Quickie Summary: State “Trunk” Highway 59 connects Monroe with Milwaukee, essentially joining Cheese Days with Summerfest. Writhing across southern Wisconsin, Highway 59 brings you through numerous small towns, sprawling farmland nestled in rolling hills, Kettle Moraine, Waukesha, Wisconsin State Fair, Miller Park and Milwaukee’s south side, just short of the city’s downtown and lakefront in the bustling Walkers Point neighborhood. At 115 miles, Highway 59 makes for a good afternoon cruise with plenty of time to check out the sights at either end.
Wisconsin Highway 59 Road Trip
The Drive (West To East):
Highway 59 begins in Monroe (pop. 10,843), the hub of Green County and the “Swiss Cheese Capital of the USA.” Monroe High School’s team nickname is the Cheesemakers, after all. The Swiss influence is everywhere, from the flags dotting the surrounding landscape to the architecture downtown to the fact that The Swiss Colony is headquartered here.
Downtown Monroe offers a charming and rather bustling downtown square. Surrounding the impressive, Romanesque Green County Courthouse, are shops offering everything from boutique clothing to electronics. A stop in Baumgartner’s on the Square (1023 16th Ave., 608-325-6157) lets you sample more cheese and beer products made in the area, including a Limburger with mustard and onion served on rye bread. In the name of humanity, the dish is served with a mint on the side.
Baumgartner’s is a cheese and sausage shop in the front, tavern and sandwich shop in the back. On the high ceiling above, check out the dollar bills hanging from the ceiling – which almost look like hibernating bats if you’re not looking closely! If you give them a dollar, they’ll use their special technique to “throw” it into the ceiling, where they’ll stick until Cheese Days every other year, when they take the bills down and donate them to a chosen charitable organization in the area. It’s worth the buck to watch it happen!
|State Trunk Tour Tidbit:|
|Monroe is the only place in North America where limburger cheese is currently produced. Wisconsin law makes it tough: it’s actually illegal to produce this cheese without a master cheesemaker’s certification.|
Another good stop is the Minhas Craft Brewery, (1208 14th Ave., 608-325-3191), located just south and west of the town center. For a long time known as the Huber Brewery, it’s the second oldest continuously operating brewery in the U.S, brewing beer in one form or another since 1845 – three years before Wisconsin entered statehood. They were purchased by Mountain Crest Brewing Company, a Canadian outfit planning that expanded the Monroe facility (read about it in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story here). As it stands now, the brewery continues to brew Huber’s traditional beers: Premium (which won the Bronze in the 2002 World Beer Championships) Bock and Light, as well as a great old non-Huber-but-totally-Wisconsin throwback: Rhinelander Beer. Although Rhinelander’s original brewery shut down in 1967, Minhas has continued its recipe and now brews the beer in Monroe. The popular Canadian beer Mountain Creek is now brewed here – a result of the Mountain Crest investment – as are a few malt liquors. Tours are available at 11am, 1pm and 3pm Thursday through Saturday.
Downstairs, the Herb & Helen Haydock World of Beer Memorabilia Museum features historic and modern beer brand memorabilia from all over the country; it’s definitely worth dropping in! There’s also a gift shop and they’ve kept historical pictures to browse, along with other memorabilia highlighting the area’s brewing history.
Out of downtown, heading south briefly on Highway 69 brings you to the Monroe Depot Welcome Center, part of Monroe’s original train depot. Outside, you’ll find the charm of a train station, a fiberglass cow and some large copper kettles. Inside, you’ll find visitor information, the National Historic Cheesemaking Center, which has plenty of old tools cheesemakers used dating back to the 19th century, and original train depot materials, including old schedules, an original bench, photos and more.
At lower left, an original typewriter and schedule from the days way back when the trains roared through here as part of the Depot Welcome Center; at lower right, some of the cheesemaking equipment in the National Historic Cheesemaking Center, which is part of the Depot. Plenty of vats, weights, wringers, presses and old packaging that held cheeses made back in the 1800s.
From Monroe, you can go east on 9th Street, north on 20th Avenue , and east again on 6th Street to catch the official beginning of Highway 59, which starts as you cross the Highway 11/81 bypass.
As soon as you cross Highway 11 & 81, open country greets you. Large farms, rolling hills and cows a’plenty, along with the occasional Swiss flag, make for a pleasant drive as the road stair-steps north and east for about 13 miles to Albany (pop. 1,148). A picturesque scene in Albany is the crossing over the Sugar River, often flanked by fishermen hauling up a catch from the flowing waters underneath. A small dam on the north end of the bridge adds to the scenery.
There is a small parking area if you wish to hit the trail on foot or bike for a while; trail passes can be purchased at the adjacent Mobil station along the route. Otherwise, you can keep going, hook up with State Highway 104 for a short jog, and cross east into Rock County.
The section of Highway 59 between Albany and Evansville illustrates the very definition of rolling hills; at times it resembles a small, gentle roller coaster.
A nice diversion lies off the road in the form of Magnolia Bluff County Park, with its beautiful rock outcroppings and scenic vistas. A nice spot for a picnic or just to relax for a bit, the Park offers grills, restrooms, drinking water… everything but the brats.
After joining State Highway 213, which connects south to Beloit, Highway 59 shoots straight into Evansville (pop. 4,901). This city has an impressive array of 19th century architecture. A drive through Evansville ’s 22-block Historic District reveals Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, Prairie Style and more. A walking tour does it even more justice; call City Hall (608-882-2266) for a brochure and guide. At the northern edge of town, 59 hooks up with U.S. 14 to Union before heading east again. The ride is pretty easy (and fairly bland) as you go through Cooksville into Edgerton.
Original hometown of golfer Steve Stricker and author Sterling North, Edgerton (pop. 4,993) sits at the crossroads of State Highway 59 and U.S. 51, the north-south road considered the (non-Interstate) backbone of the state. At the time of this writing, Highway 59 was being reconstructed through town, and the detour took you through residential areas reflecting the town’s wealthier days when it was the center of a tobacco-growing region. In the 19th century, Edgerton prospered from tobacco, and numerous Queen Anne-style mansions in town attest to such wealth.
Just east of Edgerton, the interchange with I-39/90 gives rise to restaurants, gas stations and other establishments, including Newville (notice there’s never any Oldvilles?) You also approach Lake Koshkonong, one of the largest lakes in Wisconsin, right where it turns back into the Rock River. Koshkonong was actually man-made, created from a wide marshland the river ran through. Many of us have heard about Lake Winnebago ’s shallowness. Koshkonong’s rivals it: the lake averages only about six feet deep. A Milwaukee Bucks player could practically walk through it without having to swim or snorkel (standard disclaimer: kids, don’t try it.)
Past Newville, a shortcut to Whitewater is available via County Highway N. Meanwhile, Highway 59 cuts south to Milton (pop. 5,090). Unlike many instances with 59, the road does not go right into the city center; it brushes past it to the west by a few blocks, bypasses it slightly to the north, then jogs south along Business Highway 26 before heading east again out of town, including a junction with the new Highway 26 bypass.
|State Trunk Tour Tidbit:|
|Milton’s original name was Prairie du Lac. When settlers applied to get a post office in 1839, the name was dismissed because it sounded too similar to “Prairie du Sac”. It was renamed for Paradise Lost author John Milton, familiarized to people everywhere via Professor Jennings’ (Donald Sutherland) lecture in National Lampoon’s Animal House. Interestingly enough, two major stars from the movie (John Belushi and Thomas Hulce) either went to college or grew up in nearby Whitewater. Karma? Perhaps.|
Just past Milton’s eastern “downtown”, Highway 59 jogs south for a few blocks right past the Milton House Museum, a National Historic Landmark. It’s dedicated to the Milton House, a hexagonal stagecoach inn constructed in 1844. It has three claims to fame: it was the first poured grout building in the United States, it’s the oldest concrete building still standing in the U.S., and it’s one of 14 officially recognized stations on the Underground Railroad from the pre-Civil War days. Joseph Goodrich, Milton’s founder and a staunch abolitionist, provided the Milton House for runaway slaves on their way to Canada or points north. Goodrich was a busy guy: the same year he founded the Milton House, he founded the Milton Academy, which evolved into Milton College, which lasted until 1982. It was the oldest college in Wisconsin until it closed. Football fans know the college for its most famous alumnus, Dave Krieg, who played in the NFL for a whole lot of seasons, including some notable ones for the Seattle Seahawks.
*** Winery Alert ***
While in Milton, check out the Northleaf Winery. Established in 2008, Northleaf makes over 25 varieties of wine with grapes grown across the nation. They also specialize in pairing chocolates and other delectables with their wines. The Tasting Room dates back to the 1850s, when it served as a wheat warehouse. In the 1920s it was a Buick and Overland dealership and by 1947 was the Sunnyview Apple Orchard Warehouse. Apple cider was pressed there until 1991. Today, grapes are pressed and terrific wines are the result.
After the junction with the newer Highway 26 bypass, Highway 59 heads back northeast about 12 miles to Whitewater. This area is dominated by farms as you head into Walworth County and into Whitewater itself (pop. 13,437), home to the popular University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (a noted business and party school) and birthplace of actor Thomas Hulce, who played Mozart in Amadeus and, more importantly, Larry Kroeger in Animal House (of course, John Belushi, who was Bluto in Animal House, went to UW-Whitewater.) Noted author, historian, and movie producer Stephen Ambrose grew up in Whitewater. It’s a creative town.
*** BYPASS ALERT ***
Highway 59 officially jogs onto the new Whitewater bypass, which also carries Highway 89 and U.S. 12 around the college town. You actually go around the city to the south and east and jog back west slightly along Business U.S. 12 (Milwaukee Street), before heading north on Newcomb Avenue, which is handy for time, though it adds 2 miles to the route. The other option – and more appropriate for a State Trunk Tour – is to follow the old 59 route through town.
For history in Whitewater, check out Indian Mounds Park, a Native American ceremonial and burial site listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Open daily, the Park holds an incredibly diverse collection of animal and geometric mounds, many of which date back over 1,000 years. Speaking of history, Whitewater’s Historic Train Depot traces the city’s past since it holds the Historical Society Museum. The Depot is located along Cravath Lakefront Park, named after one of the two lakes inside Whitewater (the other is Tripp Lake.) Ironically, the lake known as Whitewater Lake is about 5 miles south of town.
Along the downtown stretch (Business U.S. 12/Main Street), plenty of shops, restaurants, and business that cater to Whitewater’s 12,000+ college students will offer something to enjoy.
*** Brewery Alert ***
With plenty of thirsty UW-Whitewater students in close proximity, Second Salem Brewing keeps its small nanobrewery busy. The brewery took its name from one of Whitewater’s historic nicknames, harkening back to “witches’ gatherings” that supposedly took place near the water tower, strange creatures in the local lake, and other lore that makes for good stories. You’ll find it along Whitewater Street, just south of Main/Business U.S. 12.
Heading out of Whitewater and crossing into Jefferson County, the land consists mainly of farmland with some forested areas. Palmyra (pop. 1,766) starts a more scenic section of Highway 59, since here it hooks up with the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive. Palmyra got its name from an ancient capital in present-day Syria, once the center of a great empire noted for productive sandy soil. Palmyra has a long history with mineral springs, with sanitariums flourishing the area from around 1870 until the 1950s. The town even hosted the Druggist’s National Home for aged and infirm druggists until the late ’50s. Today the town spans the Scuppernong River and serves as a gateway to the Kettle Moraine, welcoming in Highway 106 downtown.
The historic Carlin House was completed in 1845. It’s one of the oldest and most unique houses in southeastern Wisconsin. It’s a “grout house,” built by laying courses of a kind of cement on top of one another, which earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. The Carlin House is furnished with mostly 19th century antiques, some of which are original to the house and the historical integrity of the floors, wallpaper, lights, and furnishings have been well appointed. The adjacent Turner Museum explores both local art and a mix of Palmyra’s history and future. The Carlin House & Turner Museum are open Saturdays 10am-2pm May into October and by appointment; docents are often available. You can call 262-495-2412 for details.
On Highway 59 east from Palmyra to Eagle, you enter Waukesha County and, officially, the Milwaukee metro area. The first thing you see, though, is Kettle Moraine’s Southern Unit Headquarters. Kettle Moraine is The headquarters of Kettle Moraine Southern Unit offers permits, a mini museum, walking trailheads, a gift shop, parking, and more.
Just past Kettle Moraine you’ll pull into Eagle (pop, 1,707). Awash in history, Eagle sits in a valley along a railroad at the junction with Highway 67. A popular stop with bikers, Eagle features a series of taverns that surround a small valley where the railroad comes through – and has since the 1850’s. Knuckleheads and Coyote Canyon are along the south along 67; a more historical stop is Suhmer’s Saloon (262-594-3006), which Highway 59 runs right behind just before crossing Highway 67. Built in 1854, Suhmer’s Saloon began as a boarding house and tavern for workers building the railroad. It was originally called the Diamond Inn and Eagle Hotel back when Abe Lincoln stayed here during a trek to find Chief Black Hawk in the days before his presidency. Heading into the 20th century, it changed its name to the Pall Mall; from 1933 to 1993 it was called Sasso’s, then the Stumble Inn (since with the aged steps going down into the bar, you need to be careful not to stumble) until about 2010 when it became Suhmer’s Saloon. Suhmer’s still has horse corrals and a few motel rooms available for rent next to the bar. Along with beverages for thirsty drivers and riders, Suhmer’s features live music and a restaurant on the upper floor. Check out the wrap-around upper walkway; its architecture beckons images of the wild west.
Old World Wisconsin is just a short drive south on Highway 67, but if you want to keep going on Highway 59, you follow the intersection carefully to the northeast for the push through Waukesha County’s Kettle Moraine area.
Heading northeast from Eagle, you alternately traverse farmland and forest with some good hills in between. Going through North Prairie and Genesee, you get the sense of the impending suburban building boom that stretches from Milwaukee and Waukesha; farmlands becoming subdivisions are increasingly common along this stretch.
Approaching Genesee (pop. 7,284) and the intersection with Highway 83, you can detour north for about one mile to Genesee Depot. A rail crossroads since the mid-1800s, Genesee Depot was a key Waukesha County stop for the railroad. Pieces of history like the Union House, built in the 1860s, and In Cahoots, a watering hole since that same period, grace the intersection of Highway 83 and the railroad.
Genesee Depot is also home to the Ten Chimneys Estate , a National Historic Landmark . Broadway greats Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne made their home here and hosted many a get-together involving some of stage and screen’s most illustrious stars. Lunt and Fontanne together (they married in 1922) appeared together in over 24 plays and, more recently, on a postage stamp. The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on West 46th Street in New York City is, of course, named for them, an indication of their prowess on the big stage. Tours of Ten Chimneys are available from May through mid-November of the grounds and the house. Furnishings, hand-painted murals, décor, art collections and other memorabilia are everywhere, and yes, the house does have 10 chimneys. Even the Gift Shop is unique: from early 20th century hat styles to jewelry to Noël Coward quotes adorning black t-shirts, there’s plenty of interesting things to check out.
Guests to Ten Chimneys over the years the Lunts lived there included Katharine Hepburn, W.C. Fields, and most infamously Noël Coward, probably the Lunt’s most frequent Ten Chimneys guest. Coward was known for many things, including some of the most famous plays ever written; today the theatre in Westminster, London where he first performed in 1920 is named the Noël Coward Theatre, which was named in his honor in 2006. He acted in many plays and also performed intelligence work for the British Secret Service during World War II (in fact, he was approached by neighbor Ian Fleming in the 1960s to play the villan’s role in Dr. No, which he turned down… with the phrase “Dr. No? No. No. No.”) Meanwhile on the Ten Chimney grounds, he has known for walking through the house in the buff on his way to go for a swim because he liked to skinny dip in the pool, causing at least one cook to quit. Others presumably stared or did double-takes at various times.
Part of Ten Chimneys’ Museum Store and reception area includes a variety of things to see, including a stage to check out, backstage samples, a Dick Cavett video interview of the couple from 1970, furniture and more; the stage is above. And of the many things available at Ten Chimneys, you can buy specialty shot glasses with “the great drinkers” like Yeats, Wilde, Thomas and Fields. Just don’t use them while State Trunk Touring, okay??
Finding Ten Chimneys (and tell ’em you’re on a State Trunk Tour!): Head north on Highway 83 about one mile. Right past the Union House and In Cahoots, where Highway 83 bends to the right, continue straight on the smaller street. Several hundred feet down you will see the entrance to the grounds. You can contact them for more information at (262) 968-4110 (reservations a day or more in advance is strongly recommended) or at tenchimneys.org.
Further up from Genesee, you reach the outskirts of Waukesha (pop. 70,718), which Money Magazine recently ranked 36th on its “100 Best Places to Live in the U.S.” list. Waukesha originally incorporated in 1846 as Prairieville and changed its name the following year. “Waukesha” means “fox” in Potawatomi language, and the Fox River runs right through town. Waukesha is home to the oldest college in Wisconsin, Carroll College, which was founded in 1846 (the University of Wisconsin has established two years later.) The BoDeans, comedian Frank Caliendo, Olympic gymnasts Paul and Morgan Hamm, musician Kurt Bestor and author Vernor Vinge all hail from Waukesha to some extent, and Les Paul, inventor of the electric guitar, was born in the city in 1919. The bypass Highway 59 runs on today is named after him.
Approaching Waukesha, you have a choice between following the original Highway 59, which cuts right through the city, or the newer alignment that bypasses the city to the south and east. If you choose to go through the city, follow County X/St. Paul Avenue into town, go east on Wisconsin Avenue, north on East Avenue, east on Main Street, south on Hartwell, and then east on Arcadian to re-join the current road at the Les Paul Parkway and junction with Highway 164 (hey, nobody said it was easy.)
If you go through the city, explore downtown Waukesha a bit; it offers a wide assortment of shops, parks and places to see. Among them is the Waukesha County Historical Society & Museum (101 W. Main Street, 262-548-7186), which chronicles Waukesha ’s rather interesting history with water and mud. The springs in the village were believed to provide water that could, among other things, cure diabetes. Resorts were built to attract visitors to come and “heal” themselves with Waukesha ’s water. Attempts to pump Waukesha’s high-quality water to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago were almost successful – almost. During the first half of the 20th century, the Moor Mud Baths gave rise to the Grand View Health Resort, a precursor to today’s health spas. All of that and more are chronicled in the museum.
Waukesha, home of the first forward pass
No, not a pass in a bar (although there are plenty of those in Waukesha bars). The first legal forward pass in American football took place in Waukesha on September 5, 1906. During a game against Waukesha’s Carroll College, St. Louis University’s Bradbury Robinson tossed up a pass which fell incomplete – a turnover under 1906 rules. Later in the game, he tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass. It was considered a way to make the game safer; the previous year, there were 19 fatalities nationwide in football and President Teddy Roosevelt threatened to shut down the game unless changes were made.
Left: A depiction of the Brad Robinson throwing the first legal forward pass, as shown in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1906.
The older parts of Waukesha, which downtown certainly is a part of, are known for wacky street layouts that some have described as “like a set of wheel spokes with no hub.” It’s easy to get lost, but you won’t stay that way for long. If you do get lost and stumble upon U.S. 18, just follow that east to Highway 164, then head south briefly to re-join eastbound Highway 59.
If you choose to bypass Waukesha and stay on Highway 59’s current alignment, you follow the multi-lane Les Paul Parkway. This is the newer, sprawling area of Waukesha. There’s much of particular interest to see along the Parkway, but it pops you over to Arcadian Avenue quickly so you can head east toward Milwaukee.
At Barker Road, Highway 59 becomes Greenfield Avenue and from here, it’s city and suburb all the way to Lake Michigan. The booming areas in Brookfield and New Berlin are split by 59 here and the road was recently expanded to four lanes all the way into Milwaukee County, which begins at 124th Street. A mile later, you cross Milwaukee’s original beltline highway, Highway 100, and then hit Milwaukee’s freeway bypass, I-41/I-894/U.S. 45.
In West Allis (pop. 60,152) at the intersection with Highway 181/84th Street, you reach Wisconsin State Fair Park. The road skims the southern end of the park, and you can check out all the exhibit halls and even get a good view of the famous Milwaukee Mile, part of America’s love of racing since 1903. It’s the oldest operating motor speedway in the world, and the only one that hosts races for NASCAR, the Champ Car World Series, and the IRL (Indy Racing League.)
Here’s some good trivia: the Green Bay Packers played many of their Milwaukee home games in the field inside the track at the Milwaukee Mile from 1934 until 1951.
|State Trunk Tour Tidbit:|
|The 1939 NFC Championship Game took place inside Wisconsin State Fair Park’s Milwaukee Mile track, where the Packers defeated the New York Giants 27-0.|
Downtown West Allis runs from State Fair Park to the old Allis-Chalmers plant at 70th Street, which once employed as many as 30,000 workers. The last of Allis-Chalmers’ production ended in 1986; today portions of the massive complex remain, retrofitted for retail and office space. The West Allis Farmers Market takes place on the south side of Greenfield Avenue in the warmer months, and redevelopment efforts continue in this city that endures.
Approaching 60th Street, Highway 59 angles from Greenfield Avenue over to National Avenue at an intersection called “Six Points”. Crossing 60th, you enter West Milwaukee (pop. 4,201), a small (717-acre), independent village. A State Trunk Tour favorite for German food is Kegel’s Inn (5901 W. National Ave., 414-257-9999), which has much of its original 1933 decor and a highly touted Friday night fish fry, along with many of the traditional German favorites.
The Zablocki VA Medical Center and the Wood National Cemetery (5000 W. National Ave., 414-382-5300) emerge on the north side of the street. Wood National Cemetery is a United States National Cemetery covering 50 acres with over 37,000 interments. It was originally established in 1871 as Soldier Home Cemetery and was renamed in 1937. Of note is the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors monument, a 60-foot high granite monument that has been watching over the cemetery since 1903.
Another pit stop of interest – particularly for baseball fans – is 4th Base (5117 W. National Ave., 414-647-8509), which offers up an old-school baseball bar atmosphere, local beers on tap, and high-grade, upscale meals prepared by the chef. The prices aren’t posted for the meals, so if you wanna roll the dice, go ahead. It may end up pricey, it might not; either way, the meal will be a culinary treat. Several other bars operate nearby, as does the Best Western Woods View Inn (5501 W. National Ave., 414-671-6400) – appropriate for staying in if you try all of the bars and restaurants along this stretch.
In your view to the north is Miller Park, home to the Milwaukee Brewers and a host of concerts and other events. Highway 59 here works as a great shortcut entrance to Brewers games for those wishing to avoid the super-busy I-94 just to the north. On game days, expect quite a crowd of cars, bikes and buses as you approach Miller Park Way, which connects to the ballpark and I-94 as a mini-freeway which also happens to be the start of Highway 175, which runs north from here as the replacement for what was U.S. 41 for over fifty years – when 41 was upgraded to Interstate, it was moved to the freeway with I-894 back in West Allis.
East from Miller Park , Highway 59 goes into the City of Milwaukee (pop. 602,000). National Avenue is a key south side route across the city and traffic can be quite heavy during peak hours. Neighborhoods here include Silver City, an area that has seen tough times but is beginning a resurgence based on new immigration from Asia. At the intersection with 35th Street, a look to the north reveals a long viaduct that leapfrogs the Menomonee Valley, an area almost a mile wide and three miles long that traditionally housed many of Milwaukee’s factories, tanneries and railroads and has undergone quite a resurgence of its own. Heading east at 32nd Street, the Hoan Bridge appears on the horizon to the east, giving a hint of the upcoming lakefront. At 27th Street (also the start of Highway 57), you can head north one block and visit the Mitchell Park Domes, an indoor horticultural wonder that may look like a bra factory, but in fact features a multitude of plant life in arid and tropical settings in two large glass geodesic domes, as well as a third seasonal dome whose displays rotate throughout the year.
Highway 59 – as National Avenue – continues east through neighborhoods and a continuing array of emerging bars and restaurants in the heart of Walkers Point. At 6th Street, Highway 38 begins and heads south to Racine; a short drive north on 6th Street leads you to the Iron Horse Hotel, a unique boutique hotel popular with stars of stage and bikers alike, and the Harley-Davidson Museum, which opened in 2008 and is a major attraction in itself. North of there, you can connect with Highway 145 on the same street once you enter downtown Milwaukee.
The intersection with 5th Street is considered the heart of Milwaukee’s “Latin Quarter,” featuring tons of Mexican and Latin-American restaurants. Just north on 5th Street, you’ll find Sprecher Brewing’s Walkers Point Tap Room, part of the Sprecher Brewing Company, which started a few blocks away in 1985. It was one of the first craft breweries in the United States to open after Prohibition.
Continuing east, State Trunk Highway 59 ends at 1st Street (Highway 32), about 115 miles from its origin in Monroe and in the heart of the Walkers Point neighborhood. Downtown, the Historic Third Ward district, Summerfest and more are all literally within a mile or two of where you stop.
From the end of Highway 59, downtown Milwaukee is only about one mile north on 1st Street.
A lot more coverage of these areas is coming up!
Can connect immediately to: Highway 32
Can connect nearby to: I-43/94, about 1 mile west; Highway 38, about 1/2 mile west; U.S. Highway 18, about one mile north; Highway 57, about 2 miles west
Events on this Tour
The World's Largest celebration of Celtic music and culture, the 40th Milwaukee Irish Fest happens Thursday, August 19th through Sunday, August 22nd on Milwaukee's lakefront. An amazing array of musical artists in Irish and Celtic music fill several stages. Other Irish Fest activities include a Baking Contest, Photo and Poetry Contests, and "Red Hair & Freckles" Contest, a "Celtic Canines" exhibit, the Jameson Lounge (for whiskey tastings), a Marketplace filled with Irish crafts and other items from over 90 vendors, a Cultural Village, and much more. Saturday the 21st features a 5K Run/Walk to benefit the Arthritis Foundation. Later that day you can enjoy the Lesaffre/Red Star Yeast Baking Contest. Dog lovers can check out Milwaukee Irish Fest's Celtic Canine Area; this unique area gives you the chance to see and pet some of Ireland's most popular dog breeds, meet and talk with some of the Midwest's top breeders, and learn about grooming, general care and training. The Irish dog breeds include Irish Wolfhounds, Irish Terriers, Irish Red Setters, Irish Red and White Setters, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers, Irish Water Spaniels, Kerry Blue Terriers and Kerry Beagles. The Celtic Canines will be on display Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., on Saturday from noon to 7 p.m., and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For a full lineup of activities and deals for everything else, check out the Irish Fest website! You can reach Irish Fest at Henry Maier Festival Park (aka the Summerfest grounds) along Milwaukee's lakefront via I-794 and U.S. 18 most directly. Highways 32, 38, 59, and 145 all bring you within a mile of the grounds.
Milwaukee Irish Fest Address:Henry Maier Festival Park (aka Summerfest Grounds) 200 N. Harbor Drive Milwaukee, WI 53202 (414) 476-3378 Website
Monroe is an epicenter of cheesemaking in the heart of Green County - even their high school team name is the "Cheesemakers." The city and county celebrates every other year Green County Cheese Days, a three-day hullabaloo filled with food, music, dancing, contests, crafts, cheesemaking, cow milking, yodeling, and even Wisconsin's only parade led by Brown Swiss Cows. After skipping 2020. Green County Cheese Days is back for 2021, happening September 17th through the 19th. Monroe's beautiful town square centers around the gorgeous Green County Courthouse and fills up with all the fun. From a beer and Limburger sandwich at Baumgartner's to the 5K & 10K Cheese Days Chase, from arts & crafts to actual cow milking, Cheese Days is a blast. You can check out the Children's Parade on Friday and the main Swiss Colony Cheese Days Parade on Sunday. Get the schedule and details on all of their events at the Cheese Days website. Scroll down for more details, including the schedule for the Main Stage lineup! Highways 11, 59, 69, and 81 all bring you to Monroe. The three days of festivities are also right next to the Minhas Craft Brewery, which is worth a tour, and the lovely trappings of Green County, including New Glarus just up Highway 69. Make a weekend of it!
Green County Cheese Days Address:1016 16th Avenue Monroe, WI 53566 (608) 325-7771 Website
With Summerfest 2020 cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated safety and logistical challenges, we have to look ahead to Summerfest 2021! It's the "World's Largest Music Festival" on Milwaukee's lakefront. For 11 days, you and nearly 900,000 of your closest friends can enjoy over 1,000 performances from nearly 800 acts on the 75-acre Maier Festival Park grounds. Summerfest dates back to 1968 and has since become the backdrop for the music industry's hottest stars, emerging talent and local favorites to create unforgettable live music experiences in a world-class festival setting. Running along Milwaukee's lakefront nestled within downtown, Discovery World, I-794, and Lake Michigan, Summerfest offers not only music but over 45 food and beverage vendors, four marketplaces offering crafts and wares from all over the world, interactive exhibits, and just cool general fun.
Announced Summerfest headliners (changes dates included):American Family Insurance Amphitheater: Wednesday, June 30th: TBA Thursday, July 1st: Dave Matthews Band, 7:30pm Friday, July 2nd: TBA, 7:30pm Saturday, July 3rd: Halsey, 7:30pm Sunday, July 4th: TBA Monday, July 5th: CLOSED Tuesday, July 6th: TBA Wednesday, July 7th: TBA Thursday, July 8th: Chris Stapleton, 7:30pm Friday, July 9th: TBA Saturday, July 10th: Guns N' Roses, 7:30pm (subject to reschedule within the festival date) Sunday, July 11th: TBA BMO Harris Pavilion: Wednesday, June 30th: TBA Thursday, July 1st: TBA Friday, July 2nd: TBA Saturday, July 3rd: TBA Sunday, July 4th: TBA Monday, July 5th: CLOSED Tuesday, July 6th: TBA Wednesday, July 7th: TBA Thursday, July 8th: TBA Friday, July 9th: TBA Saturday, July 10th: TBA Sunday, July 11th: TBA Miller Lite Oasis: Wednesday, June 30th: TBA Thursday, July 1st: TBA Friday, July 2nd: TBA Saturday, July 3rd: TBA Sunday, July 4th: TBA Monday, July 5th: CLOSED Tuesday, July 6th: TBA Wednesday, July 7th: TBA Thursday, July 8th: TBA Friday, July 9th: TBA Saturday, July 10th: TBA Sunday, July 11th: TBA Harley-Davidson Roadhouse: Wednesday, June 30th: TBA Thursday, July 1st: TBA Friday, July 2nd: TBA Saturday, July 3rd: TBA Sunday, July 4th: TBA Monday, July 5th: CLOSED Tuesday, July 6th: TBA Wednesday, July 7th: TBA Thursday, July 8th: TBA Friday, July 9th: TBA Saturday, July 10th: TBA Sunday, July 11th: TBA U.S. Cellular Connection Stage: Wednesday, June 30th: TBA Thursday, July 1st: TBA Friday, July 2nd: TBA Saturday, July 3rd: TBA Sunday, July 4th: TBA Monday, July 5th: CLOSED Tuesday, July 6th: TBA Wednesday, July 7th: TBA Thursday, July 8th: TBA Friday, July 9th: TBA Saturday, July 10th: TBA Sunday, July 11th: TBA [caption id="attachment_10491" align="alignnone" width="360"] Part of Milwaukee's skyline hovering above the northern part of the Summerfest Grounds, including the new US Cellular Connection Stage sign. The stage was completely redone for 2018.[/caption] Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard: Wednesday, June 30th: TBA Thursday, July 1st: TBA Friday, July 2nd: TBA Saturday, July 3rd: TBA Sunday, July 4th: TBA Monday, July 5th: CLOSED Tuesday, July 6th: TBA Wednesday, July 7th: TBA Thursday, July 8th: TBA Friday, July 9th: TBA Saturday, July 10th: TBA Sunday, July 11th: TBA Uline Warehouse Stage: TBD Wednesday, June 30th: TBA Thursday, July 1st: TBA Friday, July 2nd: TBA Saturday, July 3rd: TBA Sunday, July 4th: TBA Monday, July 5th: CLOSED Tuesday, July 6th: TBA Wednesday, July 7th: TBA Thursday, July 8th: TBA Friday, July 9th: TBA Saturday, July 10th: TBA Sunday, July 11th: TBA Johnson Controls World Sound Stage: Wednesday, June 30th: TBA Thursday, July 1st: TBA Friday, July 2nd: TBA Saturday, July 3rd: TBA Sunday, July 4th: TBA Monday, July 5th: CLOSED Tuesday, July 6th: TBA Wednesday, July 7th: TBA Thursday, July 8th: TBA Friday, July 9th: TBA Saturday, July 10th: TBA Sunday, July 11th: TBA Watch for new announcements, see Summerfest.com for more lineups the timeliest way possible! Summerfest itself runs Wednesday, June 30th through Sunday, July 11th; it's closed Monday, July 5th. In 2022, Summerfest will run June 29th - July 10th. Tickets run $23 per day, but two discount options exist. One involves a "Weekday admission" ticket, which gets you in any time before 4pm weekdays and runs $13; the other is the 11-Day Power Pass. For frequent festival-goers (we average 9-10 days at this thing), the Power Pass is a great deal: $90, and you get admission each day. You can purchase and print tickets online here. Parking lots are available just to the west of the grounds and throughout downtown Milwaukee and the Historic Third Ward. The Milwaukee County Transit System also offers "freeway flyer" express buses to and from the grounds from numerous Park & Ride lots in the metro area. The Summerfest Grounds can be accessed directly via I-794, U.S. 18, and Highway 32. I-43/94 and Highways 38, 59, and 145 also bring you within a mile of it - which is how far away some people park! Either way, it's one of the greatest music festivals on the planet and a definite State Trunk Tour recommendation.
Summerfest 2021 Address:Henry Maier Festival Park 200 N. Harbor Drive Milwaukee, WI 53202 (414) 273-2680 Website