When I was planning my trip to Midwest Wisconsin I did my extensive research [what do you expect from a Type A surgical nurse?!] and it payed off. I had the best time discovering the city and finding the delicious hotspots. Before I start sharing my adventures - I decided that I would change the format of this specific post to look like an itinerary, because let's face it, most people want the information without the fluff.
• Arrived early morning—Dane Country Regional Airport [MSN]. Come early so you get a full day to see the city
• Got an Uber from the airport into the city [Lyft was also available]—No need to rent a car, you will spend the entire time walking around
• Graduate Hotel—By far one of the BEST hotels that I have stayed at. I do a lot of research on
where I stay based on three reasons:
• How they treat their guests [oh yes, I read a lot of YELP reviews]
• How clean it is [come on, I'm a surgical nurse—I expect everything to be sterile!]
• It's vicinity [i.e. the more eateries, the better].
When you walk in it looks like you just stepped through a time machine and arrived circa 1950s/60s, where college meets John Muir with wooden canoes on the ceiling bolted by hundreds of varied light bulbs, vintage Danish furniture, and collegiate memorabilia. My room was even better, take a look at the pictures below.
This boutique hotel did not miss any details—my key card was a college ID of Iris Apfel, a University of Wisconsin grad/successful businesswoman, and was inserted in a library pouch [if you're old enough, you'd know what it was used for]. As you can tell I loved it so much, countless pictures and photo-ops were done [you saw a few things I packed - comfy pjs and a loose fitting pretty drop waist dress for a dinner date].
Cheese curds are a thing in Wisoncosin—the cheese state!
They also have a rooftop restaurant called the Rooftop Blinds that lets you enjoy a beverage and get a nice aerial view of the city.
RESTAURANTS, SHOPPING, SIGHTS
Everything was walking distance from the hotel
• Bradbury's—Stopped by to get a snack, delicious lemon ricotta crepes. Has vegetarian gluten free options.
• Short Stack Eatery—Early bird gets the worm, including their popular sweet potato pancakes!
• Portage Pi—Located in the lobby of the Graduate Hotel. I was LITERALLY here everyday. Get their roasted veggie pie with basil sauce [my mouth is water thinking about it]. I also got their s'mores pie and apple pie.
• Lotsa Pizza—Reminded me of a chipotle-esque eatery, get in line and order their fresh margherita.
• La Coppa Gelato—Did you really think I could go somewhere cold and not get ice-cream? Especially when you can order gelato that looks like spaghetti [vanilla bean gelato noodles and strawberry sauce—clever!]
• Cento—Unexpected delicious Italian dinner. I got the creamy gnocchi and a side of roasted brussel sprouts.
• The Old Fashioned—The BEST roasted veggie sandwich! If there is anywhere that you would go on this list, it should be this place.
• Boutiques—There are a lot on State Street, but I found a gem in Ragstock. It was a mixture of eclectic and classic styles. I found a lifesaving patterned wool scarf here as it was freezing in Madison.
• The Capital—I don't know what it is, but I love architecture and history. Take a walk around and you'll appreciate it like a I did. The building is located in the heart of the city, if you look at a map, it would remind you of that saying—"all roads lead to Rome". Around this area there is also a Children's, Historical, and Veterans Museum. In addition, University of Wisconsin is half a mile away. College town? I say it's more than that and I plan on taking another trip. Madison is truly a charming city!