Birch & Banyan Coffee
PHOTO BY DAVID SZYMANSKI
In the spirit of summer Fridays and long
weekends, we asked three local writers to compile a full-day
itinerary for exploring their side of town. The result is a
three-day guide to enjoying the greater Milwaukee area, from the
rolling hills of Lake Country and the North Shore’s picturesque
coastline to the ever-growing culinary mecca that is downtown and
its surrounding neighbors.
THE NORTH SHORE
You don’t need to hop a plane to enjoy a drive
overlooking a gorgeous shoreline. Lake Michigan’s North Shore has
impressive views of the water that are yours for the (selfie)
taking. Charge your phone, slather on the sunscreen, and head east
to Lake Drive for a fun day on the third coast — minus the pricey
Treat yourself by ordering a freshly baked, flaky
croissant, pastry or quiche to go from Shorewood’s
North Shore Boulangerie, arguably
the most authentic French bakery/café in town. Then cut over to Lake
Drive and drive north to nearby Atwater Park to enjoy breakfast by
the lake, and stop for a selfie with the iconic alphabet sculpture,
officially known as “Spillover II” by artist Jaume Plensa.
Fueled up and ready to work out? Lakefront parks
offer paths for every level of fitness, from a leisurely stroll to
an intense climb. A staircase at Klode Park
leads to a small beach, so try sprinting back up the winding path or
boost your heart rate with an intense trek up the steep, grassy
For more forested terrain, drive north to the
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center to
explore the wooded trails. Take it slow, or challenge yourself to
climb the tall watchtower to strike a pose framed by treetops and
the breathtaking expanse of sparkling blue water. Admission to the
center is $8 for adults and $5 for youth ages 3 to 17.
For an unfussy yet tasty lunch, swing over to
Benji’s Deli in Fox Point. Indulge
in a signature sandwich, like the “Hear-O Israel” — a hearty
half-pounder layered with hand-carved corned beef, pastrami, salami
and peppered beef, or opt for the deli’s lighter fare, which
includes freshly tossed salads and homemade soups.
After lunch, hop on Interstate 43 North to Grafton to
take a hike through Lion’s Den Gorge Nature
Preserve. A moderately paced, 30-minute walk along a
wooded path will lead you to a small lakefront beach. The cliché
“It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey” holds true.
This journey is dotted with ponds, cliffs and other scenic spots.
You might accidentally photobomb a wedding photo (don’t worry, the
brides and grooms have been forewarned), you’ll probably spot a frog
or two, and you’ll definitely meet a handful of dogs along the way.
Nothing caps off a day of outdoorsy fun like a glass
of wine or two. Mequon’s The Ruby Tap
lives up to its name with a plethora of wine on tap and a self-serve
wine machine. Non-wine lovers can enjoy an impressive variety of
beers on tap and a rotating specialty cocktail on tap, which might
be a mojito one week and sangria the next. Munchies include
flatbreads, truffle popcorn and beautiful cheese and charcuterie
platters. Sit back and relax on the outdoor patio’s comfy couches
and overstuffed chairs.
Still hungry? Ferrante’s
has been a North Shore mainstay for 40 years. The vibe is “Cheers”
meets Little Italy, and the menu features favorites like the “5
Italians in a Boat” appetizer: five skewered and smothered meatballs
perfect for sharing. No tiny food trend here — the generous portions
are all shareable. Try the popular veal piccata or the chicken
marsala. The lasagna and chicken Parmesan are quite good too. A big
Italian meal — what better way to end a full day exploring the coast
of Lake Michigan’s North Shore?
Atwater Park 4000 N. Lake Drive, Shorewood
Benji’s Deli 8683 N. Port Washington Road, Fox
Point (414) 228-5130 | benjisdeliandrestaurant.com
Ferrante’s 10404 N. Port Washington Road,
Mequon (262) 241-5420 | ferrantes.com
Klode Park 5900 N. Lake Drive, Whitefish Bay
Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve 511 High
Bluff Drive, Grafton | (262) 483-5629
North Shore Boulangerie 4401 N. Oakland Ave.,
Shorewood | (414) 963-2153 | northshoreboulangerie.com
The Ruby Tap 6000 W. Mequon Road, Mequon (262)
302-4112 | therubytap.com
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center 1111 E. Brown
Deer Road (414) 352-2880 | schlitzaudubon.org
Shake off the ordinary with a day in Lake Country,
the perfect antidote for the summertime blues. A change of scenery,
a good sweat and sweet serenity will have you ready to take on the
world. Another day, that is.
All you’re going to need is sunscreen, sneakers, a
bottle of water and a serious desire to find your bliss. It’s going
to be a busy day, so you’ll need fuel.
Birch & Banyan Coffee will get your heart pumping and
nourish your body with a steaming cup of Anodyne coffee and a
healthy smoothie, yogurt parfait, or — since you’ll be burning lots
of calories in the hours ahead — a scone or other delectable piece
of homemade bakery.
Owner Jessie Senglaub has taken a historic building
dating back to 1889 and transformed it into an oasis of charm where
locals know the baristas by name, and you’re as likely to plop down
for half an hour as the whole morning while working on your novel.
But not today. You’ve got some Zen to chase.
Now that you’re properly fed and caffeinated, it’s
time to hit the trails. Stretching between Waukesha and Cottage
Grove, the Glacial Drumlin State Trail
runs for 52 miles through farmlands and glacial topography,
which means it’s fairly level and insanely picturesque. Set on an
corridor, the smooth limestone and asphalt surfaces
make this trail without cars heaven for bicyclists, runners and
walkers. Don’t have a bike? You can rent one with a helmet less than
a mile from the trail at Wheel & Sprocket
in Delafield. (Call ahead to reserve.) If in-line skating is more
your style, the stoke factor is high on a 13-mile section running
from Waukesha through the town of Dousman, which has been paved with
super smooth asphalt.
If biking isn’t crushing your muscles to the max,
about 2 miles west of Wales the trail briefly follows the
Ice Age National Scenic Trail into Lapham Peak,
where a 40-foot observation tower offers some glute-busting
stair-running, plus 360-degree views at the top that’ll take your
breath away. (While you catch your breath, of course.)
You’ve burned your calories, worked up a sweat, and
now you need to relax and get a great mani-pedi while you’re at it.
The Spa at West Wood Health and Fitness
is a perfect spot for some serious R&R&R — relaxation, rejuvenation
and renewal. Grab a nutrient-rich summer salad or light soup and
sandwich combo at the Brewers Two Café
inside the fitness center, and then get your pamper on with a
massage, facial and mani-pedi. Featuring an Aveda product line that
boosts your spa experience with stress-busting benefits, you can
also schedule 5 Elements Acupuncture if you want to take your R&R&R
to the next level.
You found your Zen and you’re glowing from head to
pedicured toe — relaxed and recharged, but there’s still some
nirvana left in this day. You don’t have to leave the county to feel
the warm sand between your pretty toes at water’s edge while
enjoying a cool cocktail at sunset. All you have to do is visit
Gina’s Sports Dock on Pewaukee
Lake, which boasts the only beach bar and the most exquisite sunset
views in all of Lake Country. Order a grilled burger, sip your
sangria, and savor the sunset.
Birch & Banyan Coffee 150 E. Capitol Drive,
Hartland (262) 313-9912 | birchandbanyancoffee.com
Brewers Two Café 2900 Golf Road, Pewaukee
(262) 928-7590 | brewerstwocafe.com
Gina’s Sports Dock W278 N2315 Prospect Ave.,
Pewaukee | (262) 695-9600
Glacial Drumlin State Trail
Ice Age National Scenic Trail
Kettle Moraine State Forest — Lapham Peak Unit
The Spa at West Wood Health & Fitness Center
2900 Golf Road, Pewaukee | (262) 513-7236 westwoodfitness.org/the-spa.aspx
Wheel & Sprocket 528 Wells St., Delafield
(262) 646-6300 | wheelandsprocket.com
With a new arena on the horizon and
development on the rise (quite literally) at every turn, it’s easy
to get swept up in the excitement of the downtown district, but
exploring the neighborhoods just south of Wisconsin Avenue, like the
Historic Third Ward and Walker’s Point, promises culinary and
recreational delights too.
day by renting a kayak, and cruise down the Milwaukee River.
Milwaukee Kayak Co. offers kayak,
canoe and stand-up paddleboard rentals. New guided tours this summer
include the Milwaukee River History tour with the Milwaukee County
Historical Society as well as the Menomonee River Valley tour with
Menomonee Valley Partners. All rentals and tours launch from Jerry’s
Docks, between the Historic Third Ward and Walker’s Point.
The Laughing Taco
PHOTO BY DAVID SZYMANSKI
exercise-filled morning, enjoy lunch at the
Milwaukee Public Market. The
ever-evolving public market has become a stronghold in the Historic
Third Ward. The newest addition to the mix of restaurants, shops and
food purveyors is On the Bus, a
health-focused restaurant serving from a counter crafted from a 1971
Volkswagen bus. Specializing in vegetarian and vegan meals and
recipes with superfoods like kale and acai, On the Bus serves
breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with vegan ice cream and
made-to-order smoothies. Also, don’t miss
St. Paul Fish Company’s outdoor Tiki bar on the east side
of the building. It serves its full menu of seafood favorites and
deliciously strong drinks, including boozy slushies.
lunch, casually make your way from the Historic Third Ward to
Walker’s Point for an afternoon of antique shopping. Half of the fun
of antiquing is the hunt, but if you’re the type to get overwhelmed
with hoards of stuff, you’ll appreciate the smaller, well-curated
shops in Walker’s Point. Clinton Street
Antiques and Annex Antiques
are side by side and feature art, furniture and architectural gems.
Alt’s Antiques specializes in rustic pieces and oddities as well as
flowers and plants. Alt himself is always on hand to tell you the
story behind each of the interesting pieces he’s collected. And
Brew City Salvage has a large selection of midcentury
since we are Brew City, after all — head to Walker’s Point for a
brewery tour. If you love art and full-bodied beer,
Brenner Brewing Co. is the place for you. The art
gallery/craft brewery offers tours Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. and
Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. every two hours, and Sunday at 2 p.m.
If you’re up for anything, try MobCraft
Beer. All of the brewery’s unique recipes are
crowd-sourced, and you can relax in its spacious taproom. Tours take
place at 5:45 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday, and 12:45 p.m., 2 p.m.,
3:15 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Or if you’re gluten-free,
Lost Valley Cider Co. has 20 ciders
on tap from all over the world, and many more available for
purchase. Try the recently released, house-made cider aged in oak
whiskey and rum barrels.
End your day
with dinner nearby. Second Street in Walker’s Point is chock-full of
delicious and innovative restaurants. The newest spot,
Likkle Jamayka, adds some Caribbean
flavor to the mix. Serving lunch and dinner, Likkle Jamayka has a
small menu with bold flavors, specializing in seafood and jerk
chicken. Try the curried goat or stewed oxtails if you’re feeling
adventurous, and wash it down with a cocktail called the Bob Marley.
Or if you’re craving a casual Mexican meal, try
The Laughing Taco. The taqueria is
owned by James Beard Award nominee Justin Carlisle and his wife,
Lucia Mu-oz, and offers a handful of simple taco options and drinks.
Alt’s Antiques 601 S. Sixth St. | (414) 378-7177
Brenner Brewing Co. 706 S. Fifth St. (414) 465-8469 |
Brew City Salvage 524 W. National Ave. (262) 844-4784
Clinton Street Antiques and Annex Antiques 1106 S.
First St. | (414) 732-6371
The Laughing Taco 1033 S. First St. | (414) 210-3086
Likkle Jamayka 235 S. Second St. | (414) 210-2814
Lost Valley Cider Co. 408 W. Florida St. (414) 885-5678 |
Milwaukee Kayak Co. 318 S. Water St. (414) 301-2240 |
Milwaukee Public Market 400 N. Water St. (414) 336-1111 |
MobCraft Beer 505 S. Fifth St. (414) 488-2019 |