"Madison, Wisconsin....where I live" Top 5 Page for this destination Madison by Tom_In_Madison

Madison Travel Guide: 302 reviews and 477 photos

Life behind "The Cheddar Curtain"

Madison, population 221,496...250,000+ when the University is in session. Capital of Wisconsin.

A city surrounded by 5 lakes and a few rivers. Sandwiched mostly between Lakes Monona and Mendota--in an isthmus. FYI-Smoking is now not allowed in any bar or restaurant, or any offices or government buildings of course. Soon they'll ban even talking about it.

Most of the streets in the downtown area are named after signers of the Constitution. A little kiosk/board near the Capitol will list them, show where they are, and explain it better.

Frank Lloyd Wright used to live here and his home, Taliesin, is located nearby, so there's a few buildings here designed by him. We're 75 miles west of Milwaukee. 150 miles by interstate from Chicago and 4 1/2 hours from Minneapolis/St Paul. The UW football team packs in 83,000+ people on 6-7 saturdays in fall, and be warned it can be a bit rowdy before and afterwards. Rated one of the best bike cities in the country, miles and miles of trails. My commute to work is 5 miles and 4.5 of it is on a bike only trail.....peaceful.

Madison is a great city to live in, makes many "Best of " lists. For visiting, I guess it's ok--people do seem to come here but it's hardly a NY or SF. The downtown is based around State Street, a mile-long pedestrian mall (busses and bikes only) that is anchored on one end by the State Capitol and on the other by the University of Wisconsin Campus (Home of the current mens AND womens NCAA hockey champs!!!). Right at the end is the Library Mall & Memorial Union--two very popular places to just hang out and watch the students walk by, grab some lunch, read a book, traipse thru the fountain, get an ice cream or a beer, find out what the US Gov't is up to (U.S. Out Of ...fill in the blank), pretend you're young again.

A lot of very nice independent restaurants and shops make up most of State St, though unfortunately the Ben & Jerry's and The Gaps are starting to gain a foothold here. Even still, I can't see this place turning into Anytown, USA--just too different. Even though it's a University town, it doesn't go dormant in the summer. Au contraire, this is the best time to come-imho.

Gets a bit chilly in the winter. Dec - Feb brings snow and cold temps. If you're into skiing, sledding, skating you can enjoy it then. Otherwise it's beautiful usually the rest of the year. Lots of independent ethnic restaurants here, finding a place to eat out isn't hard at all.

Madison had a turbulent time in the ‘60’s Like many college campuses around the country, many anti-war protests occurred here. Dow Chemical, maker of Napalm, was a big recruiter and thus many riots were centered around their presence on campus. A movie, 'The War at Home' was made about the protests, as was a really good recent PBS Frontline special based on the book by David Maraniss--"2 Days in October - They Marched into Sunlight" which juxtaposes a bloody battle in Viet Nam on the same day as an anti-war riot where students were brutally beaten up by the City of Madison Police. If you walk down State St the nearer you get to Campus you’ll see how some buildings are just bricks with very little glass. That’s because store owners got sick of replacing the glass every night when they’d get busted by the riots. The Walgreens right on the end of State St next to campus is a good example. A perfect location right on the corner and it's almost all ugly brick.

Comedian Chris Farley of 'Saturday Night Live' fame grew up here, and is buried here. Thornton Wilder also.

Otis Redding's small plane crashed through the ice of Lake Monona in Madison on the afternoon of Dec 10, 1967 killing all aboard just 3 days after his only #1 'Sitting on the Dock of the Bay' was released. More about it on my tips.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:University town so there are lots of arts, culture, sports, restaurants, bike paths for a city this size....and most are free!
  • Cons:Cold winters, but then again I'm not a winter person.
  • In a nutshell:Madison has been called "74 square miles surrounded by reality"--it fits.
  • Intro Updated Dec 29, 2007
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Reviews (58)

Comments (42)

  • MD2nd's Profile Photo
    Nov 17, 2010 at 7:53 AM

    The infinity room..all glass..and nothing but trees below..and a huge carousel in the middle.. Your house on the rock sounds most intriguing.

  • uglyscot's Profile Photo
    Jul 28, 2010 at 3:26 AM

    It looks as if you lie in a colourful and interesting place, Tomazzo.

  • white_smallstar's Profile Photo
    Jul 1, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    Things to do in Madison? Well, going to see the blue and beige Tom_in_Madison’s house!! It should be so funny. Ciao from Novara, Never a Bad Time to Ride **N**

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Jun 28, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    You presented this city with such great commentary. I got here in the past, but not time to see much. Great pictures.

  • Homanded's Profile Photo
    Dec 10, 2009 at 11:19 AM

    Totally understood....FROSTY!

  • Travmad's Profile Photo
    May 29, 2009 at 6:25 AM

    Any other plans for the summer/fall this year? I would like to plan a Pittsburgh get together as I have been saying for ages.

  • Herwig1961's Profile Photo
    Dec 8, 2008 at 1:42 PM

    Hi Tom,thanks for your comments!I absolutely loved Madison and Wisconsin.Beautiful place to live!Greetings

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Sep 27, 2008 at 5:06 AM

    Hi, Tom! You live in a great city I must say! I enjoyed visiting it two times!

  • Pawtuxet's Profile Photo
    Aug 19, 2008 at 5:27 AM

    what a pretty street scene in your home town! BTW... you were the featured member on the front page of VT today.

  • Knoto's Profile Photo
    Apr 21, 2008 at 9:09 AM

    Sounds very interesting! Great Page! Greetings from Germany,Peter

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Tom_In_Madison

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