In what’s maybe turning into an annual tradition, my parents came to visit us in Milwaukee: as fall came into view, they pulled into the city with their Airstream camper all the way from Colorado, with three pups and a week to fill.
I’ll never take these visits for granted; I love my mom and dad and appreciate their effort to come see us more than I can express. The hardest part about moving across the country for me has probably been leaving them back in Colorado. I miss them! Thankfully, we made the most of our time together.
We originally had a set schedule: three days in Milwaukee, three days in Door County, WI, one night in Milwaukee, then a week in Sioux City, IA. Door County is known for its beautiful coastal views and experiences, and Iowa is home to extended family and friends. However, plans went awry when my mom and I got COVID before hitting the road and had to cancel the remainder of the trip—my parents drove straight home, making it back in just two days.
And though I was heartbroken (not to mention, sick!), I’m still so thankful for the time we shared together. It was busy, beautiful, and fun, and we made the most out of it, like we always do.
Update: both my mom and I have since recovered. 🙂
Here’s how we spent the trip together.
While my parents were in Milwaukee, we packed quite a lot of fun into several days.
I thought it might be a challenge to come up with fresh ideas after last year’s trip—which involved doing, seeing, eating, and experiencing SO much!—but we still found plenty of things to do. Including:
- A stop at the Public Market. The Milwaukee Public Market is a must-stop activity for any guests in town. Not only do they have a blend of incredible food and drink vendors (for example, a coffee from Anodyne, a smoothie bowl from On the Bus, or a giant cookie from C. Adam’s Bakery), there’s also a bustling and social atmosphere.
- Trivia at Company Brewing. Haley joined us for Monday night trivia, and we had a good time not knowing most of the answers. WI’s Hardest Trivia remains a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Walking at Lakeshore State Park. This was fun (even in the rain!), and was filled with a surprising nature moment when we saw a hawk with his freshly caught gull meal. It was incredible and haunting. Very cool to see up close!
- Lunch with an old friend. My parents and I got to meet up with Terry, one of my mom’s closest friends from when she lived in Sioux City. They met when my mom was pregnant with my older brother and worked together at Girl’s Incorporated. Now, Terry lives in MKE! It was so nice to catch up over lunch at Mi Casa Su Cafe, right in my neighborhood.
- Class at The Barre Code. I took my mom with me to my favorite fitness studio! We had fun at a difficult but rewarding barre class.
- Mojitos and lunch at Cubanitas. Fun fact: Cubanitas was the first restaurant Chad and I ever ate at in MKE. I returned for the first time with my parents, and it was as tasty as I remembered. As a bonus, we had a great walk downtown to get there.
- A quick stop at the Divine Consign event. My mom and I looked for some clothes at the annual Brookfield event.
- Dinner at Cafe Benelux. This was a great stop for us, with yummy food and drinks (especially with vegetarian options for my mom), an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere, and a charismatic server.
- Headshots! We had to do a little work, of course. We hired local Chelsea Matson Photography for updated headshots for my mom’s business, and a few of us together as well. Atwater Beach was the perfect setting.
- Eating at the Don’s TV Repair speakeasy! Wow, this was cool. We entered in through a 7-Up door into a time capsule of pop culture coving the 70s, 80s, and 90s. I took advantage of the 99 cent burger night special, and loved my giant boozy shake. Don’s is iconic.
- Pickleball! Chad and I finally got to play pickleball with my mom and dad. It was SO much fun teaching them the basics and then playing together! They were absolute naturals, and it didn’t take long for them to jump right in and show off their skills. I wish we could play all the time.
- Coffee stops. We had coffee at Fairgrounds Coffee, as well as The Goddess and the Baker (a repeat stop, after my mom loved it last year). The vibes at both are great, and it’s hard to beat the “baker” treats, especially when they’re coated in gold leaf and dipped in chocolate.
- Rooftop views at Indeed. On the last night, Chad and I took my dad to Indeed Brewing Co‘s Uptop Rooftop Bar. We caught a wonderful sunset and drank some iconic brews (their Pistachio Cream Ale is one of my all-time favorites).
- Final meal at Camino. As a last meal, we enjoyed the best Camino had to offer: cheese curds, pierogis, burgers, and Italian beef. Delicious.
And because I have major resignations about the driving in Milwaukee (I’m sorry to say it, but the driving is CRAZY and reckless here), I opted to pick up my parents as much as possible and act as chauffeur. That was fine by me! 🙂
Door County, WI
Since moving to Milwaukee, the main question we get from locals is if we’ve visited Door County yet. It’s like the Midwest’s version of Colorado: scenic, woodsy vibes, with costal resort towns lining the shores of Lake Michigan’s upper peninsula. You can practically see Michigan across the water, if you squint hard enough.
After going to my annual dermatologist appointment (here’s your reminder to do the same!), my parents drove us to Door County for a few days in nature. Chad had to work (even bridge inspecting on a weekend morning!), but drove up on Saturday to spend the final night there together.
We stayed at the Hy-Land Park RV Court in Ellison Bay, close to Sister Bay. It was gorgeous. I loved the sweeping field, seclusion of nature, and how peaceful each moment felt.
During this time, I also had a unique challenge with a magazine deadline and about 10-15 articles to write by Sunday. I opted to write on the drive there, and also stayed up way, way too late while the rest of the family slept. It was stressful and a lot of work, but I made it happen!
Upon arrival, my parents and I had one quick evening together before my mom ended up getting sick. Here’s how we experienced Door County:
- An incredible sunset. We pulled over and enjoyed a lakefront sunset in the town of Sister Bay. It was stirring, and nearly jaw-dropping. We got some great photos and even better moments of awe.
- A boat tour. My dad and I went on a two-hour boat tour by Sister Bay Scenic Boat Tours that headed north in Lake Michigan toward Washington Isle; it was fun, educational, and entertaining. Loved our tour guide, the lake views were dazzling, and we met a honeymooning couple from Madison that we made quick friends with.
- Beer garden. We drank a Danish beer from the vibrant Stabbur Beer Garden at Al Johnson’s—so fun and refreshing. On a good day, you’ll catch goats grazing on the grass-covered roof of the surrounding buildings. Sadly, we only saw briefly on our drive out of town, thanks to the rain. (Still, a good day!)
- A visit to Peninsula State Park. This was gorgeous! I was so impressed by the maintenance of Peninsula State Park, including the beaches, camping sites, parks, wooded areas, trails, and lookouts. There was even a golf course at the entrance. My dad and I mostly just drove through, but stopped at a historic light house and took a self-guided tour, and also climbed a ramp to a scenic overlook of the lake. Amazing! We also ran into the honeymooning couple again, lol.
- The best frozen custard. Door County Creamery was so good, it was a repeat visit (twice in two days). I loved my salted caramel custard—it was to die for, and the shop itself was cute and quirky.
- The curvy road! Chad and I took a drive north up Highway 42 and enjoyed a wonderfully scenic drive on a bizarrely curved road, home to gorgeous changing leaves.
- Chowder from Grasse’s Grill. My dad and I grabbed a quick lunch at Grasse’s Grill and it didn’t disappoint! I had the most heavenly sour cherry beer from Peach Barn Farmhouse and a bowl of perch chowder; both were incredible and hit the spot after time on the lake.
- Dinner at a supper club. On our last night, we checked to see if the Bowling Alley restaurant had room. They did, and they happened to also be a supper club. (Lol, only in Wisconsin.) My steak was delicious, as were the $5 amaretto sours.
- A fall delight at Seaquist Orchards Farm Market. Wow, this place was bustling with all the tidings of fall: freshly picked apples, pies, cider, donuts, produce, baking supplies…it was charming and enticing to the senses.
- Beer and pizza from One Barrel Brewing Co. On our way out of town, Chad and I stopped for pizza and beer in Egg Harbor at One Barrel. It was the right choice! The outdoor patio was fantastic as well.
Thankful for time together
While our trip didn’t end according to plan, I’ll always be so grateful for the time we spent together and the fun we did get to have. Thanks to my mom and dad for making it to our home.
I love you guys!