Heading north for spring

By Suzanne Corbett, Travel/Food Editor

Spring training has arrived and while many sports fans head south I recommend heading north. Yep, that’s right, north - making Milwaukee your destination where beer, brats and bikes rule.

Milwaukee is home to Harley Davidson and its renowned Harley Davison Museum where tens of thousands make an annual pilgrimage to visit. Here seasoned bikers to curious visitors enter the world of Harley throughout a series of interactive exhibits and displays that chronicle the company’s humble beginnings to its rise as an iconic American brand that define a generation and contributed to American pop culture.

Two levels filled with memorabilia and rare artifacts. To get a handle on Harley Davidson’s history begin your tour on the upper level where a exhibits begin with the founders history and a layout of the original1903 small garage where the motorized bike was born. Spanning the length along with a collection of cycles that includes a rare Series No 1 Harley. Other early bikes displayed are early military to classic hogs and choppers.

Fans of extreme sports will marvel at the 1920s Board Track Racing exhibit, which recreates the vaulted wood track that doubles as a screen for vintage race footage. Spotlighting Harley’s in film and pop-culture is a fascinating video featuring bikes on film whose screening area is flanked by the Harley used in the movie Captain America and the iconic Easy Rider Chopper, a reproduction made in honor of the film’s 30thanniversary.

Among museum’s special exhibits are Designing A Celebration that allows visitors a behind the scenes look at the design and production process of Harley Davidson’s anniversary bikes and special logos. Kids can get involved in designing their own Harley at Build-A-Bike, a permanent interactive exhibit that are then animated and viewed on the Virtual Road. After your tour and before riding off in the sunset, grab a bite at the adjoining Café Racer snack shop for a custom built sandwich or the Motor Bar & Restaurant.

What sports fan doesn’t like brats and beer, the two quintessential foods to eat during any baseball game thanks to Bill Sperling. Sperling is credited with introducing bratwurst to Major League Baseball in 1953 at the Milwaukee County Stadium and according to local food-lore Duke Snider of the Brooklyn Dodgers took a case back to New York where its popularity took-off. Miller Park today sells more bratwurst than any other major league stadium.

Miller Park’s official brat is Milwaukee made by Klement’s Sausage Company. Klement’s also sponsors its famous Racing Sausages that are featured at Brewers home games. Klement’s, established in the 1950s, available at its outlet store and in local groceries, produces a wide variety of sausages as represented by their race team, the German Brat, Mexican Chorizo, the all-American Hot Dog, the Polish and the Italian Sausage.

Located along Old World Third Street is Usinger’s, housed in same storefront where the art of sausage making has continued since is opened in 1880. Usinger’s specialty, authentic German-style sausages that includes two kinds of brats - the traditional course-ground pork based fresh bratwurst and the distinctive grayish-white colored cooked bratwurst made from veal and pork. Usingers offers tours for the sausage curious to the self-proclaimed sausage connoisseur. Afterwards, yield to temptation and stock up on brats as well as the other sausage delicacies you can’t live without. Just remember to bring a cooler to safely transport your brats back home.

Beer and Milwaukee has been an inseparable duo since its German migration of the 1840s. With almost two centuries of beer making Milwaukee as a brewing leader producing such storied brands as Blatz, Pabst, Schlitz and Miller its no surprise Milwaukee has also become a center for the as micro-brew revolution.

Lakefront Brewery has been brewery for 20 years, winning awards for its Bock Beer and Klisch Pilsner. Lakefront offers daily tours. On Fridays take in the family style fish fry plan your visit around one of Lakefront’s events as the Food and Froth Fest. Check their website Lakefrontbrewery.com for their calendar of events.

Listed, as one of the top breweries in the nation by American’s Best and Top Ten is Sprecher Brewery. Sprecher producers a selection unique of craft beers as its Black Bavarian and Pub Ale in addition to its famous Root Beer, named the best in American by the New York Times. New at Sprecher brewery is its Thursday Night Tapas and Beer Nights, which begin with a tour followed by a pairing of 12 beers and 12 tapas (small plate appetizers). It’s a perfect combination designed to satisfy beer-drinking foodies.

Oh yes, don’t forget MillerCoors. Take their tour and sample their classic American beers still brewed in the tradition of its founding 19th century beer barons.

To customize your own biker, beer and brat tour click on www.visitmilwakee.org Meanwhile here’s my top picks for eats and places to sleep.

Crash Pads: Where to sleepover

The Iron Horse Hotel: www.theironhorsehotel.com

The ultimate biker friendly hotel

Knickerbocker On the Lake: www.knickerbockeronthelake.com

Renovated vintage 1929 hotel set within walking distance of Lake Michigan

The Pfister Hotel: www.thepfisterhotel.com

AAA rated Four-diamond where Victorian elegance rules

Milwaukee Hot Plates - Where to eat and what to order.

The Eatery www.theeateryonfarwell.com

Serving three meals a day but don’t miss breakfast.

The dish: The Milwaukee Breakfast: two strips bacon, pulled ham, andouille sausage, two eggs, American fries and a Pabst Blue Ribbon Tall Boy

Sobelman’s: www.milwaukeesbestburgers.com

Dubbed the home of Milwaukee’s best burger. The dish: The Sobelman Burger: Hand -pattied beef burger topped with American, Swiss and Cheddar cheeses, bacon, fried onions and diced jalapeños.

Karl Ratzsch’s: www.karlratzsch.com

A culinary destination since1904 for German food lovers The dish: Baked Beer, Cheese and Sauerkraut Dip with Toasties (think homemade melba toast) and Ratzsch’s Sauerbraten.