Please note: Tours are subject to change.
Those interested in Pre/Post tours will be notified of their assignment during the week of July 13. Payment for Pre/Post tours will be due by July 31. If payment is not received, you will be put on the waitlist. Attendees will be notified of their day tour (AM/PM/Full) during the week of August 17. Requests to switch or trade tours after assignments are made will not be considered until October 11 when the convention has started. Staff and Chairs will not be able to assist with any switches or trades until October 11. All switches and trades must be made on-site in Milwaukee during the convention.
Level 1 Light walking, some stairs
Level 2 Moderate walking up to 1 mile, some stairs
Level 3 Moderate walking at distances greater than 1 mile
Level 4 Heavy walking or moderately intense activity (e.g., kayaking, golfing, etc.)
Pre Tour Options:
Post Tour Options:
Tentatively Pre OR Post Tour:
Please note: All half day tours are both offered in the AM and the PM.
*Wheelchair accommodations can be provided for most tours
** All tours are subject to change
Before the Craft Boom: The Original Milwaukee Microbreweries
These three microbreweries led craft beer’s resurgence in Milwaukee as early as 1985 when Sprecher Brewing Co. opened in Walker’s Point. We’ll stop at Sprecher to try its award-winning Black Bavarian lager and also sample its inventive gourmet sodas. Then we’ll head to Lakefront Brewery, home to Milwaukee’s best (hilariously R-rated) brewery tour as well as the bottling line from “Laverne & Shirley,” and then we’ll pop over to Milwaukee Brewing Co. to take in its newly expanded digs, which are leading the way in green brewing technology.
Milwaukee, the Custard Capital of the World
Led by Milwaukee Food & City Tours, this is a tour for those who’d like to understand why every season is frozen custard season in Milwaukee. In 1932, America’s amusement park proprietors met for an informal convention in New York. The attendees declared bumper cars, carousels, roller coasters, and our beloved frozen custard the four things that “best contribute to the world’s happiness.” Come get happy on this tour dedicated to highlighting Milwaukee as the self-proclaimed Custard Capital of the World. You’ll visit shops and stands that are institutions throughout the city.
Cook Like a Milwaukeean: A Cooking Class at Braise
Milwaukee’s first community-supported restaurant, Braise, features locally sourced ingredients from more than 40 Wisconsin farms. In fact, Braise created the country’s first RSA, a restaurant-supported agriculture program. You’ll spend half of the day at Braise learning cooking techniques and preparing food with James Beard award-nominated chef Dave Swanson and his team.
The Flavors of Brady Street
A street enjoyed by many immigrant groups over the years, Brady Street was also the heart of Milwaukee’s countercultural movement in the 1960s. Led by Milwaukee Food & City Tours, we’ll explore this fashionable East Side neighborhood and, along the way, we’ll enjoy delicious tastings at authentic Italian eateries, as well as at several newer establishments that revitalized this community. This is a walking tour with five to six stops that will include pizza, cannoli, empanadas, salami, prosciutto, olives, cottage pie, and a Milwaukee-brewed beer. Did you know that Psycho was penned on Brady Street? Or do you know why many Milwaukee homes are called “Polish flats?” You’ll get those answers and more on this tour.
Preserve It! Historic Theater Tour
Milwaukee takes historic preservation very seriously, and our historic theaters offer some of the best examples. On this tour we’ll visit the ornate Pabst Theater, built in 1895 by Capt. Frederick Pabst; next we’ll stop into Turner Hall Ballroom, one of the oldest theaters in Milwaukee and a former showplace for German painters; then we’ll take in the decadence of the Oriental Theatre, home of the Milwaukee Film Festival; and last but not least, we’ll tour the newly restored Grand Warner Theater, new home to the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (with a planned opening of summer 2020).
Dearly Departed: A Haunted Milwaukee Tour
On the streets of Milwaukee, lurking in the shadows of history, live tales of ghosts and haunted buildings. These tales, whispered so as not to wake the dead or frighten the living, have endured the passage of time. We’ll tour Milwaukee to look beyond what you see every day and explore a world of hidden pasts and dark secrets, restless spirits, and eerie sightings.. Anna, your tour guide, a native Milwaukeean and avid collector of local folklore and legend, is delighted to introduce you to the spook-tacular side of Milwaukee. Gothic Milwaukee is one of Milwaukee’s most fun historical attractions, and we are thrilled to share the folklore, legends and macabre tales that lurk on nearly every block of the city.
Milwaukee Art Museum Deep Dive
A skilled docent will lead this tour that highlights the history behind the museum’s Santiago Calatrava-designed architecture and showcases important works from the collection, including holdings of American decorative arts, German Expressionism, and folk and Haitian art that are considered among the best in the nation.
Milwaukee’s Melting Pot: Hispanic Cultural Tour
The Walker’s Point area on the city’s near south side became the center of the Latino community, and it has grown into a major contributor to the city’s cultural diversity. Metro Milwaukee’s Latino population has more than tripled since 1990 and now tops 160,000, slightly more than 10 percent of the region’s total population. On this tour, we’ll take in the many murals of Walker’s Point and peruse the shops of Historic Mitchell Street. We’ll take in Latino Arts’ latest exhibition and enjoy a snack featuring neighborhood flavors.
Paddles Up: Kayaking Milwaukee River
Significant steps have been made to improve the Milwaukee River’s water quality and surrounding riverbanks. A sure sign of that progress is the resurgence of recreational use of the river, including by kayakers and SUP-ers, and yes, even swimmers! We’ll start this paddle in the Harbor District and head north along the river, with a stop for essentials (like a beer and cheese pairing) along the way.
Mysteries of the Fresh Coast
Milwaukee’s freshwater is best experienced away from dry land. So, we’ll hop aboard our trusty vessel and take to the sea…er, lake…with a shipwreck expert and learn about the 1,500 shipwrecks that lie beneath Lake Michigan, including those closest to Milwaukee.
Pedal to the Metal: A Bublr Bike Tour of Menomonee Valley
Bublr Bikes is Milwaukee’s beloved bike-share program. We’ll hop on Bublr’s cheery blue two-wheelers and tour a neighborhood that has undergone significant change in the last two decades, the Menomonee Valley. Once a railway and heavy manufacturing hub, the Valley’s brownfields have been cleaned up to make way for offices, hotels, and more. On our ride along the Hank Aaron State Trail, we’ll learn about the highly anticipated RiverWalk expansion that will snake westward through the valley and the restaurants planned along the riverside. We’ll take a break during the tour for a beverage at Third Space Brewing in the former Milwaukee Gas Light Company building built in 1902.
Historic Sailing on Lake Michigan
Explore the wonder, beauty, and fun of Lake Michigan from the deck of Discovery World’s Tall Ship, the S/V Denis Sullivan. You’ll be aboard the world’s only re-creation of a 19th century three-masted Great Lakes schooner, where you will get a hands-on lesson in navigating Lake Michigan’s waters like a pro. Completed in Milwaukee in 2000 by professional shipwrights and nearly 400 volunteers, the schooner is a modern educational sailing vessel with two diesel engines, a scientific laboratory, two computer workstations, and modern communication and navigation equipment.
Find out why Milwaukee is called the Original Brew City on a tour through Milwaukee’s brewing history. Attendees will have the opportunity to visit our city’s oldest cemetery, Forest Home, the resting place for three of the four Milwaukee beer barons. Then, we’ll head to Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery, the former corporate headquarters of Pabst Brewing Company, for an entertaining walk (with a Pabst Blue Ribbon in hand) through the brewery’s past. Across the road is Brewhouse Inn & Suites, a boutique hotel built in a former Pabst Brewing building. Lunch will be served with an ice-cold Miller Lite in the historic Miller Caves, where the brewery used to store its beer. Then we’ll check out Captain Frederick Pabst’s former home, Pabst Mansion, which has been restored to its original glory. We’ll finish the day with one final beverage at Pabst Milwaukee Brewery and Taproom, a microbrewery that opened two years ago in a former church on the Pabst campus.
Creative Cocktails and Damn-Good Distilleries
If beer’s not your cup of tea, worry not! Our distilleries and cocktail programs have got you covered. We’ll start our day with a coffee-inspired cocktail at bitters maker Bittercube, and then we’ll do a bitters “tasting.” The first distillery to open in Wisconsin since Prohibition, Great Lakes Distillery, will provide a tour, tasting, and peek into its history. Then it’s over to Central Standard Distillery, which focuses on small-batch liquors. We’ll enjoy lunch and a sangria lab at Hotel Madrid, where we’ll learn how to make the best pitcher in town and even take home your own concoction. Next, we’ll hear the incredible story of a former CIA agent-turned distiller at Twisted Path Distillery. Then we’ll end the day at Milwaukee’s oldest cocktail hotspot (and James Beard Award-winning) Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge.
African-American History Tour
This is your chance to explore Wisconsin’s and Milwaukee’s rich African-American heritage. We’ll start with a Paramount Records walk in Grafton and learn why this small Milwaukee ‘burb was home to a powerhouse studio for early blues and jazz music (and has earned a spot on the Mississippi Blues Trail). Then it’s time for the Wisconsin Black Historical Society, the only institution in Wisconsin dedicated to preserving the state’s African-American history. We will lunch at Sherman Phoenix, an entrepreneurial hub/food hall that serves as an incubator for up-and-coming business owners of color. Then we’re off to America’s Black Holocaust Museum, which was opened by a lynching survivor and explores the harmful legacies of slavery and racism. We’ll end the day with a bus and walking tour of key African-American neighborhood Bronzeville.
Wonderfully Random Milwaukee
This wide array of attractions is uniquely Milwaukee (and delightfully quirky in the best possible way). We’ll start the day learning about letterpress print-making at Bay View Printing Co, a 100-year-old print shop. Then it’s time for Foamation, creator of the now-famous Cheesehead, where we’ll learn how just about anything can be made from cheese foam. At Safehouse, a spy-themed restaurant (and no, we’re not sharing the entry password), we’ll dine on Milwaukee classics. Then it’s off to Milwaukee’s newest niche museum, the National Bobblehead Museum & Hall of Fame. We’ll end this day with a happy hour at Holler House, the oldest sanctioned bowling alley in the country.
From Cream City Brick to Frank Lloyd Wright: Historic Architecture
Milwaukee’s architecture is incredibly diverse and, as you’ll see, we’re keen on preserving it. That’s why on this tour we’ll stop at Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs for the middle class, a la the Burnham Block Houses. We’ll also take in the 1895 Flemish Renaissance design of our City Hall, among other distinctive downtown buildings. Then we’ll lunch in a historic park pavilion-turned James Beard restaurant (in a park was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, no less!) and we’ll visit Northpoint Lighthouse, one of the oldest structures in the area. This tour wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Old Soldiers’ Homes, one of the only post-Civil War veterans housing initiatives in the country that are now being restored into functional veterans housing.
Fore! Golf Tournament in America’s No. 1 Golf Destination
The Society of American Travel Writer’s tournament will take place at Brown Deer Golf Course, the stunning course where Tiger Woods made his professional debut. This is one of Milwaukee’s 15 county-owned courses, which together provide a wealth of opportunities for all golfers. From tournament and championship courses for experienced players to executive and par-3 courses for those still learning the game, the green is never too far away in Milwaukee.
Increase Lapham’s Milwaukee: A Tour of our Natural Habitat
Considered Wisconsin’s first great scientist, Increase Lapham was a botanist, naturalist, cartographer, and more. We’ll explore the geography he called home on this tour and learn about what makes this land once covered by glaciers unique. This tour explores the Milwaukee County Zoo, where attendees will check out kingdom animalia, as well as the brand new elephant exhibit that revamped one-quarter of the zoo’s layout. We’ll visit the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, known colloquially as “the Domes,” to see flora and fauna from various climates. Then we’ll get hyper-local at the Urban Ecology Center, which is introducing nature and science to the next generation of Increase Laphams. We’ll end the day with an easy hike through Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, a former farm for Schlitz brewery draft horses that is now Milwaukee’s comprehensive nature center.
A Wonderfully Wacky Wisconsin Sports Day
In Milwaukee, we bowl, we curl, and we wear kneepads and elbow guards with pride. So on this tour, plan to be surprised and delighted by a curling lesson at the Pettit National Ice Center, a former U.S. Olympic training center, and a duck pin bowling experience at The Thirsty Duck. Then we’ll learn how a roller derby maven chooses her (often hilarious) name with a demonstration/workshop with Milwaukee’s very own Brew City Bruisers. We’ll end this tour with a visit to Drink Wisconsinbly Pub, where you’ll learn Wisconsin’s most popular recreational “sport,” bar dice!
Milwaukee the Melting Pot: Ethnic Food Tour
On this tour, you’ll explore the many food traditions that make Milwaukee a rich melting pot. We’ll stop at newly opened Damascus Gate, Milwaukee’s first Syrian restaurant that was started by a family who came to our city after living as refugees in Jordan. We’ll then head to local institution Three Brothers, the James Beard-awarded restaurant that has been serving up the best Serbian fare since 1956. We’ll head to Shah Jee’s for a sampling of the finest Pakistani food in town, and then we’ll take in a brief cooking class and hear the story of Italian immigration at Glorioso’s. We’ll taste a freshly made churro at local gem La Flor de Trigo, and we’ll raise toasts to all cultures with Portuguese cocktails at Amilinda.
Charter Fishing Excursion
We’ll head out on Lake Michigan for a full day of fishing with one of the Milwaukee area’s excellent charter services. We will be seeking silver salmon, which in October are returning to the lake from their river runs, as well as two- and three-year-old Chinook salmon. Lake trout and brown trout are additional prospects.
Explore Charming Cedarburg
Just 20 minutes north of downtown Milwaukee, Cedarburg is a quaint escape from downtown’s hustle and bustle. Some even call it the perfect setting for a Hallmark movie. This day-long tour focuses on an examination of this historic mill town through a stop at the Cedarburg History Museum and exploration of the shops and restaurants that line Cedarburg’s main thoroughfares. We will include the shops and winery at Cedar Creek Settlement. Just outside of town, we’ll visit the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts to explore innovation and tradition in fiber arts.