Wisconsin's largest city, Milwaukee is a city of subtle charms - offering a constant stream of festivals, museums that can compete with anywhere else in America and some of the finest beer in the world.
Find out how Coors is produced at the Miller Brewery or take organized tours of local craft breweries like Lakefront, Brenner and Sprecher and, if you're in town in July, don't miss the Brewfest in McKinley Park.
If you want to avoid a hangover, Milwaukee is just as appealing. Downtown Milwaukee is home to cultural institutions like the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Brewers always welcome baseball fans to Miller Park, and the city has an exciting range of restaurants. Dine on the best bratwurst outside Germany at Usinger's or anything from gourmet pizza to tacos throughout the rest of the city - it's all there in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee is America's capital of beer, being the birthplace of Pabst and Miller. Visitors can tour Miller's modern facilities, but it's much more fun to tour the city's craft breweries and taprooms, discovering what the most recent generation of producers is creating.
Milwaukee is a city of festivals. For a city of 600,000 people, it hosts a remarkable variety of events, from the massive Summerfest indie music festival to brewing events, the raucous German Fest, a lively Mexican Fiesta and the Arab World Fest. There's always something going on.
Milwaukee's lakefront location is another major plus. Not only is the lakefront district home to Lakefront Brewery, it also includes Veteran's Park, where you can rent boats, fly kites and take advantage of bicycle rental schemes.
Milwaukee is home to a dazzling array of museums and galleries, punching well above its weight i the culture stakes. The Betty Brinn Children's Museum is a must-see for families, the Milwaukee Art Museum has an eye-catching design and houses a great collection of masterpieces, while the Harley-Davidson Museum is dedicated to an American icon.
If you love German sausages, Milwaukee is the place to go. The bratwurst at Usinger's are out of this world, but there's more available than German fare. Try out great pizza restaurants like Zaffiro's or luxury options like Sanford, one of the most highly rated eateries in the country.
The Milwaukee Brewers are the city's most beloved team and every sports fan should get to Miller Field to watch a game. But if baseball isn't your sport, there's always the Milwaukee Mile, the world's oldest continually active speedway circuit.
Milwaukee has always been a brewing town, a product of the strong German influence in the city's development. Recently, a vibrant craft brewing scene has developed, and July's Milwaukee Brewfest in July is the place to check it out.
June and July also see the city hosting Summerfest, recognized as the world's largest music festival. It attracts more than 700 major acts from all over the US and the world.
Along with beer (and Happy Days), Milwaukee is also famous as the birthplace of the Harley - an iconic American motorcycle. If you love bikes, a visit to see the 450 vintage models at the Harley-Davidson Museum is absolutely essential.
Central Milwaukee is packed with interesting sights, from the luxurious Pabst Mansion (home to the originator of the brewing dynasty) and the striking Milwaukee Art Museum to the stunning City Hall, which for four years was the tallest building in the world.
Summer is a great time to visit Milwaukee. The lakefront is at its most inviting, temperatures soar into the 70s and 80s Fahrenheit and major events like Summerfest take place. A trip in June or July would be ideal, but spring and fall are almost as appealing. For most people, the bitter winters won't be as attractive. Then again, winter brings some unique attractions, like the chance to ride dog sleds at McKinley Marina and wooden toboggan runs at Lowell Park.
Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport is around 9 miles south of the city center, and there are a number of ways to get into town. Milwaukee County Transit System buses run almost 24 hours a day (with a short break in the middle of the night) and cost just $2.25. Alternatively, Go Airport Shuttles cost $12 to reach Downtown, while taxis cost around $30.
Milwaukee's Downtown Amtrak station is served by two Amtrak services - the Hiawatha to Chicago and the Empire Builder, which travels from Seattle to Chicago.
If you are coming from Chicago, I-94 is the road to take, which also connects Milwaukee with the rest of the eastern USA. I-43 is handy for those coming from Green Bay or Canada, while those coming from the Pacific Northwest can reach Milwaukee via I-80.
Milwaukee has superb bus connections to other parts of Wisconsin and the USA. Most buses stop at the Intermodal Station, which is served by companies like Greyhound, Jefferson Lines and Badger Coaches. Both Greyhound and Megabus offer cheap intercity connections to cities like Chicago, St Louis, and New York.
Downtown is the best place to look for accommodation in Milwaukee, and there's no shortage of luxury options, including the Hilton Milwaukee City Center and Hotel Metro. The Hampton Inn is a good mid-range option, while Manderley is an affordable bed and breakfast close to the center of town. But if you really want to splash out, go for the Pfister Hotel, a regular place to spot VIPs and an architectural landmark in its own right.
The Historic Third Ward – Also known as SoHo, this central neighborhood is one of Milwaukee's most creative districts. The Milwaukee Public Market is in the area, which is a great place to shop for groceries and souvenirs while Gallery Night and Day takes place four times a year and sees the area turned into an artistic festival.
East Town – Milwaukee's business center, East Town still manages to retain an intimate, welcoming atmosphere and it's an excellent place to stay. One of the best things about the area are the many festivals that it hosts, from Jazz in the Park to the Parisian-themed Bastille Days held every summer.
East Side – Located north of East Town, the East Side is very different but no less appealing. Home to thousands of students, this lakefront neighborhood has some great bars and clubs, including the Eastsider and Points East, excellent restaurants like Tess as well as the Milwaukee Museum Mile - a collection of five different museums dealing with subjects as diverse as Jewish life, lighthouses and modern art.
Milwaukee's public transit is provided by the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS), which charges a basic fare of $2.25 and $4 for day passes. If you just want to get around the Downtown area and the East Side, you don't need to look any further. In the summer, there's also a free "Tourist Trolley", so look out to see whether it is running during your visit. Bublr also runs a bike rental scheme from several Downtown locations, and charges $3 for half an hour.
Taxis in Milwaukee tend to cost $2.75 for the basic charge, then $2.50 every mile after that. You can save money by traveling with Uber, which costs $1.25 for the meter drop, then $1.10 for every subsequent mile.
Getting around Milwaukee by car is relatively simple. Streets cut through the city from north to south and increase in number westwards as you move away from the lake. The majority of parking in Downtown Milwaukee is metered, and costs vary considerably from as little as $0.25 per hour to $1.50. Drivers also need to request parking permission from the City for overnight stays, but most hotels should offer on-site parking.
The biggest city center mall in Milwaukee is Grand Avenue Mall, where you'll find everything from T.J. Maxx outlet stores to men's apparel stores like Nova and J Bees and jewelry vendors like Precision Jewelry. If you need a book, head to Renaissance Books on Plankinton Street, which has over 1 million titles in stock. Sky High is the city's best skate shop while if you want to purchase a locally made Harley Davidson motorbike, the dealership on W Silver Spring Road is the place to go.
If you want to stock up on Wisconsin cheddar or other cheese from the area, get down to the Milwaukee Public Market - the best place to buy upmarket and locally made food products. For general grocery shopping, check out supermarkets like Sendik's (a locally owned chain) or major names like Aldi, Walmart or Publix. Food prices tend to be quite cheap in the city, with a gallon of milk costing $3 and a pound of apples around $2.30.
Milwaukee has a diverse dining scene, with a particularly large number of German-influenced eateries. Try out the bratwurst at the Vanguard or Usinger's, and check out cheeses from the Public Market as well. There are excellent Mexican restaurants like Conejito's Place, reliable and great value pizza joints like Zaffiro's and upmarket eateries like the pasta specialists Mimma's Cafe and Sanford - the city's highest rated restaurant in the Zagat dining guide. Expect to pay $15-20 for a good medium-range meal and more than $30 at high-end places.