ELMS: Why I love Milwaukee, and why you should too

Milwaukee is underrated. Way underrated. I know the wonderfully pungent smell of hops from our resident breweries can be a turn-off for some, especially since it’s always the first thing to greet you when you get here. But what else would you expect from a place called Brew City?

Odd odors aside, Milwaukee is a pretty spectacular place to live, especially as a young adult (that means you, Marquette students). In the three years I’ve lived here, I’ve made a point to get off campus and discover just what this city has to offer, and I’d like to share what I’ve found with you.

So here it is, my list of things to know about Milwaukee.

Let’s start with the obvious: Milwaukee has everything you could want in an arts scene – from music to theater to museums to dance, this city has it. The big, beautiful, winged Calatrava of the Milwaukee Art Museum, the historic architecture of The Pabst Theater, and the grungy, neon sign of The Rave mark some of the more established Milwaukee venues nearby, which you should check out ASAP. But keep your eyes open for smaller, sometimes hidden spots that bring in acts that are just as awesome, or better. A few of my favorites are The Alchemist Theatre, the Borg Ward and Marquette’s very own Haggerty Museum of Art, but I encourage you to uncover more.

Another great way to get to know your city is to get involved. Volunteer at a nonprofit, join a cycling club, take swing dancing lessons. Whatever it is, try something new or jump on board with something you already love. Or, better yet, do both. Milwaukee has no shortage of clubs, workshops and neighborhood organizations to check out, and who says you can’t start your own?

Some people call Milwaukee a small town disguised as a big city, and there’s a lot of truth to that. Once you get out into the city and start making connections, you realize everyone knows everyone. Seriously. It’s a little strange, but it’s also comforting to have such a broad network of contacts just because of where you live – and chances are, you have a lot more in common with them than merely your geography.

This also means Milwaukee is the ideal place to put yourself on the map. Its big-city opportunities paired with its small-town attitude create a formula for success: You have all the resources you need to get any idea off the ground, and you have people who will get behind you because of their supportive, Midwest mentality.

Don’t believe me? Try to get an idea to take off in Chicago, New York City or LA and let me know how that goes. Trust me, if you want to make a name for yourself, Milwaukee is the place to start.

My hope is that you are currently on a bus on your way to explore the city as you finish this article, already imagining all of the things you’ll do and people you’ll meet. For those of you who are still skeptical, you truly won’t know how wonderful Milwaukee is until you get out there and experience it for yourself.

You’ll get used to the smell eventually, I promise.