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Three Days in Milwaukee

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Pete Incaviglia, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    Well, the wife and I and the little Inky are back from Milwaukee. I thought I'd report on the city I most recently visited.

    We spent three days in Milwaukee. I'd say that's about enough. And that's not a slight on a good, clean easy-to-navigate city. But any longer than that, and you'll be searching for things to do — especially if it's you and your family. A single guy or bunch of guys could drink day in and day out in Milwaukee.

    Here are brief reviews on the things we did and saw:

    1) Shopped Brady Street. Not bad. Not great. It's no Haight Street in San Francisco. There are some unique shops, unique pubs, but they're separated by houses, offices and houses converted into offices. As with all streets like this, they rolled up the carpets pretty early, so we scarfed down a burger at The Burger Joint. It was fine for what it was at 6 p.m.

    2) Toured Miller Park. It was me, my wife and our four-month old. Tickets were $8 each (kid was free). We showed up for the first tour, at 10:30 a.m. We were the ONLY people to show up for the first tour. We basically had our own tour guide, which was nice. One-on-one questions were answered, some better attention to detail was paid. It was great. I'd assume the 10:30 a.m. tour is the least busy. The one right behind us was packed. We saw both members only clubs, were givena history lesson, sat in Bob Ueker's broadcast chair, visited the media room (I acted as if I'd never been in one before), sat in the visitor's dugout (and snapped a picture of the little on on the bench in her car seat/stroller seat), hung out in the Brewers' bullpen, walked the warning track from homer to center. And, of course, I took some cool pictures from all angles. Visitors clubhouse off limits on game days, but apparently there is a punching bag hanging in the bathroom. It's used to save things like hand dryers, garbage cans and whatever else a pissed off ball player will beat up after being thrown out, pulled, ect.

    SIDE NOTE: I was pretty disappointed the ball park is built in the middle of nowhere. No shops, pubs or restaurants at all. Just a big old parking lot, which has a) the landing spot of Hank Aaron's final homer marked and b) the old home plate of County Stadium marked and c) a monument of the Braves first and last rosters in Milwaukee.

    Oh, the tour lasts an hour.

    3) Shopping (I had to take the wife). We went to Bayshore Shopping Center. Huge. And out of our price range. But a cool little "outdoor mall" where you walk store to store via sidewalks. We didn't buy much, trust me.

    4) Brewers game. Miller Park is, well, nice. Of all the newer parks I've been to (Safeco, PNC, Comerica) this one is average. The retractible roof and removable glass panes are cool, but there isn't much character after that. Not that Comerica has much either, but it's a novelty what with its ferris wheel and giant tigers. Our seats were row one, behind a camera pit at the end of a dugout. My kid was safe as can; no foul balls [/crossthreading]. As for the food. Had to have a bratwurst. And they have these damn good cheese fries, served in a Brewers helmet.

    5) Milwaukee Zoo. The first zoo I ever visited was the San Diego Zoo. So, everything is a step down, obviously. But this zoo was reasonably priced, had few inclines to walk, lots of shade to sit under and feed the baby. It had all the "big name animals" (i.e. elephants, tigers, lions, gorillas, giraffes, hippos). No pandas. Big deal. It wasn't overly busy (then again, we were then when the gates opened). I'd highly recommend the zoo for a family.

    6) Historic Third Ward. More shopping and a public market. Meh. So-so. It was all that wrought with character. But it was devoid of it either. A couple cool pubs and a little soup/sandwich place called Soups On! There are a few restaurants that line the water front. All the patios were cool. The waterfront isn't breathtaking, but it's nice enough to sit and stare at from over the top of a pint.

    7) Schlitz Park. The only reason we went there is because my wife is a TV buff and loved Laverne and Shirley. The fictitious Shotz Brewery is based on Schlitz Brewery, but Schlitz doesn't exist anymore. It's been turned into a business park. We wanted pictures of the old brewery but it was tough to actually spot.

    SIDE NOTE: Laverne and Shirley lived on Knapp Street. That exists. They're actual address does not.

    8) Miller Brewery Tour. You have to do it. It's short (about 45 minutes, that includes a film at the start) and comes with three free beers (a Miller Lite, Miller High Life and MGD). Full size beers by the way. It'd be a perfect thing to do before heading to a Brewers game with the boys. By the way, I was AMAZED at the sheer volume of beer produced per day in that place. The warehouse was literally awesome. There's not a lot to see (I mean really, it's just bottles and cans running down the line), but it was still cool.

    9) Gilles Frozen Custard. Damn good stuff. It's located about five minutes from Miller Brewery. It's an old style custard joint. It's about 70-plus years old. Worth saying you went there.

    10) Milwaukee actually has an amazing sandy beach just east of downtown. If it were warmer, we'd have hung out there (speaking of which, does it ever warm up in Milwaukee?)

    Now, as for the people of Milwaukee. There was no happy medium. They were either the nicest people I've ever met (our usher at the game who had visited my hometown before and the hotel desk clerk who gave us bang-on backdoor directions to the Park and the guy who fixed my flat at Miller Park) or downright mean (the clerk at Miller Park who walked away from us when we approached the counter to pay and ignored her coworker who asked a question about an item on our behalf or the woman in the baby clothing store who made eye contact with my wife — twice — and never smiled much less said hello).

    Things we'd like to have done — if we were childless:

    1) The Holler House — America's oldest bowling alley.
    2) A couple more brew pubs.
    3) Any other pub that serves beer and cheese curds.
    4) Harley Davidson factory tour (and, subsequently, their new museum which opens in July and looks huge and amazing)

    If you go, traffic from Chicago to Milwaukee is HELL ON EARTH. Every toll road is under construction. And, the highway is down from three to two lanes each way from Chicago to Milwaukee — save a couple miles near Milwaukee.

    There you have it. Another summer, another ball park and another helping hand from SportsJournalists.com members. Thanks all! We had a good time.
  2. SportsGuyBCK

    SportsGuyBCK Active Member

    Too bad you didn't put off the trip for another week or so ... I think Summerfest starts this week, and runs through July 4th weekend ... a must-do if you're in Milwaukee -- lots of name musical acts (caught Metallica and Shania Twain there back in the mid-90s), lots of food from all the restaurants in Milwaukee, and, oh yeah -- LOTS of beer ... :)
  3. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    My favorite group, They Might Be Giants, is playing Summerfest. FYI. :D
  4. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    Yeah. People were talking about that when we were there. There was also Alpinefest (?) going on when we were in town.
  5. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    I hear that a lot from out-of-towners. First, the park was built on the property of old County Stadium, which at the time it was built was on the edge of the city, which was the trend of the time.

    But that aside, the fact is Miller Park is in the best location it could possibly be given the character of the fans.

    It's become a Brewers tradition to tailgate. Milwaukee has one of the few major league baseball tailigating experiences you'll find. It's like going to a college football game.

    If Miller Park were a downtown ballpark it would have lost that charm and that would have really sucked. Tailgating is part of the Brewers experience.

    That and the big parking lot makes it pretty much as hassle-free an in-and-out as you're ever going to get for a game.
  6. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    Great points Bub.

    My hotel desk clerk immediately asked "You gonna tailgate?" And I said, "no" — probably in a tone that sounded as if I thought HE was the idiot.

    Then we get there and it's, like you said, a college football game atmosphere. Games in the parking lot, tunes everywhere, people partying on rooftops of vans, BBQs everywhere, all kinds of stuff. Very cool.
  7. Huggy

    Huggy Well-Known Member

    Great stuff Pete. The Huggy fam is planning a baseball roadie for next summer that will hopefully include Milwaukee.
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