As the home of Harley-Davidson, Milwaukee, Wisconsin is the first great motorcycle destination I wanted to suggest to other riders. When you add in great people, some serious food and a lot of beer, it just gets better and better. Here is a basic guide to visiting Milwaukee on a bike:
When to go: Summertime is the only time to visit this Northern city and the city celebrates the season with their annual Summerfest music festival. Summerfest is the city's big musical event and is a two-weekend party usually the last weekend in June and the first in July. Called the world's largest music festival, it features a surprising array of musical artists and is usually headlined by some pretty big names.
Where to stay: If you visit Milwaukee on two wheels, there really is only one place to stay, The Iron Horse Hotel, an entire hotel dedicated to the world of motorcycles and the free spirit of their riders. The hotel, created from a 100 year-old former warehouse, has 100 super hip, large, loft-style rooms and suites. You get exposed brick walls, tall ceilings in some suites and really contemporary showers and other cool design touches to make it more like staying at a hip friend's condo than at a hotel.
The hotel has biker-friendly amenities like free, secure bike parking, a bike washing station, even little touches like big hangers and hooks for riding gear and rooms with a bench to change out of that gear comfortably. Upscale things are offered like special biker massages and even special bike shipping rates and arrangements with a shipping company. When you feel like being driven instead of riding, the hotel has a complimentary local town car service.
What to do: The Harley-Davidson Museum is great overview of the company's incredible history and showcases many of their classic models. Serious bikers should go for the Steel Toe Tour, given on Wednesdays and Fridays. The twice-daily tours take visitors to the nearby Pilgrim Road Powertrain Operations Facility where they build Harley engines.
The museum presents the history of Harley-Davidson, but this tour allows bikers to see the amazing current technology and how their engines are made and also see the people who are making them. The tours are at 9:15 am.m and 12:30 p.m. are are $38 per person. The ticket includes the admission to the museum as well as a special souvenir pin and a photo taken inside the plant. A bus takes visitors to the factory and back to the museum afterwards.
What to eat: Brats and beef are the kings here. The Iron Horse Hotel's Smyth is an upscale dining experience and is rapidly establishing itself as a destination for the city's foodies. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are used and the menu is refreshingly simple, yet delicious.
A few minutes outside downtown Milwaukee, Sobelman's Pub N Grill serves what is constantly voted the city's best burger. For a good, but a bit touristy, brat and beer experience, the Milwaukee Brat House is a popular option.