Difference between revisions of "Milwaukee"
Revision as of 23:41, 1 July 2007
Milwaukee   is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin, United States. The city's population is 596,974 with an estimated total of 1,689,572 in the Milwaukee metropolitan area (2004). The city of Milwaukee is the 22nd largest city in the United States. The city is located in the southeastern portion of the state on the western shore of Lake Michigan.
Milwaukee has advertised itself as the "City of Festivals," especially emphasizing an annual fair along the lakefront called Summerfest. Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest music festival in the world, Summerfest attracts around 900,000 visitors a year to its twelve stages. Smaller festivals throughout the year celebrate the city's German, Native American, African-American, Italian, Irish, Asian, French and Polish heritage.
There is an array of almost every transportation mode thinkable to get in. The cheapest way is by bus, but many travelers prefer the comfort and convenience of air, train or boat travel.
Milwaukee is served by Mitchell International Airport (MKE).
Midwest Airlines, frequently rated #1 in domestic air service, is based at Mitchell International Airport.
Direct international (but some seasonal) flights are offered to Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Other international travelers will have to connect or fly to Chicago O'Hare international and take the shuttle service to Milwaukee Union station.
Like many European airports Mitchel features a rail link to the city, use the Amtrak train to Milwaukee Union Station ($6), Badger Coachesalso operates a $6 service to the city where as a more frequent, cheaper $1.75, yet slower normal city bus line(# 80), to downtown is operated by MCTS
Some air travelers choose to fly into one of Chicago's main airports (O'Hare-ORD or Midway-MDW). Some passengers find this to be a cheaper solution, particularly, but not necessarily, for overseas travel. There is a direct shuttle from both of the Chicago airports to Milwaukee Union Station (O'Hare to Milwaukee $23, Midway to Milwaukee $36). Increasingly, travelers are may chooseing to take an 'eL' train from either of the Chicago airports to Chicago Union Station($1.75-$2) and then go on to Milwaukee with either Megabus.com($1-$8.50) services or with Amtrak trains ($20); Potentially totaling a savings of up to nearly $30.
Amtrak serves a downtown and a new airport station. The Hiawatha has 7 daily round trips to Chicago, and the Empire Builder has 1 daily round trip from Chicago through Milwaukee to Seattle/Portland, Via Minneapolis and Spokane (among other cities).
Milwaukee features numerous Greyhound services to Chicago, Madison, and the Twin Cities among other place. The Badger Bus makes runs between Milwaukee and Madison. The cheapest way to get to Milwaukee, Megabus.com, offers an eight time daily round trip serivce to Chicago, and one daily bus from Minneapolis from $2.50 round trip.
Getting around in Milwaukee is mostly easy. Block numbers are consistent across the whole city, including most of the suburbs, starting roughly where the Milwaukee and Menomonee rivers meet. All numbered streets run north-south, increasing in number as you go west from 1st Street. Most names streets go east-west, with the notable exception of any street east of 1st Street (the East Side). Standard blocks are 1/8th of a mile long north to south, and 1/12th of a mile east to west. Parking Downtown and on the East Side is a minor hassle, but abundant elsewhere.
By Public Transit
Milwaukee's bus system,MCTS, is actually quite good, taking into account the almost complete lack of rail support. You can take a bus from anywhere, to almost anywhere in the city, with minor excursions to the suburbs.
One week passes and ten ride ticket packs are available from outlets displaying an MCTS sticker. (Mostly grocery stores.)
Fare includes one hour transfer, make sure to ask the driver for it if they don't automatically give you one. This transfer will allow you to board as many buses as you wish before the time runs out.
One item of useful note: Drivers have plenty of information, and transfers, but nothing else. They do not carry change, nor do they sell tickets or bus passes. If you do not have exact change, expect to pay a little over. (e.g.: $2 instead of $1.75)
Most of Milwaukee's 500 new low-floor buses feature Transit TV monitors that have a constant display of the upcoming stops along the route, verbally and visually announced approximately half a block in advance. In the event that the displays are not properly functioning alert the operator and ask for your stop to be called. Many operators miss the old days when they got to call the stop and thus enjoy the opportunity. If you are unsure of where you are going they will be happy to help, as well.
Many buses terminate at the MCTS Downtown Transit Center located across from the Betty Brinn Children's Museum, or kitty-corner from the famous Calatrava wing of the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Trolley Loop is a frequent scheduled trolley bus service sponsored by local businesses. Rides are free though service is seasonal.
While there are plenty of taxis to meet demand, do not expect to simply flag one down. With the notable exceptions of queues at larger hotels, the airport, train- and bus stations and largely attended events you should call for one. The number one company is Yellow Cab, at 414-271-1800, with the phone numbers of other taxi companies available here.
While it is possible to use the bus to go to many suburbs, some tourists prefer driving. Parking outside the Downtown/East Side are is a overall a non-issue. Traffic conditions may vary, especially in the next few years durning the reconstruction of the city's main freeway interchanges.
While it is not known as a tourism mecca, Milwaukee is a vibrant city with plenty to see and explore.
Arts & Culture
Milwaukee is famous for it's sports teams particulary Baseball & Basketball. Home run slugger Hank Aaron hit most of his home runs in Milwaukee. Additionally, the Bucks are the youngest team to ever win a NBA title. There are a variety of professional and college sport teams in the area.
From downtown take a number 10 bus north or east in the direction Bayshore or Capitol (or #14 in the direction Capitol) north to Locust or Center St. (or anywhere around there). Exit there and head west (east from the #14). If the weather is nice, just walk north from downtown with the river in the corner of your right eye until you reach Humboldt St. or Holton St. take one of these north.
Because of Milwaukee's socialist past, it had one of the best public parks systems in the country. Unfortunately, funding for them has eroded in recent years, but there are still many great parks around the Milwaukee area!
The Milwaukee Art Museum along the lakefront is renowned for its new Calatrava addition (2004). The giant bird-like structure juts out towards the lake and has been adopted as the new symbol of Milwaukee, featured on all of the flags and welcome signs. The Calatrava building is free to the public, and going just to appreciate the architecture and great views of the lake is recommended. Exhibits vary.
Milwaukee is home to several Fortune 500 companies; in fact, the metropolitan region (defined as the Milwaukee-West Allis-Waukesha area) was "ranked number five in the nation when measuring the number of Fortune 500 companies as a share of the population - just behind the number four Minneapolis-St. Paul region in Minnesota."  The area has a wide employment base, with companies ranging from high-tech and specialty manufacturing firms (GE Medical, Harley Davidson) to retail and finance corporations (Kohl's, Northwestern Mutual).
Milwaukee Area Fortune 1000 Companies (As of 2004 ranking)
The Milwaukee-Racine metropolitan area was also rated one of the Top 20 Hot Cities for Entrepreneurs in 2005. 
Milwaukee's Old World Third Street along (and just West of) the Milwaukee River has many of Milwaukee's best restaurants and night-clubbing locations. Brady Street, on the Northeast side, also has many nice restaurants and shops. Brady Street and Old World Third Street are undoubtedly the two best areas to get food in Milwaukee. Brady Street consists of relatively inexpensive but high-quality restaurants, bakeries, and bars. Old World Third Street provides a richer variety and also many of the more upscale restaurants (and clubs) in Milwaukee. Traditional Germanic and Mediterranean foods are the highlights.
America's House of Steaks located in the Four Points by Sheraton Milwaukee Airport Hotel is the newest addition to Executive Chef Axel Dietrich’s long history of exceptional restaurants. He serves only the choicest ingredients including high quality properly aged steak that is hand cut on the premises by his experienced staff and served to his guests. Chef Axel’s special Prime Rib of Beef is hand rubbed with his own special seasoning to guarantee the tenderness and flavor you expect, but he doesn’t stop there. You can choose from equally flavorful items such as Veal Porterhouse, New Zealand Rack of Lamb, Country Style Duck, or Sauteed Scampi. http://www.fourpointshotel.com/dining_americas.cfm
Apollo's on Brady Street serves authentic Greek food that the whole family can enjoy: a variety of healthy yet tasty food. It'll make you wonder why these sorts of food aren't more popular.
The best place to eat Mexican food on a budget in Milwaukee is Conijito's Place on 6th Street just north of National Avenue. Food is cheap, drinks are cheap and the atmosphere is one of the best in the city as far as Mexican restaurants go. In most cases you can eat and get a couple drinks for $10 dollars.
Located on Milwaukee's Old World Third Street, the Safehouse is entered through an alley. It is infamous for requiring a password to enter. It can be entered even without the password, but you will be required to act silly to convince them to allow entrance. Once inside you will find one of the world's greatest museums to spying including numerous gadgets and displays. As you eat you will be able to watch video monitors of other patrons acting silly to gain entrance, just as you once did.
On the East Side, you can get some great pizza at Gil's on Downer Ave before or after a movie at the nearby Downer Theater, or head over to the intersection of North and Oakland Avenues, where you'll find local favorites like Beans & Barley (healthy/organic), Pizza Man, Von Trier's (German), the BBC (bar & grill), and the Twisted Fork (pasta). Louise's is also a great Italian restaurant.
A bit farther up Oakland Avenue near Locust Ave. (near the UW-Milwaukee Campus), you'll find an exciting variety of restaurants like the Oakland Trattoria (Mediterranean), Sharrazad (Middle Eastern), Lula's Cafe (East African), Thai-A-Kitchen, and Oakland Gyros (Greek).
Mader's, also on Old-World Third, provides traditional German cuisine in a fancy atmosphere. It is expensive but exquisite - well worth it.
Mimma's, on Brady Street, serves the Americanized version Italian cuisine. But it is also incredible, well worth five stars. In addition to every pasta you can imagine it comes with an excellent array of wines, albeit expensive.
Five O'Clock Steakhouse, on State St., is considered to be one of the best steakhouses in America.
There's no shortage of night life in the Brew City. Milwaukeeans spend more (per capita) on entertainment than the citizenry of any other major American city, and you can bet that a good percentage of that entertainment is served in liquid form.
Trendy night life areas include Water Street in the heart of the city's downtown area, Brady Street and North Avenue on the Lower and Upper East Sides, respectively, and National Avenue to the south. RiverWest, a local hipster enclave, also offers a large variety of artsy drinking holes. Finally, Bay View has several bars scattered throughout the neighborhood, but many are located along Kinnickinnic Ave.
The city is also the unofficial Capital of the Corner Bar; no matter where you go in Milwaukee, there's sure to be a neighborhood bar only a few blocks away.
Visitors to Milwaukee will find it easiest to stay downtown, where most of the city's hotels are located. However, if you are looking for cheaper accommodation and don't mind the ride/drive, there is a strip of budget hotels on College Avenue near Mitchell International Airport, as well as in other locations around the cities suburban districts.
There is a HI (Hosteling International) Youth Hostel seasonally located downtown by Marquette University.
Cheaper hotels near the airport include MainStay Suites, Exel Inn, Comfort Inn & Suites, and a Radisson Hotel.
Downtown, travelers on a budget will find plenty of options.
If you're in the mood to splurge on a hotel in Milwaukee, there are two great places to do so.
The Hotel Metro is Milwaukee's hippest boutique hotel. They offer a variety of different room types (including luxury spa suites, pet-friendly suites, and meeting suites), as well as amenities such as 24 hour concierge and room service, and a great location just blocks from the Water Street entertainment area, downtown museums, the theater district, and the Riverwalk. The Hotel Metro is located in a fabulous 1930's art moderne building at 411 E Mason St.
A few blocks away is the Pfister, Milwaukee's most famous and luxurious hotel, which has been serving visiting VIPs since 1893. Like the Hotel Metro, the Pfister is just blocks from all of downtown's most exciting attractions, including the Art Museum and the Historic Third Ward. Even if you can't afford to stay at the Pfister, it's worth your time to take a walk through the building and explore the spectacular lobby, or check out the museum's impressive art collection.
Milwaukee can be a very fun and enjoyable trip, but like any large city, Milwaukee is not free the problems that come with its size. Though virtually all tourist destinations in and around Milwaukee are as safe and accessible during the day and night, common sense should always apply. As a general rule one should be sure to be aware of their surroundings regardless, especially in areas unknown to yourself.
The Downtown, Third Ward and East Side communities are typically the most clean and safe areas within Milwaukee. Also, the Fifth ward continues to experience a urban renewal much due in part to it's relative location to the Third Ward. Bordered by Hispanic, Asian and Caucasian blue-collar communities the neighborhood can be largely enjoyed during the day. Some caution is advised during the evening hours due to it's proximity to the above-mentioned locations.
Of all the areas, the Milwaukee North-West side (from North Avenue to Capitol Drive (South To North) and MLK Drive to Sherman Blvd (East to West) and West-Riverwest carry the most danger for travelers, and should be avoided less necessary. Largely African American neighborhoods, the locations are composed mostly of low-income housing and exhibit higher crime than other areas.
Weather patters in Milwaukee can fluctuate daily, with often little consistence in temperature or conditions.