Monday, March 05, 2018

List Day Five: Places to Go

I'm not exactly Miss Travel Queen. I like spending my vacations sewing, or reading, or simply sleeping late in the comfort of my own bed. That said, I do think my hometown and the State of Wisconsin generally have quite a few places worth visiting.

1. The Milwaukee Lakefront. Beaches, restaurants and park line the shores of Lake Michigan for miles. The beaches and parks are free to the public (though there is a nasty, nasty plan by Milwaukee County to start charging for parking at these far, public opinion is winning, but the county's need for cash to squander use is great). Lake Michigan is really only warm enough for swimming after the 4th of July, but there is still much to do along the lakefront.

2. Milwaukee County Park System. In spite of the politician's determined attempts to destroy them, the parks in the county are among the best in the country. As you can see from the listing, the park system ranges from tiny, neighborhood parks to monster, golf-course included, 350-acre-plus wildernesses.  It includes river parkways, beaches, center city squares, hiking trails, ball fields and formal botanical gardens. Given the length of our winters, Wisconsinites are prone to taking advantage of every moment the weather is clement by spending it outdoors. Our park system supports those activities.

3. The Milwaukee Arts community. When the weather is cold, we take our activity indoors. Whether you are one for art museums, live theater, concerts or specialty museums, we have something for you. For a community our size, we have a wonderful symphony and smaller instrumental groups, as well as several fine choral groups. Why yes, the Midwest is home to some culture.

4. The festivals. Good heavens, the festivals. Summerfest is the granddaddy of them all, an eleven-day riot of musical groups from internationally known supergroups (why yes, the Rolling Stones were here a few years ago) to local bands. All performances are free except for the daily headliners at the main stage, for which there are additional tickets needed. Summerfest runs around the 4th of July, and features massive fireworks over the lake on opening day and July 3rd. This is the 51st year for the festival.

5. The food. Perhaps the best way to sample the great variety of food available in the city is to spend the weekends grazing through the offerings at the various ethnic festivals. We are home to a large Hispanic population, and there are many restaurants in the area offering authentic Mexican cuisine. Honestly, if you name a cuisine, there is a good possibility you can find it in Milwaukee. The possibilities are too numerous to link.

6. The custard. No, not the pudding-like dessert much of the world calls "custard", but egg-enriched ice cream. The addition of egg yolk to the cream and milk gives the finished product a creamier, richer texture. Try Kopps, Oscars, Gilles, or Culvers, or go back in time with a visit to Leons. Note that the custard stands, at least the ones listed, stay open year around. That way, on a forty degree day in early March (like today), we can enjoy a cone before the snow comes barreling back tomorrow.

There is so much more. In the greater state, there are places like Lambeau Field, with its rich gridiron history, Old World Wisconsin, where history comes to life, American Player's Theater in a gorgeous natural ampitheater, Devil's Lake with gorgeous scenery and challenging trails, Bay Beach Park with old fashioned kiddie rides (tickets only 25 cents; most rides take 2 tickets)...and so much more. The bluffs along the Mississippi River near LaCrosse are gorgeous. A sizeable breeding crowd of bald eagles also make their home along that shore, as well as some along the Wisconsin River. There are some incredible wineries in the state (Wollersheim is my favorite).

And, of course, cheese and beer. My linky finger is tired, so I will refer you to Mr. Google. But we produce incredible cheeses, and while only Miller-Coors has a big brewery in the state, our supply of talented microbreweries is impressive.

That's enough bragging. Come visit us in late June, when everything is bright and blooming. Wander through a few festivals. Take in a few parks (did I mention the world-class golf courses at Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run?). Relax with some wine on a terrace overlooking a river. Enjoy our state's unofficial summer sport ("You don't know how to water ski? Come along with us, we'll have you up in no time!").

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