Looking for a weekend getaway in an affordable city with great food, beer and cultural attractions? Visit Milwaukee to enjoy its beautiful lakefront, cool (yes, cool!) museums and inviting neighborhoods. And did we mention the breweries?
10AM COMET CAFE
Get your visit off to a delicious start at Comet Cafe on Milwaukee's East Side. This vegan-friendly gastropub specializes in comfort food made from scratch. The menu has everything from hearty homestyle biscuits and gravy to a vegan scramble with tofu, peppers, mushrooms and veggie sausage. Don't leave without ordering a beermosa, made from orange juice and a white beer.
11AM HARLEY DAVIDSON MUSEUM
Whether you're a motorcycle enthusiast or someone whose only bike has pedals and a woven basket on the front, the two-floor Harley museum takes visitors through the company's history, from the first bike ever produced (Serial Number One) to the bikes rolling off the assembly line today. The museum is a walk through America in the 20th century, highlighting the motorcycle's role in our country's evolution. Learn why different motors make different sounds, ways Harleys have been used in modern wars and how the bike has appeared in pop culture. Whether you're into science, history, art, engines, or pop culture, you'll be captivated. After taking in the museum, stop for lunch at the onsite Motor Bar & Restaurant, which serves bar food with an inexpensive kids menu.
3PM PABST MANSION
2000 W. WISCONSIN AVE. MILWAUKEE, WI 53233
Pay a visit to the Pabst Mansion, once the home of Pabst Brewery founder Frederick Pabst. The Pabst family lived here from 1892 to 1908, when the home was purchased by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and converted into a residence for the archbishop. Today the mansion is open to visitors, who marvel at the intricacy of everything from the wood on the grand staircase to the gold-washed shutter latches.
6PM JACKSON'S BLUE RIBBON PUB
Grab a drink at Jackson's Blue Ribbon Pub, located adjacent to both the Pabst Mansion and your hotel. The pub has friendly staff who will happily guide you through the beer list (more than 40 bottled beers alone), or recommend a craft cocktail, all of which are made with local products from Great Lakes Distillery. The classic martini, made with Rehorst vodka or gin, is great, but then again, so is microbrew from Three Floyd's or a classic Schlitz tall boy. After all, you're in Milwaukee.
8PM KARL RATZSCH'S
Milwaukee takes great pride in its German heritage, and this remains one of the best places in the United States to sample authentic German cuisine. With that in mind, enjoy dinner at Karl Ratzsch's, a Milwaukee institution since it opened a century ago. Order the sauerbraten (pictured), a marinated sirloin roast smothered in gravy and served with red cabbage and a potato dumpling. Or try the roast duck with wild rice, a customer favorite. If you save room for desert you'll enjoy Viennese apple strudel or bread pudding with bourbon sauce. Better yet, toast your trip with a classic shot of Jägermeister.
10AM COQUETTE CAFE
Start your morning in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward, a revitalized shopping district where you'll find elegant brunch spot Coquette Cafe. From the white table clothes to the charmingly retro menus, inside you'll find a mix of polished refinery and grandma's kitchen comfort. Enjoy a croque madame that would make a Frenchman weak at the knees, or pain perdu (brioche French toast) with candied pecans and black pepper bacon. Reservations are accepted and highly recommended at this popular spot in one of Milwaukee's trendiest neighborhoods.
12PM MILWAUKEE ART MUSEUM
The Milwaukee Art Museum features an impressive collection of more than 30,000 pieces amassed over its 125 year history. It is home to one of the country's best collections of American decorative arts, German Expressionism and Haitian art, as well as an extensive catalogue of works by Wisconsin native Georgia O'Keeffe. Yet the museum itself may be the most impressive piece of art on the premises. Its white concrete Quadacci Pavilion and the retractable roof of the brise soleil have become iconic in Milwaukee since it opened in 2001.
2PM SOUP BROTHERS
Stop for lunch at Soup Brothers in Walker's Point, a fun, inexpensive restaurant that specializes in — you guessed it — soup. Expect a selection of six soups daily, plus some sandwiches. The fire roasted red pepper bisque is smooth and delicious, and the Brazilian black bean is a summer favorite. Check out the eclectic decor, all collected by owner/operator/guy-in-charge Richard Regner, who you'll recognize as the only one in the kitchen.
3PM LAKEFRONT BREWERY
If you only have time to visit one brewery, make it Lakefront Brewery. You've probably tried Lakefront's famous Fixed Gear but oh, that's only the starting-off point of everything this family-run place has to offer. The tour costs $7, and for that you get a souvenir pint glass and tokens for four six-ounce pours of your choice any time before, after, or during the tour. It may be a Marquette student guiding you through the power-plant-turned-brewery, or it may be one of the founders themselves, who will stop to pour you another drink as soon as they see a few empty cups among your fellow tour-goers. After the tour you'll want to stick around for a pint in their Beer Hall, where you can snack on cheese curds,poutine or even deep fried polish sausage while chatting with friends.
7PM LULU'S CAFE
Feel the funky vibe with dinner at Lulu's Cafe. You know when you can't decide whether to have chips or coleslaw as the side to your sandwich? Lulu's is the kind of place that let's you try both. Order a burger — we recommend the Half-Pound Heart Attack — or the Moroccan chicken sandwich.
WHERE TO STAY: THE BREWHOUSE INN & SUITES
1215 N. 10TH ST. MILWAUKEE, WI 53205
Combining the beauty of a 100-year-old building with sleek, modern design, the Brewhouse Inn & Suites is undoubtedly one of the coolest hotels in Milwaukee. The building was opened in 1844 and served as the original Pabst brewery; it's location is within walking distance of the Pabst mansion. Inside you'll find a registration desk built from beer bottles and the original beer kettles still intact as a centerpiece to the second-floor lobby. Guest rooms, however, are strictly 21st-century, with spacious bathrooms, comfortable beds and sleek industrial decor.