Ben and I decided late last week to go on a date day to Milwaukee. We usually go camping in May--for his birdwatching and school year unwinding and before the parks get really crowded. But, this year, sleeping on an inch thick mat on the ground and trying to get in and out of a low tent just didn't sound that great to me. I have the mattress at home propped up and so many pillows in the bed that Ben can barely fit as it is. Anyway...we also like to do fun day trips to the city, so we thought we'd tuck one more in before our schedule is run by a little one.
The keys to a great city date are to make lots of plans for fun things to do, and then not follow your plans, but to go with the flow of the day.
We started with yarn shopping in Delavan. I picked up an extra skein of yarn for a baby sweater, and then Ben got to drive the scenic route to Milwaukee. This allows him to birdwatch as he drives, to play with loopy routes from the Wisconsin Gazetteer and to drive me a little crazy because I think he has gotten us lost. Fun for both of us.
Then we had planned on going to the Mitchell Park Domes gardens or the Schlitz Audubon Center, but we've driven past the exit sign for the Boerner Botanical Gardens so many times, that this time we took an impromptu lane change and highway exit to check it out. We hadn't researched this option, so we got a little lost, but with more map fun we found our way there and started with a lovely picnic. Here is a pic of 2 pieces of homemade rhubarb custard pie smooshed into our steel picnic carrier. I love this recipe and can't even explain how happy I get when I have my first piece.
Then we went on to explore the gardens. It was a cool and cloudy Friday, so we had the place pretty much to ourselves. The tulips are done in Beloit, but still very pretty this close to the lakeshore. We also enjoyed the native and perennial plants and medicinal, tea, dye and herb gardens. If you are visiting south of Milwaukee, this is a highly recommended stop.
Again, Ben found a scenic route north to the center of the city and along the lakeshore. We had to stop for some birdwatching for him, of course. At the gardens we spied some mating Baltimore Orioles (and averted our eyes), Ben saw a Black-throated Blue Warbler, and here he saw a Caspian Tern.
Then we went to Alterra on Prospect and we did knitting and bird book reading respectively and played a game while we sipped drinks.
After that we went on a Lakefront Brewery Tour (I had rootbeer) and stayed for their Friday fish fry (highly recommended, but be prepared for a wait). I didn't get pictures here, but just imagine the smell of spilled microbrewery beer mixed with the smell of freshly fried fish and you'll have a good sensory idea. (Here is a link to someone else's gorgeous capture of the industrial building turned brewery--note the Cream City brick that Milwaukee is famous for.)
And, with any Milwaukee trip, we had to stop at Leon's Frozen Custard on the way home. It is hands down the tastiest (and cheapest) frozen custard in the state--after extensive taste testing done by me.
All in all, a great date day. If this doesn't inspire you to go on a Milwaukee date, I don't know what will.