Day Trip: Milwaukee, WI

There are many cities in the U.S. that don’t get the credit that they deserve.  Between New York and Los Angeles lie a bounty of small cities that offer cultural experiences unique to their regions.  One among them is Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  As the state’s most populous city, Milwaukee and her triple-threat attractions (beer, cheese, and sausage) do not disappoint.

This year, Anne and I spent the Christmas season with her family outside of Chicago.  As the festivities died down and the whirlwind of crafting, wrapping presents, and eating slowed, we all decided to take a day trip to Milwaukee.  A recent article in the Travel section of The New York Times piqued Janet’s interest.

Milwaukee lies an hour and a half north of Chicago, along Lake Michigan.  Upon our arrival, some of us explored the Historic Third Ward neighborhood while others went to the Harley-Davidson Museum.  Some favorite spots in this neighborhood included: Colectivo Coffee Roasters, Hot Pop Gallery, and Milwaukee Public Market (the equivalent of Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia).

Our journey continued onward when we met up for a tour of Lakefront Brewery along the Milwaukee River.  It proved to be a fun and informative tour for all.  We tasted a white ale, an amber lager, a pumpkin lager, and a kolsch-style ale.  Lakefront Brewery was the second brewery in the nation to brew beer with pumpkin, and the first brewery since prohibition to brew a fruit beer.  Pretty neat!

Believe it or not, we ended the evening at Milwaukee Brat House.  Before even ordering brats, we enjoyed a giant soft pretzel that came in a pizza box.  Go big or go home, right?  It was amazing.  We should have stopped there, but alas…  Our day trip was capped off with Kopp’s Frozen Custard.  Despite feeling as though we might keel over, our trip to Milwaukee was a success!  The weather was beautiful, and the city broadened our (Lake Michigan) horizons.

Note: Click images to view in slideshow.  Images taken by Victoria Vitale and Janet Kenealy.

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Day Trip: terrain

Last weekend, local home and garden center terrain hosted a holiday open house.  I’ve been feeling my holiday juices begin to flow a bit early this year, and terrain did not disappoint.  Not only is it a home and garden center, it is a restaurant, cafe, and event venue.  Anne and I took her visiting parents to go see what this holiday hoo-ha was all about.  It’s a good thing we went early in the day – the place was full of hipsters by noon!

There is magic in the air at terrain, and your crafting/gardening senses will leave feeling full and refreshed (and very, very eager).  The trip was thoroughly enjoyed by all.  A few items we brought home include a beautiful, vibrant red poinsettia (thanks, Janet & Dave!), succulents, and Christmas gifts for those-who-shall-not-be-named.

To anyone in the Philadelphia area: I urge you to check out terrain this holiday season.  The store is chock full o’ gifts and inspirations!

Note: Click images to view in slideshow.

The City of Neighborhoods

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City Hall

Anne and I recently had a friend visit us from out of town, and it was a great way for us to get out and about in our own city!  We spent an entire weekend walking and exploring some of Philadelphia’s greatest neighborhoods.  Included on our self-guided tour: Center City, Art Museum, Fairmount, the Schuylkill River Trail, Chinatown, Olde City, Northern Liberties, and South Philly.  Phew!

The Clock Tower

The Clock Tower

View from the Clock Tower Observation Deck

View from the Clock Tower Observation Deck (note: Art Museum)

The Delaware River

The Delaware River

Rocky

Rocky

Art Museum

Art Museum

Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary

Elfreth's Alley, the nation's oldest residential street dating back to 1702

Elfreth’s Alley, the nation’s oldest residential street dating back to 1702

The Schuylkill River Trail

The Schuylkill River Trail

Chinatown at Night

Chinatown at Night

The City of Murals

“Garden of Delight”

Fall in Philadelphia has proven to be, twice now, my favorite season of the year.  While I initially had to mourn the passing of summer, I am full steam ahead about all that fall has to offer.  I decided to ring in this beautiful weather by checking out Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program.  They offer a self-guided “Mural Mile Walking Tour” that I took full advantage of!

“Legacy”

The Mural Arts Program has a fascinating history which began in 1984 as part of the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network.  In hopes of creating empowering neighborhood murals, graffiti artists were hired to inject color and life into an industrial city.  Local prisons and rehabilitation centers offer educational programs on mural arts, and incarcerated individuals are hired to paint murals for schools and community centers in the area.  Mural Arts even has a re-entry program for recently released prisoners.

“Taste of Summer”

Today, Philadelphia is home to 3,500+ murals.  These murals give local residents a voice and a medium with which to communicate stories and traditions.  The Mural Arts Program has expanded to working with children and youth, helping them to develop a sense of community and belonging.

“Building the City”

“A People’s Progression Toward Equality”

To any Philadelphia-goer: Don’t forget to look UP!