Whether you’re looking to move or for a new area to explore, these under-the-radar gems have a lot to offer.
Sometimes called a “Big City of Little Neighborhoods,” Milwaukee has no fewer than 75 ‘hoods, as defined by the city in 2000, and not all of them have been “discovered” yet. Who knows? one of these five (most of them well-kept secrets) may be the next Bay View or Walker’s Point.
Named for the time when Menomonee Valley workers received (and spent) mountains of silver dollars, Silver City is roughly defined as the area between the Menomonee River Valley to the north, South Layton Boulevard to the east, West Greenfield Avenue on the south and Miller Park Way to the west. Here is a microcosm of international dining, including Puerto Rican fare at La Isla and pho at Thai Lotus. The area is diverse, with 66 percent of residents Latino and several bilingual schools based here. While Silver City is generally a busy urban place, there’s also a mile-long section of the Hank Aaron State Trail that slices through its northern reaches.
Housing Stock: A variety ranging from classic brick colonials to bungalows.
To Do: The neighborhood hosts “Phobruary” each winter when participating eateries such as Bamboo Restaurant, Thai Lotus and Vientiane Noodle Shop offer bowls of pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) for $5. Diners then vote for their favorite pho spot.
Median Home Price: $77,700, down 2.9 percent from last year
A haven for community organizing and activism, Lindsay Heights is the area between West Locust Street to the north, North 12th Street to the east, West Walnut Street to the south and North 20th Street to the west. After this area was hit hard by the 2008 housing crisis, it bounced back by focusing on affordable housing and sustainable food, with no small thanks due to the Walnut Way Conservation Corp., which provides a range of community programs. Lindsay Heights also hosts a Harvest Day event each year with live music and produce from community gardens, and it borders on the large Fondy Farmers Market. Lindsay Heights is home to healthy hot spots The Juice Kitchen and Outpost Natural Foods’ Learning & Events Center. Coffee Makes You Black is another place for light meals.
Housing Stock: A mixture of restored duplexes and single-family homes, many of them Queen Anne style.
To Do: Each year, volunteers organized by the Walnut Way Conservation Corp. install hundreds of raised garden beds in backyards and at parks and places of worship. The gardens not only green up the neighborhood, they help feed its people.
Median Home Price: $104,300, up 8.9 percent from last year
Once home to brewery employees, Brewers Hill is tucked between North Avenue, Pleasant Street, Holton Street and Martin Luther King Drive. Perched on a hill overlooking Downtown, it contains some of the city’s most intriguing homes, and a section is listed with the National Register of Historic Places. While Brewers Hill hardly qualifies as undiscovered, the old homes are gorgeous, and there are still some bargains to be had.
Housing Stock: Historic Victorian homes plus redeveloped industrial properties
To Do: Brewery tours, natch
Median Home Price: $194,100, up 8.3 percent from last year
Best known as a quiet hideaway, Fernwood is either just southeast of Bay View or a “subneighborhood” of Bay View, as historian John Gurda describes it. It is bordered by the Lake Parkway to the west, Lake Michigan to the east, East Oklahoma Avenue to the north and East St. Francis Avenue to the south. The area has a crime rate about 36 percent lower than the citywide average, although residents still have to reckon with a yearly zombie invasion in October, when the historic home at Kinnickinnic and Ohio avenues places life-size models of the undead on its sloping yard, drawing visitors in search of selfies.
Housing Stock: Cape Cod and bungalow homes
To Do: Food Truck Fridays
Median Home Price: $202,100, up 7.5 percent from last year
Uniquely urban and green, Havenwoods is bordered by West Mill Road on the north, West Silver Spring Drive on the south, North 60th Street on the west and North Sherman Boulevard on the east. While the area hasn’t always been the greenest – years ago it served as a missile site, a military prison, and a dump – today the neighborhood’s heart beats on in the form of Havenwoods State Forest, a park that feels miles away from any city. The neighborhood is also replete with community gardens and is home to Growing Power and the Kallas Honey Farm’s warehouse and outlet store.
Housing Stock: Ranch and Cape Cod-style starter homes
To Do: Havenwoods offers camping, bike trails, ATV routes and guided nature walks.
Median Home Price: $67,000, up 6 percent from last year