A wildly successful alternative to traditional day spas—its more than 300 locations blanket 36 states and half a dozen countries—Planet Beach Contempo Spa is a futuristic relaxation station where state-of-the-art machines administer all the spa and tanning services. These friendly automatons sometimes replace familiar treatments, as in the Luminous facial, a light-based service that delivers blemish-busting results similar to those of a conventional facial. But other equipment maps out new spa territory entirely: the Hydro-Derma Fusion chamber moisturizes the whole body with nutrient-rich steam in order to offset the effects of a dry climate or a rear-end collision with a salt truck. Other machines whiten teeth, spray tan skin, and massage muscles.
Planet Beach operates on a gym-style membership system, meaning members purchase packages or pay flat monthly rates. As members spend more time at the spa, they get to know the helpful assistants who are always on hand to demonstrate how to use the equipment without activating its ability to cry.
At more than 1,000 Mattress Firm locations around the country, shoppers sink into plush mattresses, recline on firm beds, and belly-flop onto pillow tops. Knowledgeable staffers can help customers create an ideal bedtime environment by dispensing advice based on sleep preferences and illuminating the difference between the many kinds of mattresses. And to the delight of their customers, much of Mattress Firm's bedding wears the label of a premium brand, such as Sealy, Serta, Simmons Beautyrest, or Stearns & Foster.
The Exclusive Company—a Wisconsin-bred music-and-movie retailer—has given the gift of song since 1956, earning a Best of Milwaukee award from Shepherd Express readers in 2011. Passionate staffers guide visitors toward sprawling collections of rock and jazz and bins brimming with DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, and loose 8mm slides from Kenny G's summer vacation. In addition to peddling new vinyl releases such as El Camino by the Black Keys and Revolver by T-Pain, the shop functions as a trading post, helping to find loving homes for preowned films and music. All used discs are carefully buffed into shape before meeting their new owners, and each comes backed by a money-back guarantee, which promises store credit if a preowned item exhibits biting tendencies. Most used CDs, DVDs, and vinyl cost less than $20.
Downer Avenue Wine & Spirits' beverage buffs line their shelves with a legion of libations, helping customers cull the best selections for meals, gifts, and gatherings. Explore the vast selection of nearly 1,000 different wines ($4.99–$199.99)—with more than 200 bottles less than $10—in a trek more promising than an expedition for a mystical fount of gold merlot. The walk-in beer bunker boasts more than 200 frosty varieties of domestics, imports, and crafts, as well as a collection of microbrews from local hop houses, such as Sprecher and Lakefront ($4.99–$15.99/6). Sippers who enjoy their drinks on the rocks or in hollow stalactites can stock up on spirits from Downer Avenue's diverse batch of bottles, which includes Rehorst Premium Milwaukee Vodka and an assortment of single malt scotches ($22.99–$349.99).
Summerfest is the pride and joy of Milwaukee's music scene, attracting between 800,000 and 1,000,000 people a year with bands playing on 11 stages. The first day of the festival features a variety of general-admission shows, with the first Groupon listening opportunity kicking off at 4:15 p.m. with the Mechanical Kids on the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage. Headlining acts that begin at 8 p.m. include Tokyo Police Club and Colbie Caillat. At 10 p.m., the big hitters emerge from the bullpen with the sultry rhythms of Sheryl Crow, the smooth jamz of The Wailers, the electro-fun of Passion Pit, and more, creating a musical-chairs game of concert options. Check the Summerfest website to view the full music schedule for June 24 (please note that your general-admission ticket does not get you into the Tim McGraw performance in the Marcus Amphitheatre).