I last wrote about the River Walk back when it was still frozen over. Now it's summertime and the outdoor seating is available all along the river. This might be a good time for you to check out the river again. There's a list of businesses where you can start, or choose as destinations. Be sure to check this link before you make your plans, because it has a lot of additional business links that can help you check opening times, specials, and events. They also have addresses so if you are unsure where to find something, this may help.
Of course, I'm partial to the riverwalk section in the Third Ward, but the walk is actually 3 miles long, and includes sections along the beer line, the downtown, and the third ward, which can be seen on this map. You don't really have to have a destination in mind. If you don't mind all the street crossings, this is a great place to take a walk and get some exercise.
If you want to try some food along the way, the Milwaukee Food Tour is a great way to experience the river walk and third ward. They walk a total distance of 1 mile and each stop is about 15-20 minutes. I've done their photo walk tour and learned a lot about the culture and architecture of the buildings on the route. Expect more than just eating. This program receives excellent reviews. You can buy tickets at their website.
This is also an excellent time of year to enjoy a boat ride starting along the river walk. You can rent your own pontoon boat with Edelweiss. Rates vary by number of hours and day of week. It can hold up to 10 passengers and you are the pilot. You must be 23 and have a valid driver's license.
There are guided boat tours nearly every day of the week, and the emphasis of the tour changes, so be sure to find something that suits the needs of your group. There are 3 boat vendors in Milwaukee, and I've listed them below with links. Watch groupon for local deals on boat tours too.
Riverwalk Boat Tours & Rentals is at Pere Marquette Park. They do pub crawls, brewery tours, and even firework tours while the festivals are on.
Milwaukee Boat Line does the river, harbor, and lake Michigan. They can be found on the river walk at Michigan St.
The Milwaukee River Cruise line has a line of tours that are kid friendly. Be sure to check out the information on the Caribbean Pirate cruise if you have kids that enjoy going costumed. The 90 minute tour includes food that kids would eat, as well as an opportunity to defend the vessel from pirates. These tours depart from 205 W. Highland Avenue. They also have one of the newest largest double decker sightseeing boat.
This is also the season to watch rowing clubs train. Grab a drink and a seat and cheer them on. Last year we watched the Milwaukee River Challenge and it was a lot of fun. If you want to see it this September, you can find more information on the Milwaukee River Challenge link. You can even take lessons at the Milwaukee Rowing Club.
How about renting a kayak, canoe, or standup paddle board? Laacke & Joys rents these craft right on the river, directly behind their store. Milwaukee Kayak Company also rents this type of equipment. You can also take a group kayak tour with Milwaukee Kayak Company. Be sure to check their blog for some interesting information about how they got started. Although they don't have a put-in site on the riverwalk, you can also borrow kayaks at no cost at the Urban Ecology Center, with a membership and a boat safety course. In all cases, it's best to make a reservation to ensure you get the vessel you want at the time you want it.
No matter how you visit, the river walk is fun to see and experience during the summer. I hope you'll find a time and way to do it with your family!