BY ANN CHRISTENSON, ARCHER PARQUETTE, CAROLE NICKSIN, CHRIS DROSNER, LINDSEY ANDERSON RIOS, ALLISON GARCIA & BRIAN ROSENWEIG
This story is part of our THE BEST OF MILWAUKEE characteristic. Get your copy of the number, HERE.
MKE THING WE LOVE
Hoan light shows
Every Saturday night, the 2,600 steel-attached lights of Milwaukee’s most famous bridge dance to life, sending rainbows, lightning and waterfalls across the city skyline. The show is fascinating before you even tune in to the synced music on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, which we highly recommend. That’s what the Light the Hoan organization promised when it started raising $ 3.5 million for the lighting project, but it’s one thing to hear a “light show on a bridge.” 150 feet tall ”and it is quite another to see it. -CD
BEST MATERIAL SAME
Lakeside fog is a frequent sight in Milwaukee, and sometimes it behaves really strangely. Linda Lipin captured this memorable photo of the U.S. bank building appearing to cut a square path through a June morning haze, and WISN meteorologist and local Twitter star Mark Baden (@Mark_Baden) made him famous. The image has been retweeted over 400 times.
When COVID-19 vaccines became widely available this spring, organizations and businesses in Milwaukee joined the effort to disseminate them. Some, like Black Husky Brewing, Shawarma House, and The Iron Horse Hotel, offered free food or drink to those vaccinated. And a big thank you to the Brewers and Bucks, who handed out vaccines during their games. The Bucks even raffled off tickets to a Finals game for people who got vaccinated at a clinic hours before departure. Unrelated side note: Is it bad to shoot 30 times in a row while wearing disguises in order to have a better chance of winning Bucks tickets? Because I feel a little dizzy. – AP
BEST COMMUNITY GARDEN
Alice’s Garden Urban Farm is a magical oasis, a place to connect with the Earth and cultivate a closer relationship with food. The farm next to Johnson Park, which has been used for urban agriculture since 1972, contains 127 rental farm plots and brings together teens, community volunteers and local residents to learn growing practices that are easily overlooked in the era of packaged convenience and fast food. Executive Director Venice Williams helped boost the visibility of the farm (named after Alice Meade-Taylor, former Milwaukee County UW-Extension Manager) with additional programs such as summer concerts and performances. guided walks in the labyrinth of the garden. She also sells products made in Alice’s Garden – such as muscle cream and bath salts – at farmers’ markets and local stores. A fruitful garden, indeed. – THAT
BEST NEW FEDERAL DAY
This year’s Juneteenth had a little extra energy. Milwaukee was one of the first cities in the North to celebrate the liberation of the last slaves in the United States, and this 50th anniversary of this inaugural 1971 commemoration came as many were eager to participate in community events again with the shrinking cases of COVID. It also happened when Juneteenth became a federal holiday. This act of Congress was opposed last year by Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who nonetheless showed up for a while at the Milwaukee celebration – the rare exception to the good vibes of Juneteenth. -CD
BEST NEW OUTDOOR LEISURE
Pickleball under I-794
Pickleball is a lot like mini-tennis or mega-ping-pong, and now you can play it in the shade of I-794 across from the Milwaukee Public Market. The newly constructed courts are part of the “Clear the Passage” project aimed at improving the area between the third quarter and the city center.
Swan Boats added a bit of charm to the Veterans Park when they arrived a few years ago, but seeing them lit up at night – a novelty introduced this year – is pure magic. It conjures up images of amusement parks from the turn of the last century, men in seersucker blazers and women in long dresses stealing a kiss while floating on the pond. Another great sight to see on the Milwaukee shore.
BEST FURRY NEW MILWAUKEEANS
Meet the three new residents of the Milwaukee County Zoo
This bushbaby (aka a galago mohol) was so small when it was born on April 4 that zookeepers couldn’t even tell if it was male or female. Months later, we were still waiting for the reveal of the genre of Jellybean.
Quinn and Seamus, two prehensile tailed porcupines from the Small Mammals building, became the proud parents of Bristle on May 11. Zookeepers describe her as “daring, sassy and spirited.”
This Japanese macaque was born on May 15, the third child of its mother, Negai. Its name means cloud in Japanese.
Pandemic changes that have lasted
In The Great Rethinking of 2020 some really good ideas were put forward, and a bunch of them focusing on people rather than cars seem to stick around for good. Parking spaces converted to parklets and terraces generally do not return. And the city has expanded its Active Streets program, which blocks traffic for travelers on two wheels or on legs to create what Mayor Tom Barrett has called more of a “small town experience.” Plus, you can have an old-fashioned mix by a pro while enjoying these public spaces since the state has legalized take-out cocktails as well.
BEST DIVERSION MEDIUM PANDEMIC
The Tosa monolith
Remember when monoliths started appearing in exotic locations last fall? Well, someone – or something – placed one in Wauwatosa County Park on a gray, snowy weekend in early January. The 9-foot-tall object was only reinforced cardboard and paint, but it captured our sense of mystery and whimsy during a pandemic winter where these items were scarce.
BEST PLACES FOR A SELFIE
Selfie WRLD MKE
Turns out, this nationwide franchise that’s all about selfies actually has some pretty good lighting. 16700 W. Bluemound Road, Brookfield
Another immersive – and sometimes suitable for dogs! – studio experience for the Instagram set. 2410 N. Farwell Ave.
Black Cat Alley
Home to over 20 murals, including many artists from Milwaukee. Between Kenilworth Place and Ivanhoe Place on Prospect Avenue.
The Terrace Villa
Make your friends believe you’ve taken a trip to Italy by taking a photo at this Italian-style mansion. 2220 N. Terrasse Ave.
The exterior of this brick building was painted in the perfect shade of millennial pink. 718 E. Wells St.
The Bronze Fonz
A classic photoshoot, and for good reason. No one is cooler than the Fonz. East side of Riverwalk near East Wells Street
Yes, the cool theme, the gorgeous rooms, the perfect Walker’s Point location. But it’s The Yard patio that keeps us coming back.
BEST PARK IN THE COUNTY
The views of Lake Michigan, the North Point Lighthouse, and the winding, wooded trails are the highlights here. Plus, free concerts all summer long.
Ice Age Trail
Hiked through the entire state of Wisconsin, or just parts of our woods corner. Either way, you are off on a scenic journey.
Come for the waves, stay for a game of beach volleyball. This beach is Milwaukee’s hottest spot every summer.
BEST WINTER SPORTS PLACE
Urban Ecology Center
Sure, ice skating, cross country skiing and winter walks are a delight, but the Urban Ecology Center really sets itself apart by educating visitors about our local habitat.
BETTER INSTALLATION OF INDOOR ACTIVITIES
Adventure Rock has built a community for its climbers. Gyms are so popular that the owners opened a third location in 2020 to meet demand.
BEST ONE DAY TRIP
Baraboo and Devil’s Lake
Climb up the cliffs of the state park and you will see a view comparable to that of a small mountain. Plus, the lake is there to cool off after this whole hike.