MILWAUKEE -- Beer is still a big deal in Milwaukee despite the fact that most of the large breweries that once called it home have long since moved elsewhere.
There are restaurants that brew their own beer, beer gardens (which are patios on which to drink beer), beer tastings and brewery tours. How could some of the free things in the city NOT be related to beer? Believe it or not, there are a few other fun things as well.
• Miller Brewery tour: The indoor and outdoor guided walking tour features sights of the high-speed packaging lines, the shipping distribution center with typically a half-million cases of beer, a cave where beer was stored before mechanical refrigeration and the brew house. There’s also a replica of the Plank Road Brewery, what Frederick Miller originally purchased and later turned into Miller. And of course, you get free beer at the end. Info: www.factorytour.com/tours/miller-brewing.cfm.
• Forest Home Cemetery: The cemetery in the heart of Milwaukee’s south side is the resting place of some of the city’s founders — like Byron Kilbourn — but it’s also where you can find some who built Milwaukee’s beer kingdom. The cemetery lists six beer barons, including Jacob Best who founded Pabst Brewery, Pabst’s namesake Frederic Pabst, and Valentin Blatz, who produced Blatz beer until it was sold to Pabst in 1959. Info: www.foresthomecemetery.com.
• Milwaukee Riverwalk featuring the Bronze Fonz: It spans nearly three miles along the Milwaukee River, running from the East Side, through downtown and into the Third Ward neighborhood. It goes past the Bronze Fonz, erected in 2008. Though no scenes were filmed in Milwaukee, Happy Days took place in Milwaukee during its TV run from 1974 to 1984. Henry Winkler has been known to stop by the statue when visiting Milwaukee, so if you’re lucky you might run into both versions of Arthur Fonzarelli.
• St. Joan of Arc Chapel: Originally known as the Chapelle de St. Martin de Sayssuel, it sat in the Rhone River Valley in the village of Chasse in France for at least 500 years. It’s said that Joan of Arc prayed before a statue of Our Lady standing on a stone and at the end kissed the stone, which was said to be colder than the stones surrounding it. The stone has since been added to the chapel. The chapel passed to the estate of a couple who donated it to Marquette University in 1964. It was reconstructed on campus and dedicated to St. Joan of Arc in 1966. The school says it’s the only medieval structure in North and South America still used for its original purpose. Info: www.marquette.edu/chapel/index.shtml.
• The lakefront: Start on the south end of Lincoln Memorial Drive at around noon and watch the wings of the Milwaukee Art Museum, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, close and reopen. About two miles north, you can watch volleyball, stroll along the water or catch rays on Bradford Beach. About a mile north of that is Lake Park, overlooking the lake, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. He’s the founder of landscape architecture and also the designer of New York City’s Central Park. You might also catch lawn bowling clubs competing in the summer or take a walk past the North Point Lighthouse, built in 1855 and known to be the only lighthouse that’s in an Olmsted urban park.