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I’ve traveled to Madison, Wisconsin a couple of times over the past few years for work trips; and this state’s capital is one of the most beautiful and friendly towns I’ve been in!
I always think that travelers should take full advantage of local cuisine and events while they are visiting a city (whether it is for vacation or a business trip!). If you happen to travel to Madison anytime soon, here are some areas in town that I highly suggest visiting!
1. Merchant (121 S Pinckney St) – I’ve been to the Merchant on almost every single trip up to Madison. Everything is locally sourced, and it is a true farm to table restaurant. Since it is Wisconsin, I make sure to order the cheese curds and a steak or hamburger while in town, and this place serves the best of both! Dinner is served until 10 pm and then the restaurant transforms into a late night eatery with cocktails and light bites available until 2 am. The cocktail menu is nothing to argue with because it is over 60 pages!
2. Old Fashioned (23 N Pinckney St) The Old Fashioned is a great way to wrap up a day of leisure or work. Their cheese curds are hands down the best that I’ve tried. Other items that are delicious to try here: Beer Cheese soup, Wisconsin Burger, Wisconsin’s Best Wurst platter. OF COURSE – you need to try an Old Fashioned. My favorite to date is the Orange Rum Old Fashioned. For those looking for beer – they do offer a beer flight to try all different Wisconsin beers.
3. Fresco (227 State St) If you are looking for some rooftop fine dining, look no further than Fresco restaurant & lounge. In the heart of downtown, Fresco sits on top of Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, and the rooftop had some permanent pieces to view. Viewing out of the window, one can take in a breathtaking view of the Capital while enjoying a fresh, rotational menu. When I visited fresco, I had some of the most delicious chicken I had ever tasted in a restaurant.
A Sweet Treat
4. Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Co. (468 State Street | Madison, WI 53703) This locally owned ice cream shop, is one of six in the area. Now, if you haven’t noticed, Wisconsin is one of America’s leading beef and dairy producers. Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Co always has a line when I went to grab a cone, and every flavor I tried was a treat for the taste buds. With tons of flavors to choose from – I played it safe with the Zanzibar Chocolate and Zazimint – both are delicious with a chocolate dipped cone.
Things to do
5. Capital Brewery Tour (7734 Terrace Ave, Middleton) The brewery does three tours a day on Sunday, Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. If you have a group of people, or want to make sure you go on the tour when you want/need to – you can book online. I just showed up on Sunday for the 3 pm tour and there was a spot for me. The tour is a 30-45 minute tour going through the entire facility learning about the process and costs $7. For the $7 you can sample 4 beers or receive 1 pint; you will also receive a commemorative glass.
6. Concerts on the Square (2 E Main St) From the end of June until the beginning of August, Madison is in full summer-mode. The best way to enjoy this weather is to be outside as much as possible. During the summer, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra turns the Capitol’s square into a concert venue with plenty of food, beer, and wine vendors. Fun Fact – you can take a walking tour of the Capitol Building before the concert starts!
7. Mustard Museum (7477 Hubbard Ave, Middleton) Y’all there is a mustard museum – HOW WEIRD IS THAT? I first stumbled upon the mustard museum when I found an article about the strangest museums in every state. The museum has over 5,600 museums showcasing the finest mustards from all 50 states and over 70 countries. The museum is free to visit, but a donation of $5 is what I recommend to help these folks keep the museum open (especially if you do not buy any mustard). The real fun is going upstairs to the store and trying all the different tasty mustard. If you do buy any mustard – please make sure you check your bag on the flight home!
8. Shopping on State Street One of my favorite things to do in Madison is to walk up and down State Street. There are lots of restaurants, cafes, and unique gift shops to wander in and out of. I would dedicate two hours to walking around this area.
Treats to bring home
9. Candinas Chocolatier (11 W Main St) After a long week of training, the company gives us two chocolates from Candinas Chocolatier. After my fourth training, I knew I was hooked. Candinas chocolates are just so delicious! They are made by a Swiss-trained confectioner and do not have any preservatives (maybe this is why I have to inhale a whole box at one time?). The unique thing about these chocolates is that you never know what you are going to get – but if you do not like to be surprised, you can always go to their website to figure out what is in your mixed box.
10. Brennan’s Market Cheese (8210 Watts Road) Of course a blog post would not be complete without including cheese! Out of all the cheese, I have bought – Brennan’s has been the best tasting, and best traveling! Did you know, you can let cheese out of the fridge for something absurd like 12 hours? That way you can have the cheese in your carry on and bring all the delicious treats back home. Even though you probably had your fill of fried cheese curds, bring back some squeaky goodness back home so you can relive the cheese curd fun.
Have you been to Madison? What are your top places?
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