Two-Day Getaway in Madison, Wisconsin | Midwest Living

Two-Day Getaway in Madison, Wisconsin

The state capital tempts with locavore eateries, outdoor rec, museums—and Badger fandom.
The Madison Museum of Contemporary Arts sparkles in an airy building near the capitol.
+ enlarge
Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Photo courtesy of Olbrich Botanical Gardens.
+ enlarge
Brassserie V.
+ enlarge
National Mustard Museum.
+ enlarge

Day 1

The $43 million expansion of the Chazen Museum of Art is a masterpiece displaying 20th-century modernism and African and Asian pieces, while the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art hosts engaging exhibits from from global artists.

State and Monroe streets teem with ethnic stores and galleries; favorites include Orange Tree Imports and Katy’s American Indian Arts for authentic, handmade American Indian jewelry.

The Old Fashioned serves creamy mac and cheese made with sharp cheddar as well as an oatmeal stout.

Badgers games draw crowds to State Street and University of Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium.

Explore 16 acres of outdoor gardens (including the Thai pavilion) for free at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, while there, pay $2 to enter the orchid-filled Bolz Conservatory.

History lessons come with dinner at Quivey’s Grove: Dishes are named after prominent figures from Wisconsin’s past, and the menu reads like a book.

Turn in at sophisticated boutique HotelRed. Ultrachic decor in comfortable guest rooms and a welcoming fireplace in the lobby encourage relaxation (from $179).

Day 2

See Lake Monona from aboard a Betty Lou motor yacht during a leisurely Champagne brunch cruise or from land by biking the shore’s 13-mile trail.

Fountain Prairie dry-aged Highland ground beef fills the V burger at Brasserie V, a casual European-style restaurant focusing on rustic French food and Belgian beers.

The Madison Children’s Museum lends itself to nonstop learning and playing; day camps and workshops are available.

The bold, seasonally inspired menu at Graze includes sustainable, fresh fish and chili-braised mussels in a wine broth.

More information: Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 373-6376;

By the Numbers

280 vendors sign up each year to participate in the Dane County Farmers Market, the country’s largest producer-only market. Sellers produce or process everything for sale, including bison meat, fried cheese, ciders and flowers. (608) 455-1999;

Inside Scoop

National Mustard Museum You don’t have to be a mustard-lover (though it certainly helps) to appreciate the quirky yet classy homage to ketchup’s counterpart. Located 7 miles west of Madison in Middleton, the museum features a variety of mustards on The Great Wall of Mustard, antique mustard pots, a few simple displays and a video explaining the condiment’s history. In the gift shop, purchase a T-shirt that reads “Friends don’t let friends eat K-----p!” (608) 831-2222;

Add a Day

Tours of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin educate visitors on this ingenious yet controversial architect who is famous for his creation of a uniquely Midwest style. Tours of the estate chronicle its creation and the development of the Taliesin Fellowship to train architecture apprentices. Taliesin sits on a pastoral hilltop overlooking the Wisconsin River in Spring Green, 34 miles west of Madison.

Add Your Comment