Art Bar, called a "Painter's Paradise" by Urban Milwaukee magazine, isn't your typical watering hole. In its enchanting interior, hundreds of soda bottle caps create an argyle pattern on pillars, wine corks stud an oval-shaped bar, and paint-by-number pieces—depicting everything from horses to the Virgin Mary—plaster a wall.
The kitschy aesthetic offers a glimpse into the creative mind of owner Don Krause. Krause left his former career as an interior designer for Ethan Allen to brave the trials of opening a bar in Riverwest. And he did it his way: His joint pours more than 40 microbrews by night and Alterra coffee by day in a space adorned with the rotating creations of local artists. The beer lineup includes seasonal brews from Bell’s, Founders, Lakefront, and New Glarus, as well as “mystery beers” served for three bucks cloaked in a crumpled brown bag—the way Wisconsin dignitaries drink. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel describes the venue as “a feast for all senses” and “one of the hottest spots in Riverwest,” thanks in part to its comedy, musical, or artistic events.
Brew City Bike Tours offers pedal-pushing participants an opportunity to experience the city and its bountiful beer offerings on two wheels without welding a keg to the back of a tandem bike. Tour participants will glean illuminating knowledge about Milwaukee’s brewing past (it was once home to four of the world's largest breweries) while sampling some of the city’s most notable microbrews. Each tour lasts approximately 3.5 hours and includes two to three samples of beer at three different stops. When logistically possible, one stop will be a tour of Lakefront Brewery, a microbrewery housed in a former Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Co. power plant. Bike rentals are not included in this Groupon, so thirsty adventurers should bring their own bike, rent one for an extra charge ($31.68), or attempt to commandeer a wild bronco. BYOHelmet too; they're required for the tour.
Sure, riding a seven-seat conference bike with six other folks is a lot less work than pedaling one by yourself, but that's not the only benefit to traveling in a group. Milwaukee Seven Seat Bike Tours educates guests about local history via the conference bike. Led by raconteur Shlomo Levin, passengers all pedal the circular bike together while passing parks that contain mysterious human remains and shadowy street corners where countless cans of beer were left... only half-drunk. Guests can enjoy water and soft drinks on the tour, which are served free of charge.
According to its mission statement, Milwaukee Urban Gardens protects plots around the city from development and shares them with locals "to enhance the quality of life." And it's not just the savory oxygen generated by the plants that bolsters the quality of life; it's the opportunities these gardens provide for neighbors of diverse backgrounds to work side-by-side nurturing their favorite herbs, flowers, and vegetables—as well as the beauty they lend to the area. This nonprofit land trust looks after a total of 45 parcels of land located in Riverwest, Bay View, northern Harambee, and the Northwest side.
It's rare for museums to have cozy dining rooms, but the Charles Allis Art Museum wasn't always a museum. Earlier in the 20th century, it was businessman and arts patron Charles Allis's Tudor-style mansion. Allis bequeathed it to the public along with his massive art collection, though, and nowadays, visitors can stop by to see pieces that span 2,000 years. Some highlights? Works by Winslow Homer, Classic antiquities, a large collection of Asian ceramics, plus rotating exhibits by local Wisconsin artists.
The Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum nestles in a historic mansion, too, albeit a different one. This one was built in the likeness of an Italian Renaissance villa in 1923, by architect David Adler. Its art spans a smaller period, from the 15th century through to the 18th. Visitors can browse wrought-iron work by Cyril Colnik, and explore a formal, outdoor Renaissance garden.
Reservations/Appointments: Not offered
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Parking: Parking lot
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Recommended Age Group: All Ages
Pro Tip: If you call in advance, we can get a docent for your tour.
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Exhibits on Golda Meir and Jews Who Rock
What is the one feature of your business that you're most proud of?
Jewish Museum Milwaukee has beautiful engaging displays, including the only Marc Chagall tapestry in Milwaukee. This is an epic piece?it's 14'x19') and provides perspective on Jewish history. In addition, our changing exhibits enliven the understanding of the Jewish experience. Every three months, JMM has a totally new display to explore.
Have you ever been a patron of your own business? If so, what was the most enjoyable part?
I love touring the Museum. There are so many interesting and unique stories that show the development of the city of Milwaukee. There is a lot of information, but the museum's size makes it easy to get through in an hour or two.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
Right now our changing exhibit is Jews Who Rock (through August 10). This display includes fabulous performance photographs, loads of trivia, and great connections to many artists and their work. In September, we are opening our largest exhibit to date, Stitching History from the Holocaust, which will detail the experience of Hedy Strnad, a woman who sent eight designs to Milwaukee in the hopes of immigrating.