Wisconsin's biggest city, Milwaukee is located along the western shore of Lake Michigan and is known as the "City of Festivals" for its many celebratory events throughout the calendar year.
WHAT TO DO
Milwuakee is home to beers, festivals and cold winter weather. It's annual lakefront music fair called Summerfest is the largest music festival in the entire world and attracts nearly 1 million people to its 12 stages each year. If you happen to be in Wisconsin during this time, Summerfest could be an excellent way to spend your time in Milwaukee. Milwaukee also has several other festivals throughout the year honoring its diverse cultural past (many German and Polish immigrants settled here at the turn of the century).
Milwaukee is a famous home to many large scale breweries including Milwaukee's Best, Miller and Pabst Blue Ribbon. Although the old Pabst Brewery is closed and slated for redevelopment, tourists can visit the Lakefront Brewery and sample the River West Stein, a beer found on tap across Wisconsin and in Chicago. The brewery also offers tours, allowing visitor's to sample a variety of their beers for only $8. Miller also offers great tour with free samples.
Travelers can also check out where Harley Davidson's are made by taking the tour of the hog factory or visit the Pabst Mansion to learn about the history of the city and brewing industry in the home of the old beer baron. The mansion is beautifully crafted and preserved and allows visitors to understand the city's ties with German culture and beer.
You may not think of Milwaukee being at the center of the art scene, but the city's art museum designed by Santiago Calatrava is its most recognizable landmark. The bird-like wings of the Quadracci Pavilion open and close several times a day depending on the weather. The War Memorial section connected to the rest of the museum is also worth checking out.
If you were a Happy Days fan, you can also check out the famous "Fonz" statue on the Riverwalk. There are also sailing and boating excursions on Lake Michigan, which offer great views of the city and visitors an opportunity to get out on the water. A trolley loop will take tourists to popular tourist destinations in the summer as well.
Milwaukee is served by Mitchell International Airport (MKE) and is serviced by all of the major American airlines. Another option is to fly into Chicago's O'Hare or Midway Airport and then take either a shuttle, bus or train into Milwaukee. With so many airport options in a close vicinity, finding an affordable flight to Milwaukee or a flight to Chicago should be easy.
There is a direct shuttle from both of the Chicago airports to Milwaukee Intermodal Station (O'Hare to Milwaukee $23, Midway to Milwaukee $36). Increasingly, travelers are may choosing to take an 'eL' train from either of the Chicago airports to Chicago Union Station($2) and then go on to Milwaukee with either Megabus ($1-$12) services or with Amtrak trains ($22).
If you chose to drive to the airport, arranging airport parking at Milwaukee in advance can save you both time and money.
WHERE TO STAY
Visitors to Milwaukee will find it easiest to stay downtown, where most of the city's hotels are located. However, if you are looking for cheaper accommodation and don't mind the ride/drive, there is a strip of budget hotels on College Avenue near Mitchell International Airport, as well as in other locations around the cities suburban districts. Whether you are looking for a hotel to splurge on or just somewhere cheap to sleep during your stay, finding a hotel in Milwaukee shouldn't be a problem.
While there may not be any typical hostels in Milwaukee, the city is home to a wide variety of budget hotels to match any traveler's needs.