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One Day at Summerfest in Milwaukee

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This week we’re changing it up a bit here on Lauren on Location! We’re going to take a little break from South America and head up north. We have a guest post by the lovely Kacey about a city in my homeland and one that’s been on my bucket list for quite some time now, MILWAUKEE. (If you’re wondering why Milwaukee is on my bucket list- my grandma’s from the area! and actually my dog is from Wisconsin :P.) Today, Kacey’s going to be telling us all about her perfect itinerary for a day at Milwaukee’s Summerfest. This 11-day festival attracts between 800,000 and 1,000,000 people every year and holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for the World’s Largest Music Festival! Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it before, I hadn’t either…. BUT now this festival has definitely secured a place on my never-ending list of things to do!
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A little about Kacey:

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.


The grand state of Wisconsin in the Midwest, believe it or not, is full of many great places to see with a large variety of things to do. Take your pick from areas like the Door County Peninsula, the sport’s Mecca of Green Bay, or the hopping college town of Madison – depending on what you’re looking for in your next little getaway, you’ll be able to find it here. I, personally, enjoy mixing it up every time I wander into the land of cheese and beer. There is really just that much to do, and the assortment of activities changes with seasons and time of year.
To keep it simple and give you some ideas of your own, I’m going to give you a play by play of a summer day I had in Wisconsin last year in the Milwaukee area. I’m a huge fan of this amazing city because of its vibrant feel and selection of things to see (and food to eat. Mmmmmm) – even in the suburbs. I specifically headed this direction for the annual musical extravaganza, Summerfest. Because I have some friends in the area, I tend to stay with them in the suburbs for lodging (and to catch up).

Pre-Festival Breakfast

Preparing for a day of marathon concerts (and possibly a beverage or three), this really is the most important meal of the day, and when I head to my friend’s in West Allis, located just outside of the city, I know that we are going to hit up one of my absolute favorite breakfast places on this planet – Urban Joe Café.
The vibe is a bit both modern with a touch of hipster, and you can choose from a selection of amazing options that range from homemade sweet and savory crepes, build your own omelet or burrito (OMG) and delicious sandwiches on artisanal ciabatta rolls. One of my personal favorites is the Bon Appétit (Swiss cheese, tomato, béchamel sauce and smoked turkey. I’m swooning right now), and of course no pre-festival would be complete without a top-notch Bloody Mary. You can find that here too!
Urban Joe Café. 7028 W Greenfield Ave. West Milwaukee, WI.

Source: Urban Joe Café
The Bon Appétit Crepe. Source: Urban Joe Café

My Morning Must-see

When I was there this summer, I lucked out and decided to head to Summerfest on a Saturday. This is also Farmers Market day in West Allis, and it just happens to be close to where I normally stay. So after that delicious breakfast at Urban Joe’s, I head to check out what the local farmers have to offer for some snacks later in the day during the festival. The variety changes depending on what vegetables are in season, and every time I’m in town I try to hit up market day if I can – even if it’s just to see the kaleidoscope of colors the homegrown produce creates.

My Morning Must-do

I’m a bit of a nature-lover as well, and before I head into a crowd of people, I need to get some space. Greenfield Park in West Allis is absolutely perfect for this. It’s nearly 300 acres of park that also has a golf course (if you’re so inclined), a waterpark if you need to cool off from the summer heat and a ton of areas to picnic. I tend to just like to go and sit for a little while, which you won’t do much of at the festival.

 Source: Fox Milwaukee
Source: Fox Milwaukee

Festival Lunching

Remember I told you that we picked up some (healthy) snacks for throughout the day? Well that’s because when you go to Summerfest – you lunch at Summerfest. And the food is fat and delicious. Last year, the festival boasted over forty different vendors and food trucks. I almost had to roll myself home. I mean there are burritos, fajitas, donuts, ribs, burgers etc. You name it, you can probably find it (and try it, even if your stomach protests).
On top of all of that, you get to enjoy ice-cold Miller Lite along the lakefront. A summer day doesn’t get much better than that. All that’s missing is some of your favorite music – oh wait, we have that too.

Sampler from a Summerfest Staple, Saz’s

My Afternoon Must-see

Like I mentioned earlier, this whole day outing was to check out Summerfest! What exactly is Summerfest? Well it’s eleven days with some 800 acts that play on eleven different stages. It’s the largest music festival in the world. No joke. And I got to check out some of my favorite artists last year – like the Zac Brown Band, Keith Urban and (SWOON) Ed Sheeran. It’s seriously one of the best music festivals I’ve ever attended, and I can assume that it will only continue to improve on its offerings for attendees and its musical lineup.

My Must-do

There are literally so many things going on during this awesome festival that one day isn’t actually enough. I try to actually check out more music over the entire weekend, but one of the first things I do is head over to the stage by JoJo’s Martini Lounge. Remember, I’m indulging, and a three-martini lunch (or post lunch, is really not relevant at this point right?) is always a great way to check out really amazing local acts!

JoJo’s Martini Lounge at Summerfest. Source: Summerfest.

Post-Festival Dinner

You may be wondering how I could possibly have any space left to eat dinner after basically trying all forty-something food truck vendors. Well, I wonder too about my food-eating super powers, but we all can’t be heroes can we? It’s just a gift. Kidding. I try to keep it low-key for dinner. It’s really only a necessity to guarantee that I can actually make it to the next social activity my friends have planned on the agenda.
My favorite (I mean absolute favorite) place to soak up some of those martinis without making my stomach suffer is a tapas restaurant in the city called La Merenda in the historic Walker’s Point of the city. Walker’s Point isn’t too far from the actual Summerfest complex, so it makes relocating the group a pretty easy and painless task. Plus, the portion size of tapas is simply perfect after massive food truck sampling, and I know that I can also satisfy my craving to try more than one thing on the menu because of this.

A photo posted by La Merenda (@lamerenda125) on

My favorite picks from the menu: the patatas bravas, mushroom patacones and (god help me) the truffled potato skins – they are like manna sent down from heaven. I usually order two of those.
La Merenda. 125 E National Ave, Milwaukee, WI

A Little Bit of Nightlife

And finally, if I can still roll my thoroughly wined-and-dined self to the next social gathering point, we like to make it easy again and stay in the Walker’s Point area, which is absolutely FULL of bars, restaurants and nightclubs. I still haven’t been able to get all the way through the list to try them all, but one of my favorite places is Hemingway’s Habana Vieja.
It’s famous for its great Cuban food, but when the nighttime hits, you can also dance the night away to salsa and merengue – not to mention sipping on some mojitos. It’s the perfect way to close out an entire day of great food, company and music. Plus, I can try to console myself with the fact that dancing salsa will burn all of those millions of calories that I’ve consumed in one short day.
Walker’s Point is an area that I love discovering over and over again. I’ve even heard through the grapevine as well that the area has also adopted a Sangria Bar this past May, with a 5,000 square foot patio. I have a feeling that I’ll be paying a visit to this area again soon. Nothing more need be said.

Hemmingway’s Habana Vieja. 626 S 5th St. Milwaukee, WI.

Outside the Summerfest Zone

If you haven’t figured it out yet, we kept our daily activities all in the zone of West Allis and Summerfest for convenience, but the great thing about the Milwaukee area is that there is still so many other things to see and do. Afternoon two saw us relocating to downtown and checking out the Best Place (located in the historic Pabst brewery – I have a thing for historical venues if you haven’t figured that out yet). This place is great for grabbing drinks with friends, and they usually have amazing local live music, with a cozy atmosphere. They also offer tours of the old brewery, which was a nice change for the afternoon before heading back to Summerfest for a full night of music and food there.

 Source: Best Place
Source: Best Place
Best Place. 901 W Juneau Ave. Milwaukee, WI.
So there you have it, that is my day (okay kind of two days) in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area at Summerfest! With so much going on basically year round, you’ll also find that one day isn’t really enough to do everything either. West Allis is just one suburb of the city of Milwaukee too.
Imagine what food is out there waiting to be eaten in other parts of the city? What cocktails need sampling? What beers need to be reviewed? It’s a seriously tough job, but someone has to do it. I gladly volunteer myself.
For more information on Summerfest like dates, prices and lineups, head over to their website!
Thanks so much Kacey, for an inside look at the perfect day at Summerfest! 😀
Does Summerfest seem like your type of festival? Pin this post to save for later!
A guide to Summerfest in Milwaukee, The World's Largest Music Festival!

Don’t forget to check out my other One day in Travel Guides!!

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