|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 19th 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.
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 is actually quite good, taking into account the lack of rail support. You can take a bus from anywhere, to almost anywhere in the city, with minor excursions to the suburbs. The fare is $1.75, children (6-11) and seniors (65+ with Medicare card) $0.85. 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 busses as you wish before the time runs out.
The local businesses have also contracted the bus system to run the popular trolley loop for the 2005 season, and hopefully beyond. This trolley runs every 20 minutes, Tuesday through Sunday, and runs on a separate fare system than the rest of the bus system. Fare is $2 for the entire day, with full on and off privileges, but only for the trolleys. Seems like a good way to move around downtown, but be aware that it does not serve the SummerFest festival grounds, although the north gate of SummerFest is only a two-five minute walk to the Milwaukee Art Museum. (#3 on the trolley map)
Make sure to either have exact change, or to pay a little extra, as bus drivers (for both systems) do not make change.
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 and at Miller Park (the local baseball stadium), 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, it is not recommended. Parking outside the Downtown/East Side are is a non-issue, and for the most part, neither is traffic.
• Milwaukee is known for its Beer. In several spots around the city, the smell of yeast from the beer factories is quite strong.
• Miller Brewery offers excellent tours. The tour begins with a short video of famous Miller commercials, continues to the original brewery to demonstrate the growth and progress of the company, and finishes at a pub for a little beer-tasting. To set up a tour call (800)994-LITE
• Sprecher (maker of beer and root beer) is a smaller brewery on Milwaukee's north side. They also offer tours.
• Lakefront Brewery is another small, locally-owned microbrewery specializing in handmade beers in the tradition of early Milwaukee brewers. Located along the Milwaukee river just north of downtown.
• The Petit National Ice Center is a renowned Olympic training center. It has a full ice-racing track and two hockey rinks. Public skate hours vary, but are usually in the evening. Skate rentals are available for a good price.
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 have a car, there is a strip of budget hotels on College Avenue near Mitchell International Airport.
• 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.
• The Ambassador Hotel, which just completed a renovation, is an art deco gem with reasonable rates, and is located just west of Marquette University on Wisconsin Avenue.
• Best Western 710 N Old World 3rd
• Howard Johnson 176 W Wisconsin
• Ramada 633 W Michigan
• Holiday Inn 611 W Wisconsin
• For a bit of old world charm, try the Knickerbocker On The Lake (1028 E Juneau).
• Wyndham Milwaukee Center Hotel 139 East Kilbourn Avenue. Tel: (414) 276-8686. Fax: (414) 276-8007. In the heart of downtown, the intimate Wyndham Hotel Milwaukee Center puts you close to all the excitement.
• Wyndham Garden Hotel - Brookfield/Milwaukee 18155 W. Bluemound Road. Tel: (262) 792-1212. Fax: (262) 792-1201. Perfectly located between General Mitchell International Airport and downtown Milwaukee, we'll make your stay comfortable and convenient - feel the passion and pride of the Midwest when you visit us here.
• Four Points Sheraton Milwaukee Airport - A nice hotel just 2 miles from the Airport. FREE WIFI
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 modern 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.
Downtown has been clean and safe since the mid-1990s. It was a nightmare during the 1980s but has since been substantially renovated and real estate is now booming, particularly along the lake. Inner-city Milwaukee extends from Humboldt Avenue on the East, to approximately Sherman Blvd to the West, Capitol on the north side and National Avenue on the Southside.
The north and south side of Milwaukee is full of hardworking, culturally diverse people. The Northshore area is full of wealthy, white-collar individuals. the "West side," west of 124th street, is in fact Brookfield and Waukesha: filled with hard-working blue collar Americans. Brookfield and Waukesha have minimal crime and Waukesha County has the longest life expectancy of any Wisconsin County. It is also very conservative.
You may want to be careful on or around North Ave.
• The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is Milwaukee's only major daily newspaper, distributed in the morning. Price: $0.50 daily, $1.75 Sunday Edition.
• The Shepherd Express is Milwaukee's #1 free weekly newspaper.
• MKE is the other major weekly newspaper, owned by the same company that owns the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Like the Shepherd Express, it is also free.
• "The Onion", a very popular satirical newspaper, can be found in many area restaurants and coffee shops, and is free of charge.
Tourist tip: check the "In The News" section.
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• Milwaukee is served by Mitchell International Airport (MKE) .
• Midwest Airlines, frequently rated #1 in domestic air service, is based at Mitchell International Airport.
Amtrak serves a downtown and an 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).
I-94 comes in from Madison to the west, and continues to Chicago to the south. I-43 will get you to the city from Green Bay from the north, and continues south-west to Rockford.
The Lake Express is a high speed ferry that operates across Lake Michigan to Muskegon, MI.
Harley Davidson motorcycles are made in Wisconsin, and there are several plants in and around Milwaukee. Whether you are interested in buying a motorcycle or not, the retail stores are definitely places of interest. The House of Harley on Layton Avenue is a giant gallery of motorcycles from the past and present. You can also take a tour of the factory.
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)
• Johnson Controls
• Northwestern Mutual
• Rockwell Automation
• Wisconsin Energy
• Marshall & Ilsley Corp.
• Briggs & Stratton
• A.O. Smith
• MGIC Investment
• Joy Global
The Milwaukee-Racine metropolitan area was also rated one of the Top 20 Hot Cities for Entrepreneurs in 2005.
• Greater Milwaukee Convention & Visitors Bureau
• City of Milwaukee