We enjoy visiting the Upper Midwest during the summertime. Cool nights and warm days are perfect for exploring new destinations. During a multiple-city trip, we included a couple of days in Wisconsin’s capital city. This gave us a chance to discover 7 reasons to visit Madison. A visit to the state capital building was number 1 on our list and we were not disappointed. With more than 100 years under its belt, the structure is in amazingly good shape. The dome rises to over 280 feet and is topped by the statue, Wisconsin. Made of white granite, from Vermont, it is the largest granite dome in the world. An impressive way to begin our visit to the 30th state in the Union.
We want to thank Destination Madison for helping to sponsor our visit. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
2) University Life
We are slowly adding state capitals to our collection, as each has its own unique vibe. Madison is also home to the largest university in the state. Since the mid-1800s, the University of Wisconsin has brought Badger Pride to Madison. After settling in, we made our way over to the campus to see what was shaking. Summer classes were in session, so the attendance was far below the roughly 42,000 students who regularly attend. It was easy to spot the badger mascot, as we made our way to Alumni Park to enjoy the relaxed vibe. The warm sunshine enticed us to grab a seat along the lake and enjoy some people-watching. While our itinerary beckoned us to get back to exploring, we lingered in this scenic setting for a while longer.
3) Leisurely Vibe
The University of Wisconsin is situated on the shore of Lake Mendota. With summer in full blaze, we spotted lots of activity. Sailboats and kayaks floated among the waves. Sunbathing was definitely high on the list of leisure activities. As we enjoyed our time on the patio, we soaked up some of those rays for ourselves. Later we would learn about the many firsts that have taken place at the University of Wisconsin. Some notable firsts are: a magnetic observatory, developing standards for testing milk quality, an experimental breeding program, and the country’s first speech clinic.
4) Free Museums
Being a history lover, I enjoy adding museums to our itineraries. Capitals are usually home to the state museum, which offers a broader perspective than many of the local sites. This helps us get a better feel for how things have changed over the centuries. The idea that museums are FREE makes them all the more attractive. During our visit to the Wisconsin Historical Museum, we were surprised to see their openness about past issues in the state. While peddling political influence has been around for many generations, it has usually been done in secret. Their willingness to face past problems was one of the 7 reasons to visit Madison.
5) Honoring Our Heroes
Just a short walk from the history museum is the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. Another FREE attraction, it also has a commanding view of the state capital. This museum showcases the participation of Wisconsin citizens during the past 150 years of wars. We were impressed at the high quality of exhibits found inside this place. So many of the artifacts and images evoke memories that we remember from our younger years. It is a solemn site that reflects on the sacrifices made by so many. The availability of free or low-cost attractions makes Madison an affordable vacation destination.
Let’s face it, Wisconsin’s know their cheese. There is a myriad of cheese shops around Madison, but our limited time only allowed us to visit one. Fortunately for us, Fromagination sits on the square that surrounds the capital. This made it an easy destination to visit during our day at the museums. Stepping through the door, our noses picked up the exquisite aromas of tart and tangy cheeses. Once inside, we found ourselves afloat in choices. The staff was more than happy to walk us through their wide variety of cheeses, as well as plenty of accompaniments. We found tons of locally created merchandise, perfect for gift giving. There were even a few specialties that will add some extra zest to our homemade charcuterie boards.
7) Affordable Eats
Travel wouldn’t be the same without the chance to sample some of the local cuisines. We love this part of our job and take the task seriously. Our itineraries are always jammed full of interesting eateries that allow us to get a feel for the restaurant scene. Madison has lots of options and many are quite affordable. Whether you are looking for a quick bite or a sit-down meal, you will find it here. Along the capital square, we enjoyed burgers from DLux and tacos from The Canteen. As we moved closer to the university, we discovered an amazing breakfast at Short Stack Eatery. Even closer to the school is a street filled with student-friendly eateries, like Parthenon Gyros.
7 Reasons to Visit Madison
Our whirlwind adventure in this university city may have only lasted a couple of days, but we packed a ton of fun into our time. After hitting the ground running, we soon discovered that our exploration would have to be concentrated on the heart of the city. With lodging at Double Tree Hilton Downtown, we were able to park our car and walk everywhere. This is a huge plus in our books, as it allows us to work off a few of the calories we pick up during our exploration. While we are only showcasing 7 reasons to visit Madison, we’re sure you’ll find plenty more. Tell us about some of your discoveries in the comments section below. This will help other readers create a robust itinerary for their next Madison, Wisconsin adventure!