Going to Milwaukee feels like going home. It’s not just because I’m from Wisconsin. Or because I went to college in Milwaukee. This city has a vibe … a friendly, easy-going way that permeates the atmosphere and inoculates all who linger here. Time slows down a bit, and you pause to listen to the birds chirp in the neighborhood park, or watch the waves crash against the breaker wall on the lakeshore. It’s difficult to explain – like the feeling you get when you pull on your favorite sweatshirt.
One night we went out to dinner and had a drink at the bar while we waited for our table. I can’t recall who struck up the conversation, but we started chatting with another couple at the bar. When the host let us know the table was ready, we invited them to join us for dinner and had a fascinating discussion – it turns out we had a mutual friend! These are the kinds of things that happen in Milwaukee.
Given how much I love this city, it’s hard to believe we haven’t been back since July, 2010, when we first introduced the boys to “The Fonz.”
On this visit we were ready to get out and do a little more exploring, so our first stop was the Seven Bridges Trail in Grant Park, south of downtown. The park itself is sprawling and offers magnificent views of Lake Michigan. And the trail, winding along through a wooded ravine, provides access to a rocky beach where the pups can splash.
Since Rod’s more of an “urban hiker” I went in search of a dog friendly trail closer to downtown. I thought I’d found the perfect thing with the East Bank Trail, which runs along the Milwaukee River in the “East Side” neighborhood. It looked like it would be a little quieter than some of the trails along Lake Michigan, and with our dogs, quieter is a good thing. Well, as they say, the best laid plans …
The trail is pretty wild, and in some places the weeds were taller than me. With two reactive dogs, it’s helpful to be able to see what’s coming toward you, so we hopped off the trail and headed over to Brady Street to do a little pursuing.
We’d never been to this part of town, and WHAT A FIND! There were dogs all over, many of the restaurants, cafés, and bars had dog friendly outdoor seating areas, and some shops had “Pets Welcome” signs in the windows and water bowls in front. If you’re visiting Milwaukee, this is a stop you’re not going to want to miss.
Following Brady Street down to Prospect Avenue we found the trail that connects the East Side to the Lakefront.
You can access Oak Leaf Trail here, or one of the other multitude of trails through the park or along the lake. They are more popular, but as you can see, there’s plenty of space, so even reactive dogs can get get the distance they need. Next time we’ll bring Ty and Buster here to do some urban hiking on the lake!
If you and your pup looking for a tail-waggin’ time, head over to the Juneau Park Lagoon and have a paddle in one of their canoes, kayaks, or paddle boats. All the rentals are pet friendly!
No trip to Milwaukee is complete until you’ve stopped down in the Third Ward. This former warehouse district is now home to the Milwaukee Public Market and a lively collection of lofts, restaurants, and boutiques. Connected to downtown by the River Walk, this is a great place to have a stroll with your dog.
The Wicked Hop is one of our favorite spots, because the outdoor seating is pet friendly and covered – to keep you out of the sun or rain. They even have heaters if you happen to be there on a chilly day!
It’s always fun to go back to my alma mater and see how things have changed since I was there all those years ago! Of course, some things never change. Gesu still stands as the iconic symbol of the university. The St. Joan of Arc Chapel is still lovingly adorned in flowers. And the statue of Father Jaques Marquette, the Jesuit missionary the university was named after, still welcomes students and visitors.
Something I did get to experience for the first time was lunch at Sobelman’s. The food was great and they were really nice to the dogs. This is one of the only restaurants with an outside seating area and table service on campus, so we really appreciated them for being pet friendly!
It was another great trip to one of my favorite cities in the country, and we’re already looking forward to the next one! We still have more areas we want to explore, and the dogs never get tired of sniffing around Milwaukee.