Milwaukee and Harley-Davidson Museum

It was time to visit some more friends in the midwest and I started the trip by flying up to Chicago and then onto Milwaukee. The later was my shortest airline flight of about 20 minutes flying low at 7000 feet along the shore of lake Michigan. We literally spent more time boarding, sitting at the gate, and taxiing at O'Hare than we spent in the air.

Downtown Milwaukee

I have spent some time in Milwaukee a couple of years ago when I was here for Geovani and Julie's wedding and I really liked the downtown area. Similar to Chicago, there is a river flowing through with bars, restaurants, and some of the most famous local breweries located at the riverfront. The architecture downtown is also an interesting mix of older high rises, concrete mammoths from the middle of last century and all-glass sky scrapers of today. Driving by the lake front, it seemed to have a lot of green space to enjoy as well as a very interesting structure of the art museum. Unlike Chicago, most areas downtown get pretty deserted after working hours with most lively atmosphere centered around the river banks.

Meeting Up With Friends

I used to work with Jayson in Kansas City and now he has an awesome gig traveling and doing some consulting work for a company in Milwaukee, so he picked me up at the airport and we headed out to grab some coffee while waiting Geovani to finish up with his meeting at Harley-Davidson. Later, we all met up for dinner at Mo's Irish Pub, one of the local favorites. Interestingly, there was an upscale steakhouse by the same name just across the road that we first ventured in but quickly realized our mistake. I am wondering if the two are affiliated.


Harley-Davidson Museum

There are a few truly iconic images associated with the American way of life and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is, arguably, one of the most recognized in the world. With the museum located near downtown and right next to the train station, I figured I would check it out. I have read raving reviews on TripAdvisor and imagined it to be a huge one (since some reviewers mentioned one could spend the entire day there). Instead, the museum turned out to be fairly compact with two floors packed of bike displays, technology demonstrators, and the history of the brand told through the many artifacts and bikes of the past.

Interestingly, since the early days, they have been saving at least one copy of each bike model that came off the line, so the majority of the bikes on display are originals, with only a handful of restored models.

Not being a die hard motorcycle fan, I still found it to be pretty exciting, still, after an hour or so I was ready to head out - my normal reaction to any museum out there. For those that are really into these awesome machines and/or really enjoy the mechanical concepts that make them work, I would second the TripAdvisor reviews and advise to plan at least a few hours for the visit.

Milwaukee to Chicago on Amtrak

Chicago was next on my itinerary for this trip and I had an option of a free afternoon flight or a $23 Amtrak train ride that would take an hour and a half. I opted out for the later as it would probably take me longer to fly with all the extra time needed to clear the security and get out of O'Hare, then take ride to downtown on the Blue line. Instead, Amtrak would get me right to the Union Station in downtown, a few blocks away from where I will be staying.

As an added bonus, there were power outlets available to plug in my laptop and get a few things done while we were on the way. The seats were comfortable with more leg room than I would have on the plane. The views out of the window were pretty nice along the way. Come to think of it, the only thing I wished Amtrak had was WiFi, but then again, I would not get that on the airplane either. Overall, I would definitely recommend using Amtrak to get between downtowns of Chicago and Milwaukee.