Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Historic Fall Tours for Driving or Walking

It was a rainy day when I took this photo at St. Luke's Hospital

The fall color in Milwaukee is nearing 100% so you won't get much better than this week, if you're looking for some pretty trees.  A new place I've found is the top of St. Luke's Hospital on Oklahoma.  If you go through the main entrance and take the patient tower elevators to the 8th floor, you'll find access to the "Healing Garden", which is open to the public. It's a beautifully landscaped garden complete with mums and other plants.  There's a view finder you can use to see the lakefront. From the top of this garden, you can currently see a mosaic of color all the way from Miller Park to the Basilica.  On a clear day, it's quite impressive.  You may also notice Leon's Custard is just across the street so treat yourself after seeing the view.  Drinks and food are not allowed on the roof.

I've written before about the Milwaukee Parks Fall Color Tour, which is still a good idea.  You drive between parks, and then I encourage you to get out and do a little walking and exploring, if weather allows.  Lynden Sculpture Garden usually has a beautiful show of color as well.  The problem now is that we've had some rain and everything is pretty muddy.  I have a couple of historic options that are full of color, but will keep you on paved paths, and can even be pretty if you never leave the car (though I hope it doesn't come to that!).

Most people are unaware that the most diverse arboretum in the area is Forest Home Cemetery, which also happens to be listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.  With around 400 different species on 200 acres, it's pretty in all seasons.  You can download a tour map at their website.  Then you also need to print a corresponding copy of all the famous people, if you decide to seek out the graves.  The stones are quite unique and tell a story of Milwaukee's history.  Be sure to go by the bridge at the lake, which is quite scenic right now.  Normally, they allow dogs, but because there's a large geese population traveling through, it's posted that dogs are not allowed right now. Here's a complete listing of all places in Milwaukee County on the National Registry.

The other place I like to visit is the National Soldier's Home.  You can see some of the historic buildings peering out of the trees beyond Miller Park.  This is considered a National  Historic Landmark District, and they've created a walking tour you can download at the Save the Soldiers Home website.  It is also an app, which you can put on your smartphone.  The buildings placed here date back to mid 1800s, and were used as retreats for returning soldiers.  The grounds are full of mature trees, though many are across from the buildings in a park like setting.  Spend some time walking the cemetery and you'll likely learn a bit about veterans who are buried there from several wars.  You'll notice construction at several of the buildings, which is a good sign.  Take some time to read about what they are doing so you can truly appreciate this historic area.

A pair of swans 

If you want to venture further, there's the Basilica at Holy Hill at Hubertus, and the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive.  Both will take a half day to fully enjoy.  I climbed Parnell Tower on Friday and it wasn't at peak yet, but it is likely to be there today.  There are plenty of stops you can make along the way- churches, hiking spots, but only one grocery store.  Be sure to bring snacks and get a state park sticker, which is available at several places along the drive.
Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive

View from Parnell Tower

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