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?