Upper Midwest US

tzznandrew

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#1
After a number of blowout Euro trips, we're keeping it simple For a while we have wanted to go to Chicago. Our very rough outline is a trip that does, in the broadest sense:

1. Detroit
2. Chicago
3. Milwaukee
4. Minneapolis.

Other than Chicago, there's a lot of flexibility there. Anything I should see in those places? Anywhere not on the list, but an easy trip from, any of these places? I'm thinking, in particular, of the space between Chicago and Minneapolis, as I'm likely to drive that.
 

storrsroars

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#2
After a number of blowout Euro trips, we're keeping it simple For a while we have wanted to go to Chicago. Our very rough outline is a trip that does, in the broadest sense:

1. Detroit
2. Chicago
3. Milwaukee
4. Minneapolis.

Other than Chicago, there's a lot of flexibility there. Anything I should see in those places? Anywhere not on the list, but an easy trip from, any of these places? I'm thinking, in particular, of the space between Chicago and Minneapolis, as I'm likely to drive that.
I haven't spent a lot of time out there in the past decade, but one of my exes was a Minneapolis girl with parents in Milwaukee, so I spent a decent amount of time in both places. Not much to Milwaukee I'd consider a "must", but the lakefront is very nice and neighborhoods like Brady St., Third Ward and Old World 3rd St are good walking destinations with lots of bars/restaurants and small shops. Summerfest is very cool if you're there while it's going on. And Usinger's sausage factory was interesting to me (I'm not much of a motorcycle guy, so the Harley-Davidson museum was lost on me).

Like Pittsburgh, Milwaukee is very neighborhood-centric and there are different flavors to each, but the lakefront area is somewhat more homogenous. I suppose a trip to Culver's for custard is necessary. And if you're there in summer, a trip to Door County (up near Green Bay) for a fish boil is a solid diversion. I've never spent time in Madison, but it's a nice area to drive through since it's basically surrounded by lakes.

Minneapolis, OTOH... couple of the best kitschy food/drink experiences I used to enjoy. Jax Cafe... you used to be able to catch your own fish as they have a trout stream running through the restaurant. I think now the waiters use a net. It's old school, but the food is really good. And Lord Fletcher's on Lake Minnetonka has to be one of the largest lakefront bars in the country. 100s of boats pull up, order drinks to go, and huge decks all over to enjoy your libations. For less kitschy stuff, Uptown is a great neighborhood to hang out in. There are a number of Somali restaurants around, and upscale Norwegian - a couple of cuisines that aren't available in most cities.

Much better museums & cultural attractions in Minneapolis. The Walker and Mia are both excellent and the Guthrie Theatre usually has great performances. I even found the Mill museum interesting (the history of flour and the Mississippi river). It's a great city for biking around or walking and it also has a decent light rail. If you fish, a day trip up around Brainerd is great for walleye, and you can take a photo with Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox ;-)

If it weren't so damned cold out there, I would've moved to Mpls years ago. It's one of my favorite cities.
 
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#3
After a number of blowout Euro trips, we're keeping it simple For a while we have wanted to go to Chicago. Our very rough outline is a trip that does, in the broadest sense:

1. Detroit
2. Chicago
3. Milwaukee
4. Minneapolis.

Other than Chicago, there's a lot of flexibility there. Anything I should see in those places? Anywhere not on the list, but an easy trip from, any of these places? I'm thinking, in particular, of the space between Chicago and Minneapolis, as I'm likely to drive that.
Not sure what you want to see, but Green Bay isn't that far from Milwaukee. Chicago is decent depending on where you go.

What are you looking to do? I live about 2 hours from Chicago btw.
 

tzznandrew

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#5
Not sure what you want to see, but Green Bay isn't that far from Milwaukee. Chicago is decent depending on where you go.

What are you looking to do? I live about 2 hours from Chicago btw.
In Chicago, there are some basic necessities: Wrigley, high end good food, and the major museums, and some more local things, etc.
 

whaler11

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#8
Both my wife and I like baseball. Wrigley is a non-negotiable, but I'd be interested to see the Twins, Brewers, and Twins.
good because the twins brewers and tigers are the only three things to do in those cities :)

detroit... when i’ve been there i cross the border at night to get out.

milwaukee... it’s got a hartford quality to it

minneapolis is nice - its weird how late the sun is out in the summer... do you like malls?
 
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#9
In Chicago, there are some basic necessities: Wrigley, high end good food, and the major museums, and some more local things, etc.
Field museum and the aquarium are phenomenal. They have a pass to see all of them and you don't have to hit them all in one day. Not a bad price. The science and industry museum is a little further away from those. I didn't think that the science won was worth it.

I guess you can try some deep dish pizza but you will hate it. Got to eat it with a fork and knife. Just awful.

Magnificent Mile is where a lot of shopping and restaurants are. Nice area. Willis tower (formerly Sears tower) is right there.
 

storrsroars

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#10
In Chicago, there are some basic necessities: Wrigley, high end good food, and the major museums, and some more local things, etc.
Wrigley was great when the Cubs were losing... now they're kinda full of themselves. But yeah, you have to go. Murphy's Bleachers is the best of the bars next to Wrigley. Oddly I've never been to either Comiskey Park (or whatever they call the new one).

The Shedd Aquarium is very good as is the Field, as mentioned. And check out what exhibitions are at the Art Institute as the couple of times I've been, it's been top shelf.

I used to spend 3-4 weeks/year at McCormick Place and knew that town well, but have only been once in past five years. Not sure how long it's been since you've been to Chicago, but if it's been awhile, "The Bean" is a great place to take a photograph, if you're walking around Millenium Park. And the Park Grill restaurant next to the skating rink is a great place for people watching and the food is surprisingly good. Also a beer garden (Goose Island) and some neat food trucks right there. Anyway, it's a good place to hang after going to any of the museums.

On the high-end good food front, if you're thinking Alinea, you should probably already have a reservation. I'm envious. There are a half dozen new Mexican places I'm dying to try with dishes that'll never come to Pittsburgh, including a new Bayless place specializing in fish/seafood along with Mi Tacoya. Logan Square area is probably the center for upscale "nuevo" Mexican if you're interested in that. Meantime, I can suggest Birrieria Zaragoza, which is the only place I've ever been that specializes in goat ;-)

If you get homesick for CT, head to Piece in Wicker Park - very respectable NH-style pizza.
 

tzznandrew

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#11
We're not committed, really, to staying in the cities (other than Chicago) if there are better things to do elsewhere.
 

huskypantz

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#12
Chicago and Minneapolis are fun. Detroit is meh. Have not been to Milwaukee. When I was in MN I drove to mt Rushmore, about 9 hrs I believe. Long ride but to me it was worth it if you’ve never seen the region.
 
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#16
Madison is a cool little city. You'll almost definitely be passing through on your way to/from Milwaukee & Minneapolis, so I'd definitely recommend making the stop.
 
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#19
Skip Detroit. Not that it’s as absolutely miserable as many contend nor that there’s nothing to see or do in the area. Logistically, make your life easier with a Windy City, Milwaukee, Twin Cities run.

In a future trip, consider Motown with Toronto. Or, maybe Detroit with Cleveland, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and possibly Pittsburgh.
 

tzznandrew

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#21
Skip Detroit. Not that it’s as absolutely miserable as many contend nor that there’s nothing to see or do in the area. Logistically, make your life easier with a Windy City, Milwaukee, Twin Cities run.

In a future trip, consider Motown with Toronto. Or, maybe Detroit with Cleveland, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and possibly Pittsburgh.
That's a good point. We are actually kicking around a Toronto/Detroit start to this trip.
 
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#25
Wrigley was great when the Cubs were losing... now they're kinda full of themselves. But yeah, you have to go. Murphy's Bleachers is the best of the bars next to Wrigley. Oddly I've never been to either Comiskey Park (or whatever they call the new one).

The Shedd Aquarium is very good as is the Field, as mentioned. And check out what exhibitions are at the Art Institute as the couple of times I've been, it's been top shelf.

I used to spend 3-4 weeks/year at McCormick Place and knew that town well, but have only been once in past five years. Not sure how long it's been since you've been to Chicago, but if it's been awhile, "The Bean" is a great place to take a photograph, if you're walking around Millenium Park. And the Park Grill restaurant next to the skating rink is a great place for people watching and the food is surprisingly good. Also a beer garden (Goose Island) and some neat food trucks right there. Anyway, it's a good place to hang after going to any of the museums.

On the high-end good food front, if you're thinking Alinea, you should probably already have a reservation. I'm envious. There are a half dozen new Mexican places I'm dying to try with dishes that'll never come to Pittsburgh, including a new Bayless place specializing in fish/seafood along with Mi Tacoya. Logan Square area is probably the center for upscale "nuevo" Mexican if you're interested in that. Meantime, I can suggest Birrieria Zaragoza, which is the only place I've ever been that specializes in goat ;-)

If you get homesick for CT, head to Piece in Wicker Park - very respectable NH-style pizza.
Good suggestions. tzznandrew. I'll also weigh in.


Only driven through Detroit and never been to the twin cities but I hear good things about them.

Downtown Milwaukee skyline doesn't look like much but it's a fun summer city. Summerfest is crazy, the whole lakefront is active and nice and the art museum on the lake is one of the coolest looking buildings anywhere and the Harley-Davidson museum is right next door. Some nice old beer money homes along the lake up the hill.

Chicago is awesome in the summer. I tell every visitor to do the architecture tour along the Chicago river. It's nice being on a boat on the river in the summer and it gives a great history of the city. Millenium Park is nice, right next to it is the Art Institute which is top notch, all the museums in the city are top notch. Across the street from the Art Institute is the Chicago Athletic Association which has been converted into a hotel. I heard the hotel rooms aren't too impressive but the major rooms are beautiful old rooms and great for lounging in oversized chairs, grabbing a drink at the old school bars (you'll feel like Nicholson talking to Lloyd at the bar in the Shining) or a bite to eat. There is a cool old game room too with old school bar and a bunch of table games, pool, foosball, bacci etc. Great view of Millenium park from the rooftop bar too. Two blocks away is the Palmer House which has the most stunning hotel lobby in the country. IMO.

Check out a ballgame at Wirgley, the area all around the ballpark has been updated and is pretty nice now. Don't bother with the White Sox park. Hyde Park is worth checking out, University of Chicago has some really beautiful buildings. You can also check out Obama's house, Muhammad Ali's house, and Farrakhan's house. Oak Park is a nice town and if you are into architecture it's worth it doing the Frank Lloyd Wright tour. I enjoy achitecture and feel that's Chicago's true strength, the city was planned beautifully with a near flawless skyline and the true beauty is all the different styles of houses around the city. It's nice to just walk around the gold coast and look at all the different styles...

As for food, whatever you like you'll be able to find it and it will be done really well. A lot of the downtown restaurants are expensive (hotels are way cheaper than Manhattan but fine dining is just as expensive) but you can get great food all over for not much money. If you want some suggestions let me know but there are too many good places to name. Pilsen is worth checking out for a nice little free Mexican art museum and for a Mexican lunch nearby. Evanston is also a nice town and is basically a part of Chicago. Northwestern campus is really nice. Some of the north shore towns are really nice along the lake if you want to check out huge old houses.
 

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