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The city of Milwaukee is often overlooked by travellers as they craft their American road trip itineraries, but they’re missing out. Wisconsin’s largest city is a thriving, vibrant place, with an increasingly well-regarded art and music scene, some great museums and galleries, and a cuisine that honours the locals’ European ancestry.
Rent a car in Milwaukee and you’re free to explore this stunning area of North Carolina. And, with a prime location not far from the borders with South Carolina and Tennessee (an hour and an hour and a half way respectively) you’re perfectly positioned for exploring this less-travelled corner of the USA.
Milwaukee is a big place, so a hire car will prove useful. Walking can be arduous, and it can be tricky to get public transport to some of the more out-of-the-way places. Plus, a rental car lets you explore the whole of the beautiful Wisconsin countryside, and make day trips to the capital Madison (about an hour due west on the I-94) and Waukesha (25 minutes west on the same road). Or, you could head out of state; Illinois is only a hour away, and the cities of Chicago, Rockford and Springfield are all within easy reach.
You’re likely to fly into General Mitchell International Airport, which is within Milwaukee itself (it’s named after local boy General Billy Mitchell, credited as the father of the US Air Force). Other options include Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, about an hour’s drive south on the I-94.
Book a hire car in Milwaukee and you’ll be able to choose from a range of trusted and reliable brands, including well-known names like Alamo, Budget, Hertz and Dollar. Most providers have a stand at the airport, so you can land, pick your car up, and be on your way within minutes.
Milwaukee is the home of one of the great American brands, the motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson. It was founded here in 1903 and still has a passionate local fan base; expect to see plenty of Milwaukeeans riding them about town. If you’re a bike nut, head straight to the Harley-Davidson Museum on Canal Street. As well as exploring the legendary bike’s legacy, you’ll be invited to sit on top of a floor model and indulge your biker fantasies. Leather jackets and shades are not mandatory.
One of Milwaukee’s other great contributions to American society is its fantastic breweries. There are quite a few to explore, but Miller is probably the most famous. Tours of the brewery are free, and come with a generous tasting session at the end. Just remember to bring along a designated driver.
Need something to sober you up? Go for a lengthy walk in Lakefront Park. As the name suggests, this wide green space backs onto beautiful Lake Michigan, and there’s even a long and sandy beach. It can be hard to find space in summer, but it’s a lovely place for a dip.
Milwaukee follows the same rules as the rest of the US. Drive on the right, stick to local speed limits, and allow priority to traffic joining from the right. You’re required to keep your driver’s licence, ID and insurance documents in the car with you, and driver and passengers must wear a seatbelt at all times.
Itching to explore Milwaukee or the rest of the US? Get started with this Milwaukee city guide, and use the Expedia search tool to track down the best deals on flights and hotels, and to research popular attractions and activities.
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