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Filed under Cities and Towns, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Lake Drive Loop

The Wisconsin State Fair is so known for its “food on a stick” stands that local newspapers publish lists of what, and where, you can find, among others, burgers on a stick, fried bananas on a stick, meatballs on a stick, deep fried Snickers bars on a stick and cheesecake on a stick. And let’s not forget our favorite; bacon dipped in chocolate. On a stick. If you’ve ever wanted to eat more than 4000 calories in less then 10 minutes or shock yourself into getting motivated to workout the Wisconsin State Fair is the place for you.

Unfortunately the Fair is not the place to advance your conditioning, so to counteract the effects of the chocolate bacon we suggest a run along the the Lake Drive Loop; a scenic and fast route on Milwaukee’s Eastside that spends most of its time winding along the shore of Lake Michigan and through some of the most architecturally stunning neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

Lake Drive is where old Milwaukee money moved to escape the urban center; building huge and gorgeous homes on the bluffs that overlook the Lake. This setting forms the backbone of the run; which starts at Alterra at the Lake and heads South toward the Milwaukee Art Museum and downtown before turning north into Milwaukee’s hip Eastside and the Lake Drive neighborhoods. The run then turns back south and down to the lakeshore for a couple of miles before returning to the coffee house.

Although this run is relatively flat it stands out for a number of reasons; there are an abundance of long stair cases that can provide some cross-training options, among them the Atwater Stairs which can be reached via a 2 mile out and back. The architecture along the route is truly some of the most stunning of any city we’ve run in, and the Lake Michigan setting provides cooler temperatures and draws some of Milwaukee’s fit and active pretty young things, further enhancing the scenery. The route is also good for interval work, as the long and flat stretches provide an ideal environment for speed work. And best of all, the run starts and ends at Alterra at the Lake, our favorite Milwaukee coffee shop/recovery zone. Perfect for recovering from chocolate bacon on a stick.

Do it because: the great scenery, the cross-training options, the coffee and the fast route

Distance: 6.25 miles round trip.

Directions: from Alterra at the Lake (corner of Park Road and North Lincoln Memorial Drive) and head South (toward downtown Milwaukee) along the sidewalk. The sidewalk will end, but there is a short dirt path that heads up to paved trail. Continue to head south on the trail which will bring you to the Art Museum and North Prospect Ave. Head North (away from downtown) on Prospect which will wind past upscale condo highrises and into Milwaukee’s East Side.

At East Lafayette Place take a right and head toward the Lake. East Lafayette turns into North Terrace Ave, which heads North past the Watertower. At the Watertower, cross Park and continue to head North on North Wahl Ave., which intersects with Lake Drive. Continue North on Lake Drive until it intersects with North Lincoln Memorial Drive. From there head down the hill, toward the Lake and take North Lincoln back to the coffee shop.

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Filed under Cities and Towns, Milwaukee, routes, runs, urban features, Wisconsin

Alterra at the Lake

Remedy for jet lag after arriving in Milawaukee, WI:

1. Wake up early, drive to 1701 N Lincoln Memorial Drive, park in the public parking area behind one of the largest and strangest coffee shop buildings you’ve ever seen.

2. Change into your running clothes. A light jacket may be necessary.

3. Run the Lakefront Park Loop; enjoy the incredible views of downtown Milwaukee, Lake Michigan, and multitudes of nubile co-eds who frequent the area.

4. Return to the parking lot, towel off, stretch, head inside.

5. Partake in some of the best coffee and espresso you will ever have. Continue to enjoy views of Lake Michigan and Milwaukee’s pretty young things. Eat a Cowboy Cookie.

6. Repeat as necessary.

Filling the nooks and crannies of the former Milwaukee River Flushing Station (we have no idea what a river flushing station is or does. Or why it exists in an area of Milwaukee that is riverless), Alterra at the Lake is the most unique of Alterra Coffee‘s numerous cafes located throughout Milwaukee. Spanning numerous levels and rooms, with tables looking out on to Lake Michigan, this lakefront location epitomizes everything we love about local coffee shops; amazing coffee located within an architectural revival that forms a community centerpiece. Alterra is local and proud of it, spreading its great coffee and espresso throughout the Milwaukee area. The Americano here is the second best we have ever tried.

In addition to its wonderfully unique location, Alterra at the Lake is located in the middle of the best running area in downtown Milwaukee. Pretty young things aside, the runs near the cafe bring you past some of Milwaukee’s oldest, and richest, neighborhoods, packed with architecturally stunning homes and landscapes as well as numerous stair cases that are great for a side diversion and beaches to round out the mix. The ample parking behind and near the cafe make it a great spot to start and end a run.

Price-wise, Alterra skews toward the more expensive side of things, but the quality of their products make it worth the slightly higher cost, as do the highly attractive, overly hipster baristas that handle the crush of customers with smiles and efficient drink slinging. The attractive coolness of the staff might make you feel like a high school dork all over again, but better than starting your day looking into the eyes of the dark side.

Beyond the baristas, the coffee and the location, Alterra at the Lake, and Alterra in general, is one of the most community centric coffee shops we have come across. Involved in numerous partnerships with Milwaukee area cultural, environmental and community building groups, including Second Harvest of Wisconsin, the Urban Ecology Center, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Alterra is committed to community building, making enjoying their coffee and locations more enjoyable overall. This is a coffee chain that we would be happy to see become a bit more ubiquitous in the community. Alterra coffee, and especially Alterra at the Lake, has become one of our favorite bean dealers; check it out for the runs, stay for the coffee.

Alterra Coffee: 9 locations

Alterra at the Lake

1701 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Hours: M-F: 6:30am-10pm, Sat and Sun: 7am-10pm

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Filed under Cities and Towns, coffee shops, Milwaukee, reviews, Wisconsin