The best things in Milwaukee are free.
The Recombobulation Area
At most airports, you stagger out of the TSA line, shoes in hand, belt half-off, backpack hanging open, gawking at the strangers around you with a look of violated, confused terror. Mitchell Airport is the only airport I’ve been where this doesn’t happen. You leave security, head for a bench, look up and see that beautiful sign: “Recombobulation Area.” All the frazzle and frustration of airport security goes out the window, and you just smile to yourself — delightful.
That Giant Statue of Henry Winkler
I know “The Bronz Fonz” is really a statue of the character Fonzie and it’s also normal-sized, but I prefer to tell people we have a giant statue of Henry Winkler downtown. Love me some Henry Winks. Have you seen Barry? He’s great in that.
In the eternal debate over best Milwaukee festival, I cast my lot with Festa. The food is great, the music is classy, the merchandise is adorable and the food is great. And yeah, it’s better than Summerfest. Boom. If you were looking for fiery controversial opinions, you came to the right place.
Since age five, I’ve been a massive fan of this part of the Public Museum. It struck me as the epitome of museum greatness with its cobblestone streets, old-timey shops and dim lighting. Unlike many opinions I held when I was five, this one is coherent, and I stand by it.
Normally when I listen to Radiohead for nine straight hours and stare into space, people point at me and whisper. But when I do it while staring at Lake Michigan, they think I’m just an angst-ridden young man with bad fashion sense contemplating the cold realities of this mortal coil. My thoughts automatically seem about twelve times deeper when they occur near bodies of water.
The Third Ward
I’ve walked my fair share of neighborhoods over the years, and the Third Ward is one of the best. Proximity to the lake, repurposed warehouses, historic industrial architecture, muffins — this ‘hood has it all.
Sometimes, around seven in the morning, Milwaukee is engulfed in a cloud of fog, like a post-apocalyptic mist, that fills me with a morbid joy. Driving in on 94, the edges of City Hall emerge through the cloud, and you descend into the urban grayness and drive down the half-deserted streets, suddenly the star of your own moody film.