If I were to make a sitcom set in the city of Milwaukee, the opening credits would absolutely include a sweeping shot driving northbound on the Hoan Bridge. There’s just something about the juxtaposition of the bustling city skyline and the blue waters of Lake Michigan that makes this view unlike any other. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never driven out of the city just so I could drive back in over that bridge.
Oh, and it looks pretty great from the ground, too.
Lakeshore State Park
One of the best parts about Milwaukee is how easy it is to escape. I know that sounds like a bit of a contradiction — but stick with me here. Lakeshore State Park is the perfect example.
Venture out on the paths toward the shore and you can sit and stare into the expanse of Lake Michigan, listening to the waves and watching sailboats edge closer to the shore. It’s easy to feel like the city has disappeared altogether. But turn and face the opposite direction, and you’ll be greeted with an absolutely striking view of some of the best architecture Milwaukee has to offer, from the Calatrava to my aforementioned favorite bridge of all time.
I could watch a two-hour-long tutorial on how to file a tax return on a screen in the Oriental and still leave feeling like I had just experienced something magical. The architecture is enchanting in and of itself, and the film selection is always fantastic. It truly is a one-of-a-kind place. The Oriental has ruined commercial movie theaters for me, and I’m not even mad about it.
The Third Ward
When I was a young girl, visiting the Third Ward with my mom was always a very exciting affair. Everything felt so big and important. I was even in awe of the Gold’s Gym sign spilling down the side of the city center. Now, after living in the city for several years, it doesn’t seem as spatially impressive, but it hasn’t lost its draw. From the river walk to the diverse selection of restaurants and the beautiful architecture, there’s just something special about this part of Milwaukee.
I lived in Manhattan for a couple of months during the time in my life when I was convinced that greatness could only be achieved in bigger cities. I was quick to miss not only the unique solitude of Milwaukee’s quiet streets, but the kindness of its inhabitants as well.
I remember the night I flew home, expecting to miss the hustle and bustle of New York immediately. My flight landed around 10 p.m., and in typical Milwaukee airport fashion, I had my luggage and was back downtown shortly after. It was the last night of Summerfest, and the friend who picked me up convinced me to head to the grounds to watch the Violent Femmes.
I remember standing in the crowd, looking around at all the concert-goers — beers in hand — and thinking, “These are my people.” There’s just something about the kindness and camaraderie among Milwaukeeans that makes it always feel like home, no matter where you’re from or where you go.