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Founded by French fur trappers and missionaries in the early 19th Century but much better known for its long traditional association with German settlers, the lakeside metropolis of Milwaukee is the mid-west in microcosm. This 600,000-population city may be modestly-sized by American standards but like the other Great Lakes centres, its status as a centre of industry (predominantly brewing) has paved its streets, if not with gold exactly, with an unmistakable cultural appeal. And our pick of the best places to stay in Milwaukee are both ideally located for getting the best out of this great city.
OK, Milwaukee may not be much regarded by sophisticates from the East Coast, but its long years accumulating commercial wealth have given rise to some superlative visitor attractions (the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Haggarty Museum, the unique Harley Davidson Museum et al) and the ballet, symphony orchestra and opera companies that add to its appeal for visitors.
What to do in Milwaukee? Three ideas
- Catch a game – Milwaukee is a sports-crazy city, fervent in its support of the Milwaukee Brewers. The nearest major football team is the Green Bay Packers
- Enjoy the watersports – Sailing, kayaking, kite-surfing – Milwaukee’s location on the shores and bluffs of Lake Michigan ensures a huge variety of options
- Soak up the history – There are several options for walking and bus tours of the city, that highlight it’s fascinating and sometimes shady past as a major industrial centre, which had a supporting role in the Al Capone-era prohibition shenanigans
And of course the Germans, who came to the Midwest in their millions throughout the 19th Century and after in search of land, have left an unmistakable mark. Their presence accounts for the many German restaurants and not one but two major German festivals every year, in June and October. The best places to stay in Milwaukee tend to get booked up quite early for these and many other events throughout the year, so if you want to visit this under-appreciated gem of a city, the gateway to an attractive Midwestern hinterland, then get your skates on and book now.
- Ideal for business travellers as well as city breakers, the Hotel Metro is inspired by classic Milwaukee art deco. It's just a stroll from the Art Museum and offers stylish rooms, restaurant and roof top terrace (open for the summer season).
- The Iron Horse is a Harley Davidson-themed luxury hotel just across the bridge from downtown Milwaukee’s famous Harley Davidson Museum. Interios are sleek and contemporary and Smyth restaurant offers season menus with ingredients sourced as locally as possible.
Best Hotels in Milwaukee
The Iron Horse 100 rooms from $200Milwaukee (Wisconsin)
This Harley Davidson themed luxury hotel has spacious, contemporary rooms located in a converted industrial setting. The Smyth Restaurant is traditional in Midwest cuisine, breakfast in The Library, events in The Yard and drinks at Branded Bar. Spa and gym both complete the modern, business image.Sights nearby - Across the bridge from the Harley Davidson Museum.Lively - Hip and happening.Full of characterSpaRecommended by - Tablet
Hotel Metro 63 rooms from $201Milwaukee (Wisconsin)
Art Deco environmentally conscious Milwaukee landmark for business travellers and luxury seekers. Large, contemporary rooms have access to pool, spa and gym and the treat of breakfast in bed. Zen On 7 rooftop lounge is popular across town on an evening, or casual dining at the restaurant.Sights nearby - Ten Chimneys Foundation is a 60 acre estate with rich history and stunning collections.Spa - Relax in the salt water hot tub with waterfall.Lively - Hip and happening.Swimming Pool - Indoor/outdoorRecommended by - Tablet