Sunday, January 13, 2013


Now is not the time to visit Madison, Wisconsin. But if you’re looking to plan a weekend getaway for spring or summer, keep in mind that Madison is an underrated mini-vacation spot. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is my alma mater, so I’m biased. But my collegiate experience also makes me well informed on all the Madison must-see spots. As I mentioned here, Justin and I recently revisited our old stomping grounds for a reunion weekend with all our college friends. We stayed at the Hilton. The hotel is nice enough and the location is ideal – right on Lake Monona, by the capitol building and close to all the upscale restaurants, but within walking distance of campus and State Street. State Street is Madison’s main street and has a strip of busy restaurants, bars and shops.

Here are a few of my favorite (still-standing) State Street spots:

Get your UW-branded coffee mugs here. Oh, and books too :)

Delicious Turkish food. A welcome break from typical college fare.

Another healthy alternative to campus eats.

Not your average pizza. Ian’s serves macaroni & cheese pies, a chicken Parmesan variety and even a steak & fries option. Sounds gross; tastes amazing.

A great bar for a game-day or a night out.

Feeling theatrical and full of liquid-courage late-night? Check out Karaoke Kid. My friends planned a surprise b-day party for me at KK freshman year. (Not to be confused with another popular Madison bar/institution: Kollege Klub.) We went to Karaoke Kid on our most recent trip to Madison and it was a blast. Justin surprised me with a Top Gun-esq serenade. (Best fiance ever.)

For a more mature scene (closer to the capitol building) check out Merchant bar. My friend Abigail works there and it’s an awesome spot for a nightcap.

Need a greasy brunch the day after partying? We used to visit Marigold Kitchen and Mickies Dairy Bar on the regular.

Another Madison area I love is “Willy” (Williamson) Street. Willy Street has a hippie-vibe with lots of delicious coffee shops/tea spots and restaurants. I recommend the Weary Traveler restaurant. It’s been too long to recall my favorite foods there, but the place has an awesome ambiance and even board games for patrons to use. It’s a fun local hangout.

And a visit to Madison wouldn’t be complete without sipping beer waterside at the Memorial UnionTerrace, which happens to be famous for its brightly colored outdoor chairs. (And yes, waterside. The Union is situated on the gorgeous Lake Mendota.)

Monona Terrace (on the other side of the isthmus) is a different Madison terrace that’s very cool because of its history; it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The building’s architecture is not my taste, but it’s definitely worth checking out even if only for the furthering of your cultural edification.


P.S. Some of the finer restaurants we used to visit when our parents came to town:
Tornado Steak House 

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