There's so much said about Milwaukee in summer, but nary a word uttered about Milwaukee in winter. Yes, it's cold. Yes, it's snowy. But that doesn't mean it has to be boring, or that we must be trapped indoors, does it? No! So put on your boots (or bathing suit, in the case of the Polar Bear Plunge) and get outside for some free winter fun.
1. Go Sledding at Water Tower Hill
Also known as St. Mary's Hill, this is a great winter spot for sledders. On any given snow day you can see kids flocking to this hill for miles around. It doesn't hurt that this hill overlooks lake Michigan, and that there's an Alterra Coffee conveniently nestled at the bottom of the hill. Not in your neighborhood? Find other sledding hills in the Milwaukee area.
2. Take the Polar Bear Plunge at Bradford Beach
Okay, so sane people do not do this. But judging by the crowd on the beach New Year's morning, we sure do have a lot of crazies in this city. Ring in the new year by stripping down to your skivvies and plunging into Lake Michigan at noon on January 1. I'll be watching you from the beach, and taking photos.
3. Go Ice Skating at Red Arrow Park
It's time to show the world: are you graceful and strong, like Oksana Baiul, or clumsy and knock-kneed, like an ox standing on two butter knives? Red Arrow Park's Slice of Ice is a refrigerated skating rink along Milwaukee's main downtown drag, Water Street, and is open through March if weather permits. Skating is free if you have your own equipment, but there is a marginal charge for renting skates. Slice of Ice is located at 920 N. Water St. Not in your neighborhood? Find other outdoor skating rinks in the Milwaukee area.
4. Check Out Cedarburg's Winter Festival
Summer festivals are nothing when compared to the creativity of the Cedarburg Winter Festival. This year's theme is "Romancing the Snow" and will feature an Ice-Burg Open Golf Tournament in Cedar Creek Park (with tennis "golf" balls), an ice carving contest, chili cook-off and more. The Cedarburg Winter Festival will take place on February 5 and 6 in downtown Cedarburg.
5. Shovel Your Neighbors Walkway / Uncover a Buried Car & Build a Snowman
Okay, so this entry is two events rolled into one! Really, though, we Wisconsinites need to stick together when these big blizzards hit, and the reason why you need to lend a hand will become apparent the moment you get your Geo Metro stuck in a snowbank, or come down with the flu and are unable to shovel the driveway. So, take a moment to appreciate the good you can do when winter becomes not-so-fun, then do more by brightening up the barren landscape with a kooky snowman.