October 19, 2017

Reasons to Love Milwaukee Chapter 2 – The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

If you want nature, Milwaukee has plenty to offer.

Today, I decided to take advantage of some of the area’s scenic parks; so I decided to leave the city and go to one of my favorites: The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center.

Check out the vlog from my visit:

If you’re visiting Milwaukee, or if you’re a resident and you have never been to this incredible place; you need to check it out.

Located in Bayside, WI (about 20 min outside of the downtown), the park provides sweeping views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding area. It was particularly beautiful to experience it during fall.

So I headed out.

It was a sunny day, and the twenty-minute drive seemed to take no time at all. If you want to see more from the drive, take a look at my video above.

 

Excited to be at the park, I paid my $8 adult entry fee ($5 for youth 3-17) and went inside. The lot attendant told me to stop into this visitor center for more information:

After stopping inside I received several pamphlets on the park. I was also told to go to the park’s website (https://www.schlitzaudubon.org/) where I found this interesting passage about the history of the Schlitz Nature Center:

“Prior to becoming a nature center, the 185 acres that we know as Schlitz Audubon Nature Center has a long and storied history. Originally a forested area, this property was clear cut in the 1800’s to provide lumber and firewood for Milwaukee. The Uihlein family purchased this property in 1885 and deeded the land to the Schlitz Brewery. It was called “Nine Mile Farm,” as it is nine miles from the downtown brewery, and became the pasture where brewery delivery horses went to recuperate from days spent pulling carriages packed with beer kegs.”

 I had no idea that one of my favorite spots to enjoy nature in Milwaukee was so closely intertwined with the city’s history.

After getting educated on the park, I left the visitor center and began to explore.

Outside of the center, I found an owl that I learned was part of the park’s “raptor program”. At first, I thought that Schlitz had a sanctuary for dinosaurs when I heard the word “raptor”.

But after receiving some pamphlets from my friends in the park’s visitor center, I learned that a raptor is actually a group of birds that includes hawks, owls, eagles, and falcons.

That made more sense.

And with the newfound relief that I wouldn’t be seeing a caged t-rex anytime soon, I went to explore the bird.

The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center actually has a separate facility dedicated to rehabilitating and providing care for Wisconsin’s 29 species of migratory and real round raptors. There was one bird that lives onsite at the Schlitz park to showcase the program to visitors.

**To learn more about my time with Schlitz’s resident raptor, check out my video**


After my raptor visit, I moved onto the trails for my next adventure.

Having been to the park multiple times before, I was surprised when my friends in the welcome center told me to check out the observation tower; mostly because I never knew that such a thing existed.

The observation tower is close to the main parking lot… just outside of the park’s entrance.

I wish I had known about this tower sooner. This is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to experience fall in Milwaukee.

The tower rises above tree level to give you a sweeping 360-degree view of both lake Michigan and the forest of trees surrounding the park.

Look at this:

A picture can’t do this amazing place justice…so GO THERE!

When you hike the observation tower, keep this in mind…

  • There are multiple platforms on your way up: take the time to stop on each and see the view from different heights
  • Naturally, there are several flights of stairs involved in climbing the tower. It isn’t really accessible for people that can’t climb stairs; although the platforms do provide a chance to take breaks if you’re low on stamina
  • Take pictures!

With my new explorations over, I figured it was a good time to showcase what I already knew about the park.

With its location along the coast of Lake Michigan, the Schlitz Nature Center is in the perfect spot to see the beauty of the water. Throw away what you know about Lake Michigan in downtown Milwaukee; because things look pretty different outside of the city.

Another great thing about this park is how easy it is to navigate the trails. Like the observation tower, a trail is located close to the parking lot that will take you directly down to the lake.

The end of the trail drops you at the entrance to the lake. 

Yes, this is actually Lake Michigan.

If you need a getaway, this is the place to be. The quiet serenity of the woods by the lake entrance makes you quickly forget the fact that downtown Milwaukee is just 20 minutes away. Birds chirp, waves rush on the shore and the breeze gently kisses your face…it’s nothing short of paradise.

And the beauty doesn’t stop at the end of the trail…

I promise I’m not lying; this is ACTUALLY Lake Michigan!

The water at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is crystal clear. And although I visited during Fall, I could easily picture myself sprawled out on this beach during summer. I’ll have to add it to my list for next year.


With a dying camera battery and only 15 min left before the park closed, I decided to end my trip to the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center with the lake.

But there is far more to this place than the observation tower and the lake.

Yoga classes, a preschool, birdwatching, exhibits, boardwalks, special events and educational programs are a handful of the methods that Schlitz uses to make this place more than just a park.

For more information on planning your visit, go to:

https://www.schlitzaudubon.org/

 

-Robert

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