The 14,000-year-old Hebior mammoth stands sentinel past the entrance to the Milwaukee Public Museum, serving as a massive reminder to all who enter that they are traveling back in time. Originally founded in 1882, the museum has spent more than a century collecting artifacts and fossils from around the world to portray the vast reaches of natural and human history throughout 150,000 square feet of exhibit space spread over three and a half floors.
Representing the recent past, The Streets of Old Milwaukee's turn-of-the-century gas-lit lanes and the European Village place visitors up close to replicas of more than 58 structures, including an old-fashioned barbershop and a fully furnished Scottish dwelling. Traveling further back to the Cretaceous period in the Third Planet exhibit, a life-size replica of a tyrannosaurus greets visitors with its tiny arms and impeccable manners. Visitors can also explore treasures from Africa, Asia, and the Arctic, or stroll through the butterfly wing to witness free-flying exotic and native species.
Adjacent to the museum, the Daniel M. Soref Planetarium and IMAX theater display astronomical wonders with a Digistar 3 computer-projection system. The Skies Over Milwaukee show lights up the ceiling with the current night sky for a tour of the planets and constellations. In the same theater, IMAX films transport audience members to the top of Everest or to the bottom of the ocean with a six-story screen, wraparound digital sound, and the distilled imaginations of 5-year-olds.
Though its staffed by a crew of student volunteers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Sailing Club at UWM has spent decades helping both the student body and community enjoy all aspects of sailing. Every year, from the end of April through late October, the group navigates Lake Michigan's waters aboard a fleet of sailboats that all either meet or surpass Coast Guard safety regulations. There are cruise boats designed for mild meandering, as well as sturdy Ynglings and Solings equipped with heavy fixed keels reinforced to maintain stability in turbulent weather or emotional break-ups. In addition to simple trips on the lake, members of the club can learn hands-on techniques from experienced sailors and participate in activities such as races, bonfires, and weekend cookouts.
Healthy bodies aren’t born—they’re built. Construction commences at Le Club, where exercisers hone physiques in a fitness center stocked with more than 80 pieces of resistance strength-training and cardiovascular equipment—including treadmills and rowing machines—and a spinning studio with 21 stationary bikes. Ten climate-controlled tennis courts and three racquetball courts await the sound of whizzing spheres, and pools, including the 25-meter indoor and outdoor lane pools and the warm-water-therapy pool, welcome aquatic athleticism.
Spa massages and facials whisk away stress, and locker rooms induce relaxation with attached saunas and recordings of Maya Angelou reciting the phonebook. While parents work out, kids can explore Le Club’s youth offerings, which include a teen space maze and an outdoor playground for younger children.
Within the cream-colored brick exterior of a century-old city building, Papa Luigi’s II marries an Italian restaurant with a bowling alley. Amid the wood paneling, wine-red carpet, and chandeliers of the dining room, taste buds can warm up with the house’s favorite appetizer—sicilian eggplant lathered in Papa’s special marinara sauce. Thin-n-crispy pizzas, which Papa Luigi’s II has been perfecting for 23 years, come loaded with canadian bacon or shrimp.
After meals, guests can adjourn to the newly remodeled, smoke-free bowling alley. Here, shining orbs hurtle down 10 lanes whose automatic bumpers forgive shaky aim, and an automatic scoring system lets bowlers tuck their personal mathematicians back into the trunks of their cars. Between rounds, players can refuel at a pub-style bar by tipping back chilled mugs brimming with imported tap beers and gazing at a trio of plasma televisions. Those seeking a new arena for competition can drop by the game room or rent the upstairs gym for shooting hoops.
One of several annual fundraising events dedicated to subsidizing the Milwaukee Air & Water Show, Bay View Wine Fest gathers quality wines and wine aficionados for an evening of enological appreciation. Vendors dispense pours of reds and whites that attendees can pair with samples of locally made cuisine, and sommeliers in training can treat their palates to a reserved wine-flight tasting. Partial proceeds from the event go to Wisconsin Adopt a Golden Retriever. If guests tire of the puppies in attendance they can boogie the night away on the festival dance floor.
At Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, families and friends can explore 185 acres of scenic wilderness and wander along 6 miles of hiking trails. The myriad perks of membership entitle patrons to unlimited year-round access to the center as well as more than 140 partner centers across North America. Both adults and children enjoy discounts on educational jaunts and the chance to dominate the center's resident eagles and owls in aerial stunt challenges. Guests often ascend the park's 60-foot observation tower to observe hikers and cross-country skiers traversing the flora-laden premises. Invitations to exclusive events allow members to wine and dine with other nature lovers and included membership in the Schlitz Audubon Bird Club grants knowledge of the secret handshakes of local talons.
A comprehensive guide to attractions and things to do.