This post is sponsored by Travel Wisconsin, but all thoughts and opinions are my own!
When I told one of my friends that we were going to take a trip to Milwaukee, she was like, “What state is that in?” And after the trip, another one of my friends said, “When you told me you were going to Milwaukee, I pictured houses and farms, so when I saw your Instagram story, I was so surprised!” That’s because Milwaukee is actually a fun little hub of cool things to do, delicious places to eat, and beautiful sights that are perfect for a family trip. Sometimes planning a vacation doesn’t mean leaving the country. It can be taking a drive as short as four hours to get away.
Where to Stay
We had the incredible experience of staying at the Saint Kate Arts Hotel. It’s a brand new hotel that’s situated right in the middle of everything! It also definitely stays true to its art theme, which was fun for the kids. The art gallery downstairs and the different art pieces around the hotel encourage them to escape the all-day electronics and explore their creative side. Diari ran all through the lobby touching some of the interactive ones. I loved this because it feels like your fun can start right at your hotel.
The Saint Kate is located in the East Town neighborhood near the Historic Third Ward, but some other nearby areas that are good for families include The Upper East Side, Bay View, North End, Riverwest, and Walker’s Point.
What to Do
We jumped right into the trip! Even though we left home at 7:00am and made the drive straight into the City, we spent day one getting to know Milwaukee. Every day after was a new adventure. One thing that really helped us was having an itinerary to base our trip on. Even when our schedule changed depending on how the kids were feeling, it was great to have an idea of things to do. The Travel Wisconsin page is the perfect way to plan your trip; it’s got details of fun things to do all around the state with a special page of Milwaukee things to do, see, and eat.
Day 1 – Getting to Know Milwaukee
Lunch at Sherman Phoenix • Milwaukee Art Museum • Lakeshore State Park • Dinner at SafeHouse
We had a great time getting to know the City our first day. Sherman Phoenix is a hub of local community businesses. Diari loved the spring rolls and fresh-pressed juices we had. From there, we went and explored the Milwaukee Art Museum, which featured all kinds of cool exhibits – our favorite was the Haitian Art exhibit. The Museum also gave Diari the chance to create some art of her own through the ArtPack station where you can rent activities for kids and the Kohl’s Art Generation Lab. From there, the Museum Cafe leads out to Lakeshore State Park. Being by the water is one thing that makes Milwaukee really stand out!
Day 2 – Loving Milwaukee
Breakfast at Saint Kate Arts Hotel Breakfast Bar • Milwaukee Public Museum • Tea at Schuster Mansion Bed & Breakfast • Atwater Beach • Milwaukee RiverWalk District • Dinner at Harbor House
Day 3 – Officially Milwaukeeans
Café Benelux • Wisconsin State Fair • Milwaukee Public Market Lunch
The Wisconsin State Fair is incredible! There are so many cool things to do and see. The kids loved it. I even had to turn Fatima’s stroller around so she could see because she kept trying to peek her head out and look at everything! Top moments: 1. We drank watermelon and pineapple juice right from the fruit; 2. We got on so many rides and even Fatima got to enjoy a couple; 3. We saw some pretty huge cows; 4. We walked through the Wisconsin Products Pavilion and tried some famous Wisconsin cheeeeese!
Since the Fair is only once a year, The Milwaukee Public Market is the spot! If you like shopping local, fresh food, desserts, seafood, or just a fun place to hang out, the Market has it all. Just outside the Market is a shopping strip where you can find anything from clothes to plants, to home decor.
Day 4 – Before We Leave!
Breakfast at Sweetdiner • Milwaukee Boat Line – Sightseeing Tour
Funny Story: After an amazing breakfast of Mediterranean eggs benedict and crème brûlée french toast at Sweetdiner, the last thing we had scheduled on our Milwaukee trip was the Milwaukee Boat Line Sightseeing Tour. That was the thing we were all the most excited about! Can you believe we missed our boat?
How did we miss our boat? Well, Ms. Fatima decided to drop a bomb on us (literally) right before our tour! We spent 20 minutes trying to find a bathroom and wash her off. By the time we got to the dock, our boat was driving past us and all we could do was laugh lol. That just goes to show, there are ups and downs when traveling with kids and you just kinda have to roll with the punches!
Where to Eat
We had some amazing meals while we were in Wisconsin. Some of our favorite spots really surprised us. Harbor House is a classy restaurant located right by Lake Michigan. The views were amazing, but the menu was even better. Diari had the butter and parmesan pasta, which was simple but so tasty that she finished her whole plate. We (the adults) ordered a few plates but our favorite was the lobster, filet mignon, and jumbo lump crab cake combination. It was so fresh! We also had the BEST chicken and waffles I have ever had in my life (and that’s saying a lot) at Café Benelux for brunch one morning. I’m thinking about it even as I’m writing this! I highly, highly recommend stopping by there!
Bucketlist Eats (All of the places we wanted or planned to go to because of their awesome reviews but never got to!): Urban Beets Cafe & Juicery • Coffee Makes You Black • Cafe at the Pfister • AJ Bombers
• Driving was awesome because we could pack whatever we wanted (check out my blog post on packing tips)! And I love how driveable Milwaukee is from a lot of different places, including Indiana. The distance was just right for a road trip and it’s nice to have a car to explore the city with once you arrive. Surprisingly, Diari was calm and collected in the backseat even when her iPad died!
• If your kids are attached to something, bring two! Fatima is one of the most chill babies you will ever meet. But when she’s sleepy, don’t get between her and her pacifier. Somehow, we lost it on the way back from the beach and we had to put the whole trip on hold and search the City to find a replacement. So travel prepared!
• The biggest take-away from this trip to Milwaukee is that your next vacation may not be far from you! Sometimes we get caught up in trying to plan these huge and expensive trips that it makes traveling seem impossible.
Visit Milwaukee, Wisconsin!
How do you feel about road trips? What’s the longest distance you’ve driven with your kids? What are you most excited to experience in Milwaukee?