Follow:
Adventure, City Guide

CITY GUIDE: Madison

Today’s city guide is brought to you by Cammie Sorensen!

Madison is a wonderfully unique town –  in many ways because  we are a fusion town – both the capitol of the state, and home to a Big Ten university.  We are also situated on an isthmus, which simply refers to the fact that we are a city between two picturesque lakes.  Boasting a variety of  wonderful local eateries, plenty of activities for outdoor enthusiasts,  the university and all its glorious sporting and other events, and two pristine lakes, which frame our state’s capitol, Madison is simply outstanding.

I LOVE playing tour guide to friends and family who are enjoying their first visit to Madison.  There is such fun to be had, sights to see.  Let’s take a virtual tour, today, shall we? It’s Saturday in Madison. Let’s get started!

We’ll start in the heart of Madison’s downtown – on the Capitol Square.  Madison is one of the United States’ most bike-friendly towns, so it’s fitting we’re also one of the country’s super-cool cities to adopt an Urban Bike Share program.  Madison BCycle, with its 32 stations and 300 bikes scattered throughout the downtown area make two-wheeled downtown-transport a cinch.  So fun, right?

Each Saturday morning – Spring + Summer + Fall – enjoy the colorful bounty at Madison’s on-the-Capitol-square Farmer’s Market.  At the farmer’s market, you’ll find a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, such that you may choose to skip the produce section during your next trip to your local grocery store.  You’ll also find LOTS of local cheeses (hello dairy state!) fresh meats, and baked goods.  When I visit the farmers market, my standby vendors are Stella’s Bakery (try the fresh-out-of-the-oven hot & spicy cheese bread!), and Brunkow Cheese (make sure to sample the fried mozarella).  Madison’s a really unique town, and that uniqueness attracts equally unique people.  On your trip around the square, you’re likely to see plenty of talented musicians and artists, whose wares are for sale to passersby.

Following a stroll through the market, I suggest breakfast on Pinckney Street (an arm off the Capitol Square) at Marigold Kitchen.  I usually go for one of their savory scramblers, made with local organic eggs, but if you feel the need to carb-load, the fresh berry-topped french toast is out of this world.  If you’d like to take something to go, choose from dozens of scones and muffins, along with a steaming espresso drink from the espresso bar.  Marigold Kitchen is a super hot spot, though, so word to the wise – get there early.  Seating is first-come, first-served, and a table-for-two can be hard to come by come ten o’clock on Saturday morning.

Since you’re stuffed from all that french toast at Marigold’s, we’ll let the food settle until dinner, which you’ll enjoy at Marigold Kitchen’s sister eatery, Sardine. One of Madison’s most-loved spots, Sardine is situated on the shore of Lake Monona. Although the restaurant itself doesn’t have a beachy-feel, the beauty of the view (and patio seating, if you want) is just lovely and so perfectly accents Sardine’s wonderful menu items.  Sardine has managed to find a just-right feel that makes it a favorite for classy birthday parties and date-night dinners alike.  My all-time favorite item on the menu is the Roasted Half Chicken with Balsamic Butter Sauce.  It’s just delectable.  When you make your reservation (which you should), though, reserve one of those half-chickens, because everybody loves ’em, and they go quick on a busy Saturday evening.  Pair it with the Parmesan polenta instead of the frites, and you’ll be in out-to-dinner heaven.

Save a little room for dessert, because we’re headed to the University of Wisconsin’s Memorial (student) Union, and the outdoor terrace, which overlooks the larger of our two lakes, Mendota.  On Saturday nights during the summer, the stage on the Terrace boasts local and well-known musicians, who provide a soundtrack to the beautiful summer.  Get some chocolate peanut butter ice cream in a waffle cone inside the Union at the Babcock Hall Dairy ice cream counter.  Thank me later for the recommendation on the chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

Sit back and relax; this is Madison – one of our country’s finest.

*Featured photo by Ann Althouse

Share on
Previous Post Next Post

You may also like

9 Comments

  • Reply Jess

    I’ve only been to Madison once, but I loved it! Everyone is friendly, the food is great, and being close to a lake or two reminds me of being back home. I’d love to go back as an adult (well, someone over 21) so I can explore more. One thing I’d add to this guide is checking out Great Dane, which has locations all around the Madison area; with awesome microbrews and good pub food, it’s a must-visit.

    October 3, 2012 at 2:04 PM
    • Reply Allison

      Great to hear that you loved it! I’ve only heard great things. And thanks for adding a suggestion!

      October 4, 2012 at 9:58 AM
  • Reply mandi

    When I eventually make my way to America these places will be on my to-do list!
    Another great city guide :)

    October 3, 2012 at 11:30 PM
    • Reply Allison

      Love hearing that :)

      October 4, 2012 at 9:58 AM
  • Reply Sarah

    One of my favorite places to eat is Monty’s Blue Plate Diner on Atwood Ave. I like to eat there before going to a concert at Barrymore Theatre. They have great vegetarian food too.

    October 4, 2012 at 1:20 PM
    • Reply Allison

      Oh thanks for adding to the list, Sarah!!

      October 7, 2012 at 2:22 AM
  • Reply Jamie J

    I live outside Milwaukee, so I try to get to Madison a few times a year (used to be monthly but now I’m on a budget). I love the Farmer’s Market and State Street, but I usually tend to stick to “chain” restaurants when I’m down there like Noodles & Company. I will definitely have to try your suggested restaurants the next time I’m in town.

    October 8, 2012 at 4:05 PM
  • Reply I live in Madison. Wisconsin, that is! | cammie.co

    […] THIS POST ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON BE UP & DOING […]

    May 9, 2014 at 4:47 PM
  • Reply City Guide :: Madison @ Be Up & Doing | cammie.co

    […]  We are also situated on an isthmus, which simply refers to…   Read more at Be Up & Doing.  I’m guest posting over there today.  Thanks, Miss Allie, for having […]

    May 9, 2014 at 4:54 PM
  • Leave a Reply