Thursday, December 27, 2012

Estabrook Park- Outdoors, Wildlife, and a Top 10 Beergarden

Estabrook Park has lots going for it.  It's right on the Milwaukee river and is loaded with green spaces and a variety of ways to enjoy it.  There are 2 very nice playgrounds, dog exercise area, disc golf, biking/hiking trails, an unofficial but hopefully soon to become official skateboarding park, ball fields, and fishing...just to name a few.  If you enjoy seeing wildlife, you should check out this Facebook link to animals found in the park this year.  It's also a great place for birding, if you have a pair of binoculars and a little patience.

If you like history, during the summer you can check out the Benjamin Church house, the 2nd oldest structure standing in Milwaukee.  It's inside the park and you can read all about it at the link for the house.  It was relocated from its original location in 1938 and has been in the park since then.  It's on the national register of historic places.

This year is the first year they opened a "Biergarten" (Beer Garden) in the park.  What a concept!  If you have never been to a German biergarten, let me give you a little information about how to use them.  You bring your own mugs, food, tablecloth, and you buy the delicious local beers with them.  They will provide you with a mug to use while you're there and they do have food too, but you are allowed to bring your own.  Over the summer they had live music on some days.  And the most incredible thing was this local biergarten made the Top 10 Beer Garden list in the WORLD! WOW!  We certainly have something to be proud of!  It is closed during the winter months, but keep this in mind next summer when you're out playing and need a refreshing drink.  The biergarten is right next to the river and playground, and just in front of the skateboard park.  Lots of parking and plenty of space for kids to play while you watch over them.

We like to go watch the fish jump during spring and fall.  Unfortunately, this has been a bad year for water levels and the river is quite low right now.  There is a set of stairs and brand new boardwalk to get you down to the river where you can take a look and watch the fishermen when the water is higher and fish are running. You can sometimes see the salmon jumping through the mini waterfall at this point.

Of course, if we do get some decent snow levels, this is an excellent place for snowshoeing, snowman building, and all other snow play activities.  The Oak leaf trail runs through the park and they have cleared it in winters past, so you can ride a bike most of the year.  I've seen commuters using the trail even in January, although I'm not quite that hard core.

Today when we stopped by, there were a number of disc golfers using neon discs and toting a sled behind them filled with thermoses and snacks.  Makes for a nice outing!  We played on the swings for a short while, but the seats were pretty cold and the slides still covered in snow.  Wear snow pants!
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