Welcome to our Milwaukee meeting and event planning guide – a Milwaukee city guide for meeting planners. Welcoming 6.5 million visitors each year, Milwaukee's central location within America's heartland makes it a convenient meeting place for convention groups. Situated on the shore of Lake Michigan 90 miles north of Chicago and within 600 miles of 25% of the U.S. population, Milwaukee is easily accessible near the intersection of Interstate 94 and Interstate 43, and is a regular stop for Amtrak. The city also boasts General Mitchell International Airport, one of the fastest growing airports in the country and only eight miles from the downtown district. In addition, the high-speed ferry Lake Express transports passengers across Lake Michigan. Getting around in safe, walkable Milwaukee is a breeze with a simple grid pattern design and quick and efficient bus, trolley and taxi service running throughout the city.
Designed with the help of meeting planners and located in the heart of downtown, the Frontier Airlines Center is just one of three venues that make up Milwaukee's world-class convention complex. The center offers 667,475 square feet of flexible meeting space including a 37,506-square-foot ballroom, 28 meeting rooms and an expansive 188,695-square-foot exhibit hall.
Milwaukee's convention complex also includes the Milwaukee Theatre. Housed in a grand historic building, the 4,100-seat theatre boasts a sweeping staircase, banquet rooms and its signature half-domed Rotunda. The Milwaukee Theatre is host to top-name concerts and makes an ideal space for pre-event gatherings and small receptions. Not to be overlooked, the U.S. Cellular Arena offers an on-site caterer and 24,000 square feet of space for banquets and exhibits.
More than 3,700 hotel rooms are within a mile of the convention center. Just a skywalk away is the Four-Diamond Hilton Milwaukee City Center offering 34,835 square feet of meeting space and 729 guest rooms. A second skywalk leads to the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee featuring 481 guest rooms and more than 20,000 square feet of flexible function and meeting space including downtown Milwaukee's largest hotel ballroom. The total number of hotel rooms in the Greater Milwaukee is over 16,000.
Ranked #2 on a list of "Top Ten Convention Centers in Highly Walkable Places," the Frontier Airlines Center is located within walking distance of shops, restaurants, hotels, attractions and the popular RiverWalk. The Milwaukee RiverWalk was included on the list of "Top Ten Great Public Spaces" by the American Planning Association in October 2011.
Milwaukee attractions offer memorable special event and meeting space. Delegates thrill to the roar of motorcycles at the Harley-Davidson Museum, where indoor and outdoor spaces accommodate groups of up to 5,000. Ranked first on a "Top Ten Sexiest Buildings" list, the lakefront Milwaukee Art Museum with its spectacular, soaring atrium and kinetic "wings" makes an impressive reception venue. Neighboring Discovery World, featuring the Pilot House with its breathtaking 360-degree view of the city's splendid shoreline, adds to a long list of options.
Before being incorporated as a city in 1846, the area that is now Milwaukee was at one time home to the Algonkian Indians. Likely due to its location at the confluence of the Menomonee, Kinnickinnic and Milwaukee rivers, the Algonkian tribe named the land Millioki (which means "gathering place by the waters"). Today, this aptly named gathering place is the largest city in Wisconsin and the 27th largest city in the U.S. Spanning 96 square miles, the city is home to approximately 600,000 people, while the Milwaukee metropolitan area, which stretches across four counties, has a population of 1.7 million people.
A Midwestern melting pot, Milwaukee is home to a diverse tapestry of converging cultures. The many ethnic neighborhoods peppered throughout the city contribute to Milwaukee's colorful, eclectic spirit. Flavorful restaurants and specialty shops line the streets of the city's various ethnic enclaves, while a flurry of festivals celebrate the city's diverse cultural heritage. Nicknamed the "City of Festivals," Milwaukee's 75-acre lakefront Henry Maier Festival Park is host to some of the nation's largest ethnic festivals - Polish Fest, Festa Italiana, German Fest and Irish Fest - along with Mexican Fiesta and Indian Summer. Beyond these lively cultural celebrations, the city sizzles with Summerfest, the world's largest music festival held over 11 days in June/July.
Infused with new life by a spectacular building boom, Milwaukee has transformed from "Brew City" to "New City." This jewel of the Great Lakes region has undergone massive revitalization efforts that have propelled it to the status of an internationally recognized hub of arts, culture and entertainment. Named one of Newsweek's Top 20 Can-Do Capitals in 2011, Milwaukee is home to MillerCoors and several other high profile companies including Harley-Davidson, Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual and Manpower, Inc. In addition, several well-known colleges and universities call the city home including the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette University, Alverno College, Milwaukee School of Engineering and Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.
The renewed energy of Milwaukee's urban renaissance has ignited the city's art scene. Milwaukee has been ranked number 1 in the nation for donations raised per capita for the arts, and AmericanStyle magazine named it as part of their "Top 25 Arts Destinations." The city's downtown theater district sets the stage for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Florentine Opera, the Milwaukee Ballet and Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Adjacent to the downtown district, Milwaukee's "SoHo," the Historic Third Ward, is home to more than 20 art galleries, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and the Broadway Theater Complex, which houses the renowned Skylight Music Theatre and Milwaukee Chamber Theatre.
With its delightful blend of modern sophistication and old-world charm, Milwaukee is making great strides toward the future while continuing to embrace its rich past. Home to a wealth of historic landmarks, the city was named one of the 2006 "Dozen Distinctive Destinations" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Milwaukee's history is showcased at the Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion, Charles Allis and Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museums and St. Joan of Arc Chapel.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Milwaukee enjoys a humid continental climate with four distinct seasons. The average temperatures during spring and fall are in the mid to high 50s, while temperatures in summer average 77°F. The warmest month in Milwaukee is July with an average temperature of 81°F. Precipitation averages around 32 inches per year with the wettest month being August. Chilly winters in Milwaukee bring average temperatures of 29.4°F, and an average of 47 inches of snow between the months of November and early March.
The city's proximity to Lake Michigan influences the climate significantly. The great lake causes cooling in warm months, while moderating cold temperatures in winter months. The best time of year to visit Milwaukee is during the late spring and early summer when temperatures are mild and visitors can enjoy the lakeside setting, vast parkland and lively celebrations of the "City of Festivals."
Designed with input from national meeting planners, association executives and consumer show producers, Milwaukee's Delta Center is the perfect marriage of functionality and style.
Flexible meeting rooms and multi-purpose, pre-function space include a first-floor, 37,560 square-foot ballroom capable of accommodating 3,150 diners at one time and ample utilities for corporate theater. An additional 39,640 square feet of meeting space can be partitioned into as many as 28 first-floor and mezzanine-level meeting and breakout rooms. Sixteen loading docks with three spiral, drive-in ramps offer direct access to the upper level exhibit hall floor with its 188,695 square-foot exhibit hall. Well equipped with satellite links, video teleconferencing, data transmission and other audio-visual technology, the Delta Center features some of the most advanced IT infrastructure anywhere. Wi-Fi is available throughout the building.
A grand, glass-enclosed atrium greets delegates to the center's compact, multi-level design, allowing for easy accessibility to all meeting rooms and trade show areas. With its significant amount of glass allowing natural light to penetrate all common areas and over $1.2 million in commissioned artwork, convention attendees are offered ample opportunity to reconnect with the pulse of the city. Meeting planners looking to reduce the carbon footprint of their events will also find an environmentally conscious partner in the Delta Center. Greening initiatives over the last few years include energy and water conservation, recycling and waste reduction.
As part of Milwaukee's convention center complex, which is owned and operated by the Wisconsin Center District, the Delta Center is joined by the grand, 4,100-seat Milwaukee Theatre, home to top-name concerts and Broadway shows; and the U.S. Cellular Arena featuring 24,000 square feet of flexible space, which is perfect for exhibit booths, trade shows or seated banquets for as many as 1,800 guests.
More than 3,700 hotel rooms are within a mile of the convention center. Just a skywalk away are the 4 Diamond Hilton Milwaukee City Center with its 720 rooms and 34,835 square feet of meeting space and the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee with 481 rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting space, including downtown Milwaukee's largest hotel ballroom.
General Mitchell International Airport (MKE)
Approximate taxi fare: $27.31 USD
Named after Milwaukee native and United States Army Air Service General Billy Mitchell, who is often regarded as the father of the U.S. Air Force, Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport is a premier gateway to more than 40 cities nonstop in the U.S. and across the globe. Conveniently located within eight miles of Milwaukee’s central business district, the airport sees more than 9.5 million passengers annually. General Mitchell International Airport is serviced by nine airline providers, offering approximately 160 daily departures.
The airport features a number of amenities including free Wi-Fi, a family care room, conference room rentals and an array of dining options and retail stores including a Harley-Davidson shop. Acclaimed Food & Wine Magazine recently recognized Mitchell Airport for its delicious local eats, including Usinger’s Restaurant, known for Milwaukee’s finest sausages.
In addition, travelers can choose from a variety of parking options including hourly, daily, surface, remote and cellular phone lots.
Airline carriers serving General Mitchell International Airport
Amtrak provides service to Milwaukee via the Hiawatha and Empire Builder lines. The Hiawatha line offers seven round-trip trains per day (six on Sunday) between Chicago and Milwaukee. The train also stops at the Amtrak station at General Mitchell International Airport. Fares for the 90-minute trip are $21.
Amtrak's Empire Builder departs daily from Chicago and provides service from Milwaukee to Spokane, Washington, with connecting service to Seattle or Portland. The Empire Builder also offers stops in St. Paul-Minneapolis, Fargo and Glasgow, Montana. The path of the Empire Builder provides riders with eye-catching scenery, and through a partnership with the National Parks Service, Park Rangers are onboard trains during the spring and summer months to educate passengers wishing to learn more about some of the history behind sites along the route.
Milwaukee County Transit System operates over 50 bus routes around the city and county. The system provides transportation to over 150,000 passengers each day. A number of routes serve the downtown area, and other lines are available for travel to the area's universities as well as to General Mitchell International Airport. Fares are $2.25 for adults and $1.10 for children ages 6-11, seniors and disabled persons. Weekly passes are available for $17.50.
During the summer months, visitors can catch a ride for $1 on an old fashioned trolley with Milwaukee's “Hop ‘n Shop, Wine ‘n Dine” route. With stops at all of the city's major points of interest including the Frontier Airlines Center, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Theater District, the Milwaukee Trolley Loop is a fun and easy way to travel about town. The Trolley Loop operates seasonally Wednesday through Saturdays from 11 AM to 10 PM with 20-minute headways.
Milwaukee's Lake Express is a convenient high-speed ferry, which links Milwaukee and Muskegon, Michigan. Passage across Lake Michigan on Lake Express takes approximately two-and-a-half hours. The ferry operates seasonally between early May and early November offering between two and three scheduled round-trip departures per day. Lake Express features Classic Cabin and Premier Cabin seating as well as a vehicle deck. Adult round-trip fares start at $134.
Shuttle bus and limousine service to General Mitchell International Airport is available through GO Riteway. The service offers door-to-door transportation between the airport and residences, area universities and downtown hotels. Travelers will find the GO Riteway booth at General Mitchell International Airport's baggage claim 3. Fare from the airport to downtown is approximately $13.
Seven rental car companies service General Mitchell International Airport. The rental counters for Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar Car Rental, Enterprise, Hertz and Thrifty are located in the parking structure directly across from the baggage claim area.
A number of taxi cab companies serve General Mitchell International Airport. Passengers can find taxis at the lower level exit outside of the baggage claim. The fare for a taxi from the airport to downtown is approximately $25 to $30.
Meetings made better.
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