An Illinois native, Lauren Sieben has happily made Milwaukee her home.
I adore my neighborhood, and I have to condense it into one item at the risk of turning this entire list into an ode to Bay View. From Bay View Bowl to Barnacle Bud’s, there’s a lot to love. Not to mention the mind-bogglingly good roster of bars and restaurants, our access to the southern leg of the Oak Leaf Trail, two (!) beer gardens, gallery nights, and of course, countless hair salons. You’ll never need to go far to find a good hairstylist. Or tattoo artist. Or vape shop.
Grant Park Beach
Ideal for those of us who enjoy Bradford but think the whole parking-and-crowds situation is too much of an ordeal. Grant Park Beach is a beautiful spot; just face your towel away from the Oak Creek Power Plant, and you’ll be in a lakefront paradise. An afternoon at Grant Park also pairs nicely with a hike along the Seven Bridges Trail.
Anytime I host an out-of-town visitor, I take them to Vanguard. Even if they tell me they don’t much care for sausage. Too bad! Vanguard will change your mind. Vegan, you say? No problem! I’m an omnivore who dines off Vanguard’s vegan menu, because it’s just that good. (The burnt ginger tofu is an underrated delight.) The draft cocktails? I’m salivating at the thought, and it’s 9 a.m. on a Tuesday as I write this. You’d think Vanguard pays me to be their hype person, but no. I just feel very strongly about this restaurant specializing in poutine and encased meats.
The Milwaukee mentality
“Midwestern nice” is a tired trope, but I can understand its origins. No, we are not all simpletons living up here in flyover country, hey dontchaknow? But there is a certain no-frills, no-BS outlook on life that I appreciate here and that I have rarely encountered in bigger (coastal) cities. The only time Milwaukeeans get nasty with me is when I admit I’m from Illinois on a Packers vs. Bears game day.
Milwaukee’s sentimental value
Most coming-of-age stories about my millennial contemporaries are set in New York or Los Angeles or Portland or Chicago, but Milwaukee is where I’ve blossomed. It’s where I’ve grown the most as a professional and as a writer. It’s where I’ve made a home, fallen in love and started to lay down roots. It may be a bit maudlin, but Milwaukee will always have a piece of my heart.