Now that summer has officially arrived it’s time to get out and about.

My visit to Milwaukee’s Summerfest begins a series of stories on how I choose to celebrate the season.

Now that summer has officially arrived it’s time to get out and about.

My visit to Milwaukee’s Summerfest begins a series of stories on how I choose to celebrate the season.

Summerfest is Milwaukee’s annual outdoor music festival that is in full swing now along the lakefront downtown and continues until the Fourth of July.

When I arrived on a pleasant Friday afternoon the throngs were just beginning to gather.  

Summerfest attracts live music lovers of all ages and tastes to their eleven day lollapalooza along the lake.

A dozen different stages feature bands as different as tribute bands paying homage to Cheap Trick, Santana, the Who, Styx, and Pink Floyd at the Classic Rock Stage to the quirky Love Monkeys at Jo Jo’s Martini and Miller Lite Stage.  

The first stage I visited featured rap artist Malik Yusef belting out his street tough sound accompanied by a blaring horn section but just a hundred yards away Cowboy Troy with Cross Country Junction — a twangy, old fashioned country band in cowboy hats — did their thing.  

Tom Petty and ZZ Top were the headliners this night in the 25,000 seat Marcus Amphitheater where different big name entertainment is provided daily at a premium price.

However, general admission to the grounds starts at under $10 and provided me with all the musical variety I could handle. All stages feature bench seating so there is no need to haul lawn chairs or blankets to enjoy your day.  Go to for complete lineup and ticket information.  

As I strolled the grounds I followed my nose to the Ethnic Food Court where the smells of Italian sausage, Greek gyros, and German bratwurst tempted my tastebuds at their outdoor cafes. Ice cream, corn on the cob, BBQ, and, of course, beer stands were everywhere.  

Everything from white tablecloth restaurants to picnic tables are set up along the harbor side of the grounds for those who want to enjoy the sailboats and the cool breezes blowing off Lake Michigan.

Maybe the best way to get the big picture at Summerfest is to hop on the Sky Glider gondola that lifts you above the crowds for a mere $3. It gives you a bird’s eye view of all the proceedings and helped me orientate myself.  

But before I entered Summerfest, I took the time to visit Milwaukee’s other premier lakefront attraction, the Milwaukee Art Museum.  

This visually striking building was named “Best Design” by Time magazine when it opened in 2001 and resembles a a huge white sailing ship complete with Burke Brise Soleil “wings” that actually move up and down each day.  

I watched in wonder when the museum closed and the wings (comparable in size to a Boeing 747) slowly moved downward to the building’s sides.

Inside, nearly 20,000 works of art await visitors ranging from American Decorative Arts, German Expressionism, folk and Haitian art, and one of the largest collection of works by Wisconsin native Georgia O’Keeffe.  

One of the major benefactors of the museum over the years was Mrs. Walter Bradley, whose husband had earned millions in the electronic controls business in Milwaukee.

Their personal collection was donated to the museum and occupies the entire third floor.  

The Bradley rooms provide visitors a chance to sit down and relax while looking out over the lake through large glass windows.  I paused here to enjoy the view and ponder the good life while making a note to myself to research the family tree. Uncle Walter, remember me?

When I awoke from my daydream and returned to the ground floor, I noticed the temporary exhibit “American Quilts” which showcases more than forty quilts from the Winterthur Collection — one of the world’s finest collection of historic quilts from the period 1760-1850.

American Quilts will be on display only through Sept. 6 but the Milwaukee Art Museum is open year round (closed Mondays) for your enjoyment.  Check for more information.  

For more information on planning your trip to Milwaukee visit

About the author: Mark Bradley is a tour director and currently resides in Chillicothe. He is a 1973 graduate of Illinois Valley Central High School and 1977 graduate of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a degree in radio/TV.

For more about Mark Bradley, click here.