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(c) 2015 Kathryn Pharr

There are two things most people think of when they hear “Milwaukee”: beer and cold. Yes, at the Michigan Ale House in the Historic Third Ward, you could get cheese curds and a cold beer, but there’s more to this city that is refashioning itself. In June, I attended the Water Council’s 2015 Water Summit in Milwaukee. At the edge of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee touches the 20% of the world’s freshwater that is stored in the Great Lakes. The Water Council along with its private sector and academic founders has worked hard to focus the area on one of its natural resources and working on all aspects of freshwater. The tide is turning as several companies in the last few months have announced that they will be opening up manufacturing in Milwaukee: Zurn Headquarters and Paps Blue Ribbon (PBR) brewery. The conference was fascinating, but I’ll focus on what someone else might enjoy about the city.

I had a great first experience with Air BnB in Milwaukee because Summerfest overlapped with the Water Summit, so all hotels were full. What is this Summerfest you ask? Only the world’s largest music festival. The Rolling Stones played the night after I arrived.

I enjoyed staying the Fifth Ward, which is up and coming and an easy walk into the Third Ward. My strongest recommendation of Milwaukee might have to be the restaurant Crazy Water, and not just because it was perfectly themed for my trip. The cherry, chocolate chip bread pudding was decadent but I couldn’t turn it down even after a Midwest steak dinner.  I did have to wait till the next day to have room to sample the fabulous Purple Door homemade ice cream. You have to love people who make whiskey and brandy Old Fashioned ice cream. It’s also just in front of the Global Water Center if you want to check in on a collaborative water space for local universities, innovators, and companies.

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(c) 2015 Kathryn Pharr

If you’re exploring the Historic Third Ward, walk towards the Milwaukee Art Museum, which looks like a ship setting sail on the lake. Even if the museum is closed, the architecture is worth a slight detour on whatever route you’re taking downtown.

While Milwaukee is very cold in the winter, it is a welcome respite from the humid heat of the D.C. area. It is also only about an hour from Chicago if you are thinking about planning a longer vacation in the area. The people in Milwaukee will greet you with real hospitality.

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