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Madison: A Wisconsin City with Bags of Personality
The second-largest city in the state of Wisconsin, Madison boasts an impressive resume. Along with a safe and friendly vibe, the city boasts a fantastic arts and culture scene, great shopping, and far more dining options than you would perhaps expect. The city’s hotels, B&Bs, and vacation homes often come at a reasonable price, so it’s never been easier to discover all that Madison has to offer.
Arts & Culture
With numerous museums, galleries, and performance spaces, the arts and culture scene in Madison is both broad and exciting. The Overture Center for the Arts in the heart of the downtown district offers more than 200 annual performances, with everything from comedies to Broadway musicals on the bill. Smaller venues such as the Broom Street and Orpheum Theaters offer a more intimate environment but are a must-visit nonetheless. A trip to Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center is also worthy of your itinerary; this imposing building offers a program of free cultural events and exhibitions throughout the year. Don’t forget to stroll along Museum Mile too; you’ll be rewarded with the opportunity to explore venues such as the Madison Science Museum and the Chazen Museum of Art, the latter home to Wisconsin’s second-largest collection of art.
Madison offers a wide variety of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, and the city’s setting on an isthmus means that stunning lake views come as part of the deal. See the best views from the Monona Lake Loop or Lakeshore Path, a winding trail that follows the sweeping curves of Lake Mendota. Memorable views, this time of the Baraboo Bluffs and the Lower Wisconsin Riverway, can also be enjoyed from the vantage point of the two observation towers found within Blue Mound State Park. And should you really wish to get off the beaten track, the nearby Devil’s Lake State Park offers almost 30 miles of paths and the chance to admire the Parfrey’s Glen Trail Waterfall. Other outdoor highlights in and around the city include the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, the Capital Springs State Recreation Area, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum.
Food, Glorious Food
Foodies are in for a treat in Madison. The focus on fresh, locally sourced produce enables you to enjoy farm-to-table dishes in numerous eateries across the city. Sampling some of the famous Wisconsin cheese is something of a must; the city is no stranger to cheese shops although a trip to the Dane County Farmer’s Market offers you the chance to buy cheese fresh from the farm. The market is held on Saturday mornings in Capitol Square but moves inside to the Madison Senior Center during the winter. You can also savour the state’s delicious cheeses at L’Etoile; also situated in Capitol Square, this restaurant has been delighting fromage fans since 1976. Of course, it’s not all about cheese. The city is also famous for its Friday night Fish Fry. More than 300 Madison restaurants take part in this weekly ritual so it shouldn’t prove difficult to find your catch of the day.
Shopping tends to prove popular with visitors to Madison. The city’s retail scene is as enticing as its cultural attractions, outdoor spaces, and delicious dining. Retail enthusiasts can enjoy shopping at upmarket centres such as the State Street Pedestrian Mall and East and West Towne Malls. You might also choose to head out of the city to spots such as Greenway Station in Middleton or the Jackson Creek Premium Outlets. Offering the perfect sidekick to these larger shopping centres is a wealth of locally owned boutiques and speciality stores. Head to neighbourhoods such as Atwood Avenue, Monroe, and Marquette to discover these for yourself. You’ll find everything from fashion to homewares on offer, not to mention gourmet chocolate and gifts. And did we mention cheese?
More to Explore
Just when you thought you’d got to grips with Madison, this Wisconsin city surprises you with another trick from its armoury. Activities abound here; all you must do is decide what to experience first. Families will enjoy a trip to Henry Vilas Zoo, a 28-acre public zoo that charges no admission fees, or a visit to the Pink Elephant; colloquially known as Pinky, this statue has been an iconic Wisconsin landmark since the 1970s. You might also choose to enjoy a boat trip on Lake Monona or Lake Mendota or, in the winter, don your ice skates instead. Plus, there’s usually an option to watch a sporting event at the Kohl Center or Camp Randall Stadium. You could even head to Milwaukee; located just 90 minutes’ drive to the west of Madison, it’s home to attractions such as the Harley-Davidson Museum and the lakeside Discovery World.