Looking back at four days of blogger workshops and outings in one of my favorite US cities.
You might say that 2015 has been a special year for Jetting Around. There was my milestone birthday in Paris, then the blog turned 5 over the summer, and I launched JAM Sessions – a series of performances showcasing world artists, produced my by new company JA Media. I also had my first speaking engagement at the TBEX travel conference in Spain.
With the blog’s anniversary and JA Media projects, I knew early in the year than I wanted to invest in my professional development. That led me to attend a travel writing retreat with Pink Pangea and apply to BlogHouse Milwaukee.
WHAT IS BLOGHOUSE?
Held annually in different cities around the world, BlogHouse is part-conference, part-social event for new and experienced bloggers. It is organized by Navient Media Group, a team of professional travel writers and digital media experts.
Participants, selected through an application process, attend small-group workshops and one-on-one sessions with mentors. Topics include social media, public relations, writing, photography, video production, website optimization, and more. There are also networking events with members of the travel industry, fun outings, and free time for exploring.
The 2015 BlogHouse was headquartered inside the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee. While I didn’t try gambling (worried what it could do to my travel budget), I enjoyed the comfortable room and our bright ‘classroom’ with skyline views.
After intense morning and afternoon sessions, we got to experience the city with the help of BlogHouse partners.
Wisconsin’s biggest city (population 600,000) is located on Lake Michigan, just 90 miles/145 km north of Chicago. It is known for cheese and beer production (its nicknames include Cream City and Beer City), Summerfest (often referred to as the world’s largest music festival), and German heritage (48% of Milwaukeeans claim it).
The city combines a laid-back vibe with the cultural offerings of a metropolis. Yet, it seems underrated and constantly in the shadow of its larger neighbor. If you find yourself in the American Midwest, consider a weekend getaway in Milwaukee. There is plenty to see and do – here are some highlights.
The former warehouse district downtown Milwaukee – listed on the National Register of Historic Places – is now home to hundreds of businesses: restaurants, art galleries, clothing boutiques, specialty shops. The Milwaukee Public Market, which opened in 2005 and was modeled after the Pike Place Market in Seattle, features local food vendors and event space.
Located on the lakefront, the museum houses an extensive collection of works from antiquity to the present (paintings, sculpture, photography, decorative objects). It is also noted for the post-modern design of its Quadracci Pavilion, created by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
The structure has movable steel wings on top and floor-to-ceiling windows inside, overlooking Lake Michigan. The wings act as a sunscreen, controlling how much light gets in. They stay open during the day and extend to a wingspan of 217 feet/66 m, which is similar to that of Boeing 747.
The only museum in the world dedicated to the history of Harley-Davidson, the multi-building, 20-acre complex features more than 450 motorcycles and thousands of artifacts (photographs, posters, clothing, trophies, plus video footage and company archives). It also hosts events, such as bike shows and rider gatherings.
This craft brewery in the Riverwest district opened in 1987. It is noted for innovation, such as having produced the first government approved gluten-free beer in the US (New Grist) and the second pumpkin beer in the country (Pumpkin Lager). The Lakefront building houses a beer hall, where you can try Wisconsin fish fry and listen to live polka music on Friday nights. Tours are also available.
Operating since 1938 on Old World Third Street – the former German downtown of Milwaukee – the retailer carries over 200 varieties of Wisconsin cheese. There is an adjacent Cheese Bar, where you can do a pairing with local brews or attend tasting events.
Note: BlogHouse Milwaukee was sponsored by the following companies and organizations: FlipKey, Visit Milwaukee, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, Travel Wisconsin, and The Bartolotta Restaurants. Participants paid a program fee, which covered workshops, activities and most meals. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.