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 (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.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Tours on again at Forest Home Cemetery

Have you taken a walk at a cemetery lately?  I'm only half crazy, and yes, I do it routinely.  I love the beautiful trees and landscaping at Forest Home Cemetery. I enjoy looking at the gravestones and recognizing familiar names from streets and buildings around the city.  I like the flowers that bloom around the buildings.  The chapel is lovely.  The halls of history reveal details about Milwaukee's past.  What is there not to love about all of this?  It's even on the National register of historic places.

Because this cemetery is so unique, there are guided tours by docents who know a lot about Milwaukee's beer barons, civil war heroes, and city forefathers.  You can learn something and get exercise while they unravel stories about the past.  Check out the Facebook Page for photos of recent events at the cemetery.

If you're interested in doing a self guided tour, you can download the maps from the cemetery website. Though you can walk through the cemetery, it is a very big place- about 200 acres. You might prefer to drive.  If you have a dog, you're welcome to bring it along.  Just be sure to keep it leashed and pick up messes.

If it's a guided tour you're wanting, check out the calendar. Generally speaking, you'll find tours on Sunday from 2-3:30, starting at the Halls of History.  Donations are welcome, but there is no set fee.   More details are on the calendar too.

June 5 Women of the 1800s
June 12 Civil War Part 1 tour
June 22 Famous Milwaukeeans
July 3 Famous Germans
July 17 Mayors of Milwaukee
July 31 Milwaukee Beer Barons
Aug 14 Contemporary Milwaukee Women
Aug 28 Civil War Part 2
Sep 4 Cemetery Art and Symbolism
Sep 18 Milwaukee History
Oct 15 Fall Color

Another noteworthy event is this month,  Brunch with the Barons- beer barons that is.  An excerpt from the website where you can purchase tickets at $10.  And it's family friendly.

Forest Home Cemetery, The Pabst Mansion and the Milwaukee County Historical Society invite you to Brunch with the Barons; a unique event where Milwaukee's “beer royalty” come alive in a new and unique way. June 18th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., all are invited!
Forest Home Cemetery is the resting place for many of Milwaukee's beer barons and the Brunch with the Barons event brings their lives and stories to light through re-enactors and family members.  Participants can walk the cemetery’s "beer path" during this event which will wind them through the roads so that they encounter the resting places of the Blatz, Pabst, Schlitz, Melm and Gettelman families; among others. At each location, a re-enactor or family member will be present to talk about their lives or to share stories of their family members and family brewery.
Enjoy a peaceful walk, music, great food, and, of course, beer!

Highlights of the event include:
- A rare opportunity to enter the Blatz mausoleum hosted by Blatz family members.
- Encounters with Milwaukee's "beer barons" and baron family members/descendents.
- Activities and information from beer and brewing-related organizations.
- Entrance to the event including the event activities and permanent on-ground buildings and exhibits including the chapel and Halls of History Museum.
- Pabst-brand beers will be available for sale, as will brunch items.

Hope I've given you a reason to go see this beautiful place. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Farmer's Markets Open this Week

There are many places to buy fresh produce in Milwaukee, but none better than a local farmer's market in a park.  Though it's still early in the growing season, you will find some things for sale now and even more as the summer progresses.  Many have entertainment and the added benefit of playground equipment for the kids.  It's always a good idea to bring cash and a reusable bag, though a few of the parks now have ATMs in the beer gardens and vendors often have plastic bags.

On Milwaukee put out a regional guide, which includes those outside of the Milwaukee area. I'll highlight a few here that are just too good to miss.  Miltown Moms has a guide too, with just a few differences.

South Shore Park has a beer garden, ATM, gorgeous views of downtown Milwaukee across the lake, sand pit, a playground, little free library, live music, and exercise equipment so when you've exhausted your shopping list, you can settle in for more fun. Be sure to walk to the north end of the park to see the oldest copper beech tree. Eddee Daniel in his Urban Wilderness blog writes more about this tree and other beautiful large trees in our parks. I've written before about how this is my favorite place to be on a Saturday morning.  Hope you give it a try this summer.
Check out the Beer Garden for food and drinks

View of Milwaukee from South Shore Park

Westown Farmers Market is at Zeidler Union Square on Wednesdays and serves the working downtown population, but that doesn't mean it isn't for you on your lunch break or a day away from work.  I wrote more about this market in detail last year on my blog. I love the food trucks and Kettle Korn Cowboy. Cowboy Doug appears at several markets and you can look at the schedule on his website for details.
Kettle Korn Cowboy

Riverwest Gardeners Market is one of the few you'll find on a Sunday.  They have updated the blog to reflect the 2016 season.  Check it out to see who you might find.  Though it's small, it has some great vendors. I usually come away with gorgeous flowers, some delicious salsa, and fresh greens at this one. They also feature live music.

East Town's Cathedral Square Farmer's Market includes a 9:00 yoga session, set in downtown Cathedral Square. With more than 100 vendors, you're guaranteed to find something you'll decidedly need for the coming week, along with lots of great locally made gift ideas. There's live music starting at 10:15.  It's easy to find ATMs on the surrounding blocks.  For even more fun, catch a ride on the trolley which begins at 11 am and stops here. It only costs $1 and runs all day in a loop until 9 PM, Thursday through Saturday.

Jackson Park is only on its second year, but this is a beautiful park with a lagoon.  The market will be set up in tents near the boathouse on Thursdays, 3:30-7, which is great for stopping by after picking up the kids after school or on your way home from work. Better yet, bring the entire family and make a picnic of it.  There are prepared foods for sale too.  

Walker's Square is a small park in one of our diverse neighborhoods. Open Thursday and Sunday from 7:30 until 3, you'll find fresh produce, free wifi, a wading pool, very nice playground and large shade trees.
Wading pool in Walker's Square Park

Go to the top of the Clock Shadow building- maybe you know there's a cheese factory on the lower floor here- for the monthly AgriCULTURE Market. This isn't really a park, but it's such a cool space with great views of the Hoan Bridge and lakefront, that you should go there at least once.  For up to date information, look at the AgriCULTURE Market Facebook page. These take place on the third Thursday of the month through September, 4-8 PM. Expect Live music, storytelling, and fresh produce.

Hope this has inspired you to get outdoors to do some shopping this summer!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi in the Parks 2016

With summer approaching I know there are many of you who prefer to take your exercise routines outdoors.  We are so lucky to have a variety of classes being held in the beautiful Milwaukee area parks again this year.  Here's a rundown of the classes I'm aware of now.

Milwaukee Power Yoga will return with the wildly popular Stand up paddle board (SUP) yoga at Veterans Park Tuesday evenings June 21-August 23.  Classes run from 6:30-7:30 and cost $22 for one or $60/3 classes.  Register at the workshop tab on their website. You can register for the entire series or just one class.  Bring a towel.

East Side Pilates has a studio near the Prospect Triangle, so they offer FREE pilates in the park on the last Sunday of each month June through September at 11 when weather permits.

OmTownYogis bring yoga to the parks for the second year.  Find them at Klode Park in Whitefish Bay, Atwater Park in Shorewood, or Hart Park in Wauwatosa, on Saturdays July 7-August 29.  New this year, they added a class at Washington Park Urban Ecology Center. Check the link for information about times and meeting places.  Different instructors and classes every week.

Cathedral Square will have yoga at the Saturday Farmer's Markets at 9 am sponsored by the Wisconsin Athletic Club.  The market and yoga run from June 6-October 3.

Clearwater Outdoors has an outdoor yoga and kayak session on Saturdays, 8-10 am called Water and Body.  These run all summer long starting June 4. Bring your own yoga mat.  Prices vary depending on whether you're a member of the adventure club, but the kayaks are included in the class price.  You can choose to bring your own kayak for a discount.

Lake Park also runs an indoor yoga program indoors all year round, every Tuesday morning the in the Community Room underneath Lake Park Bistro.  The instructor is Edie Starrett.  Classes meet from 7-8:15.  Cost is $14 per session, and you can pay at the door with cash/check.
Yoga at Lake Park
Bayshore Town Center has yoga in the square every Saturday morning at 8 am, sponsored by Neroli Salon & Spa.  Classes are free and begin June 11- August 27.  No reservations are needed.  Athleta has a rooftop fitness class at Bayshore on Thursdays at 6:30. For more information, see the Bayshore calendar.

There's a Meetup group for outdoor yoga.  If you join the meetup group, you'll receive notifications of outdoor yoga sessions, which are held in parks around Milwaukee.  They also have social events, so you may gain a new set of friends!

Schlitz Audubon Center has an ongoing Monday evening hatha yoga class, which is held outdoors in nicer weather. The class runs from 5:30-6:45 and costs vary depending on whether you are a member, and also if you're a drop-in or a regular attending yogi.

Boerner Botanical Gardens is hosting a one time class for families who want to do yoga.  Family Yoga at the Garden is scheduled for June 25, 10-11.  Preregister by calling the gardens. 

Lynden Sculpture Gardens offers an alternating series which includes tai chi and yoga.  Check the schedule for prices and dates for each.

Alice's Garden began a free yoga class on Friday afternoons which goes through June 24, 12-1.  The class is held outside in the garden by Jackie Robinson-Hunsicker and is a vinyasa yoga class. Watch the Facebook page for other yoga classes that might be scheduled for later this summer. 

Villa Terrace Art Museum will have a yoga class in the garden every Sunday, June through August from 8:30-9:30.  A suggested donation of $10 per person is recommended to support the museum and the volunteer instructors. Check their Facebook event page for updates.  

For people living in Wauwatosa, meet at the Farmer's Market  at 8:30 every Saturday June 4 through October for a yoga class featuring instructors from Haleybird Studios.  Classes are held near the volleyball courts outdoors.   Donations of $5-10 are accepted per class.
For all classes bring a yoga mat and wear comfortable clothing.

Mark your calendars now for a special event that includes beach yoga at Atwater Park, August 20. It's called Surf@water and is part of the Surfrider calendar of events.  This is a fun way to learn more about surfing Lake Michigan. The event runs all day from 6-10 and includes a film festival.

Still looking for more?  Check out the fitness programs link at Milwaukee County Parks.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Outdoor Movies, Music, and Festivals in Parks Summer 2016

It's outdoor movie season- Humboldt Park
The Family Flicks Schedule is out!  This is a great way to spend a summer evening with your family or make a date night.  Bring a blanket and some snacks.  Settle down on the lawn with your friends and have a good time with these family friendly titles!  Movies begin at dusk.  You can see the complete line-up of great movies by clicking on the link.  These movies are shown at three county park locations at no charge:

Summer Nights Movies in Veteran's Park at 1010 N Lincoln Memorial Park, sponsored by Gift of Wings at the Kite Shop.
June 11  Inside Out
June 25  Star Wars
July 9  Jurassic World
Aug 19  Good Dinosaur
Aug 27  Zootopia
Sep 4  Double Feature- Galaxy Quest and Ferris Bueller's Day Off 

Film on the Hill at Humboldt Park, 3000 S. Howell Ave, sponsored by the Bay View Neighborhood Association in the bandshell.
July 30  Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Aug 6 Star Wars
Sep 3  Grease

Summer Movie Night at LaFollette Park, 9418 W. Washington St, sponsored by Friends of LaFollette Park at the park pavilion, lower level.
June 10  Minions

For the Bike-In Movie Series at the Swing Park under the Holton Street Bridge, you can find more information at the Facebook page for the event, but here is the flyer with dates and movies.  This is right across from Trocadero, so you can get food and drink from the local restaurants and bring it to the swing park.  Bring a blanket in case all the swings and benches are full.    Even the projection equipment is delivered by bike- how cool is that?!

Cudahy Family Movie Night in Cudahy Park on E. Ramsey Ave, Cudahy, has had movie nights in the past but I can't find them posted yet.  Watch the Facebook page for updates.

Peck Flicks at the Marcus Center will be back with 4 family all time favorites this summer: Angels in the Outfield, Jumanji, Willie Wonka, and The Princess and the Frog, starting in August.  This is at the outdoor stage along the river beside the Marcus Center starting at 7:15, although seating and snack sales begin at 6. Starting in July you'll find family friendly concerts here too. Here's the full schedule of Live at Peck.

Check out the Fish Fry and a Flick website, or  follow their facebook page, for details on their line-up which starts in July. They have food trucks and you can spread out blankets on the grass at the point.  These are generally considered for adults only as some of the movies are rated R.  

Looking for outdoor concerts? OnMilwaukee is a great resource for all kinds of happenings.  Here's their free summer music guide

And for a complete poster of all the entertainment in county parks, download the 2016 Best Entertainment Guide. You can print it out and put in up on your refrigerator.

Have you been to the Rock Sports Complex yet?  Enjoy great views from the umbrella bar and check out the food/music events which include food truck rallies, crawfish boil, a pig roast with comedy, surf & turf, tapas, and sausage.  Wow- that's some pretty unique fun.  While you're there you can check out some bike trails. 

One last place for festivals being held in Milwaukee- the website Everfest.  Lots of information about upcoming street, church, and other festivals.  You may want to bookmark this site for future travel this summer because you can put in a city and it will let you know what's happening for a range of dates.

Looks like it's going to be a great summer for entertainment in Milwaukee!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

2016 Park Clean-ups and Weedouts

 Earth Day activities are kicking off in Milwaukee Friday, April 22, downtown from 11-1 with free music.

There's always a continued effort locally to clean up the parks and rivers using volunteers at this time.  It's a fun day of getting outdoors and meeting new people.  Equipment is provided so though you can bring your own stuff- gloves, trash bags, and t-shirts will be provided. Wear some sturdy shoes, or even rubber boots if you're going to one of the river locations. It's great to include all family members.  You can take pledges for trash collected and donate to help make Milwaukee even more beautiful.

If you want to join the Milwaukee Riverkeeper groups, show up at one of the 50 designated parks shown on the Riverkeeper website from 9-12 on Saturday, April 23. You can preregister, but it isn't necessary. If you need directions or park maps, you can get them at the Milwaukee County Parks website.

There's a party afterwards at three different parks, called The Trash Bash. Here's an excerpt from Riverkeeper's webpage:

Celebrate the success of the cleanup with drinks, food, raffle prizes, and more. We will have locations on all three rivers from 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm!
Milwaukee River: Estabrook Park – Tables set up next to the Beer Garden. More details soon!
Menomonee River: Hoyt Park – Grand Hall in the main building, connected to the Beer Garden. More details coming soon!
Kinnickinnic River: Pulaski Park – Pavilion in the middle of the park. More details coming soon!
The Urban Ecology Centers will be hosting cleanups as well as other activities like hikes and community lunch, as part of their Earth Day of Service April 23 from 9-12. No sign-up needed.  Check the individual branches to see what's happening.

Clean up the Hank Aaron State Trail on Saturday too. Last year there were 300 volunteers. Sign in at Miller Park south of the Klement's Sausage Haus or Stormwater Park, across from Palermo's Pizza.

There are ongoing clean up activities, which can be joined at Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful's website.  They also track environmental programs locally, so take a look at their calendar for additional programs.  Here's an excerpt from their webpage about the kickoff this weekend.

Community Kickoff Day 
Saturday April 23rd (9am - 12pm)
Help us kick off the 3 month long Great American Cleanup with our Community Kick-Off Day.
The 2016 Kickoff Site is Humboldt Park.  Meet at the park pavilion - 3000 S. Howell.  Registration begins at 8:30am.

Help Milwaukee Recreation with cleaning up Hawthorn Glen Nature Center, and you'll receive a free admission to the Milwaukee County Zoo, or a Milwaukee Parks Waterslide/Pool. 

Weedouts also kick off this weekend starting at Lake Park.  For a downloadable schedule of parks conducting weed outs, go to the Park people Website. 

Location to meet
April 23
Lake Park
Meet at the Warming House 2975 N. Lake Park Rd.
April 30
Lake Park
Meet at the Warming House 2975 N. Lake Park Rd.
May 1 (Sunday)
Estabrook Park
Meet at the Beer Garden parking lot
Kletzsch Park Beer Line Trail Grant Park
Kletzsch – Look for the Weed-Out signs along Parkway Beer Line – Meet at 2134 N. Riverboat Rd.
Grant – Meet at the tennis court parking lot
May 14
Estabrook Park Kletzsch Park Juneau Park Lake Park Lincoln Park Grant Park
Estabrook – Meet at the Beer Garden Parking lot Kletzsch - Look for the Weed-Out signs along Parkway Juneau – Meet at the Solomon Juneau Statue
Lake - Meet at the Warming House 2975 N. Lake Park Rd Lincoln – Meet at the Blatz pavilion
Grant – Meet at the tennis court parking lot
May 21
Kletzsch Park Jacobus Park Lake Park Menomonee River Pkwy Grant Park
Kletzsch - Look for the Weed-Out signs along Parkway Jacobus – Meet near pavilion and lagoon
Lake - Meet at the Warming House 2975 N. Lake Park Rd Menomonee River Pkwy. Just east of Hyw. 100 on pkwy. Grant – Meet at the tennis court parking lot
May 28
Kletzsch Park Lake Park Lincoln Park Grant Park
Kletzsch - Look for the Weed-Out signs along Parkway Lake - Meet at the Warming House 2975 N. Lake Park Rd Lincoln – Meet ate the Blatz pavilion
Grant – Meet at the tennis court parking lot

Havenwoods State Forest will conduct cleanups April 23 with Riverkeeper, and again  Saturday, April 30, from 9-12, as part of the Great American Cleanup. Participants can receive gift certificates from local businesses. 
Whitefish Bay will hold their annual Green Day in the Bay on May 14 from 9-12 at Cahill Park.  Recyclables, to include used electronics, will be collected at Dominican High School.

Greenfield holds their Clean up Day May 14 too. Meet from 9-1030 at Konkel Park.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hawthorn Glen Hiking, Wild Flowers, and Birds

Hawthorn Glen is a 23 acre park with mature tree growth near Wauwatosa. Known mostly as a neighborhood park and a nature center where Milwaukee Public Schools take field trips, Hawthorn Glen has a lot to offer in spring time.  The spring flowers are just starting to bloom, but the peak will likely be in about two more weeks.  This is also a birding spot.  I saw plenty of woodpeckers today.  There are well marked trails that tax the heart a bit because this is a multidimensional park, with access from above and below.  Do the entire circuit in about half an hour. Paths on the lower level are paved for strollers and wheelchairs.
A few wildflowers blooming

Read all the signs and learn more about the wildlife and park

One of the hiking trails through the woods

 At the top end of the park, you'll find a nice area with benches and a tic tac toe board. 
During summer when some playgrounds are too hot, you can come here and play in the shade on the climbing equipment or the tire swing. The nature center is open weekends or from 4-5 during the week.  Stop inside to see frogs, turtles and snakes.