Memories from Milwaukee

Wait a minute – “Memories from Milwaukee”? Isn’t the 2015 HighEd Web National Conference in October? Yes, but this year we’re headed back to the same city that hosted the annual conference in 2012. We already know the 2015 schedule will be fantastic, with Bill Nye and Scott Stratton as keynote speakers, but for the unstructured moments, what kind of fun does Milwaukee offer?

Full disclosure, I’ve never been to Milwaukee, but I did talk to several veterans who experienced the city in 2012. Now I can hardly wait for #heweb2015 in #MKE! Read about their memories and start planning your trip, or share your own!

Matt Herzberger (Executive Consultant, Web Strategy and Interactive Marketing Services, Ruffalo Noel Levitz) said of Milwaukee: “It’s like a mini-Chicago. It’s a blue-collar, hard-working, fun city (just visit the Old German Beer Hall and see). One of my other favorites was SPiN (a ping pong bar, now called Evolution Milwaukee). More than just Milwaukee, the fun is getting to experience the city with a bunch of like-minded lunatics.”

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Just add beer and lunatics.

Milwaukee includes fun in the form of fine arts, too. Tonya Oaks Smith, Executive Director of Marketing & Communications at Henderson State University, and Jeff Stevens, Assistant Web Manager for University of Florida Health, both raved about the Milwaukee Art Museum. One part of the museum appears to sport a pair of wings, which span over 220 feet as part of its incredible architecture.

Tonya gushed, “I am an unabashed architecture geek. I LOVE the Milwaukee Art Museum – you know, the museum with wings. It is so beautiful that the building itself overshadows the art inside.” She captured some great photos of both the inside and outside:

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You can also enjoy some artwork outdoors. As Jeff Stevens recalls, “The river than runs through downtown is a great place for taking a walk – there are many public art installations along its banks, including my favorite, ‘Gertie Gets Her Ducks in A Row,’ which memorializes the story of a mother duck and her children that became a rallying point for the city during Word War II.”

The river is home to pop culture attractions, as well. “I loved taking photos with the ‘Bronze Fonz’ wearing my conference badge,” recalled Donna Talarico, formerly of Elizabethtown College, now independent. The sitcom Happy Days – featuring the iconic Fonzie with his black leather jacket, motorcycle, and catchphrase “Aaayyy!” – was set in 1950’s Milwaukee.

History and pop culture meet at the Milwaukee Historical Society, which has their headquarters along the river. The building is an “immaculate Gilded Age bank that was used as a filming location for Johnny Depp’s film Public Enemy,” says Jeff Stevens.

You’ll need to eat, too, right? Milwaukee is famous for cheese, brats and pretzels – and of course, beer. Relive Donna’s other favorite memory from Milwaukee: playing trivia while eating a huge soft pretzel with cheese soup at Milwaukee Brat House. She couldn’t provide evidence of anyone actually eating it, but there were photos:

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3 out of 4 web professionals recommend this giant pretzel.

For slightly lighter fare, try the Cafe at the Plaza at 1007 N. Cass Street. Jeff Stevens raves, “it’s a little walk from the hotel but it has the most amazing breakfasts. The Lemon Poppyseed pancakes with blueberry syrup are divine.” That sounds good enough to get me out of bed early after a night out!

Then there’s the place that “can be only be experienced, not defined,” at least according to their website. Jeff says, “The Safe House is a fantastic espionage themed restaurant just an alleyway away from the Bronze Fonz – you need to know the secret password to get in” (check their website’s FAQ page).

With comfort food, art, pop culture, beer, ping-pong, and more – all with like-minded lunatics – what’s not to love? Milwaukee promises to be a good time with great company. Hope to see you there, and don’t forget to catch a session or two.

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Milwaukee: approved by the Fonz.