Monday, February 18, 2013

Trees! Trees! Trees!

View from US Bank building last September
With it being President's Day, I thought it fitting we talk about probably know about the story with George Washington and the cherry tree.  He had a new hatchet and chopped it down.  Nowadays, there are organizations that would cringe at that.  Ha!

Milwaukee recently won the top 10 urban forest award and we have much to be proud of.   Have you ever seen the view from atop the US Bank building or The Allen Bradley clock?  If you want to check that out, watch for the annual Doors Open Milwaukee event in September, when they open many public buildings up for the public to see and explore.  Both views show an amazing number of trees.  Did you know there are more than 3 million?

There's an enormous effort underway to create the green gateway shown below.  This will preserve a lot of park land and many trees.  The last parcel of land was recently acquired which makes this corridor a reality.  This park hasn't got a name yet either, but stay tuned.  As part of this, there will be a new Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum.

The 40 acre Arboretum will have:

  • 3.7 miles of trails including a two mile wheel chair accessible loop
  • One thousand newly planted trees
  • Three distinct outdoor learning areas for school children
  • Amenities to include a new pedestrian bridge, a fishing dock, and a wheel chair accessible canoe launch
  • An estimated 300,000 visitors per year
  • 2 major entrances
  • An endowment seeded with at least $200,000

Again, we have a great deal to be excited about here in Milwaukee as far as green spaces go.  In spite of dwinding budgets, parks are still being created.  The weather will be fairly warm today so maybe you want to go take a "presidential" hike at Lincoln Park or Washington Park and play at the playgrounds.  They both have new equipment, installed in the last year.  They both also have water features where you may see geese and ducks.  Enjoy the day!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Winter Hiking at Kletzsch Park

It was a sunny day Friday, so I decided to take a hike over at Kletzsch park via the Milwaukee River Parkway.  There isn't enough snow to pull out the snowshoes.  We've had some rain lately and I wasn't too surprised to find all the trails a bit slippery and snow covered from recent snow.  This is definitely the time to pull out your yaktrax if you have them, and maybe bring some poles if you plan to go off trail.  There weren't many human foot prints on the snow yet, and the river is partially frozen.  There were plenty of animal tracks though.  It was quite scenic, especially at the waterfall.  Just thought I'd share a few photos to motivate you to get out and enjoy a little fresh air this week before all the snow melts again!

Kletzsch park is one of the parks with a friends group.  They plan events throughout the year.  They are still hoping for enough snow to bring the Door County Sled dogs, but we'll have to see if that looks more promising as the season goes on.  Watch their friends page for more information.  They also have a  sledding hill, but it has grass showing on it right now.

There are still geese at the Milwaukee River Parkway nearby

The trees are getting frozen in along the river

waterfall at Kletzsch Park

Saturday, February 16, 2013

North Point Lighthouse at Lake Park and other indoor ideas

Looking for some fun this weekend?  You can always check the county parks facebook page for the latest details on events that are happening now or in the very near future.  The weekend in Milwaukee promises to be cold and clear, but the snow is pretty icy and not very deep, so if you prefer to be indoors, but still having fun at a park, here are a couple of ideas.
Oh the North Point lighthouse!  This is a beautifully restored lighthouse at Lake Park, where the light keeper's cottage is now a small museum.  It is usually only open on weekends - every Saturday from 1-4 pm.  Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children.  It's run by a large group of volunteers who are definitely enthusiasts for the history of this area, as well as maritime history.  If you are lucky to get there when they have time to spin stories, you're in for a treat!  They are currently looking for more volunteers, so if you have a passion for the place, this might be something for you.

They have added a video player to the website which is a live cam from the top, but unfortunately, it requires a player that my computer won't support so I wasn't able to check it out.  Maybe you'll have better luck.  They also obviously don't update their webpage very often, but look at it if you want a little about the history of the light house before you visit.  There is also a friends group that has a facebook page, but again, not much information that is current there, although you can learn more about the lighthouse itself.  There are 2 additional Facebook pages, but this one seems to be the only one that is managed on a regular basis.

My son always loves the spiral staircase to the top.  We did it once when it was a lightning storm over Lake Michigan and it was an unforgettable experience.  Nice view no matter what the season or weather condition.

This museum is actually part of the recent 'Milwaukee Museum Mile' group.  If you want to know more about those 5 museums, you can check it out at their website.  We did all 5 of the museums last spring when they announced the venture and enjoyed them in just a few hours.  It's a good rainy day event.  You save money if you have their brochure (which you can print off their website) when you buy admission.

Saturday at the Domes is Poland Under Glass,  and they still have the train exhibit going on through March 10.  This is from 9-4 and admission is $6.50 for adults.  $5 for children over age 5.

Enjoy demonstrations of a variety of Polish crafts including; wycinanki (Polish paper cutting), wianki (Polish maiden wreaths, rogatywka (four cornered hats), jezyki (porcupine ornaments), and woven wheat and much more. Children can make Wawel dragons, mushroom sun-catchers, create a picture on leaves and learn a few numbers and colors in Polish. Artists will offer charcoal drawings, acrylic paintings, and painting on glass that will be available to purchase along with a variety of Polish crafts.

Listen to a performance by the Polish Saturday School Children’s choir, learn to say your name in Polish, hear about the different Polish herbs, and watch Mary Ellen DeVito demonstrate Polish cooking. You will get a chance meet Susan Gibson Mikos author of Poles in Wisconsin for a book signing, and then become energized while watching Syrena Polish Dancers and the children’s dance group Syrenka.

Polanki, the Polish Women’s Cultural Club is sponsoring the event. This event allows the members of Polanki to share Polish culture with the community at large.

At South Shore Park pavilion in Bay View on Sunday, they are hosting their 2nd annual Winter Blast, which has a Hawaiian theme.  Go to the pavilion from noon-4 and wear your best Hawaiian shirt.  The pavilion is a pretty cool building and it isn't often open, except for special events, so this is also a great opportunity to see the old bath house that used to serve the park when this beach was much younger.  This sounds like so much fun with nonstop entertainment, hula hoops, spam carving(??!!!!).  You can see some photos from last year and learn a bit more about the event at the Bay View Neighborhood Association website.

Friday, February 15, 2013

There's a new park coming- do you have a name?

There's a new park in town!  It will open Sunday, July 20, but they are looking for a name now.  I wrote briefly about it in a previous blog when I mentioned it was behind the Domes.  If you have a name, you can submit it before March 22 and possibly win!  The whole story is at this link.  You can put in your submission at, quite easily.

The park has a little bit of everything. Serving as the new "outdoor classroom" for the Urban Ecology Center's Menomonee Valley Branch, the public park will include 24 acres of native vegetation, re-created glacial topography offering great vistas of the city, wildlife habitat, access to the Menomonee River for canoeing and fishing, a mile extension of the Hank Aaron State Trail (connecting the Valley to Mitchell Park and the Domes), community gardens and public art.

Here's a well written article by the Bikefed's Dave Schlabowske about the bridge that connects this park to the Domes area.  We should all be excited about this effort. as it beautifies what used to be a commercial strip of land that was a railroad yard.  But more importantly, you will now be able to bike or walk from the lakefront all the way to Miller Park and the Domes.  I'm very much looking forward to seeing this open.  Good luck with the naming!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Our Beautiful River Parkways

I drove down Root River Parkway  (south) yesterday and it looked like the trees were all covered in frosting!  The snowfall was absolutely beautiful!  This parkway is more than just a street, but on a day like today, it was fun just driving through it.  This is right next to Whitnall park, so if you're looking for a final destination for sledding, you could take a detour through the street side of this and just enjoy the view as we did.

This is also a great place to get out the snowshoes, skis, or even winter mountain bikes.  We saw a few being unloaded from a pick-up truck so there are enthusiasts of all sports who frequent this part of the park system.  The oak leaf trail runs through this area so it's a good destination on the way to somewhere else too.

There's a river running through it, that is frozen now.  We stopped on the bridge to get a quick photo.

Whenever we have out of town guests, I try to drive along the parkways or take a quick walk through there with them.  It's an easy way to showcase the beauty of our parks without doing too much work.  There are several other, so check the county parks website for maps of Kinnickinnic River Parkway, Little Menomonee River Parkway, Milwaukee River Parkway, Oak Creek Parkway.  All are easy to access.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Brunch in the Milwaukee Parks

I love eating in a park setting and today was a great day for it.  My friend and I went for a long hike at Lake Park, and then settled in for lunch at Lake Park Bistro.  It was heavenly to sit by the huge windows that overlook Lake Michigan and see all the new snow.  The soups and salads are always good for lunch.  We got to talking about where to eat to celebrate a birthday/holiday and I was telling her about a few of my favorite places, so I thought I'd share with you a few favorites that are doing brunch this weekend.

Bartolotta runs the restaurant at Lake Park Bistro.  You can see the view we had for lunch- pretty, if you ask me.  They do a Sunday brunch from 10-2 which is a 3 course meal.  You choose your courses off the menu and pay accordingly.  You can get champagne, mimosa, bloody mary, as well as juices.  The eggs benedict and croque madame come highly recommended!  They even have a children's menu, which is also 3 courses.  You can make a reservation, but it is not required.  Wouldn't this be a great place to celebrate Valentine's day a little early?  Call (414)962-6300 for more information.
View from Lake Park Bistro
Bartolotta's also caters at Boerner Botanical Gardens.  They are doing a special Valentine's Day Brunch, and you can call (414)525-5635 to make reservations.  I've been there before for brunch before and it's fantastic- lots of stations with a good variety of selections.  Unfortunately I called today to find out what would be different about the Valentine's Day brunch and wasn't able to speak with a person.  They do Sunday brunch every week, just like Lake Park Bistro, so check out the menu. After brunch, you can stroll the gardens or bring a sled and head over to adjacent Whitnall Park for some fun.

Hubbard Park Lodge in Shorewood is another favorite brunch place.  This has been remodeled and has a revised menu since maybe some of you were here last.  If you've never been here, you're in for a treat.  It's a rustic lodge in a beautiful park setting along the Milwaukee River.  You can see the menu for not only their brunch, but also the Friday fish fry at this link.  The brunch is a "lumberjack menu" which is hearty and served family style.  It is served every Sunday from 9-2.  This is a great place for the whole family and it's affordable at $11.95.  There are almost always waterfowl in the river.  You can hike the trail or bring snowshoes and enjoy the snow.  The Oak Leaf Trail backs up to this property, so you can access it by foot/sled if you are nearby.  Otherwise if you're driving, it's 1 1/2 block from Capitol Drive and 1 block west of Oakland.  You don't need a reservation for this casual brunch.  Just drop in!

Hope you find a good meal and enjoy the outdoors in Milwaukee's beautiful parks this weekend!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ice fishing anyone?

Yes, you can indeed do some ice fishing in Milwaukee county parks, and there's a special event coming up just for that.  With the cooler temps we've had, the ice should be good for now.  Saturday, February 9 from 9-3, you can learn how it's done.  You won't even need a pole.  All the equipment is being provided by instructors, regardless of weather.  No pre-registration is needed.  This event is for all children 15 and younger, and they must have a parent who will stay with them.  Classes begin every hour starting at 9 am, last session is at 2.

Dress warmly and go to one of the following parks

Humboldt Park, 3000 S. Howell
McCarty Park, 8214 W. Cleveland
McGovern Park, 5400 N 51st st.
Scout Lake, 5902 W. Loomis Rd
Wilson Park, 1601 W. Howard Ave.

Hope you catch a fish!