Spend five minutes Googling Milwaukee and you’ll realize that every blogger and writer covering the city is trying to let readers in on the same secret: Milwaukee is amazing but not many people seem to realize it. I was fortunate enough to spend four days in Wisconsin’s capital for BlogHouse in June, and here are just a few reasons why I’m already plotting my return to this underrated city.
So. Much. Cheese.
I’ve always loved cheese. I’ve been known to decline a proper dinner in favour of big hunks of brie stacked on crackers or smoothed over fresh bread. After being relatively deprived of really good cheese while living in Asia over the past few years, my obsession with it has only further intensified.
Looking back, I’m fairly certain that every meal or snack I ate during my four days in Milwaukee involved cheese in some way; whether it was a crumbly mature cheddar as part of an appetizer, or even the Wac Mac sandwich I ate at the Milwaukee Public Market for lunch (and yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like – a grilled cheese-style sandwich filled with mac n’ cheese).
Milwaukee is the only place outside of Canada that I’ve ever seen cheese curds. I thought we Canadians had perfected the serving of the cheese curd – layered with French fries and gravy – but the deep fried cheese curds I tried in Milwaukee had me reconsidering if poutine is the only proper way to enjoy them. They tasted a bit like mozzarella sticks, only way better.
Aside from cheese, beer is the easily second thing that comes to mind when most people think of Milwaukee – apparently Wisconsin is actually home to more bars than grocery stores. Although the city’s reputation for beer was built by big brands like Pabst, Blatz, and Schlitz, it’s microbreweries that have been strengthening its status in recent years.
As you might expect, a number of Milwaukee’s breweries also offer tours. You might think that once you’ve seen one brewery tour you’ve seen them all – I know I did- but tours of Lakefront Brewery of truly one-of-a-kind. Most of the brewery’s guides also work as stand-up comics and the result is informative and engaging tours that blend rapid-fire jokes with genuinely interesting facts about the brewing process.
Seriously Awesome People
I’ll admit that describing a place as offering a mix of big city sophistication and small town charm is a bit of a cliché, yet that was exactly my impression of Milwaukee.
When our BlogHouse group descended on the Milwaukee Public Market to take a paparazzi-like level of photos, I feel like we might have been met with annoyance or suspicion in a different capital; but in Milwaukee people were friendly and earnestly curious about what we were doing. Similarly, when our group hit the Uber Tap Room, a café attached to the Wisconsin Cheese Mart, a few customers sitting along the bar immediately started offering unsolicited beer recommendations.
I can remember dozens of other little moments like these ones throughout trip – moments in which the locals felt like one big family collectively welcoming me into a home that they’re deeply proud of. (Plus there’s just something impossibly disarming about those Upper Midwestern accents).
There’s A Lot More to Do
While I’m so grateful to have participated in BlogHouse, it did mean that a good portion of my time in Milwaukee was spent in a conference room and as a result, I didn’t get to see as much of the city as I would have liked. For example, I only caught a glimpse of the Milwaukee Art Museum, known for the crazy cool sunscreen on its roof which opens and closes like a set of flapping wings.
My trip also fell a little too early to experience Summerfest, touted as “World’s Largest Music Festival.” The festival, which features performances by more than 800 different bands, is held over eleven days in June and early July each year.
Plus, let’s be honest, there was only so much cheese and beer I could reasonably consume over a few days – so next summer, I’m definitely going back for more.
Have you been to Milwaukee?