These are some of the best ways to kill some free time in the Milwaukee suburbs.
This ain’t your basic pottery studio. In fact, it’s hard to classify Just Kiln’ Time as anything other than an all-around DIY art haven. Here you can paint, sculpt, “slump” glass bottles, fuse glass pieces together and a whole lot more, even without an appointment. You can, of course, make an appointment with your friends and turn that creative energy into a full-blown party.
Wauwatosa bookworms are passionate about this State Street bookstore that’s been around for over 30 years. It’s easy to see why. Owner Linda Burg and her booksellers bring knowledge and advice, and have been doling it out to multiple generations of readers.
This Marcus Corp.-owned movie house packs in a lot more than cinema, and we appreciate that they keeps a lot of the local love. Here you can dine on Zaffiro’s pizza, perk up with Stone Creek Coffee brews, and sate your sweet tooth with ice cream from the Chocolate Shoppe. Oh, and, the $5 Tuesday night ticket deal doesn’t hurt either.
Town of Erin
At 12 years young, Erin Hills is just a pup among its mature golf-course brothers and sisters. But the kid has grown up fast, as it became Wisconsin’s first-ever course to host the U.S. Open in 2017. The course sits 45 minutes’ drive from Downtown Milwaukee, close to Holy Hill, but when you get there you’ll swear you took a wrong turn into Ireland. It’s lush, with manicured green fairways framed by golden patches of meadow and rounded stretches of beach, er, sand traps.
Golf Around the ‘Burbs
108 holes of options beyond the bounds of the city
Number of Holes
12035 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis
Yes (2015 renovations included larger, easier-to-hit greens)
Renovations in 2015 cost $3.1 million and removed a signature feature, the 15th hole periscope.
3535 N. Mayfair Rd., Wauwatosa
No (indoor range is under renovation)
On the site of Milwaukee's first airport, opened in 1919
6333 W. Bonniwell Rd., Mequon
34 bunkers, two water hazards, and plenty of changes in elevation
3600 W. Oakwood Rd., Franklin
At 7,074 yards, it’s Milwaukee County’s longest course
Silver Spring Island Course
N56 W21318 Silver Spring Dr., Menomonee Falls
Hole No. 8 is on an island, the only naturally occurring island green in Wisconsin
Silver Spring Falls Course
N56 W21318 Silver Spring Dr., Menomonee Falls
The shorter, more user-friendly sibling to the island course on the same site
Once a year (June 3), six blocks of Greenfield Avenue’s quaintest strip shut down for West Allis’ biggest bash (outside of State Fair). It’s where you’ll find tons of beer (craft and otherwise), live music, a special vendor section for your furry friends, and entertainment, from Irish dancers jigging to gymnasts twirling.
The 33rd festival (June 23-24), a “berry” beloved Cedarburgian tradition, is probably the only event in the area where you’ll find a strawberry brat and a strawberry pancake breakfast at the same venue as goblets of local beer and copious local art. Proof that sometimes unlikely pairings can bear fruitful results.
This ode to the blues has featured some impressive acts (like Son Little in 2016) that offer modern interpretations of the genre, along with performers with expertise in the soul-searing classics. Aug. 10-11.
How can you reinvent the Oktoberfest wheel? Head to Waukesha. From Sept. 21-22, you won’t take in the usual beer, brats and Gemütlichkeit. No, the ‘Sha has cranked it up to 11 so that you can experience a “Wurst Beer Biathlon,” kid-friendly parade, and brats cooked by Waukesha’s mayor, Shawn Riley.
Don’t have a Green thumb but wish you did? Live vicariously amid these sprawling acres, where paths weave in and outof lush flowers and trees. Where else are you going to see a fragrant Solomon’s seal or a Diabolo ninebark?
Seventeen miles of trails make this state park one of the best natural locales in this part of the state. But you’ve likely already considered this while standing atop the tower, gazing across miles and miles of glacier-shaped Wisconsin.
A reader favorite, these 335 acres of land and scenic walking trails originally belonged to John and Florence Retzer and served as the couple’s retirement home roughly 80 years ago. They now belong to Waukesha County and serve the public as a spot for walking, stargazing (in the ultra sweet planetarium) and taking in the flora and fauna, some of which came from the pre-World War II Wisconsin Conservation Department.
Whether the hillside complex’s religious significance means anything to you, it’s hard to argue with its chapels’ milieu of peace and clarity. In the largest of them, look for the rack of crutches reportedly cast aside by pilgrims who were healed. And be sure to hike its grounds in fall, where the landscape is carpeted in leaves.
The motto at this Episcopalian boarding school for boys and girls in Delafield is “Work hard, play hard, pray hard,” and it must be working, because several St. John’s graduates have gone on to play in the NFL or achieve fame in Hollywood (Spencer Tracy) or diplomacy (Cold War architect George Kennan). An added bonus: The 250-or-so middle and high school-aged boys enrolled at the school can use its nine-hole golf course. In 2018, the Academy began allowing young women full academic and summer programming offers.
Historic Downtown Greendale
The heart of this “Greenbelt” town, one of three constructed during President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, is a strip reminiscent of small-town New England. At one end is a high-tech statue of Norman Rockwell, whose electronic canvas changes to match whatever direction he’s turned in.
A small farmhouse on the western side of West Forest Home Avenue, the Stahl-Conrad Homestead in Hales Corners, built during the 1870s, is a relic of what life used to be like in the southern ’burbs. The Hales Corners Historical Society occasionally holds educational events at the two-story brick building.
This elegant cluster of white buildings serves as a hub for the local Hindu community and also offers free yoga classes and, occasionally, a course in mindfulness meditation.
Main Street in Pewaukee
Where Main Street turns into Wisconsin Avenue in cozy Pewaukee and brushes against the long lake of the same name is one of the cheeriest parts of Southeastern Wisconsin, with pastel-hued storefronts and a wide variety of sweets and more savory eats (try Artisan 179). Breathe the air. That’s the taste of relaxation and satisfaction you’re sensing.
We Salute …
For injured wildlife of nearly all species, the donation-funded Wildlife in Need Center near Oconomowoc is like falling into the arms of angels. The center admits about 3,000 animals a year, all delivered by local residents (it is not otherwise open to the public) and attempts to nurse them back to health. So if you encounter a critter with a bum beak, crooked wing or out-of-whack cornea, you know where to go get ’em back in the wild where they belong.