Spring break in “the Dairy State”

Everybody knows happy cows come from California. You knew that, right? So when my roommate Loren told me that her home state, Wisconsin, is the master of dairy, I refused to believe it. The way I see it, California > Wisconsin in every aspect. West Coast, Best Coast!

I spent a week in Milwaukee for spring break, and I have to admit Milwaukee was pretty great. This is partly because Loren is good company, so going anywhere with her would probably be pretty great, but the attractions we visited weren’t bad either.

1. Kopp’s Frozen Custard 

When Loren told me to expect burgers the size of my face, I thought she was kidding. But when I unwrapped my cheeseburger, it was huge. It really was the size of Loren’s face. I was also baffled to find a random pickle sitting on top of the bun. At first I thought it was sloppy service. Who just drops a pickle on a burger and doesn’t remove it? How would you not notice that you dropped a pickle? “Do not question it,” Loren said, unwrapping her own burger and popping the pickle into her mouth. I followed suit, enjoying the best-tasting burger I’d had in a long time.

image courtesy of citypresent.com

But we didn’t go to Kopp’s for the burgers. We went for its title menu item, the frozen custard. Ugh, it was so good. Just writing about it makes me want more. If you ever visit Milwaukee, go to Kopp’s. Get the butter pecan. You won’t regret it. 

Kopp’s has a retro look similar to Steak ‘n Shake. None of the tables have chairs. Nobody knows why. We ate standing up.

2. Ma Fischer’s Family Restaurant

Call it a cozier, mom-and-pop version of Denny’s. Ma Fischer’s serves breakfast all day, every day. It’s located close to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is open 24/7, so it’s probably a favorite of local college students. I ordered corned beef hash and a short stack of french toast. Tasty they were.

3. Milwaukee Public Museum

We arrived an hour before closing and spent the majority of our time in the butterfly garden. That was fine with me; I’d never had the opportunity to hold a butterfly before or see so many up close. They were gorgeous.

This was the friendliest butterfly of them all. It wasn't scared of anything, so Loren and I just passed it between us for a long time. When we were leaving, we handed it off to someone else and it went without hesitation.

This was the friendliest butterfly of them all. Loren and I carried it around for a long time, sometimes setting it down on our heads.

4. Bayshore

Bayshore is a mall, nothing new. But I did learn that they have this store in Wisconsin called Boston Store that is the equivalent of Macy’s. “What is Boston Store?” I asked when we passed by it. Loren was aghast. Apparently she thought Boston Store was everywhere. Nope. I’d never heard of it in my life.

5. Alterra

I didn’t see anything special about this coffee shop, but Loren wanted us to go, so we did. Maybe they have especially good coffee or something, but coffee doesn’t interest me. I had my eye on the Starbucks across the street. A vanilla bean frappuccino was calling my name! I ignored it and bought a cinnamon roll from Alterra instead.

6. Milwaukee Art Museum

It’s a bird!

The cool thing about the MAM is that it’s shaped like a bird. The “wings” of the building open and close, depending on the time of day. I was as much impressed with the architecture as I was with the art.  

The museum was doing a special exhibit called Color Rush. It was all about the progression of color in American photography. Fun fact: most photographs of the Great Depression are in black in white not because color photography didn’t exist at that time, but because people believed that color should be reserved for happy moments.

7. Rochambo Coffee & Tea House

There wasn’t much on the menu that interested me since I don’t drink coffee, but Loren wanted me to go for the ambiance. The place was very quaint, very hipstery. It looked more like a house than a cafe. Hmm…that would explain why it has the word “house” in its name.

Once you get your beverage, you take the stairs to the second story, where the walls are covered in posters from bands you don’t recognize and none of the chairs match the tables.

The workers were nice, and they were just as eccentric as the building. For example: the young woman at the cash register got really excited when she found a 1937 penny in the change that Loren used to pay for her hot chocolate. She told us that she collects old pennies, and that one was the oldest she’d ever seen. Then she showed it off to her co-workers, who congratulated her on her old penny 🙂

courtesy of flickr.com

courtesy of tumblr.com

8. Miscellaneous

The weather was unfortunately cold, but that’s Wisconsin for you. As luck would have it, St. Louis decided to be in the 60’s the week we weren’t there to enjoy some sun. Oh well. All in all, I had a good time. Still, I stand by my belief that happy cows come from California. You agree with me, right?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBS6HMdkNAw&w=560&h=315]