Nestled between two picturesque lakes, Madison, Wisconsin is the perfect city for a romantic weekend escape. We’ve been wanting go to go this destination for a year and we were thrilled to embark on our first getaway as a married couple in this Midwest city. With its natural beauty and great dining establishments, Madison allowed us to slow travel yet also experience here is your curated itinerary for your next weekend getaway.
Where to Stay - The Edgewater
The Edgewater Hotel in Madison is the essence of lakeside luxury next to Lake Mendota. With its incredible lakefront views, the Edgewater offers a tranquil escape, making it the perfect destination for a rejuvenating getaway. With a history dating back to 1948, this iconic hotel has stood as a beacon of luxury and relaxation in the heart of Madison.
The room we checked into was the Langdon Studio King, which was an oversized corner room with a full kitchen and a beautiful view of Lake Mendota. The bathroom was spa-like with its marble flooring, which contained a walk-in shower and a clawfoot soaking tub.
If you’re an early riser, we recommend going down to the pier and watching the sun rise over the lake. If you’re lucky enough, you might see the University of Wisconsin-Madison rowing team practice on the lake. You can also take dip in the lake right off the pier to fully wake up in the morning. All and all, this hotel gives us a perfect combination of nature and luxury.
Bike around Madison with Madison BiCycle
Driving around the destinations we went to was easy, but it’s best to experience Madison through their bike rental service, Bcycle. Madison is scattered with Bcycle stations around the city. To get a bike, it’s as easy as either paying at the station or to use Bcycle App. Best thing is that their entire fleet of bikes are electric, so you will be able to get through the streets without breaking out a sweat.
Where to Eat
Lucille was the first introduction to the Madison food scene and oh boy it was great! In a former bank, the restaurant emanates rustic elegance. You immediately notice the soft lighting, exposed bricks and reclaimed wood style tables and flooring. Lucille is proud to show where their ingredients come from and are locally sourced from across Wisconsin.
When you’re in Wisconsin, you have to get cheese curds, so we began with Cedar Grove Cheese Curds. These bite sized pieces of cheesy heaven was a wonderful introduction to the main course. Lucille is mainly known for their two types of pizzas, Wood-fired and Steel Pan.. so of course, we got both! The wood fired pizza comes out as a normal sized pizza. We got The Queen, which is like a margherita pizza. The crust was nice and crispy and tasted wonderful.
What we loved the most was the Steel Pan pizza, The Weekender. It was a Wisconsin take on a Detroit style pizza. The square pizza was thick with a caramelized crust filled with meat and vegetables. If you want something to fill you up all day long and possibly the morning, get this pizza!
We highly recommend starting your Madison culinary journey at Lucille!
Bar Corallini feels like a gem waiting to be found in Madison. The restaurant doesn’t try to stand out from the others but blends in with the other buildings. As soon as you walk in, you’re transported to an Italian trattoria. The restaurant features a charming bar with decorative flooring that’s very eye catching!
For our meal, we’ve ordered Braised Octopus and Cheese Ravioli, which the later was provided by the chef! We both absolutely love making octopus at home and the dish tasted just like home! It wasn’t too chewy nor soft, it was just right! Paired with fingerling potatoes, garbanzo beans and sundried tomatoes, every part of the dish was fantastic!
The ravioli, provided by Chef Giovanni Novella was tasty as well. The pasta is made in house every day and tasted fresh and made with love. He also provided us with Limoncello, which was is grandmother’s recipe and is made in house as well. The drink is a lemon liquor that mostly drank as an after dinner drink that helps you digest your food. Grandma knew what she was doing and the recipe definitely holds up today.
If you’re looking for a romantic dinner date idea while in Madison, come to Bar Corallini and enjoy the best that Italy has to offer.
Monty's Blue Plate Diner
Who doesn’t like to get some diner food? Monty’s Blue Plate Diner is a local favorite for classic American comfort food and it did not disappoint! When you first walk inside, you will notice it’s 50s retro feel with old style floors, a bar with cozy stools and vintage posters to give you the feeling of nostalgia of a by gone era.
Coming in just before lunch, we were looking for something that will last us the car ride home back to Chicago. We’ve ordered the Heathen Vegan Shoplifter’s Delight and the Monty’s Cristo. The first order will sort of remind you of a Philly cheesesteak sandwich, but vegan with Portobello mushrooms, fired tempeh, grilled red onions and avocado in a baguette. The later was their take on a Monte Cristo with local preserves made in Wisconsin. Both were pretty amazing!
Start your morning or day off right and head down to Monty’s Blue Plate Diner!
Madison is very lucky to have an abundance of natural wonders. The city is located in the Driftless Area, which means that glacial debris long ago never drifted that much in this area. This means that Madison and the surrounding area are filled with bluffs, valleys and streams and rivers cutting through the area. With the lakes and the many parks the city has to offer, there’s two special places we checked out to enjoy the best that Madison has to offer, the University of Wisconsin Arboretum and the Ice Age Trail.
The University of Wisconsin Arboretum serves as a living lab and a recreational haven. Established in 1932, the area has offered Madison many forests, wetlands and prairies to discover and walk through. We only explored a small area of the arboretum, but the trails are well maintained as they wind through the habitats as you can enjoy birdwatching or just to hike the trails.
We also went to the Ice Age Trial, which spans 1,200 throughout Wisconsin, but has two spots near Madison we checked out. This is also one of 11 National Scenic Trails in the country. From our experience, you really get to see and experience the rolling valleys in the area that are dotted with forests separating them. It was truly a sight to see and our drone footage can’t give it enough justice how great it was.
Door Creek Orchard
Tis the season for apple picking, pumpkin patching and cider donuts! You can visit Door Creek Orchard about ten minutes outside of Madison to have your fall moments. Upon arriving, we were greeted by a gentlemen that showed us the aisles of apples and what kinds they had available to pick. We managed to nab a bag of honeycrisp apples and some cider donuts! Their on site store also has pre-picked apples, bakery items, fresh honey and pears.
Olbrich Botanical Gardens
The Olbrich Botanical Garden is perfect for a quick getaway out of town and into nature. One of the most iconic features of the garden is the Thai Pavilion. This garden has a golden Pavilion that’s surrounded by lush ornamental grasses, bamboo and large shrubs to give it a look of a typical Thai garden. Gifted by the Thai government, it’s the only one in the United States.
We also came during a special event they were holding called GLEAM, an annual night light installation that covers all 16 acres of the garden and the conservatory. Open doors to otherworldly universes, hear the guardians of the forest sing and get your disco on at the gazebo. It was truly an awesome experience!
For tickets, check out the Olbrich Botanical website. The event runs from August 30 to October 28.
Madison has a lot to offer any traveler. Whether you’re exploring the city’s rich cultural scene, indulging in its farm-to-table cuisine, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll along the lakeshore, Madison’s charm is undeniable. With its warm and welcoming atmosphere, this Midwestern gem leaves a lasting impression on every visitor. So, if you’re seeking a destination that combines the best of urban and outdoor experiences, Madison should definitely be on your travel radar.