Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'd like it here if I could leave and see it from a long way away...

Have you been to the Art Bar on Burleigh?

It is amazing to me that any time I walk in there, it smells like Milwaukee to me. I can't quite define it. It just smells familiar, comfortable, like my own home town that I (usually) love. Do you know what I mean?

We spent ten days wandering generally south, all the way to North Carolina, and then back north again, and visited a lot of places. Louisville, Kentucky (pre-flooding) was probably the nicest and most hospitable. We met a lady there who mentioned a campaign of sorts called Keep Louisville Weird. That is, that the residents wanted to retain the local color and flavor of their city, and support the local businesses that help keep it feeling like a place- its own place- rather than the ubiquitious chains that can make every place feel and taste and seem the same. There is something similar in Austin, TX, she said. Actually, we do have a thing like that here in Milwaukee; it just has a less evocative title.

The whole trip really made me think, what are the things that I would want to do if I were a tourist here? What if I had 24 or 48 hours to visit and wanted to see and do the things, old and new, that make Milwaukee Milwaukee? What would I tell myself to experience?

Leon's, yes, definitely. A brewery tour. Which one? Coffee, where? Alterra? (It's a chain, but a local one.) The lakefront, definitely, and the Calatrava. Live music of a local nature, and a beer- where for that? What about art? Sparrow Collective, maybe? Riverwest? Those are the kind of things I try to do when I am somewhere else- experience the real place, not (anathema!) the McDonald's version.

I've talked to people who have lived here and are moving away. An oft-cited reason is "it's too small." I really don't think so. Trying to come up with a list like that above, I am conflicted: there is a lot of choice. What do you think?


Rhyno said...

Any corner custard place is probably solid, but Leons has that historic touch. Without a doubt, the Lakefront Brewery tour is the best around. It may not have as much history(being newer), but it beats every other tour I have been on. If you included the surrounding areas, the Cedar Creek winery in Cedarburg is a good stop. Fun stuff can be showing the Blues Brothers bridge and North Americas first retractable dome stadium which has some locally owned drinking establishments inside of it. A concert at the Rave or Shank Hall is good nightlife. Dont forget you can canoe from Menomonee Falls all the way down to Lake Michigan, too. For more surrounding stuff, a trip out to Lapham Peak cant be beat.

Being in the Gleasons, you know there are some very authentic Irish pubs in the area for food, music and drink. That goes for German, Serb and Italian as well. Maybe that would be the way to sell us, the whole multi-cultural aspect like the local ethnic restaurants/pubs and festivals, too.

Anonymous said...

Leon's of course. There is no better custard than that from Leon's.

mikemiller34 said...

Louisville is indeed a cool place. I went down there out of the blue almost 4 years ago because I was looking for a 2 or 3-day getaway on very little money. I was successful--and pleasantly suprised by the town. One of my favorite memories of the last 5 years. Maybe there will be direct flights now that Southwest is coming here.

Charlotte said...

I want you to take me to the Art Bar.

The River Otter said...

Charlotte, I want to take you to the Art*Bar!!