, she got much more than she bargained for!
I first became acquainted with Zephyr Conferences at the Wine Blogger Conference in the Finger Lakes region of New York. I have since joined the team and am working on developing this year’s International Food Blogger Conference. These conferences have been across the country in some awesome locations, not to mention are always fun. So when I was asked to help on the ground at the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference, I was definitely excited to jump in…but Milwaukee?
I’m a Chicago-native and despite the fact that Milwaukee is essentially in my backyard, I had actually never been. Sure, I’ve zipped in and out of Summerfest and Miller Park, but never stayed let alone explored. I’ve got great friends north of Milwaukee I visit regularly, I went to school near LaCrosse, Wisconsin, I have made a few stops in Madison, and vacationed almost yearly in other parts of the state. But Milwaukee? It always seemed too close and not as enticing as downtown Chicago. Until last month that is…
It was my anniversary and the hubs and I had less than 24-hours kid-free to escape. In a quick hotel search, we ended up with an awesome deal in Milwaukee’s Third Ward. We weren’t expecting to find much to do, but a night away is a night away! Then, as we exited the freeway for the first time in downtown Milwaukee our interest piqued. This wasn’t the Milwaukee I envisioned from Happy Days or Laverne & Shirley reruns (really my only frame of reference up until that moment); and we immediately knew our one night stay was not going to be enough.
This might sound strange, but Milwaukee almost had a European vibe – lots of low-rise, brick buildings, shops, restaurants, bars, pedestrian friendly streets and even a Riverwalk. After having spent nearly a year in Europe, and missing it desperately, this was exactly the scene we needed. Our first stop was Lakefront Brewery on the Milwaukee River. The sun was shining and it was a breezy 75-degree day – perfect outside drinking weather. To our amazement we snagged a spot right on the river where we could watch the kayaks pull up for a quick stop. It was lively, friendly and absolutely laid back.
Upon sampling a few of the microbrews we made our way back to the Third Ward and the Riverwalk (which until an hour previous I didn’t even know existed). Several restaurants and bars line the walk, all with seating set right along the walkway. We decided to grab a beer at the Milwaukee Ale House and were excited to learn you could get drink service along the concrete wall right on the river! Not only is this not possible in Chicago, the numerous establishments along the river are always crowded and often impossible to find a seat, let alone a server. Don’t get me wrong, Chicago’s Riverwalk is great and a definite must-do, but on a random Saturday afternoon, to be able to walk outside on a gorgeous day, get a prime seat, a great beer and not feel rushed was totally awesome.
After lingering on the river watching the boats dock for a quick drink or dinner, we made our way to the Milwaukee Public Market. Now, I actually did know this existed, and I have to say it lived up to and exceeded my hopes! The market, while not as large as most I’ve experienced, was full of fresh produce, dining options, bars and even a fantastic wine shop. It’s easy to kill a few hours here for sure! I’m absolutely kicking myself for not having gotten there sooner, not to mention wondering why there aren’t more of these throughout the States. Well done Milwaukee!
The rest of the one-night excursion was just as awesome, filled with a rooftop bar, fantastic restaurants for dinner and brunch, and a lazy walk through the fascinating neighborhoods. All-in-all I can say with certainty this is a vibrant city with a lot to offer. The people are friendly. It’s always bustling with activity, but also extremely accessible. It’s unpretentious, inviting and full of amazing food and brew – and not just the big names that put it on the map in the 1800’s.
Long story short, I’ve traveled a lot – throughout the U.S. and Europe – and Milwaukee surprised me. So, bring on the BBC! I cannot wait to get back and explore even more. It’s definitely going to be a place I consider more regularly and one I’ll certainly recommend to anyone wanting to visit an approachable American city with offerings for everyone – especially those of us really into beer, food and wine.
So if you aren’t yet registered…what are you waiting for?! You don’t want to miss out on Milwaukee, the awesome content coming your way and the seriously cool events lined up throughout the weekend. And if you are registered, I look forward to seeing you there and raising a glass.
Get on the beer train for MKE! Over 30 new registrations in the past 20 days