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Full disclosure. Until recently, the sum total of my Milwaukee knowledge was limited to Laverne & Shirley (for those under the age of 40, see below!) Milwaukee, however, is more than just “Hasenpfeffer Incorporated.” Milwaukee is a surprising blend of secret spots and fun finds!
Milwaukee’s Breweries and coffee culture are steeped in a tradition of baseball!
The National League Milwaukee Brewers (whose name honors the city’s tradition of beer-brewing) has a long and interesting history dating back to 1859.
Here’s a hidden gem – Milwaukee is the official birthplace of the American League! The original Brewers were one of eight charter members who met in Room 185 at the Republican House Hotel on March 5, 1900.
Of course, Milwaukee is best known for its big-name brews like Miller, Pabst, and Schlitz. The first brewery was established in 1840 on Huron Street near Lake Michigan and later became known as Lake Brewery. This enterprise launched a vibrant and sometimes volatile brew boom with more than 35 breweries (including the big manufacturers) opening during the next 20 years.
The bottling line at the beginning of Laverne & Shirley is the Lake Brewery line!
You can snag a FREE digital Brew City Beer Pass from Visit Milwaukee and enjoy BOGO beers throughout the city and a free t-shirt when you check in at your 10th brewery.
Brewing has seen a bit of an evolution in Milwaukee – from hops to beans! The coffee culture here is ‘strong’ and was recently named Best Coffee City in America.
Local colossal coffee companies like Stone Creek Coffee and Colectivo Coffee paved the way for cafes that serve unique flavors, quality roasts, and a community of coffee connoisseurs. Find your perfect blend!
The city’s oldest building dates to the 15th century – even if the city was only founded in 1846.
The St. Joan of Arc Chapel traveled from the 1420 French village of Chasse to its current home on the Marquette University campus. It was disassembled and carefully reconstructed on the campus in 1966, where it remains today.
This is a hidden gem you don’t want to miss! Dretzka’s opened in 1902 at 4746 S Packard Ave and remains relatively unchanged 120 years later. Its commitment to clutter and tchotchkes is infamous! One writer described it as
Now THAT’S a place I want to check out!
Milwaukee has a secret that just might lead to buried treasure. In 1982, Byron Preiss published The Secret, a treasure hunt involving clues and buried casks. Preiss buried 12 ceramic casks in 12 U.S. cities – each containing the key to a treasure – and invited readers to join the hunt.
When Preiss died in a car accident in 2005, his widow continued the quest. Only 3 keys have been found (Boston, Cleveland, and Chicago.) A fourth might be buried somewhere in Milwaukee – possibly in Lake Park!
It’s a mouthful, but incredibly unique. The Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary was designated in 2021. It’s 962 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline protecting 36 historically significant shipwrecks and related maritime resources.
Lake Michigan’s fresh cold water has preserved these wrecks remarkably. Many of them look exactly as they did when they sank. Two of Wisconsin’s oldest shipwrecks are here, as well as many more suspected sinkings.
Take a tour and explore the remains of these great vessels – just remember it’s illegal to remove anything.
You’ll find the world’s largest collection of bobbleheads at the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum. There are more than 6500 bobbleheads on display here. It’s a quirky, fun, one-of-a-kind tribute to the wobbly big-headed characters.
Ceramic and porcelain bobbleheads date back to the 1700s!
Laverne and Shirley may have thought it was schlemiel and schlimazel, but Milwaukee is a surprising blend of secret spots and fun finds. Visitors can expect a rich brew, a great game, and a fantastic time!
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