200 N Randall Ave, Madison, WI 53706, USA
Welcome to Madison, Wisconsin, the Athens of the Midwest. If competitions of Ancient Greek proportions are your thing, then our first stop will have you running circles. Camp Randall Park Stadium is one of the nation’s largest school-owned stadiums. It holds over 80,000 people, so imagine how exciting a game here is. According to the New York Times, “there are plenty of rowdy stadiums in college football... but perhaps no stadium rocks more than Wisconsin’s Camp Randall.” This reputation is earned in no small part by the school’s famous “Jump Around” cheer. Between the third and fourth quarter of every home game, Camp Randall’s sound system blasts out House of Pain’s 1992 hip-hop hit, and the earth quakes beneath the feet of tens of thousands of jumping Badgers. The tradition started simply – in 1998 the Badgers faced off against Perdue, led by future Saints quarterback Drew Brees. An injured tight end named Ryan Sondrup had spent his week developing a list of “pump-up” songs for the big game, and the minute the crowd was asked to “Jump Around,” they obliged in force. Wisconsin crushed Perdue, went 11 and 1 for the season, and won the Rose Bowl that year, and the song has been an integral part of the school’s football legacy since. The stadium first opened its gates in 1917. On November 3rd of the same year, the first game was held, and it ended with a 34-0 win over Minnesota. In 1861 before the field was used for football, the land’s original purpose was to train Wisconsin troops during the Civil War. That’s over 70,000 troops being trained at the Camp Randall complex. When peace returned to the land, troops no longer needed to prepare, and the land was then repurposed to house the state fair. When the fair moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Civil War Veterans wanted the legislature to purchase the land. In 1893, the state gave the land to the university as a memorial athletic field. This move is emblematic of Camp Randall’s history – this land constantly brings people together in ways they didn’t know they needed, whether for defense, recreation, or football. Go take a look for yourself. The double-decker seating makes you feel like you are on Mount Olympus itself – what else can you expect from the Athens of the Midwest? From the Camp Randall Memorial Arch, cross Randall Avenue and make your way down Dayton Street. At the corner of Dayton and Charter, you’ll see the massive red-brick structure of the University of Wisconsin Geology Museum.
208 N Charter St, Madison, WI 53715, USA
Pardon the pun, but the Geology Museum rocks. This family-friendly museum is a gold mine of information for science fans of all ages. Make sure to experience the “minerals that glow” exhibit. If cave dwelling is your thing, be sure to see the model of a Wisconsin cave. Oh, and for those would-be paleontologists and astronauts out there, go and see the dinosaur and meteorite display. It is definitely out of this world. I don't know about you, but I love my museum experience to be explosive! This museum is one place you can actually touch a rock from a time when Wisconsin had active volcanoes! The streets that we walked on to get here used to be the home of the corals, jellyfish, and other sea creatures that you will see fossilized here. Turn Left on Charter Street and head north to reach University Avenue, the center of UW’s urban campus. Along the way, you’ll pass the psychology building on the left and the chemistry building on the right.
27 N Charter St, Madison, WI 53715, USA
Now let's get a little educational as we stroll down University Avenue. This road makes up the center of the University of Wisconsin’s main campus. Go ahead and cross the street to find yourself in front of Chamberlin Hall. Let's start with some information about the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Since 1972 the university has been ranked top 10 in National research spending, making the University of Wisconsin one of the top universities for scientific research. So if you or your scholar has science on the brain, the University of Wisconsin might be the place for them. The university has more to offer than just its stellar research facilities. Unimpressed by its research ranking? The University of Wisconsin is also in the top 10 universities producing Fortune 500 CEOs. This is the university to attend if you dream big and strive hard. There are limitless possibilities on this 938-acre campus. The Wisconsin Idea is the University's pledge to the state, the nation, and the world that their endeavors will benefit all citizens. Need proof? How about the fact that 17,000 lifelong learners benefit from University of Wisconsin education programs a year. Or that 20 Nobel prizes have been awarded to University of Wisconsin faculty and alumni. They have spent fifty-five years dedicating themselves to studying poverty and social inequality. The Wisconsin Idea is more than just a commitment to education; it's a call to action. Chamberlin Hall is home to the Ingersoll Physics Museum. This museum is free to the public and runs on donations. Their exhibits offer their guests a hands-on experience of physical concepts in a kid-friendly environment. So, if you're someone with a little physicist on your hands, this is definitely a place to expand their mind. The 1500 square foot museum has over 65 exhibits, rotating in and out each year. This means there's always something new to enjoy or learn from. If you want to check it out, the museum is located on the second floor of Chamberlin Hall. Not only does it have fascinating exhibits, but they also display photos of the Nobel Prize winners in physics from 1901 to 1993. Turning right, head west along the avenue to see the Olbrich Botanical Garden next door. The garden was voted one of the top 10 most inspiring gardens in North America by Horticulture Magazine. The outdoor gardens feature 16 acres of beautiful landscapes and west hardy plants. They are free and open daily – feel free to take a detour through them now if you’d like. If you want to experience a true sight of beauty, visit the tropical Bolz Conservatory. It's filled with exotic plants, orchids, birds, and a waterfall for a low price of $6 admission. It's free for members, and it's free to all on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon. They also host excellent spring flower show classes and workshops. If music is your thing, you may enjoy the gardens’ Rainforest Rhythms program. They also offer a virtual lecture series from January to May so you can enjoy the beauty from the comfort of your own home. I don't know about you, but the Botanical Garden seems like a lovely way to spend time with the family, or if you're the creative type, an incredible source of inspiration. I’m feeling inspired just talking about it. Continue down University avenue toward our next stop. Along the way, you’ll see Barnard and Chadbourne residence halls on your left and the School of business across the street on your right.
800 University Ave, Madison, WI 53706, USA
The crossroads you find yourself at now is where the Campus mall, the main walking path on the east end of the school, crosses University Avenue. The intersection is home to the Humanities department and Chazen Museum of Art. Turn left and head under the great stone walkway. To the north, the Campus Mall provides an unobstructed view through campus and across Lake Mendota. The Chazen Museum of Art is the brown and glass structure on the right side of the mall. The museum is open daily and is always free, containing the second most extensive art collection in Wisconsin and the largest collecting museum in any Big Ten school. The 176,000 square foot museum holds a collection of about 23,000 works of art from historical periods, cultures, and geographic locations, such as ancient Greece, Western Europe, the Soviet Empire, Mughal India, 18th century Japan and modern Africa. This window to the ancient world certainly adds to Madison’s reputation as the Athens of the Midwest. The museum first opened its doors in 1970 as the Elvehjem Art Center. Its primary purpose was to assist the university with its mission to further education, research, and public service. With that purpose in mind, the Chazen Museum of the Arts believes "diversity is a source of strength, creativity, and innovation." They also understand that the University of Wisconsin, Madison occupies Ho-Chunk ancestral land. With this in mind, they make strides to respect the "inherent sovereignty of the Ho-Chunk Nation" and the other eleven First Nations of Wisconsin. Make an about-face and head back to University Avenue. From here, you’ll take the East Campus Mall south across the street. Once across the street, you’ll pass the University Square Shopping center, a spot for students and residents to grab groceries and necessities within walking distance of their apartments and dorms. You’ll also pass Vilas Hall, home to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the University Theater.
797 W Dayton St, Madison, WI 53706, USA
Across the street, you’ll see the Nicholas Recreation Center. They offer a variety of fitness classes during the week for a small cost. Not sure if you want to commit to a group fitness class? All classes are free during the first week of the semester. The rec center is the largest student employer on campus, and the mission they stand by is "we move badgers to play hard, get fit, and love well." Students are bound to find a class or group activity they enjoy at the recreation center. Turn left and walk a block east. The Gordon Dining and Event Center is the large brick building on the left, where students from all over campus flock for meals and social activities.
W Dayton & N Lake (EB), Madison, WI 53715, USA
Go ahead and cross lake street and take a stop on the corner. Facing southeast, you’ll behold the next major landmark on our tour. Now, I know we had fun when it came to talking about football, but no midwestern sports roster is complete without basketball and hockey, and the Kohl Center is the destination for both. Opened in 1998, this massive indoor arena hosted its first men's basketball game on January 17th with a 55 to 33 win over Northwestern. Madison continues to show their winning spirit, and we can't mention men's basketball without giving a shout-out to the ladies. The women's basketball team's first game was on January 20th, just three days after the men's. Sadly this one was a loss of 56 to 63 to Iowa. Still, that margin shows that the Badgers didn’t go down without a fight. The main court was renovated in 2008. A student section is blocked out in red to show off the team colors. The first men's hockey game was on October 3rd of 1998. This match was pretty tough. It was a 2 to 1 loss, but again, the Badgers put up a fight. The arena seats 15,000 fans, and the rink is 97 feet wide, giving spectators a great view of the action no matter where they’re sitting. Sports aren’t the only thing that the Kohl Center is used for. At the end of each semester, the Kohl Center transforms into a beautiful location for commencement ceremonies. Over the years, the Kohl Center has served as the commencement ceremony location for thousands of University of Wisconsin and Madison High School students. Other than just commencement ceremonies, the Center also hosts live music with their annual Spring Concert Series. They have held over 70 concerts since they opened in 1998. They had performances by Billy Joel and Elton John, Bob Dylan, Shania Twain, and even the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. In 2012, the LaBahn Arena was opened, maintaining the Badgers' status of having some of the best facilities in the country. The LaBahn Arena sits beside the Kohl Center, and they are connected by an underground hallway. This annex includes a competition rink for the University of Wisconsin Women's Hockey team and new locker rooms for men's and women's hockey teams. They also remodeled and expanded locker rooms for the men's and women's basketball teams as part of the project. The locker rooms include lounges, ping pong tables, big-screen TVs, and eating areas, including a small cafeteria just for student-athletes. They added a team video room with stadium-style seating. The upgrade also includes an enhanced Sports Medicine facility with a pool and recovery tubs. They’ve gone all-out to give Badger athletes the tools to win big. Our next stop will be historic State street, which will take us off campus and into the historic heart of Madison. To get there, turn around and head up Lake Street, crossing back over University Avenue.
673 State St, Madison, WI 53703, USA
Welcome to State Street! This historic road has been converted into a pedestrian-only zone, and walking along it will make up the next major leg of today’s tour. While we walk along, let's talk about some of my favorite things about visiting a new place, food, history, and shopping. Can you truly say you've been somewhere without trying the food? Local cuisine is as fundamental a part of a city’s identity as its architecture. But you can't truly appreciate what you see and eat without knowing a little bit more about the history of the location. 8 years after Wisconsin became a state, Madison became a city, raising a population of over 6,800. The first people to settle here were northerners from the eastern states. Later they were followed by German, Swiss, Irish, and Scandinavian immigrants. Those cultures together created a foundation for Madison, Wisconsin. Add in the immigrants from the 20th century, including individuals of Italian, Greek, Jewish, and African American descent, and you get the diversity that makes up Madison, which influences the food, architecture, and local entertainment. Okay, let's talk about food. Wisconsin is known for some of the best comfort food out there. As you walk along State, you’ll see plenty of spots for Mediterranean, Latin, and Asian foods, among others. We’ll talk more about restaurants along our route as we pass them, but I wanted to mention three spots you won’t see that are must-eats for foodies looking to experience Wisconsin’s local flavor. Oakcrest Tavern is a local favorite and a place for burger fans. Throughout town, a lot of venues will have bartenders serve double duty, attending grills located right behind the bar. Oak Crest Tavern is a leading example of this, with the bartenders handling the cooking, serving, and beverages all at once. Their burgers are crafted from steak trimmings from the butcher located right across the street. If you find yourself on the west side of town, you’ve got to stop by Marie's soul food. Few have as much power to comfort and warm a person as perfectly seasoned fried chicken, extra cheesy mac n’ cheese, and freshly stewed collard greens. Mickey's Dairy Bar is Madison's most iconic breakfast location; they've been serving breakfasts of potatoes and eggs since the 1940s. Breakfast at Mickey's is a local tradition. Located near Camp Randall, Mickey's is a trendy place to pregame during football season. The bar makes milkshakes from scratch, and serves extra-large portions, leaving you full and happy for hours. Don't forget to stop by one of the many vintage clothing stores Madison has to offer. Ragstock, Rethreads, and Singlestitch are all located along State Street. Feel free to stop in and browse if anything catches your eye. We’ll pick back up with the tour when you reach State’s intersection with Johnson Street.
250 N Henry St, Madison, WI 53703, USA
This middle section of State Street is Madison’s cultural center. The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is located in the triangular glass building on the right and is well-known for its striking modern architecture. It's open 3 days a week, Friday through Sunday, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. They have multiple galleries and exhibits that capture the zeitgeist of today’s culture. Housed in the same building, you’ll find the Overture Center for the Arts. Listen up, musical theater fans, this is the place for you. The Overture is Madison’s venue for various musicals and shows, hosting the touring productions of recent hits such as Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, and The Prom. The Center for the Arts is also home to numerous resident artistic companies. The Madison Opera, Ballet, and Symphony Orchestra all make their home here, as well as the contemporary Kanopy Dance Company, Forward Theater Company, and Children’s Theater of Madison. Across the street, you’ll see the Orpheum Theater. Built in 1926, it's Madison’s main venue for live music and comedy shows. While the Orpheum hosts tours from comedy’s big names, there’s also Comedy on State, located just down the block on the corner of Dayton Street. They’re open five nights a week, with shows from local and touring comedians. If you're someone yourself that likes to perform, they also have open mic nights. They say laughter is the best medicine, so Comedy on State is the perfect remedy if you’re feeling down. Head one more block up to the very top of State Street. Along the way, check out the Wisconsin Cheese Mart for locally-sourced dairy, or grab a cup of coffee at Michaelangelo’s.
State St & W Mifflin St, Madison, WI 53703, USA
Coming to the top of State Street, we enter Capitol Square. The west corner, where you’re standing now, is a prime location for history lovers. On the left, you’ll find the Wisconsin Historical Museum, which showcases Wisconsin's history from prehistoric times up to the modern day. This is a great place to take the family or enjoy solo. Their hours are Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and admission is free to the public with donations encouraged. Suggested donations for adults are around $5, and children ranging from 5 to 12 are $3. If you're looking for summer activities for your child, the Museum offers week-long camps that take children on exciting adventures through the Capital. Campers explore global cultures, research STEM fields, and learn about Wisconsin wildlife and natural history. The Wisconsin Veterans Museum, on the north corner, honors the veterans of Wisconsin from over the last 150 years. Artifacts and exhibits showcase the citizens who participated in the military and highlight their struggles and accomplishments. Admission is free, and their hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from April to September. They are also open on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Of course, the most eye-catching structure in Capitol Square is the Capitol building itself. Its stately neoclassical architecture resembles the U.S capitol building in Washington, D.C. with its impressive domed rotunda. Did you know Madison has had three capitols? The current capitol building’s construction began in 1906 and was completed in 1917. Housing both the legislature and the Wisconsin supreme court, the white stone behemoth looms over the city as a symbol of justice. The statue that graces the peak of the dome is simply called Wisconsin, her bronze hand outreached, signaling the intent of Wisconsin’s State Motto, “Forward!” She also bears Wisconsin's state animal, the badger, perched on top of her gleaming helmet. Turning right on Mifflin, Past the Veterans museum, will take you along the northeast edge of Capitol Square. Housed in the same building, you’ll find the Overture Center for the Arts. Listen up, musical theater fans, this is the place for you. The Overture is Madison’s venue for various musicals and shows, hosting the touring productions of recent hits such as Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, and The Prom. The Center for the Arts is also home to numerous resident artistic companies. The Madison Opera, Ballet, and Symphony Orchestra all make their home here, as well as the contemporary Kanopy Dance Company, Forward Theater Company, and Children’s Theater of Madison. Across the street, you’ll see the Orpheum Theater. Built in 1926, it's Madison’s main venue for live music and comedy shows. While the Orpheum hosts tours from comedy’s big names, there’s also Comedy on State, located just down the block on the corner of Dayton Street. They’re open five nights a week, with shows from local and touring comedians. If you're someone yourself that likes to perform, they also have open mic nights. They say laughter is the best medicine, so Comedy on State is the perfect remedy if you’re feeling down. Head one more block up to the very top of State Street. Along the way, check out the Wisconsin Cheese Mart for locally-sourced dairy, or grab a cup of coffee at Michaelangelo’s.
25 N Pinckney St, Madison, WI 53703, USA
Standing at the north corner of capitol square facing the Capitol, you’ll see the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial, a circular flowerbed dedicated to those who have given their lives in the line of duty. Turning a hundred and eighty degrees, you can gaze down Hamilton Street by facing directly away from the Capitol Building. From here you can see the purple-awninged triangular building that houses the Madison Children's Museum. This museum has three floors of interactive activities and Exhibits for children 12 and under. If you and your little one are having a good day at the museum, they also have a cafe, so you don't even have to leave for lunch. Their hours are Thursday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. If your little one just can’t get enough of the museum’s interactive education, the museum can host an event just for them. From birthdays to weddings, the Children’s museum can be rented out for adults as well as kids. You and your child won’t want to miss their interactive exhibits. There’s an art studio where your little one can channel their inner artist and potentially discover hidden passions. The Madison Children's Museum believes that children learn best through experience and play. As they say, playtime is how we learn to invent, share, and explore. They offer summer camps to keep your child’s mind growing even when school is out of session. Adult Swim is the Madison Children's Museum’s recurring event catered towards the young-at-heart. They have about six to eight of them a year, each with a different theme. This event allows adults 21 years and older to enjoy what the museum offers. General admission tickets are $15, and alcohol and pizza are available for purchase at every event. Speaking of food and alcohol, crossing Hamilton and continuing around Capitol Square will place you in front of the Old Fashioned, a classic midwestern pub featuring locally sourced beers, bratwurst, and cheese curds. Keep heading down this road along the east side of Capitol Square.
33 E Main St, Madison, WI 53703, USA
The intersection of Pinckney, Main, and King Streets creates the east corner of Capitol Square. Go ahead and take a walk down King while I talk, noting the fabulous bars, shops, and restaurants along the way. Wisconsin is famous for its many breweries, and King Street is a great place to try them all. The Tipsy Cow, Madison’s, and Woof’s all feature rotating taps, and Young Blood Beer Company is constantly churning out new brews for its patrons to taste. If you’re more of a cocktail person, Plain Spoke and Oz by Oz are home to downtown’s finest craft cocktails. Continuing down King, you’ll pass the Majestic Theater on the right. This venue has been open since 1906 when it began as a home for traveling Vaudeville acts. Nowadays it hosts musical artists, DJs, and stand-up comics, and can be rented out for private events. Just across the next street, you’ll find the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company, a personal favorite spot of Rick Corey, the sponsor of today’s tour. Customers rave about the food, and they're constantly coming back for their gourmet burgers. Their outdoor Beer Garden features a rotation of craft beers, and their indoor pool hall makes them a destination even when the weather gets nasty. Their slogan, “Friends and beers for more than 25 years” is a testament to this establishment staying true to its origins. The Great Dane was founded by two college friends in the mid-90s that wanted to open up a pub that brews its own beer and serves delicious, heartwarming comfort food. They wanted something that felt worldly and comforting, and they’ve stayed true to their mission. But let's talk about the drinks. Their creative cocktail menu includes several twists on classic beverages, and original recipes like their fan-favorite, Hammer Time. Don’t forget to break out the old parachute pants to wear while you enjoy it. Their best-selling home-brewed beers can be purchased in cans as well as on tap, so you can take home a sudsy souvenir. Keep heading down King and take a right on Wilson. This road will lead to the final stop on our tour, Monona Terrace.
315 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Madison, WI 53703, USA
Our last stop is Monona Terrace, the beautiful convention center of Madison, Wisconsin. It was designed by Wisconsin native Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1950s, but the city denied his proposal time and time again. He fought for the construction project until his death in 1959. Many years after his death, in the mid-1990s, the city needed a viable convention center and the old architectural plans were put into action. Famous for designing buildings that fit in with and complement the natural beauty of their surroundings, Frank Lloyd Wright’s concept sought to preserve the beautiful views across Lake Monona. However, the construction project was not without controversy. Many feared the Madison lakefront and skyline would be ruined by a large, modern structure, and the discovery of a Ho-Chunk burial ground on the construction site sparked further outrage. For better or worse, the construction was completed, and today Monona Terrace is lauded as a triumphant addition to Madison’s architectural portfolio. The rooftop is level with the street, providing unbroken lake views from the Capitol and the buildings along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. From the Lake, however, Monona Terrace rises from the water with its imposing glass-fronted convention halls, providing guests 180-degree lakefront views. Monona Terrace is also home to one of the largest public parking garages in downtown Madison. Though the lot may be full when conventions are in town, it’s a convenient place to leave your vehicle most days of the year. Community events held at Monona Terrace include Yoga classes, meditation seminars, and wellness talks. As well as the main convention halls, the rooftop is also open for outdoor events when weather permits. You can even rent out the place for private parties, like weddings, birthdays, and retirement celebrations. Their in-house event planners and catering strives to “Be the best, no less”. Well, that just about wraps up today’s tour! If you’d like to learn more about making your home here in southern Wisconsin, including Madison and its surrounding communities, reach out to our local expert Realtor, Rick Corey. You can reach him by emailing Rick@MoveMode.com or by calling 608-219-6066. Have a great day!