Friday, November 27, 2015

Bring on the Christmas Season!

Today is the start to the Christmas season as far as I'm concerned, though many holiday decorations have been up for weeks and the Christmas parade for Milwaukee has gone by.  If you want to experience all the area has to offer, you need to make a plan.

I'll start with a list put out by Calie Herbst, of Miltown Moms.  Her list of 10 local holiday traditions and celebrations includes several in parks, as well as a few others that we enjoy every year.  Be sure to check out the new BMO Harris bank display.  You get a free candy cane and the bears are adorable.

Local First is hosting their second buy local fair on Sunday November 29 from 9-4 at the Domes.  If you are buying gifts this year, it's a great place to find unique goods. You can print a coupon for $2 off admission at the link. Be sure to walk through the Domes to see the gingerbread display that Calie mentions. If you really like gingerbread, make a stop at Milwaukee Public Market and see the MATC gingerbread houses too- December 4 -15.

Next Sunday, December 6, there's a holiday pop up shop at Schlitz Audubon from 12-4.  This is a good chance to take a hike, climb the tower if you've never done that, and find some interesting outdoor themed gifts.  Steph Davies from The Waxwing will have a variety of bird themed gifts.  I'll be there with Milwaukee County park maps and copies of my books, "The Milwaukee Bucket List", and "101 Things to do in Milwaukee Parks".  Stop by and say hi!

Thinking of a holiday lights drive?  Be sure to visit the Bayview neighborhood that does Nightmare Before Christmas. The most comprehensive list of holiday lights I've seen is from Just Add Kids.  They include Racine, Waukesha, the Milwaukee parks, Candy Cane Lane, the Holiday Train, Miller Coors, and even walking food tours in the city.  Take a look to see if there's something you haven't been to yet.
Canadian Pacific Holiday Train comes to Milwaukee December 4

You can see the full schedule of events for the holiday lights festival, which includes decorations in parks, the jingle bus, and Cocoa with the Clauses December 12 at Cathedral Square, which is already decked out in upcycled ornaments. If you have kids that want to make their own holiday upcycled ornaments, go to Homemade Holidays at Wehr Nature Center. Stop by Pere Marquette Park, home to the Milwaukee Historical Society, which is a beautiful building all decked out for the holidays.  Santa will be there for photos December 6 from 10-3.

Upcycled ornaments at Cathedral Square

Whitefish Bay has their holiday stroll tonight from 5-9 which includes the Door County Sled Dogs making an appearance with their bus.  You can find them at Yellow Wood on Berkeley after the parade, which kicks off at 6.  This is a pretty darn cool event if you've never experienced it.  This year will include a storefront with dancing ballerinas.  Santa will be there to visit with kids and of course, the usual pony rides.

The Urban Ecology Centers are also buzzing with outdoor activity.  Participate in the 2015 Candlelight Walk or join in to count birds for the annual bird count.  Check their calendar for many more events. Most require advance registration.

We have a lot to do in Milwaukee this holiday season.  Get out and enjoy!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Hiking/Biking Outdoors on Black Friday

The American trend has been to focus on stuff and shopping the day after Thanksgiving, but REI, the outdoor store, is trying to buck that trend by staying closed on Black Friday. REI is encouraging its employees and customers to get outside on Friday instead, using the hashtag #optoutside on instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  What a great idea in my mind! More than 1 million people have already taken the pledge to get outside.  If you do the same, post a photo of yourself in the Milwaukee parks using the same hashtag #optoutside on social media and the whole world can share in your adventure.

Seven states  have already said that admission to their state parks will be free on Black Friday- including neighboring Minnesota.  Wisconsin did not jump on board with this promotion, but locally Havenwoods State Forest is always free and has a few miles of hiking trails. Some are even dog friendly!  Wisconsin state park stickers go on sale December 1 for 2016, so you do indeed get a free month when you buy early. If you're lucky enough to be out in California, you can even visit the Redwoods for free.

Need a few new ideas for where to have an adventure? Check out the links to the Oak Leaf Trail that saw their official opening in October. There's a new one mile segment near the Oakview business park on South Howell Ave.  Another segment just outside Estabrook Park, near Hampton Ave, is open so you can bike all the way to Oostburg if your legs will take you. Check out more information about these trails at Wisconsin Bike routes.

Oak Leaf Trail near Hampton Road

New bridge decks take you safely over the highway
For hiking in the parks, download a map at Milwaukee's Park People website.  There are nearly 30 to choose from.  If you have kids, why not check out the new accessible playground in Franklin at Franklin Woods Nature Center? For photos, go to Kayla's Krew.  The address is 3723 W. Puetz Road. Whatever you decide to do...have fun doing it!

Friday, November 20, 2015

USS Milwaukee is at Veterans Park

In case you haven't been by Veterans Park lately, there's a battleship sitting on the lakefront for a few more days.  This is one of the newest ships built for the Navy in Marinette, Wisconsin and it will be commissioned Saturday. Unfortunately, there's snow forecasted for the weekend, so it may be a blustery event.  Tickets have already been distributed for the event, but if you have a chance, you might want to go see it while it's here.

This is a newer design called a littoral combat ship, made to get into tight spaces. I've read that it's incredibly fast.  During testing it took out 40 sailboats in Door County with the waves it made!  You can see an interview from FOX 6 about the ship

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Poetry in Juneau Park

Fall is a beautiful time to get into the parks and there's another great reason coming up this weekend.  Come listen to native American poets recite poetry by the Solomon Juneau statue in Juneau park.  This is one of the best views you'll get of the lakefront.  I wrote about this park a couple years ago, but it's always a favorite of mine.

Sponsored by Juneau Park Friends, this is the second poetry event in this park.  The first was well attended.  Bring your blanket and snacks.  If you enjoy geocaching, there is a cache here, so maybe you want to make that part of your weekend adventure.  This park with 2 statues is also part of the City Walk: Monuments and Statues Tour in Milwaukee.  If it's a nice day and you feel like getting some exercise, this is the starting point.

Follow the Facebook page for Juneau Park Friends for more information about events in this park.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Another Accessible Playground in Franklin

It's fantastic to see so many beautiful crowdsourced accessible playgrounds going up near Milwaukee.  I wrote recently about the grand opening happening this weekend for Kenosha Dream Playground.  Now here's another!!!  The latest addition is called Kayla's Krew and it has a grand opening tomorrow, October 9 at 5:30 PM.  The park will remain open until 8:30. Take a look at the Facebook page for many more photos of the community build.  I haven't been there yet, but it sure looks fantastic!

This playground is located at Franklin Nature Center, 3723 W. Puetz Road, Franklin.  Though there isn't parking onsite yet, there will be a shuttle from the Milwaukee County Sports Complex from 4:30 until 9 for the grand opening.

You can read more about the playground and make donations at the link at the City of Franklin website.  Thought it has been built, it will require maintenance and your donations will help with that.

In future there will be another accessible playground built at St. Francis, provided funding is raised.  Follow the Facebook page for St. Francis All Abilities Playground on Facebook to stay up to date on that project.  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Villa Terrace Fall Gardens and a New Exhibit

I'm certain you've driven past that huge black iron gate near Bradford Beach and wondered what those gardens and home look like close up.  This is a great week to find out.  There's a new exhibit opening and the museum will be free to the public.  New Hanji- a Korean Paper Tradition begins October 9 at 6:00.  Get there as early as possible to take advantage of free admission and the light just before sunset.  Often the sky is at its best just before sunset which is 6:25 PM.  You'll sometimes see reflected light in the clouds over the lake and the view from the patio at the rear of the home is stunning with all the fall foliage.

Opening Reception
Friday, October 9, 6-9 PM
Free admission sponsored by Chris and Christopher Adams
Korean artists Haemija Kim and Kumgang Seunim will be there for the reception

Special events here are really done well.  I especially love to come for coffee and music at the cafe on weekends.  These are held the first Sunday of the month at their Cafe Sopra Mare. I have taken my son with me but it is a small space and unless your child can sit very still, it's probably more of an adult destination.

Even if you can't make it to the exhibit during the grand opening, this is worthy of the admission fee of $7, or only $5 for seniors and veterans. Get more information about tours and open hours at the website. You'll want some time to walk through the lovely  Renaissance Garden. It's kind of a hike up and down the staircase or hillside.  So much work is done here by volunteers who weed and tend the plants.  You can help do this too.  Ask while you are there.

There are outdoor yoga classes every Sunday at 8:30 AM through fall, weather permitting.  What a relaxing, beautiful setting this would be.

Be sure to take notice of the black and white stones in the entry, set in a mosaic pattern.  Those were collected from the beach by the children who lived here when it was being built.  Can you imagine how many trips that took?

You can't enter/exit from the lake side of the museum.  You'll need to find parking on the street at the building entrance on Terrace Avenue.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Lynden Sculpture Garden- Breathtaking in fall

I remember the first time I stopped in to see Lynden in Fall. I was blown away by the colors reflected in the pond and appreciated all the sculptures in my photos.  Every year I make it back at this time.  If you've never been here, you need to make this a destination in the next 2 weeks.  You might clean up the kids a bit and get some nice family photos here too.

This is the former home of Harry & Peg Bradley but is now a private park with art.  The program seems to grow every year, and if you're an educator, you need to check out the Free Educators Day on October 18, where you can explore how art can be used in curriculum.  Bring your family with you!  On the same date, you get a rare opportunity to walk through the gardens with a tree expert who can share information about the trees and answer nature questions. Autumn Tree Walk with Sharon Morrisey.

If you have a dog, there's a dog day every month where pooches are welcome.  I borrowed a dog once and found this is a great way to keep the geese population down.

Admission is $12 for adults and $8 for children.  You can become a member if you plan to visit more frequently, starting at $40.