The Best Things to Do This Week, According to Our Editors: Aug. 8

Check out a paddle tavern, a beginner’s canoeing class, the Great Taste of the Midwest and more.

1. Go to Madison for the Great Taste of the Midwest


The best beer event I’ve ever been to – and that includes the Great American Beer Festival in Denver – is this Saturday. It’s the Great Taste of the Midwest, a huge, nonprofit beer festival put on by the Madison homebrewing club since 1987. That’s a long time to get things right, and the Great Taste is so beloved by everyone in attendance, from festgoers to brewer staff to the legion of volunteers, because it focuses on the experience for the 200-some breweries as much as the guests. Its setting – outdoors in the beautiful lakeside Olin Park – is tough to beat, too. Tickets sell out in hours every year, but if you show up at the park the morning of, you should be able to find a ticket or two being resold at its $70 face value. And the “Great Taste Eve” events – tap takeovers and other parties featuring breweries that don’t usually sell in Wisconsin – on Friday night throughout Madison are a throwback to the days when beer events in bars and restaurants really were events.

2. Take the Family to Canoeing for Beginners at Washington Park 


Canoeing is one of my favorite things. It’s peaceful, calming and delightful. I also haven’t done it in five years because I flipped a canoe once and nearly drowned and now live in terror of repeating that incident. So maybe the Urban Ecology’s Canoeing for Beginners class at Washington Park is the place for me. It’s happening on Saturday, Aug. 13 and covers the basics of canoeing. Tickets are $9-12. Also, I am now realizing that this class is for children. Well, for “families age 6+.” I am not a child. I am a man. I swear. But hey, for those of you who have kids, this still sounds cool. The UEC is one of Milwaukee’s greatest assets, and Washington Park is a historic treasure.

3. Work from Colectivo on Prospect 


Last Thursday, I decided that my work-from-home day would be a work-from-café day, and what a wonderful change of scenery that was. I went to the Colectivo on Prospect, where I used to spend many, many hours doing homework with friends during college, and I am happy to report that it’s still (in my book at least) the best place on the East Side to be insanely productive. The edgy coffee shop music, the mugs full of delicious coffee, the plants hanging from the ceiling, the chatter in the background – all of it creates the perfect vibe for getting work done. Next time you need to switch it up when working from home, maybe pop on down there to see if you’ll be super productive, too. 

Photo by Visit Milwaukee

4. Sip and/or Stroll Your Way Through Wauwatosa Village 


Do you like “live music?” How do “treats and special deals” sound? Well, good news you live-music-and-treats-and-special-deals-loving person, you. The Wauwatosa Village Sip and Stroll is on Thursday, Aug. 11, from 5-8 p.m. Fourteen Tosa Village businesses are offering special discounts that evening, including Village Cheese Shop, Niemann’s Candies and Ice Cream, and you can grab six-buck Old Fashioneds at Lucky Joe’s.  

5. Book a Trip on the Paddle Tavern


You’ve heard of a pedal tavern – the massive bike mobiles full of woo girls that travel from bar to bar – but did you know Milwaukee also has paddle taverns? This is the boat iteration, and I had the joy of taking a cruise this weekend (yes, it was for a bachelorette party, thanks for asking). The boat ride is better than the bike ride for a number of reasons, the first being that you really don’t have to work hard. The pontoon has a motor, you can pedal if you’d like, but it’s not really helping or hurting anything if you do or don’t. The two-hour trip takes you along the Milwaukee River with a stop at your bar of choice and a photo op in front of the Hoan. I would do it again to celebrate something momentous, or even just to have a fun day with friends. 

Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Paddle Tavern