A couple weekends ago we took our 2nd annual weekend trip to Milwaukee. As a Wisconsinite, I may be biased, but I love visiting Milwaukee. And this is only my second trip where I’ve been in Milwaukee for something other than the airport or a wedding. It’s an (another) ideal place for beer and food lovers like Mr.Dove and I. We used credit card reward points to cover the hotel and Amtrak points to cover the transit, so we got to splurge a bit on the beer and food.
Ahh reward points, gotta love them! We’re not huge reward point travel hackers, but try to maximize our points for travel when possible. We take Amtrak all year to visit both my and Mr. Dove’s family in Wisconsin since we don’t have a car. Compared to renting a car, taking the train is a wash financially most of the year and way cheaper in the summer. Plus it’s nice to chill on the train reading or what have you, rather than driving and navigating. From these visits home, we usually earn 2-3 free round trips a year and we reserve one for our Milwaukee trip.
For the hotel, we transferred chase reward points to Hyatt rewards because it’s such a crazy good deal. We could book a Hyatt or similar hotel for about 12,000 chase points (a night) or transfer 8,000 points to book through Hyatt’s rewards program. Not only do we get a free room, but we also save points. Hurray! Last year we stayed one night for Bastille days and that was a blast. But this year, we were trying to escape Lollapalooza in Chicago, so we stayed two nights.
After checking in to our hotel Friday evening, we strolled up the river walk to Lakefront Brewery for a delicious Friday night fish fry. The perch was tasty, the potato pancake amazing, and the beer delicious. But the best part was obviously the live polka band. The Friday night fish fry is in the giant beer hall, but the brewery also serves beer on a riverfront patio and does tours of the brewery (which comes with a generous helping of beer tokens). A visit here is on our to-do list for every trip to Milwaukee.
Saturday we checked out the farmers market at Cathedral Square Park, which was disappointingly small. It looked great for locals who wanted to pick up some food, flowers, or soap, but it didn’t have as many prepared food items to capture visitors. Our goal was to get some coffee (success) and a muffin or other breakfast pastry. The latter was a fail since the market didn’t have a vendor selling such bake goods. We doubled back to the hotel and used the free breakfast coupons we won instead.
We then headed to the lakefront (Veterans Park) where we rented a couple bikes. I later kicked myself when I found a 50% off coupon for this place on Groupon. Live and learn, I guess. But renting bikes was the highlight of the trip, because we covered so much more ground than our last trip. We took the bike path that connects several parks and stretches through the suburbs. We had no idea Milwaukee has such a long bike trail, and I really hope people use it for commuting downtown because it’s so nice and peaceful. After a while we turned around back to the lake and followed it north until we got to Lake Park. There we found a pop up Sprecher beer garden, where we sampled some more great beer.
Later that evening, Mr. Dove’s brother met us for dinner in the historic Third Ward. The Third Ward is cool because it used to be a warehouse district that now supports restaurants, shops, and apartments in the converted warehouses. During our trip last year, we ate brunch at Cafe Benelux and were so impressed we bookmarked it for dinner this trip. It has great mussels and an impressive Belgium beer menu, so we got to relive a bit of our Belgium trip.
Sunday morning found us back in the Third Ward for breakfast at the Public Market. This place would also be great for lunch. It has a collection of interesting looking (and delicious smelling) stands: spice shop, wine shop, cheese shop, fish market, candy shop, olive oil store, coffee shop, bakery, restaurants, and more. We snagged some iced coffees and pastries and headed to the lofted seating area that over looks the market. We took our time munching, reading, and people watching. Aka the perfect Sunday morning.
After a while, we stretched and made our way to the Marquette University area to go on a tour of the Pabst Mansion. A large chunk of my family has a cult following of Pabst – a family event once had a local bar sold out of Pabst in less than four hours. Personally, despite my usual pride in all things Wisconsin, I won’t touch the stuff. Regardless of your opinion on the beer’s flavor, or rather lack thereof, the historic mansion is worth a visit. I love old architecture and interiors and the mansion’s painstaking restoration efforts don’t disappoint. If you go in the next four years or so, you’ll get to see both the renovated and the to be renovated with an explanation of how they are restoring the mansion as close to its original state as possible. Plus I found the story the tour guide told of the family history captivating.
Whilst killing our remaining time before our train back to Chicago, we stumbled upon the Knight’s bar attached to a German restaurant, Mader’s. This place was awesome. Good German beer on draft, historic armors and weapons as decor, and the food smelled sooo good. If only we hadn’t already munched on some cheese and sausage for a late lunch. (I mean it’s Wisconsin, what else would constitute a “light” lunch?) I would 100% recommend this place for a drink, and you can be sure it’s bookmarked for a lunch or dinner on our next trip. Until then!