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Madison, Wisconsin.

This past October, my boyfriend and I headed up to Madison, Wisconsin the weekend after my birthday for a bit of fun and relaxation. It's not a place you need to spend a ton of time in (if we're being honest!), but if you ever happen to find yourself headed to the capital of the cheese state, here's what I recommend doing, eating, and skipping!

Beautiful scene at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens.

To Do 

Burnie's Rock Shop 
This sweet little shop nestled in an old house on Jackson Street was a place we could have easily spent hours in. Covered from floor to ceiling in tons and tons of cool jewels and rocks, this is a perfect destination for a memorable (and unique!) souvenir.

Wisconsin State Capital 
I am such a sucker for a capital building. There's something about hanging around the area that makes me feel like I'm a part of something! The grounds are so pretty and the building has great history and character. I love that the circular area is smack dab in the middle of Downtown Madison-- you can't (and shouldn't!) miss it.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens 
These gardens were such a dream! I am not one for nature but there's something about flowers that gets me entranced-- I could have spent hours wandering the maze like area! The grounds have tons of cool spaces to explore and lots of fun architecture to admire. Enjoy the weather and people watch (read: spy on engagement photo sessions) before heading to Lake Monona across the street.

Rainy, but pretty.

To Eat 

Weary Traveler's Freehouse 
This hip bar was such a great dinner spot-- go early to avoid the crowds! The menu is unique and reflective of Wisconsin's dairy based persuasion. Sip on one of their many beer or wine options and order one of the their locally sourced, seasonal entrees. Must order? The Wisconsin meat and cheese platter.

Ella's Deli 
If you're wanting a unique dining experience, Ella's is a must! From the pretty carousel outside to the dozens and dozens of toys and games inside, there's tons to see and do at this Madison staple. If you're with kids it's a must, but we enjoyed taking in the sights while munching on top notch ice cream. So, so fun.

The cool bar area at Weary Traveler's Freehouse

To Skip 

If you're not one for the college scene, I would recommend avoiding the UWM campus like we did. While I love a good quaint campus area, there's plenty to explore in greater Madison! If you're heading up for the weekend, know that many of the luxuries we're used to in Chicago (like museums and galleries being open on Sundays) are not as prevalent in the smaller city. West Towne Mall is pretty lacklustre too, you're better off exploring boutiques down the street or turning to the near by strip malls for more familiar options.

Hope this was helpful! Happy travels xo


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