I realized that I was going to miss the International Motorcycle Show in Cleveland while I was on vacation with family in Florida a few weeks back. After talking things over with the “boss” I decided to make the trip to Chicago to see the next closest show. What does this have to do with Harley Davidson? Looking at the map and the required drive time, I rapidly discovered that for an extra hour’s drive, I could also see the Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee the same weekend. While not posted on the blog’s Moto Bucket List, I’ve had the Harley Museum on my Moto Bucket List Pinterest board for some time now. Love them or hate them, Harley Davidson plays a very key part in the history of motorcycles, especially in the United States. Despite the fact that I’d like to see a non-cruiser chassis come out of Milwaukee, I cannot deny that I love the old Harleys. I’m a sucker for vintage, I can’t help it.
From the freeway Milwaukee strikes me as my kind of town, full of industry, rich history, and street corner pubs; at least, that’s what it seemed like at 60 MPH. Arriving at the museum in Milwaukee, it was a whopping 14F outside. On a normal day I would have probably wandered the grounds and taken more photos of the museum and surrounding buildings, especially the rusty water tower in the parking lot. Out front, I snapped the obligatory photograph of the hill climb statue before diving indoors for warmth. I was greeted at the front desk with a smile and asked if I was a member of the Harley Owners Group (HOG). Clearly in the tank for Triumph, I am not currently a HOG member, so I paid $20 to tour the museum; however HOG members should note that free entry to the Harley Museum is included in the annual membership fee.
Without a long dissertation of my tour of the museum, I’ll say that I’m glad I went, and I would go again (although I think $15 might have been more reasonable, but things are CHEAP in Dayton). Again, despite my differing tastes in modern motorcycles, I love the old flathead’s; if I could (affordably) buy an old WLA tomorrow, I would, and you better believe it will end up Olive Drab, with a big white star on the tank and a rifle holster on the forks. The Harley history and museum displays are excellent (I assume every model they’ve made is in the building, although I know very few), and if you’re a true die hard, you can also take an audio tour for a little extra cash. In the end, I realized I didn’t take enough photos (lighting isn’t the best…), I imagine there will be another go round, hopefully even including a factory tour on a weekday.
As a side note, there’s also quite a few nearby food destinations worth checking out.
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