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Milwaukee is the big city in Wisconsin. It is the major urban center for the state and is also the economic center for the state. Although many people forget about Milwaukee because of its big neighbor to the south Chicago this is an amazing city in its own right. There are several great museums, restaurants and a very good night life. During the summer months the lake front is lit up with summer festivals that even put Chicago to shame. Just remember this is a Miller town so don't ask for a Budweiser.
Breweries are integral to Milwaukee's image. Although the number of large scale operations has dwindled in the last decade, the nickname "the Brew City" still rings true, and microbreweries are booming. In several spots around the city, the smell of yeast from the beer factories is quite strong. Milwaukee was once the home to four of the world's largest breweries: Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst, and Miller. For many years it was the number one beer producing city in the world. Of those four only Miller remains.
Milwaukee's location in the Great Lakes Region often has rapidly changing weather, producing a humid continental climate, with cold, windy, snowy winters, and warm, humid summers. The warmest month of the year is July, when the 24-hour average is 22.1 °C, while January is the coldest month, with a 24-hour average of -5.4 °C. Of the 50 largest cities in the United States, Milwaukee has the second-coldest average annual temperature, after Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Because of Milwaukee's proximity to Lake Michigan, a convection current forms around mid-afternoon in light wind, resulting in the so-called "lake breeze" - a smaller scale version of the more common sea breeze. The lake breeze is most common between the months of March and July. This onshore flow causes cooler temperatures to move inland usually 8 to 24 kilometres, with much warmer conditions persisting further inland. Residents refer to this phenomenon with the phrase "cooler near the lake". Because Milwaukee's official climate site, General Mitchell International Airport, is only 5 kilometres from the lake, seasonal temperature variations are less extreme than in many other locations of the Milwaukee metropolitan area.
As the sun sets, the convection current reverses and an offshore flow ensues causing a land breeze. After a land breeze develops, warmer temperatures flow east toward the lakeshore, sometimes causing high temperatures during the late evening. The lake breeze is not a daily occurrence and will not usually form if a southwest, west, or northwest wind generally exceeds 15 mph. The lake moderates cold air outbreaks along the lakeshore during winter months.
Aside from the lake's influence, overnight lows in downtown Milwaukee year-round are often much warmer than suburban locations because of the urban heat island effect. Onshore winds elevate daytime relative humidity levels in Milwaukee as compared to inland locations nearby.
Thunderstorms in the region can be dangerous and damaging, bringing hail and high winds. In rare instances, they can bring a tornado. However, almost all summer rainfall in the city is brought by these storms. In spring and fall, longer events of prolonged, lighter rain bring most of the precipitation. A moderate snow cover can be seen on or linger for many winter days, but even during meteorological winter, on average, over 40% of days see less than 2.5 cm on the ground.
Milwaukee tends to experience highs that are 32 °C on or above 7 days per year, and lows at or below -18 °C) on 6–7 nights. Extremes range from 41 °C set on July 24, 1934 down to -32 °C on both January 17, 1982 and February 4, 1996. The 1982 event, also known as Cold Sunday, featured temperatures as low as -40 °C in some of the suburbs as little as 10 miles to the north of Milwaukee.
|Avg Max||-3.3 °C||-1.1 °C||4.7 °C||11.6 °C||17.9 °C||23.8 °C||26.6 °C||25.4 °C||21.4 °C||14.8 °C||7.1 °C||-0.4 °C|
|Avg Min||-11.3 °C||-8.9 °C||-3.2 °C||2.1 °C||7.1 °C||12.8 °C||16.7 °C||16 °C||11.6 °C||5.4 °C||-0.7 °C||-8.1 °C|
|Rainfall||40.6 mm||36.8 mm||67.8 mm||88.9 mm||72.1 mm||82.3 mm||88.1 mm||89.7 mm||85.9 mm||61.2 mm||63.8 mm||59.2 mm|
General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) is located about 5 miles (8 kilometres) from the central business district of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. It mainly serves other US cities, though there are international flights to Toronto and seasonal flights to Cancun.
To/from the airport
Badger Coach has frequent trips between Mitchell Airport, Downtown Milwaukee, Madison, Johnson Creek, and Goerkes Corners. Milwaukee County Transit System Route 80 serves the Airport with a $2.25 fare to anywhere in the county. Amtrak has a station platform 3/4 of a mile from the airport and uses the Wisconsin Coach Lines operates frequently to the two Chicago Airports: O'Hare Airport (ORD), Midway Airport (MDW) and to Waukesha, Milwaukee (Downtown Amtrak/Greyhound Station), Racine, and Kenosha.
Two trains, operated by Amtrak travel to and from Milwaukee:
I-94 comes in from Madison to the west, and continues to Chicago to the south.
I-43 will get you to the city from Green Bay from the north, and continues south-west to Beloit.
I-41 approaches the Milwaukee area from Fond du Lac and other Fox Valley cities to the north.
Milwaukee is served by several interstate bus lines daily, there is competition on most routes as well as onward connections. Book a few weeks ahead online for the best prices. Most buses stop at or across the street from the Milwaukee Intermodal Station (where all trains stop as well) on St Paul Street on the south edge of Downtown Milwaukee. Chartered tours of Milwaukee are also arranged from cities in the region, and there are casino charters from across the Midwest.
Lake Express high speed ferry operates several daily trips across Lake Michigan to Muskegon, MI. The ferry docks on the south side of the port near Bayview. No winter service.
Getting around in Milwaukee is easy. Block numbers are consistent across the city, including most of the suburbs, starting roughly where the Milwaukee and Menominee rivers meet. All numbered streets run north-south, increasing in number as you head west from 1st Street. Most named streets go east-west, with the notable exception of streets east of 1st St. Standard blocks are 1/8th of a mile long north to south, and 1/12th of a mile east to west.
Parking outside the Downtown/East Side is overall a non-issue. Traffic conditions vary.
Parking Downtown and in some business districts (on the East Side, in some suburbs) costs money. Keep an eye out for electronic meters: there will be a number on a post at each space, and you need it to pay at a machine down the block (cards accepted). Visitors parking overnight on city streets should call the City at +1 414 286-8300 by 1:00am to request parking permission.
Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.
For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.
Milwaukee's bus system, MCTS, has an extensive coverage area (85% of Milwaukee County) and core routes with very frequent service. Outlying suburbs have shorter hours, slower and less-frequent service. Express buses called "Freeway Flyers" provide excellent service from park and ride lots across the county to Downtown as well as to Brewers games and festivals saving you the hassle of traffic, parking and worries of drunk driving. Express buses called "UBuses" offer service to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. MCTS also serves Mitchell International Airport with both a local bus and a new, more express route; see Get In for details. Most routes run from about 5:00am until at least midnight.
Milwaukee was awarded bronze status from the League of American Bicyclists in 2004 and again in 2009. A bike map is available from the city or for sale at local shops. Weather permitting, Milwaukee is a very pleasant place to bicycle. There are several separated bike lanes and network of leisurely trails called the Oak Leaf Trail. Some are even limited access paths (think: bike freeway) as well as 105 kilometres of on-street bike lanes and 120 kilometres of signed bike routes (the city aims to raise that number to several hundred miles of on-street bike lanes as streets are re-paved).
Bublr Bikes is Milwaukee's bikeshare system. Bike stations are mostly concentrated in the greater downtown area and the East Side. Single rides cost $3 for 30 minutes and can be paid for with a credit card at any bike station. Bublr also sells 30-day passes online for $15, which allows for unlimited free rides in 60-minute increments; you can avoid additional charges by returning a bike within that time frame and hopping on a new one.
With its immigrant heritage, Milwaukee is a major restaurant city. Good local restaurants serve almost every kind of food imaginable, usually quite cheaply. Different neighbourhoods have different specialities when it comes to food. The majority of mid-range, non-chain places within Downtown are located on Milwaukee Street or near Cathedral Square east of the river.
On the East Side, you can head over to the intersection of North and Farwell Avenues, where you'll find local favorites like Beans & Barley (healthy/organic), Pizza Man (burned to the ground in early 2010), Von Trier's (German), the BBC (bar & grill), and the Twisted Fork (pasta). Louisa's is also a great Italian restaurant. A bit farther up Oakland Ave, near Locust Street (near the UW-Milwaukee Campus), you'll find an exciting variety of restaurants including the Oakland Trattoria (Mediterranean), Sharazad (Middle Eastern), Lula's Cafe (East African), Thai Kitchen, and Oakland Gyros (Greek).
Milwaukee has a strong culture with a large number of unique local places despite the onslaught of Starbucks. Some are open late, until Midnight or so.
Visitors to Milwaukee find it easiest to stay in or near downtown, where most of the city's hotels are located. Milwaukee doesn't have any youth hostels, but the city has an array of hotels to meet most budgets. There is a hostel being developed in Walkers Point called Third Coast Inn. There is a small bed and breakfast district on the Westside.
Cheap hotels can be found on the Near South Side as well as the North Side, the quality of these tends to reflect the average quality of life in the areas these are in, hence may not be up to the standards of relatively affluent travelers.
More generic cheaper hotels are located outside the urban city. For instance, there is a strip of budget hotels on College Ave near Mitchell International Airport. Near most interstates you can also find chain hotels.
|Motel 6-Milwaukee West||20300 w bluemound rd Brookfield, WI, 53045||HOTEL||-|
|Econo Lodge Hotel Milwaukee Airport||6541 s 13th street||HOTEL||-|
The largest university is the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee with around 30,000 students. Other schools include Marquette University, Alverno College, Cardinal Stritch University, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Mount Mary College, Wisconsin Lutheran College, Concordia University Wisconsin, Lakeland College, and Wisconsin School of Professional Psychology.
There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.
See also International Telephone Calls
The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.
The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.
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