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Hot Town, Summer Near The City: Go North And Find Your Perfect Weekend Adventure

By Sponsor in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 18, 2017 5:00AM

Milwaukee (istockphoto)

Ever find yourself staring at the Bean on a warm summer’s day and realized it’s not just your reflection that’s staring back… but it’s the reflections of 10,000 unrecognizable strangers? Maybe you’re smart enough to avoid Millennium park during peak tourist season, but the point here is that while summer in the city can be fun (rooftop bars! picnics!), summer out of the city can be even more rewarding. It’s peak travel season—so why not treat yourself and get out of Dodge for the weekend?

One noteworthy and road-trippable destination is about an hour and a half north of Chicago: yep, we’re talking about the great Brew City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Alice Cooper loves the place, and you should too.) You won’t be escaping that familiar lake breeze (would you really want to?), but the river-abundant city offers plenty of adventures that will make you feel like you’re quite far from home—and let’s be real, you probably need a break from your typical city tidings.

Once you get to town, the best metaphoric bang for your buck might just be the Hank Aaron State Trail, which cuts across the entire city, from the lakeshore to the Milwaukee/Waukesha county line. Take the journey from end to end via bike or on foot, and you’ll experience 12 miles of nearly every terrain Milwaukee has to offer: lush wooded areas, riverside views, urban streets, and more. Think of the trail like the city’s main artery: particularly if you’re the type of person who’d rather commute between destinations while avoiding as many cars as possible.

The Domes (istockphoto)

For a little sightseeing combined with the best oxygenated air in town, trek over to The Domes—or, technically, the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory. These magnificent and nearly alien-like structures are home to show-stopping displays of botanical wonder—make sure to hop through all three self-contained worlds: the Desert Dome, the Tropical Dome, and the Show Dome, which features seasonal blooms. (Sorry nerds, no Thunder Dome.) And fun fact: each dome is about half the length of a football field and seven stories high. So you might want to budget a few hours to discover your new favorite cacti, orchids, and canopied trees, please.

Keeping with the brief theme of alien-like, the Milwaukee Art Museum is housed in one of Milwaukee’s most architecturally significant masterpieces. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, his first building in the United States, the museum looks like a futuristic cruise ship adorned with a striking tail fin. In short: you can’t really miss it. Now on view is Paul Druecke’s photographic meditation on what it means to socialize and sixteenth century Mannerism. For art-peeping off the beaten path, the Haggerty Museum of Art on the Marquette campus features works from renowned artists like Marc Chagall and Robert Rauschenberg. And finally, keep an eye out for the city’s plethora of public sculpture, newly installed just this year.

Any good vacation will burn a bit of a hole in your pocket, so why not patronize a few of Milwaukee’s best spots to shop? Record enthusiasts will want to paw through stacks of new and used vinyl at Acme Records, and if you’re looking for a good book, may we direct you to the airport: that’s right, Milwaukee’s best used bookstore, Renaissance Books, is literally steps from the tarmac. You’ll find a lot more than your saucy beach reads and tabloids here!

Yes, go here. (istockphoto)

If for some reason ennui is setting in, or you just need a new hobby (or two, or ten), Art Smart's Dart Mart is your place for all supplies wacky and weird. Come for the yo-yo’s and stay for the juggling pins. But really, their website says it best: these guys are your “flight attendant in the swirling tie-dyed skies over Mount Zany.”

And if you’re feeling peckish, tuck into some expertly flipped, no-frills burgers at Milwaukee’s drive-in institution, Nite Owl. Top it all off with some custard, and you’re probably set until breakfast.

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Ready to seek out your own extraordinary everyday? Celebrate summer with the Francis Coppola Diamond Collection wines today.

This post is a sponsored collaboration between Francis Coppola Diamond Collection and Gothamist staff.