Sunday, July 31, 2016

Rent a Kayak, Paddleboard, Canoe, or Pedalboat This Summer


For anyone wanting to try kayaking with friends for the first time or as an expert, we have a lot of choices for rentals in Milwaukee. There are also other options for watercraft.

Milwaukee Kayak Company has two locations.  The south river location has been open for four years now at 318 South Water Street, which is open seven days a week.  The new location this summer is at Schlitz Park, 1555 N. River Center Drive, which is open Friday through Sunday. You can choose a single, tandem, paddle board, or canoe. Reservations are encouraged and can be made from the website link for the main location.  Walk-ups only at Schlitz Park.

Clearwater Outdoors rents out kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards across from Milwaukee Public Market, but you can visit their store to make a reservation and pay. They also have a fun outdoor adventure club that offers social activities along with some exercise. You can combine yoga and paddling or dinner and paddling.  They even have a moonlight paddle.

Urban Ecology Center has always provided kayaks for its members. You need to take a safety class, provided at their locations.  You can get into a canoe on the lagoon at Washington Park with little fuss.  You can also borrow a cart at Riverside and put in on the Milwaukee River at Rotary Centennial Arboretum.  

Wheel Fun Rentals is the watercraft vendor at Veterans Park. They no longer offer watercraft at Bradford Beach. This is the easiest paddle and is great for beginners because you're on a still lagoon. You can't get lost. If you fall out, you can probably stand up on the muddy floor of the lagoon. They have kayaks, paddle boards, and pedal boats. It is open every day of the week.

For more information about where you can kayak, check out the Milwaukee Urban Water Trail map.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Milwaukee Riverwalk in Summer- Beautiful!


Have you been to the Riverwalk lately?  This two mile walkway connects three Milwaukee neighborhoods and provides a great space to eat, people watch, learn more about the city, and enjoy the water.  It's worth a visit this summer when you are looking for a fun place to get a little fresh air and exercise.
You don't really need a destination.  Just find a spot near the river and follow the signs to see where it takes you.  You might decide to go on a boat ride or rent a kayak for different views of the city. There were plenty of people out enjoying it when we visited.
Tiles set in the concrete guide you


Directional signs guide you to other places in the city

One of the sightseeing boats going under a bridge

Rental kayaks are easy to find
Every year there is an artwalk project.  You can pick up a brochure along the walk or find it at the link, which maps out the sculptures and tells you a little bit about them. Look for the boxes attached to the walls. Here are three we saw. There are 20 pieces highlighted in the artwalk, done by local, regional, and national artists.
Gertie the duck and her ducklings

Cow and ballerina- This artist lived to be 101!
Dream with the Fishes

Friday, July 29, 2016

Bayshore Town Center's Splash Pad

Still on a quest to stay cool this week, we stopped at Bayshore Town Center for some wet fun. In past years, the JCC had a towel cart but it was not there when we visited.  Bring your own towels.  There's a public restroom in the corridor between the Vera Bradley and Devon Seafood for changing into bathing suits.
The Splash Pad has rhythms that alternate the sprays
The convenience of having food and cold drinks at the fountain/splash pad is wonderful.  Adults can read a book or relax while kids play. You won't need to bring food. Most of the restaurants do take-out.
Bring your own towels

Lunch is delicious and right there
If you enjoy music, Thursday is the day to be there when there's live music by local bands.  Check the events calendar for the schedule.

Milwaukee county has splash pads and wading pools too, though they are only for kids 12 and under.  Check this list to find the nearest one to your home. Most are free.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Milwaukee Pools- So Refreshing

We've been to many of the pools and waterparks in Milwaukee, but decided to visit one on the west side at McCarty Park this week.  When it's hot and humid, the water is cool and refreshing.  McCarty Park has a large pool with a couple diving boards and a long slide with crazy bumps and curves. We loved it.


If you're a kid, like at all Milwaukee pools, you'll have to stay in the shallow side unless you take a swim test and get the secret password. At this pool, I thought they were hard on the kids because they were focused not so much on whether the kids could doggie paddle and stay afloat, but more on stroke technique. Few kids get swim lessons that focus on stroke technique. There were very few kids in the deep end using the diving boards because of this.  There were few chairs and shade umbrellas.  If you go, you can bring a folding chair or lay a blanket down on the concrete surrounding the pool, but with the heat, we spent all our time in the water, so it wasn't needed.

Here's a complete list of all the pools with admission, hours, and locations. Get out and try one of the pools to cool off before summer is over.

McCarty Park also has a great playground, and a lagoon for fishing. Go check out this beautiful park.



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

AWE Truck Studio in the Parks


Do you have young budding artists to entertain this summer?  There's still time to get over to a park where the truck studio provides direction, materials, and supervision. You can check their calendar to find out about local events and follow the truck. Or download the flyer that shows every park they will visit all summer long.

The truck sets up in a shady spot from 12-3 on weekdays and has evening events in August on single dates at Washington, Moody, and Kosciusko Parks. This is a free activity and is open to the whole family, though most activities are geared to school age children. Some of the parks have splash pads too, so bring a suit and cool off in the heat.

Here's an excerpt with more information: Join A.W.E. artists and make art in the parks this summer- for FREE! Projects are inspired by books and a daily theme. This is a great opportunity to be creative, try new techniques and have fun expressing your artistic point of view. While projects are designed for youth ages 4-14, anyone is welcome to come and make art with A.W.E.’s talented team of artists and art educators. Families are encouraged to attend and make art together! Programs run weekdays from 12-3pm at various Milwaukee County Park and Milwaukee Recreation sites.


It's Cooler Near the Lake

We've had some high heat and humidity this week, so we went to Big Bay/Buckley Park in Whitefish Bay. This is a lesser visited beach because there are no lifeguards or play equipment. Most of the people I've seen here are locals who take a jog down to the beach to cool off.
It's a well known fact that it is cooler by the lake. Sometimes it's as much as 20 degrees difference between West Allis and Whitefish Bay Lake Michigan. This isn't a beach with swimming, but you can still enjoy the cool breezes and have fun in the sand. My daughter and her kids joined us.
Lake Michigan from the bluff with a strange cloud hanging over the water
The water was very cold. So cold, that the usual people who often swim here didn't swim. Something about the storm conditions or west winds, one of the guys said. There were a few paddle boarders. We did get our toes wet.
There have been questions about Lake Michigan water quality in past years.  A major effort has been made to clean up the water by planting rain gardens and native plants, in a desire to reduce and clean the runoff.  Because of this, you'll see some pretty wildflowers and bees this time of year.  Atwater Park has the best bluff show, but this is pretty here too.
Native plants have been placed on the bluffs to help with erosion and to reduce runoff
This was the first time my granddaughter has been to the beach since she started to walk, and she loved it, except for having sandy hands after trying to dig a hole with her uncle. It was a challenge trying to wash her hands without getting completely wet.
There were also lots of biting flies.  If you go, bring bug spray. It became so annoying that we decided to cut our stay short.
Marlee, my granddaughter with hands full of sand
 Sometimes you get lucky finding sea glass.  This was my grandson's first attempt with his mom and they found a few pieces.  You can find it easier at Klode Park, but this was a great find for just a few minutes effort. You could also see lots of rocks.  If you've ever been to Villa Terrace Museum, you will see the courtyard floors built of the same rocks, which were collected by the kids who lived there when it was being built.  I imagined how many trips to the beach it probably took to gather thousands of these rocks.
Sea glass collected in just a few minutes



Lots of rocks wash up here
When we left, we took the stairs through the woods.  This beach has access via a paved path, but also a very cool stairway constructed of wood with a natural spring somewhere in the woods that feeds the beach area. If you're feeling hot, get out to one of the Milwaukee beaches this week.
Take the woodland trail to the beach for a different view


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Beaches Open for Summer

Atwater Beach
Living so close to Lake Michigan, we're lucky to have nine official beaches in the county management system, and two others maintained by municipalities. The beaches are monitored for water quality, and although you may sometimes see smelly seaweed washing ashore, you will know the water quality is OK by checking the Beaches website.  Generally, if we've had significant rain, the water will not be safe for swimming.  At this link you can see the Bradford Beach webcam, weather conditions, UV warnings, and any other potential hazards.

South Shore Beach has had problems with runoff from the parking lot and work was done last year, so we'll see if it is better this year.  For information about how the water monitoring is done, read more at this link.


You'll see this sign posted when the water quality is poor

Here's the list of Lake Michigan area beaches:

Klode Beach in Whitefish Bay.  Klode is somewhat protected by rock walls, so you won't see big wave action here.  There's sand on one side and more rocky on the other side.  There are no concessions, but there is a public restroom.


Atwater Beach in Shorewood.   There are toilets on the bluff above the beach.  If you want food or drink, you need to bring your own.  This is a family friendly beach.  There are playgrounds both on the bluff and down at the beach level.  My favorite!

Lifeguards are provided at Bradford Beach.  This is more a beach for the college age and other adults.  They serve alcohol and food.  You can play beach volleyball here. Last year Wheel Fun Rentals had a rental space for kayaks and SUPs, but they will apparently not be back.   Parking can be very difficult to find on a hot sunny day, so bike or take the bus if you can. Stairways were added to the bluff above so you can also park on Wahl Avenue.

The other county beaches with addresses below as excerpts from the linked website:

Bay View 3120 S. Lake Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53207

Big Bay 5000 N. Lake Drive, Whitefish Bay, WI 53217
 *Beach water not monitored at this site

Bender 4503  E. Ryan Rd., Oak Creek, WI 53154

Doctors Park (Tietjen Beach) 1870 E. Fox Lane, Fox Point, WI 53217

Grant 100 S. Hawthorne Ave., South Milwaukee, WI 53172
Amenities: sand volleyball courts and concessions.
For information on programs, visit www.csmilwaukee.com/page/Leagues (external link)

McKinley 1750 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Amenities: unreserved picnic areas

Sheridan 4800 S. Lake Drive, Cudahy, WI 53110
*Beach water not monitored at this site

South Shore 2900 S. Superior St., Milwaukee, WI 53207
Amenities in the lower level of the pavilion: wheelchair-accessible restrooms, concessions
Concessions Hours (Memorial Day Weekend–Labor Day Weekend):
Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. -7 p.m.
Memorial Day and Labor Day, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Weather permitting


No dogs are allowed on any of the beaches, and you risk a $200 fine.
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