The Algonquian Indians beat the settlers to the green and fertile area, which they called Millioki or Gathering Place by the Waters. Decades later, the adventurers who followed recognized the opportunities offered by the confluence of the Menomonee, Kinnickinnic and Milwaukee rivers, which flowed into Lake Michigan. Today, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has been discovered by more than half a million residents, and millions of vacationers who spend billions of dollars. Its prime location in the southeast corner of the state on Lake Michigan’s western shore attracts visitors year-round, despite some pretty hardy winter weather. (Think ice fishing and snowmobiling.)
Milwaukee’s lakefront may be the best reason to visit this area. A trip to Discovery World may seem like kids’ stuff, at least until grownups find themselves fascinated by the science, the history and the aquarium there. And the nearby Milwaukee Art Museum, with its stunning architecture, including huge sails that open as though they were part of a large ship sailing across Lake Michigan, will impress even the most jaded tourist.
The city offers a plethora of first-rate cuisine, fascinating structures, independent coffee houses, the staggering Summerfest music event, and countless watering holes. Visitors interested in sampling a few of these pubs should first spend some time catching up on the town’s brewing history at the painstakingly decorated Pabst Mansion, whose woodwork alone makes this stop worthwhile. Then, if you want to wet your whistle, try: The Safe House, the Milwaukee Ale House and Blu. The Lakefront Brewery Tour is also a recommended stop, especially since the admission price includes liquid aplenty.
RVers should put on their walking shoes and enjoy a stroll through the gentrified Fifth Ward section, consider a drink at the cleverly designed Iron Horse Hotel, investigate more than 100 years of motorcycling history in the recently opened Harley-Davidson Museum, and then win a fortune (potentially) in the Potawatomi Bingo Casino. The casino boasts 3,100 slot machines, other gaming opportunities and a culinary sure thing, the high-end on-site restaurant, Dream Dance.
Should you time your visit carefully – and you’re interested in joining the approximately 900,000 music fans from around the world – consider participating in Summerfest this year from June 25 through July 5. Of course, even tone-deaf, teetotalers who shun gambling and architecture will appreciate a stroll along the shore of Lake Michigan, with sailboats ushered across the seemingly endless water.
To assist with your visit, consider that a mere 10 minutes from downtown Milwaukee, the Wisconsin State Fair Park features 70 full-hookup sites in a no-frills campground, while Happy Acres Kampground, about 40 miles away, provides more greenery, amenities and family-friendly camping.
For more information, go to www.visitmilwaukee.org.