Madison WI area attractions
June 10, 2005 9:23 AM   Subscribe

I'll be in the Madison/Hollandale area for a couple of days with my son and wife - besides Talieson and the usual attractions, are there any special less-known places to go, wander, etc.? (have been to Crane Foundation, Convention Center).
posted by judybxxx to Travel & Transportation around Madison, WI (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm assuming you included House on the Rock with the usual attractions?

How far are you willing to go from Madison?
posted by drezdn at 9:53 AM on June 10, 2005

As drezdn said, The House on the Rock is unmissable. A blow-your-mind kind of place.

Dr. Evermor's Forevertron is absolutely essential. Fun for adults and kids alike!

There are great bike trails in and around Madison, if that's your thing.

The Arboretum is good for wandering.

The UW Geology Museum is a bit hokey and out-of-date, but it's actually pretty interesting.

Madison is rich in restaurants, bookstores, and record stores. Email me (address in profile) if you want my recommendations.

Oh, and you should look at the Isthmus newspaper for a list of events going on during your visit.
posted by Dr. Wu at 10:05 AM on June 10, 2005

It's been several years since I lived in Madison, but one of my favorite things to do there was to go to the Dane County Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings around the capitol square. The capitol sits on a square which is two blocks on a side; at the farmers' market the entire square is lined with vendors, so that's nearly a mile of vendors. It's not just produce; vendors sell bread, pastries, cheese, meats, fruit juice, and probably a whole lot of other things I'm leaving out. You can easily make a meal of it just by picking up a bit here and a bit there. Lots of friendly people too.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:07 AM on June 10, 2005

Yes, if you're a food fan, the Farmer's Market is a must.

If you're looking for a world-class meal, L'Etoile is your best bet (multiple Beard award nominations, won best in the midwest a few years ago), and my sister just became their pastry chef.

If you want to kick back with a college crowd, the UW Union is right on Lake Mendota and is a great spot to kick back with a beer and people- or sailboat-watch (it used to have an arcade if your son is of that age).
posted by o2b at 10:15 AM on June 10, 2005

And it's not exactly "less-known," but the Capitol building is definitely worth seeing. It's the most beautiful state capitol I've ever seen on the inside.
posted by ChrisTN at 10:15 AM on June 10, 2005

Oh, and the American Players Theater is a wonderful open-air theater in Spring Green, about 40 miles west of Madison, with plays almost every night during the summer. Depending on how old your son is.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:18 AM on June 10, 2005

Response by poster: I don't know exactly how far we're willing to go - we're at a B and B near Hollandale, so roughly an hour west of Madison, aproximately or up to 15 minutes East should be fine. I'm hoping to be pretty relaxed. I suppose it depends on how tempted we are.

Thanks for the ideas - I've been to House on the Rock and once was enough for me (not my thing). the Forevertron looks Fantastic! just what i'm looking for.
posted by judybxxx at 10:21 AM on June 10, 2005

Definitely Dr. Evermor. It's en route to the Dells, which, as far as natural beauty goes, is quite pretty. Also, as far as mini-golf and water parks go, it's no slouch, either. If you do go to the Dells, definitely keep your eyes peeled for the huge 3D facade of an overturned White House.

The best sample of Southern Wisconsin is definitely the nature stuff -- state parks, canoe trips, bike trails, etc. If your family doesn't have drive-ins in its area, there are a couple surrounding Madison.
posted by blueshammer at 10:23 AM on June 10, 2005

In Madison, rent a couple kayaks at Carl and John's Paddlin', go up the Yahara River a bit to the locks, and run around for a while on Lake Mendota. You can even paddle over to the UW Memorial Terrace, hop out, have a beer, and paddle back to the rental place.

God, I can't wait to move back to Madison.
posted by UKnowForKids at 10:54 AM on June 10, 2005

Nick Englebert's Grandview (near Hollandale) and the Mustard Museum in Mt. Horeb. But if the House on the Rock wasn't your thing, I suppose these wouldn't be either.
posted by kmel at 11:56 AM on June 10, 2005

Response by poster: Nick Englebert's Grandview looks great, and so accessible. and yes, I'd put the mustard museum with House on the Rock. (I liked some of it HOR, but found it overwhelming -seemed like if 20 are interesting, then it had 500 or so! unorganized. Your mileage will vary, of course)
Anything else in the Hollandale area would be a plus!
posted by judybxxx at 12:19 PM on June 10, 2005

Dr. Evermor! You must see it!
posted by interrobang at 2:39 PM on June 10, 2005

From Hollandale, you're some 20 minutes away from New Glarus, an authentic (if somewhat touristy nowadays) Swiss-American community. Cheese shops, lots of half-timbered or chalet-style construction, that sort of thing. There's also Blue Mound State Park (near Barneveld, a small town devastated by a tornado years ago -- rebuilt, but you can see the path it took through town by the new construction), and Mineral Point, a onetime mining community with historical interest.

If you go north, you can visit Devil's Lake State Park, a gorgeous natural area created by glaciation. There's a lake with typical recreation, surrounded by bluffs on two sides which are a good morning's hike from one end to the other. The view from the top of the W bluff is incomparable (it's about the highest point in the region). There's a fun restaurant nearby including a caboose/train car dining area that the kids would love. And going or coming, you can take the free Merrimac Ferry. My family tries to do the ferry at least once a year (right now, with summer camp deliveries, we have plenty of opportunities).

A terrific side trip in the area is the Parfrey's Glen preserve, an almost unknown natural area that is nearly wholly undeveloped. (Right around the corner is the similar Durward's Glen, which was once a religious retreat but may now be private.)

Baraboo itself, besides the touristy Dells and the natural Dells that you can see with the Ducks, has the fantastic (and legitimate) Circus World Museum, again something the kids would love. Every year the museum organizes the "Great Circus Parade" of authentic wagons in (usually) Milwaukee. In season there are real circus acts including animals.

If you want to see a grand old Victorian mansion, it may be a bit far, but you can come to Janesville and tour the Tallman Restorations.

South is Shullsburg, another onetime boom town of the mining years. This region has several churches founded and designed by Fr. Joseph Mazzuchelli, an early Catholic missionary. St. Augustine's is particularly lovely (though unrestored).

Hope some of this helps!
posted by dhartung at 3:25 PM on June 10, 2005

I don't know if you're going to see this - I'd email you, but there's no address in your profile. If your child is of an age at which he would enjoy this kind of thing, there's Ella's Deli. It's not so great for a meal sometimes (although the burgers are probably pretty safe) but the desserts can be really good. The main attraction of the place, however, is the plethora of crazy crap under the glass on the tables, standing throughout the restaurant, all over the walls, and flying through the air. It's like pure sugar for the eyes. There's also a functioning old-fashioned carousel outside. It's really a can't-miss experience, if your child is old enough not to be scared by all of the noise and movement.
posted by UKnowForKids at 9:39 AM on June 15, 2005

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