Friday, November 27, 2015

Bring on the Christmas Season!

Today is the start to the Christmas season as far as I'm concerned, though many holiday decorations have been up for weeks and the Christmas parade for Milwaukee has gone by.  If you want to experience all the area has to offer, you need to make a plan.

I'll start with a list put out by Calie Herbst, of Miltown Moms.  Her list of 10 local holiday traditions and celebrations includes several in parks, as well as a few others that we enjoy every year.  Be sure to check out the new BMO Harris bank display.  You get a free candy cane and the bears are adorable.

Local First is hosting their second buy local fair on Sunday November 29 from 9-4 at the Domes.  If you are buying gifts this year, it's a great place to find unique goods. You can print a coupon for $2 off admission at the link. Be sure to walk through the Domes to see the gingerbread display that Calie mentions. If you really like gingerbread, make a stop at Milwaukee Public Market and see the MATC gingerbread houses too- December 4 -15.

Next Sunday, December 6, there's a holiday pop up shop at Schlitz Audubon from 12-4.  This is a good chance to take a hike, climb the tower if you've never done that, and find some interesting outdoor themed gifts.  Steph Davies from The Waxwing will have a variety of bird themed gifts.  I'll be there with Milwaukee County park maps and copies of my books, "The Milwaukee Bucket List", and "101 Things to do in Milwaukee Parks".  Stop by and say hi!

Thinking of a holiday lights drive?  Be sure to visit the Bayview neighborhood that does Nightmare Before Christmas. The most comprehensive list of holiday lights I've seen is from Just Add Kids.  They include Racine, Waukesha, the Milwaukee parks, Candy Cane Lane, the Holiday Train, Miller Coors, and even walking food tours in the city.  Take a look to see if there's something you haven't been to yet.
Canadian Pacific Holiday Train comes to Milwaukee December 4

You can see the full schedule of events for the holiday lights festival, which includes decorations in parks, the jingle bus, and Cocoa with the Clauses December 12 at Cathedral Square, which is already decked out in upcycled ornaments. If you have kids that want to make their own holiday upcycled ornaments, go to Homemade Holidays at Wehr Nature Center. Stop by Pere Marquette Park, home to the Milwaukee Historical Society, which is a beautiful building all decked out for the holidays.  Santa will be there for photos December 6 from 10-3.

Upcycled ornaments at Cathedral Square

Whitefish Bay has their holiday stroll tonight from 5-9 which includes the Door County Sled Dogs making an appearance with their bus.  You can find them at Yellow Wood on Berkeley after the parade, which kicks off at 6.  This is a pretty darn cool event if you've never experienced it.  This year will include a storefront with dancing ballerinas.  Santa will be there to visit with kids and of course, the usual pony rides.

The Urban Ecology Centers are also buzzing with outdoor activity.  Participate in the 2015 Candlelight Walk or join in to count birds for the annual bird count.  Check their calendar for many more events. Most require advance registration.

We have a lot to do in Milwaukee this holiday season.  Get out and enjoy!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Hiking/Biking Outdoors on Black Friday

The American trend has been to focus on stuff and shopping the day after Thanksgiving, but REI, the outdoor store, is trying to buck that trend by staying closed on Black Friday. REI is encouraging its employees and customers to get outside on Friday instead, using the hashtag #optoutside on instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  What a great idea in my mind! More than 1 million people have already taken the pledge to get outside.  If you do the same, post a photo of yourself in the Milwaukee parks using the same hashtag #optoutside on social media and the whole world can share in your adventure.

Seven states  have already said that admission to their state parks will be free on Black Friday- including neighboring Minnesota.  Wisconsin did not jump on board with this promotion, but locally Havenwoods State Forest is always free and has a few miles of hiking trails. Some are even dog friendly!  Wisconsin state park stickers go on sale December 1 for 2016, so you do indeed get a free month when you buy early. If you're lucky enough to be out in California, you can even visit the Redwoods for free.

Need a few new ideas for where to have an adventure? Check out the links to the Oak Leaf Trail that saw their official opening in October. There's a new one mile segment near the Oakview business park on South Howell Ave.  Another segment just outside Estabrook Park, near Hampton Ave, is open so you can bike all the way to Oostburg if your legs will take you. Check out more information about these trails at Wisconsin Bike routes.

Oak Leaf Trail near Hampton Road

New bridge decks take you safely over the highway
For hiking in the parks, download a map at Milwaukee's Park People website.  There are nearly 30 to choose from.  If you have kids, why not check out the new accessible playground in Franklin at Franklin Woods Nature Center? For photos, go to Kayla's Krew.  The address is 3723 W. Puetz Road. Whatever you decide to do...have fun doing it!

Friday, November 20, 2015

USS Milwaukee is at Veterans Park

In case you haven't been by Veterans Park lately, there's a battleship sitting on the lakefront for a few more days.  This is one of the newest ships built for the Navy in Marinette, Wisconsin and it will be commissioned Saturday. Unfortunately, there's snow forecasted for the weekend, so it may be a blustery event.  Tickets have already been distributed for the event, but if you have a chance, you might want to go see it while it's here.

This is a newer design called a littoral combat ship, made to get into tight spaces. I've read that it's incredibly fast.  During testing it took out 40 sailboats in Door County with the waves it made!  You can see an interview from FOX 6 about the ship