This post is written in partnership with Visit Milwaukee – all opinions and general words are my own.
You’ll remember that my diva friend Michelle and I headed up to Milwaukee, Wisconsin this summer for a girlfriends getaway, and we shared earlier, what to eat when in Milwaukee with your good friends, but today, I’m sharing where to go, and what to do. For those of you new to the blog, I’ve been going to Milwaukee for a bit of time now, but this time, I found places that I never knew existed. That’s the joy of visiting a city more than once. To find the nooks and crannies of the place and to hold them close to your travel vest is the best. Especially when you can return for a visit and travel like a local.
While in Milwaukee, we visited one of my favorite neighborhoods, the 3rd ward, but we stepped outside of old Milwaukee and headed over to the Harambee Community to spend the day. Harambee has a strong history of staying together and pulling together. The area was first settled by German immigrants in the 1800s and later, the black population grew. By the 1970s, the black community reached its peak, so much so that residents renamed their neighborhood Harambee, which means “all pull together” in Swahili.
Victory Garden Initiative
Victory Garden Initiative builds communities that grow their own food, creating a socially-just, environmentally sustainable, nutritious food system for all.
We stopped by the garden because of my work with We Sow We Grow Project. Michelle was kind enough to let me wander and even stick around as some of the youth in the community stuck around to make refrigerator pickles. If you’re interested in seeing a video – you can check out my episode of IGTV on We Sow We Grow. The community based urban farm was far larger than it seemed from the street, and I especially loved the community farmhouse that they have. I didn’t have time to tour, but you bet I’ll be back!
Victory Garden Urban Farm (The Farm) is our 1.5-acre urban farm located in the heart of the Harambee neighborhood. The Farm is a hub of inspiring activity and a real-life picture of various solutions to the disparities that negatively impact the Milwaukee’s food system and the prevalence of hunger associated with poor nutrition and lack of food access as well as improving the neighborhood environment. From community composting to rainwater harvest to organic practices, the Farm is a model of environmentally healthy practices working together. This creates a perfect landscape for neighbors meeting neighbors, offering locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables to Harambee residents, providing alternative growing spaces,educating and empowering youth to make positive changes to their food habits and the food system, partnering with restaurants to represent a healthy supply, distribution, and revenue segment of the food system; and finally demonstrating a commitment to Milwaukee residents by providing meaningful opportunities for students, community service needs, businesses, youth, and recovery groups.Victory Garden Initiative
The inspiration that I had once I left the urban farm has really given me a jump to help design the way that I want the urban farm to look when we break ground. So much so that we hired an architectural renderer to work with us! Baby steps y’all!
Pete’s Fruit Market
Yes, you read that right. We stopped at a fruit market, and we may have gone a little crazy. Pete’s is known for having fresh fruit at reasonable prices, and staying in economically and racially diverse neighborhoods. I walked in and immediately grabbed some items off of their counter, and Michelle followed suit. We *may* have walked out with over 5 pounds of fruit that consisted of peaches, grapes, and plums.
Given that I’m intent on making sure that the folks in my neighborhood will have access to fresh produce year round, the pricing module and general freshness of the fruit in the store made my heart happy. It’s not a big secret that some stores in neighborhoods that are filled with brown-skinned people, don’t always provide the best and freshest. Fruit isn’t the only thing you can find in the aisles of Pete’s. There’s also cookware and packaged items, making it a possible one-stop shop.
This shop is an all-around pleasure to walk through. From vintage toys to sarcastic kitchen items. There was a plethora of items to examine and ooh and aah over. Their crafting section was pretty impressive as well. From books on crocheting and knitting to fabric and yard to try your hand at what you were reading about. I was transported back in time, and not in an oppressive way for women, you know? In fact, most of the funny items in the store are progressive – even if the truth in the statements hurts a bit.
I ended up purchasing a crochet book and a jar of the most delectable smelling almond body butter. It’s still going strong, and I may have had to hide it from Mr. Houseful.
Milwaukee Boat Line Tours
This was probably the most relaxing of all the attractions that we visited. Being able to sit on the boat and see the sights of Milwaukee along the lake was exactly what we needed. This cruise was provided in exchange for an honest review, but it comes in quite affordable if you plan properly. Adults pay $19.88 while children 4-12 pay less than $10. Children 3 and under are free.
Put simply, this is the cruise that we’ve built our boat line upon. Explore Milwaukee’s past and present from our rivers, harbors & Lake Michigan during this
90 minutetour. Unforgettable views and a unique perspective of Milwaukee’s history & architecture. Livenarration is provided by experienced and entertaining tour guides & the captain. Snacks, soft drinks, beer & cocktails available on board. Lunches and catering available.
During the sailing, we were able to see quite a few historical buildings and landmarks, including two lighthouses (right
The boat tour is a must if you’re interested in knowing about the history of the city from the standpoint of the water. Think about it. You never really think about how buildings and their placement really affected the way that waterways. The amount of business done from the lake and the river back when the city was just starting to grow is impressive. And I’m not talking about folks going INTO the water and shopping. Just the imports coming in, and why each and every building along the shoreline was and still is necessary.
One of my favorite images from the ship was the Milwaukee Art Museum from the back end. It looks like a regal bird of sorts, right? The large white exterior may look a bit familiar to those who live or visit NYC often. It was created by the same architect who designed the World Trade Center Transportation Hub; Santiago Calatrava. While I think it looks like a bird, it is modeled to mimic the ships that sail on Lake Michigan. But, art is subjective right? Right.
The boat tours do offer food and drink if you feel that you’ll be getting hungry or thirsty on board. Also, if you’re prone to getting chilly, it might be a good idea to bring a light scarf or jacket.
While on the water, we did sail past the Denis Sullivan – a recreation of a
Our tour guide kept us enthralled by working through the maritime history of Milwaukee to present day. Given that it was a LOT, I know that when I return, I’ll be sure to take another boat tour and check out what I may have missed the first time around.
North Point Lighthouse & Museum
Celebrating it’s 130th year, the North Point Lighthouse is a stop that I think everyone should make in Milwaukee. Before I go on, let me remind you that I’m completely terrified of heights. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea, but I am. However, Michelle LOVES lighthouses and was thrilled to see this as a stop that we should make. We did, and I’m happy that we took the time to do so. I even climbed the 74 foot tower and checked out the scene of Lake Michigan from the very top. There’s proof. It’s on Instagram.
During the summer the lighthouse is open daily, but when the temp starts dropping, they are open on Saturday and Sundays from 1-4 pm.
I was elated to learn that the longest running lightkeeper happened to be a woman who kept the light going all while caring for her ailing father. Having to ascend the tower multiple times a day had to be way more cardio than advised in a day, but she did it – never missing a day of her long tenure. If you want to know just how many times she walked up and down that tower, you’ll have to go and visit just like I did. The museum shouldn’t take more than an hour to get through, but you do want to leave some time to take that hike up the tower and see the view of Milwaukee from the top.
The docents on site are full of knowledge and can probably answer every single question you have about the lighthouse, the keepers, and the history surrounding the area.
While this is just a small sampling of the things to do in Milwaukee, it should keep you busy for a day or two, and it definitely includes areas that may not be on your places to go – like seriously, a grocery store produced a great live video for me, and quite tasty snacks to keep with us for our time there. If you’re like me, visiting areas outside of the box always takes a trip to the next level, and makes it memorable for years to come.
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