First stop for any historic architecture buff is the grandest of the grand—the Pabst Mansion (2000 W. Wisconsin Ave., 414/931-0808, www.pabstmansion.com , 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–4 p.m. Sun., closed Feb., $9 adults). Built 1890–1893 of those legendary cream-colored bricks, it was the decadent digs of Captain Frederick Pabst, who slummed as a steamship pilot while awaiting his heirship to the Pabst fortune.
The Flemish Renaissance mansion is staggering even by the baroque standards of the time: 37 rooms, 12 baths, 14 fireplaces, 20,000-plus feet of floor space, carved panels moved from Bavarian castles, priceless ironwork by Milwaukeean Cyril Colnik, and some of the finest woodwork you’ll likely ever see.
An adjacent pavilion, now the gift shop, was designed to resemble St. Peter’s Basilica.