Milwaukee – A Weekend Trip

We recently had a week long trip in Wisconsin. Some of that trip was in the Wisconsin Dells area (that will be a separate blog post) but the majority of the trip was in the Milwaukee area. My in-laws live there, Ryan grew up there, and there are some things that we always try to do/see/eat when we are there.

Milwaukee is so close to Chicago. If you have a free weekend, a quick Milwaukee trip is a great getaway!  It’s great for families! There are so many family friendly activities to do and places to go.

Places to go:

Head to Betty Brinn Children’s Museum – There are so many fun exhibits in this museum. One of our girls’ favorite sections is the Home Town section. This area is like a mini-Milwaukee and encourages lots of imaginative play. This whole museum is great for young kiddos!

Find a park – There are so many different outdoor areas that you can explore. Get outside and find an adventure!

Go to a beach – Milwaukee is right on Lake Michigan so there are lots of beaches. Atwater Beach is my favorite. As you can see in the pic above, it’s just beautiful. The beaches are generally clean, and actually fairly quiet. There are so many great family beaches. Definitely a great way to spend a summer afternoon.

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Visit Milwaukee Art Museum – This museum has a wonderful collection to explore and it’s not huge so spending some time here is not overwhelming for young travelers. They have, in my opinion, one of the best family programs. There is a studio space that is a lot of fun. When we went, there were two different art projects that you could participate in. One of the best parts of their family programing is that you can check out several different items to use in the museum for further exploration. We borrowed drawing materials to sketch art pieces that caught the girls’ eyes. We also borrowed fabric tubes that were so much fun! The instructions gave us the locations for a few pieces of art that matched and we got to just have fun! Seriously. So fun! And so different from any other museum experience that we have explored.

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Go to Discovery World – This is one of our favorite places to explore in Milwaukee. There are lots of cool science exhibits to engage with. Most of the exhibits are STEM related. There are a lot of activities that allow your child the change to learn about physics by doing hands-on experiences. There is also an aquarium! The aquarium is not as big as going to a stand-alone aquarium (like Shedd or someplace similar) but you can still see some interesting animals. You really can do a little bit of everything at this museum. One of the coolest things that you can do is to go for a trip on the tall ship S/V Denis Sullivan. What an amazing experience and a great way to get a different view of Milwaukee.

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Places to eat:

Cafe Corazon – This is one of our favorites. During one trip to Milwaukee, Ryan and I ate at Cafe Corazon three times in one week. That food is all good. The drinks are delicious!

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Cubanita’s – If you are in the mood for some classic Cuban food, this is your place in Milwaukee. My favorite? go on Monday for the daily special: arroz con pollo. Delicious comfort food.

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Kopp’s – If you are in the Milwaukee area during the summer and don’t go to Kopp’s, well, you’re not doing summer correctly! Go for the custard, of course. (And you can check in advance to check what the flavor of the day will be by looking at the website, or just driving by – it’s posted on the signage outside.) The custard and custard treats are all yummy, but their burgers are some of my favorite – anywhere.

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Sprecher’s – You can find Sprecher’s sodas at some stores outside of the Milwaukee area, but, there is just something about getting it from the source. There are several locations in Wisconsin (check the website). The drinks are good, there are sodas and beers! And the food is yummy and definitely family friendly. And, as you can see in the pic, for dessert you can get a flight…a float flight!

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Movida – One of my favorite types of meals is to get tapas. Yum yum yum. I was so happy to find a great place for tapas in Milwaukee. Not only does Movida have a great selection of tapas (seriously, look at that menu!), but they also have delicious churros for dessert!

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Have you been to Milwaukee? What are your favorite places to go? Where are your favorite places to eat?

 


Going to Granny and Pa’s house and having some Milwaukee adventures (going to the beach) were on our summer bucket list.

Our list thus far:

 

 

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Love Your Library!

When I was a kid, going to the library was a weekly event during the summer. Not only did we check out books and movies, but it was a great escape from the heat. (At that time, we did not have central air conditioning in the house.)

Now, I take my girls to the library. We don’t necessarily need to go there to escape the heat but we do go to check out new books, borrow new puzzles or games, play on the iPad and update the girls’ summer reading challenge books.

We are usually pretty good about reading every day. But, reading can be pushed to the side when you get really busy. That is why I love summer reading programs so much. The program helps to keep us on track to ensure that we are keeping up with our reading even when we get busy with other activities.

This is the final week of the summer reading program and, although we have gone to the library a lot, we haven’t spent as much time in the library as we have during years past. The reason?

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Our library is going through a major renovation! Not all of the books and materials are easy to find because they have had to move due to the construction. Yes, it’s a bit annoying right now to not be able to find some things as easily as we have in the past and there isn’t as much space to play but, it’s mostly exciting because these renovations are going to make our library even better than it was.

 

Our list thus far:

 

Girls Day Downtown

There is nothing quite like a girls days with my little girls. They love being downtown and going on adventures, and now that they are older, it’s easier for me to do the adventures by myself. Diapers? Don’t need them. Snacks? Still needed but they can open them by themselves. And, although their legs get tired after walking all day, we no longer need to haul a stroller around town.

We recently had a girls day downtown doing two of their favorite things: eating and shopping at American Girl Place and shopping at Disney Store (this is a big deal mostly because there are so few locations of Disney Store, now…..there had been a location very near us but that closed a couple years ago).

Part of the fun of shopping at Disney Store is finding all of the buttons to press and then see what noises or actions those buttons make happen.

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And, of course, watching all of the cartoons and movie previews on the big screen.

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Now, going to American Girl Place and eating there requires a little more planning. You can, of course, just go to shop. However, there is a lot of do while you are there.

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Some things to remember:

  • Tea is fun but is served later in the afternoon so it may not a good option if you haven’t already eaten lunch. Your kids will be hangry. (Trust me. I know.) The lunch is very filling. If you’ve already eaten lunch before arriving, go ahead and do tea!
  • In addition to tea and lunch, there are also brunch and dinner options depending on the time of day that you are going.
  • If you only have a small group with you and you are already there to celebrate a birthday, go ahead and go in for the birthday package. It’s a set price, you get a full meal including a starter and your main course, you get a cake (we always go home with extra), and the kids get a goody bag. Definitely a good deal when you look at the the prices of the meals. (The basic package is $37 for kids and $27 for adults.)
  • If you are planning on taking a doll to the salon, book that as soon as you arrive. The salon can get very busy!
  • Plan on at least 45 minutes to just browse and shop. (Even if you aren’t planning on making any purchases.) The store is set up so that girls can play with almost every item that’s for sale. And, from experience, this takes awhile.

 

Our list thus far:

Movie Time

We usually see several movies throughout the summer. We see movies outside. We see movies in the theaters.

So far, we have seen Incredibles 2 while on our camping trip.

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And we recently saw the new Hotel Transylvania.

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I am looking forward to seeing Christopher Robin in a week!

What movies have you seen this summer? What movies are you looking forward to seeing?

 

Seeing movies is always an item on our summer bucket list.

Our list thus far:

When A Race is Not Just a Race

I did it. I got my Remix Challenge medal.

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This medal was a year in the making. This weekend of running meant a lot more to me than just a few miles.


Last year, I was scheduled to complete this challenge. I finished the 5K and was all set to do the 10K the following day. I was using the Run Rock ‘n Roll Chicago race weekend as an early version of the Princess Challenge weekend (you can read about that experience here). 5k and 10k in one weekend to prep for 10k and half-marathon in one weekend. Good plan, right?

Well….

As with many things, last year’s Remix Challenge weekend did not go as I had planned. I had an accident – I’m still not entirely sure what happened or how it happened – as I got out of the car. Ryan and the girls were dropping me off and I was going to walk to my starting coral.

Somehow I lost my footing. My head met the curb of the road, specifically, my left eyebrow. My sunglasses fractured, right into the bridge of my nose. There was blood. A lot of blood. This was when I learned that runners really are some of the best people that you will ever meet. So many runners, who were on their way to their own starting coral, stopped, helped me up, stayed with me. One guy gave me his towel (yea, he never got that back because it was covered in my blood…..). Ryan was able to park on the street and wait with me as we waited for the ambulance.

So, what should’ve been me completing a 10K and getting my 10K medal and my Remix Challenge medal, ended with me getting nine stitches – 6 on my eyebrow and 3 on my nose. I still have scarring on my face and on my knee from the road rash when I fell. The injuries thankfully did not include any broken bones, but it would be several weeks before I could restart my training.

What led to the fall? Was I dizzy? Was there some sort of other issue? I had been very tired from the training. Was I too tired to even stand properly? Honestly, I probably won’t know exactly what led to the fall. It happened so quickly that I never really was able to figure out how my run ended before it could even begin. But, I knew that this wouldn’t be able to stop me.

I made a mental plan to return in 2018 and conquer this weekend and the Remix Challenge.


This weekend’s runs were not easy or fun. It was a rainy, windy weekend. Each morning’s run was met with downpours. Not fun.

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But, at least it wasn’t super hot, right?

And, I finished Saturday’s 5k feeling optimistic about Sunday.

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Sunday’s run was not just a run. It was something that I’ve wanted to complete for a year now. My name on my bib? Revenge.

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It was a hard run (I’ve realized recently just how much my slacking on my training has impacted my running goals….definitely will be remedying that beginning this week). But it was a powerful run. The rain was pouring. The wind off of the lake was cold. And when it wasn’t raining, the humidity felt like it was 90%. And none of that was going to stop me.

I did it!

And then…..was told that they had run out of 10k medals.  After messaging Run Rock n Roll, I found out that someone had moved the boxes of medals to a dry spot in a downpour but didn’t tell anyone who was in charge of giving out medals.  Run Rock n Roll is mailing me a 10k medal but it might not arrive for several weeks…..

Thankfully, I did get my Remix Challenge medal (I was told later that day that they had run out of the challenge medals!) because if I had gone this whole year waiting for this run and then would go home medal-less, well, I would not have been happy.

 

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I’m glad that I did it. I’m glad that I got two out of my three medals and that the third will be in the mail. I’m glad that I completed this weekend without any injuries. I’m glad that my girls were able to see me accomplish something that was a challenge for me. And I’m glad that I was able to get my revenge on this race. 🙂

Happy Running!

 

 

Keeping it Old School, Really Old School – Bristol Renaissance Faire

One of our favorite summer time activities is to spend the day at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. The Faire is full of fun activities, interesting shopping, and yummy food. It really is great for the whole family but I have some tips to help make your day even more enjoyable.

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Plan your day!

Get on the mailing list and/or follow Bristol Renaissance Faire on Facebook to get coupons and find out the theme weekends. Even if you don’t dress in character for the theme weekends, it can be a lot of fun to see other costumes! You can also purchase tickets online in advance.

Once you arrive at the Faire ground, you will find that there are two parking lots. There is a pay lot that is really close to the grounds of the faire. However, there is also a free lot – why spend money on parking when you can save the money for treats inside the faire? Yes, you will need to walk a bit to get to the grounds but you’ve saved a little bit of money.

As soon as you enter, pick up a map and a schedule for for the day (all on one paper, front and back). Take careful note of times for performances. It is also important to note any age recommendations next to certain performances.  There are many performances that are a bit, well, bawdy and not appropriate for young children. However, there are many (many!) performances that your kids will love. I recommend picking a time to view jousting and then plan the rest of your day around that. If this is not your first time, I recommend trying to see at least one performance that you haven’t seen before. This summer, we saw the falconry demonstration and it was fascinating.

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There are porta-potties throughout the grounds, but the only flushing toilets are near the front of the grounds. If you have small kiddos with you, be sure to stop at the bathrooms when you enter and hopefully you won’t have to stop at too many porta-potties. (Porta-potties with small kids = ewwwwwww.)

Go shopping!

There are many things to purchase throughout the grounds that your kiddos will probably be asking for. And although it might be tempting to buy everything, let me make a suggestion: think of some of the bigger souvenir purchases as something that you will use over and over again. My girls love their flower crowns that we purchased at the Faire. They wear them each year, and they each got to pick out one when they were 2 years old. Yep. These are the same crowns that we purchased when they were toddlers. After the Faire, They still look great after years of use. (I keep the crowns in my room because they will come apart if played with every day. But we get them out again the following summer.)

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If you are looking for a fun souvenir that won’t break the bank, you can purchase pennants during the jousting for $5 and the knights will sign them afterward. Some of the price of the pennants goes toward the horses used by the Faire.

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A Kingdom for the Kiddos

The Kids Kingdom area has lots of fun activities for kiddos. You will find storytime in this area, other activities, and a fun playground. My girls were talking about this playground a week before we went! There are also bathrooms (porta-potties) in this spot. You will also find a changing table in this bathroom area.

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The throne room is also located near Kids Kingdom. The throne room has six different themed thrones that you can take pics in. There have been recent changes made to the throne room that I think work really well. A guide walks with you through the different throne rooms, and will take your picture for you! This means that the whole family can be in each pic! And it’s not as rushed because each guide ensures that their group waits before moving.  So, I took pics of the girls in each throne and our guide took a couple pics of all of us. So fun!

Eat all of the food!

Some food, you will find in several locations (grilled corn-on-the-cob, mushrooms) and some food, you will only find in certain sections. If this is your first time at the Faire, I recommend that if you see a food that looks good, go ahead and get it. Chances are really good, it’ll be yummy. But, chances are also really good, that if you walk away it’ll be hard to find it again.

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Remember, it’s outside….and it’s summer.

Seek out shade throughout the day. Since the Faire is only held on weekends during the summer, it can be a very, very hot day. And even though they are only porta-potties, most of the bathroom areas have running water in the sinks. Take advantage of this running water and damped a paper towel to wipe your face and neck. This can do wonders when you are trying to cool down yourself, or your kids.

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Wear comfortable shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking and the paths can be kind of dusty and although your sandals might be very comfortable, if you are wearing sandals your feet may very well be filthy by the end of the day.

Tip your waiter! And your fire whip performer!

Bring cash. Although cards are accepted, some stalls have a minimum purchase if you are using a card. And be sure that some of that cash is in smaller bills. Many of the performers pass around a tip basket or have a tip basket on display. Performing is how many of these actors support themselves so, please, tip them! They work very hard all summer to ensure that your Faire experience is an awesome one.

Have you been to the Bristol Renaissance Faire? What are your tips for a fun day at the Faire?

 

 

Our summer bucket list thus far:

Family Fun Festival – Lots of Family, Smaller Space for Fun

The Family Fun Festival has always been one of our favorite summertime activities. We go for songs, storytime, crafts and lots of gross motor activities. Well, this year we went and had songs, storytime, crafts…..and that’s pretty much it. There is a huge white tent that holds the Family Fun Festival in Millennium Park and that had been, in the past, the only main activity that it held during the summer. However, now the majority of the space has been given to Afterschool Matters programming. I am certainly not saying that the teenagers involved in this amazing program (seriously, look up all that Afterschool Matters programming does! It’s amazing!) should not have use of this space. It was awesome to see so many teens working on different projects in the tent. However, it was a little strange to see how little space the younger kids had when we’ve been going to this programming for years and there would be lots of gross motor activities – blocks, hula hoops, lots of space for dancing and playing. There would be enough there to keep kiddos occupied for several hours.

We still had fun!

We sang songs, listened to stories and made puppets with the Hyde Park Arts Center. (Be sure to look at the schedule online to see what organization will be leading the crafts each week.)

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Have you been to the Family Fun Festival this year? Did you go in past years?

 

Our summer list thus far: