When I first found out that I was going to Madison, Wisconsin for work, I knew I had to do some researching. I have never been to Wisconsin before and all I really knew about the state was that they have really good cheese.
After some research, I developed a list of interesting attractions:
- Olbrich Botanical Gardens – FREE
- Henry Villas Zoo – FREE
- University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum – FREE
- Wisconsin State Capitol – FREE
- State Street / Downtown Madison
- Dane County Farmer’s Market
I had every intention of trying to see at least half of these – but ended up only doing 3/6. Despite the fact that I didn’t explore outside of the Downtown area, I came away with a really good impression of Madison. I definitely wouldn’t mind returning to explore it some more.
Madison, Wisconsin is kind of a quaint college town. The streets are really walkable in the Downtown area and the two lakes – Monona and Mendota – are gorgeous. Check out this gorgeous view of Lake Monona from Monona Terrace.
The State Capitol is really a sight to behold – and also completely free to explore. I’ve been told that the current State Capitol building was built after the Civil War and the statue on top points south, to welcome the south to the country. I hope my taxi driver gave me good info! It’s also the tallest building in the Downtown area. They don’t allow developers to build anything higher than it.
If you have time, take a stroll down State Street, which is littered with restaurants, bars, and lots of cute little shops. The further down you go towards UW, the more shops there are.
Towards the end of State Street is the Graduate Hotel with its rooftop bar, Camp Trippalindee. The entire hotel is very college-themed. The rooftop bar is camp-themed, with s’mores kits, craft beers, and free games. We had some awesome drinks with delicious burgers, and finished the night by splitting an order of their s’mores kit. They have fire barrels that are useful for keeping warm and making s’mores.
I had a lot of fun (we played some games while we were there too) and the view of Lake Mendota at sunset was gorgeous.
I’d highly recommend visiting The Old Fashioned if you’re looking for a traditional fish fry and as the name states, a great old fashioned. The drinks are cheap and the food is abundant. Best cheese curds we had in Madison!
We also visited Estrellon, which is a Spanish tapas-style restaurant. The food is so good and the drinks are even better!
Definitely check out all the Bucky on Parade statues throughout Madison. Bucky is UW’s mascot and there are 85 life-sized Bucky Badger statues throughout Madison and Dane County through September 12, 2018.
And if you’re in town on a Saturday, be sure to check out the Dane County Farmer’s Market. It runs from about 6:15 to 1:00 on Saturday’s and has just about anything one could want from a farmer’s market. I picked up some cheese curds to take home with me and they are delish!