With museum renovations and a brand-new boutique hotel, not to mention a slew of restaurants that celebrate infusion and tradition, and a new brewery, here are the best excuses to check out this Upper Midwest city during 2016. Whether your trip is on a frigid winter day or a hot summer one, there are plenty of options to explore.
New boutique hotel
Come summer, Kimpton—a boutique-hotel company in many U.S. cities, including Miami, Chicago and Seattle—is opening its first Wisconsin property: 158 rooms, a rooftop lounge/bar It will be in the Historic Third Ward neighborhood near attractions like Lakeshore State Park, Milwaukee Public Market, retail boutiques, art galleries and restaurants.
In November this iconic institution—on a clear day, the museum’s spread stark-white wings, the product of Santiago Calatrava’s design, over Lake Michigan’s waterfront are stunning—debuted new gallery space. After a six-year renovation to the tune of $34 million, the result is a new café with a wine list, espresso-drinks menu, and treats like macarons and artisan cheese; 2,500 additional works or art; and amazing views of Lake Michigan as never seen before.
The world’s largest music festival—hosted along Milwaukee’s lakefront in Henry W. Maier Festival Park, showcasing something like 800 bands—may still be a few months away (this year it’s June 29-July 10) but some of the headliners have already been announced. They include Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Weezer, Panic at the Disco and Selena Gomez, performing in the Marcus Amphitheater while other bands perform at a handful of other stages. In a single day you could catch half a dozen nationally known acts across 11 stages.
Walker’s Point restaurants
Ever since the New York Times praised this just-south-of-downtown ‘hood for its eclectic eateries, the scene has only gotten hotter. There’s a solar-powered brewery (Milwaukee Brewing), urban creamery (Clockshadow Creamery), edgy hotel with a cool bar (The Iron Horse Hotel’s Branded) and an ice-cream maker’s shop (Purple Door) in case you don’t have time for a full-fledged meal but still want a bite of the action.
Living up to its Brew City moniker, Milwaukee expects to welcome a new craft brewery this year. Third Space Brewing will debut in the Menomonee Valley this summer. Owner and founder Kevin Wright graduated from the University of California-Davis Master Brewing program and worked at Hangar 24 Brewing in Redlands, Calif. He expects to have a tasting room to try out the beers.
Milwaukee Fashion Week (http://www.milwaukeefashionweek.com)
Last year the city’s most fashion-minded folks got together and launched the first-ever Milwaukee Fashion Week, bringing together stylists, models and designers for a line-up of events across the city. Great news: it’s happening again this September. If you think Wisconsinites don’t know fashion, then you want to be seated near the runway to prove yourself wrong. More details will be announced in the months leading up to Fashion Week.
Reopening of Modjeska Theater
It’s not every day that community members and business leaders pour millions of dollars into completely restoring a vintage theater. Expected to be re-unveiled in March, this South Side institution was closed in 2010 although it first opened a hundred years ago in 1910, moving into a successful run welcoming musicals and live-music acts such as Gregg Allman and Alice in Chains. Opening day is slated for sometime this spring and the line-up expects to include comedy acts and live theater performances.
Mayfair Collection—open since the spring of 2014, in the western ‘burb of Wauwatosa—continues to welcome new tenants that promote luxury, whether it’s home goods or fashion. So far, there are retailers like Nordstrom Rack, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th and J. Crew Mercantile. By spring, Versona Accessories will debut its first Wisconsin store, selling clothes, jewelry, handbags and more for women. In February, a 45,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market location, the second one in the Milwaukee area (the first, on Milwaukee’s East Side, opened in 2006), will debut.