Boaters in the Milwaukee River Challenge
The surface-skimming action from one of last year’s races

Row, Row, Row Their Boats

If you didn’t get enough of rowing with the Summer Olympics, head for Milwaukee this weekend, where the upper-body sculpting sport will be celebrated in the 12th Annual Milwaukee River Challenge. Competitors from dozens of colleges and club teams will vie for first place on a three-mile route that starts at 25th and Canal Streets on the Menomonee River, continues east to the junction with the Milwaukee River, and then winds north to Schlitz Park. You’ll find many spectator vantage points along the route at waterside restaurants, as well as from Schlitz and Pere Marquette Parks and from the Milwaukee River Walk. The best views are purportedly seen from the grounds of the Harley Davidson Museum. Races include open, junior, men’s, and women’s divisions; start time for the first race is at 9 a.m.

GO 12th Annual Milwaukee River Challenge in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 608-658-6175,

While you’re in the area: Celebrate Wisconsin’s robust beer culture at Racine’s Zoological Gardens (2131 N. Main St., Racine, 888-695-0888), which hosts the weekend’s Great Lakes Brew Fest ( on Saturday, September 15. Here, you can imbibe unlimited samples from more than 250 local microbrews. Admission is $45.

Where to stay: The 83-year-old Knickerbocker on the Lake (1028 E. Juneau Ave., Milwaukee, 414-276-8500, combines old-world ambiance with modern amenities and offers rooms with lake views; rates range from $119 to $229 a night. The Racine Marriott (7111 Washington Ave., Racine, 262-886-6100), about 5 miles from downtown Racine, still has rooms available; nightly rates range from $129 to $300.

Where to eat: Bacchus (925 E. Wells St., Milwaukee, 414-765-1166, serves fresh takes on classics and has an extensive vegetarian menu. Envi Ultra Lounge, (316 Main St., Racine, 262-770-4297, features small plates founded on locally sourced, organic ingredients and an impressive menu of fresh juice options. (There’s also a dance floor should you care to burn some post-dining calories.)


Photograph: Courtesy of the Milwaukee River Challenge