There are a lot of beautiful spots in Madison but the University Bay at Lake Mendota is a lovely spot
Fondest memory: Walking from the Campus to the capitol ,enjoy the street life,sit outside at a nice coffeshop,meet people from all over the world
The weekly 'newspaper' that lists upcoming events, movies, shows, concerts, etc.. comes out on thursday afternoon. They're usually available in doorways, coffee shops, record stores, paper kiosks, etc...
Also use the website to see what's happening before you come.
Maybe you've seen the on-line satirical website and radio program that mocks everything and everyone. (I saw it on sale at a Borders Book Store in Scotland last year) That was started here in the late '80s by a couple guys. It started as an 8 page weekly newspaper, and you can find it at locations around town, in kiosks and in a bundle in the doorway of coffeshops, etc...The new issue comes out every wednesday afternoon. free.
Favorite thing: Usually the nearest Saturday to Halloween State St. literally fills with drunken costumed revelers. This is an amazing event where all cross streets are blocked and nearly 60,000 people fill the six blocks from the capital to Library Mall. It is a lot of fun and a huge draw for non-natives and natives alike, however there are a few problems associated with it. There have been threats by the city to stop this party because some disrespectful losers think that this is ticket to trash our fine city. The majority of incidents are caused by out-of-towners. If you come to this party please don't break windows or throw things. We don't want to give the police a reason to use the pepper spray and we certainly don't want this tradition to be killed. Think of it like going to someone's house party and breaking their television because it would be funny.
Favorite thing: Glass-walled office buildings are often annoying - but this once has a good reason for its design: it is immediately opposite Wisconsin's magnificent State Capital. This is the US Bank Building, right on Capital Square - 1 S. Pinckney Street. The architectural use of plain glass was probably intended as a kind of deference to its imposing neighbor.
Favorite thing: One of the landmark buildings in the "Mansion Hill" neighborhood, the Kennedy Manor is a classic Madison address, home to a venerable restaurant and bar, and right across the street from the desirable Edgewater Inn. I recently stayed in an apartment here - I was visiting a friend who has an apartment here. Finding on-street parking was a chore, but it was worth the effort if only to be able to catch the tremendous views of Lake Mendota and the Capital from the Kennedy's rooftop.
A Frank Lloyd Wright design from the 1950s - when Wright was in his 80s. The first sermon at the Meeting House was delivered by Wright himself. (It's actually in Shorewood Hills, a close-in suburb a few miles to the west of the University of Wisconsin campus.)
(For a similar Wright design from this period, check out his William H. Danforth Chapel on the campus of Florida Southern College. It's on my Lakeland FL page.)
Favorite thing: Wright's "trick" here is the use of the rounded curves of the building to reflect and enhance the natural "circularity" of Lake Monona. FLW was always looking for ways for his buildings to be based in and growing out of their environments. Here, on the shore of a round lake, he devised a conference center that minimizes the use of right angles. For my $0.02 worth, this is another one of his Wisconsin masterpieces. (But the orange carpet in the lobby HAS to go.)
Favorite thing: Frank Lloyd Wright was rather short, and he liked his building to have a low-rising, short-person's perspective. At least that's my understanding. (I'm five foot six, about an inch taller than Wright had been.)
Favorite thing: Al and I got a tour of the Meeting House from one of the church deacons. He told us that the congregation was very pleased with the design and quite happy with Wright's concepts. Apparently, there was none of the unhappiness which is felt bymany at the Wright-designed Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa - which you can see on my Milwaukee page.
Favorite thing: Another Frank Lloyd Wright design, this was constructed posthumously, VERY posthumously, in the 1990s. It is only a few hundred yards from the state capitol, and sits right on the edge of Lake Monona. Wright designed the building to take maximum advantage of the site.
Fondest memory: For most part of the year, Madison is covered in snow. There is so much of it that it obscures almost everything else. I remember an adjoining house where the motorbike got covered by snow to an extent that it disappeared under it (see pic)!!
Go to A Room Of One's Own Feminist Bookstore & Coffeehouse!!! I may be biased because I work there, but it is the best thing in Madison that has happened to me. Seriously, I don't know where I would've ended up if I hadn't found that place and began to work there. It's such a welcoming, comfortable environment, we've got lots of selections, mainly women authors, a huge LGBT section, Women's Studies, Cultural Studies, Psychology, Health, Spirituality, Sociology, Politics, etc. They've also got t-shirts, coffee mugs, sticker, bumper stickers, postcards, journals, calendars. There aren't many feminist bookstores around, it's a struggle to keep them going. This place should definately be at the top or your list of things to see.
Fondest memory: Probably sitting outside on the balcony of my apartment, located downtown in the Mansion Hill District, on a nice warm summer evening, with a cup of coffee and a nice book. I loved looking down and watching people go by on the streets. There's always people out, especially downtown.
Madison feels like an east coast town set in the midwest (Wisconsin). Wisconsin's beauty has only really been discovered by Illinois residents (and of course Wisconsinites!), who flock north in the thousands every summer to Lake Superior, the north woods, the bluffs and rolling glacial hills of the Mississippi river, the Lake Geneva resort, and of course, Madison. Madison is known as a college town and a liberal hot spot, but is also packed with culture (theater, museums), great architecture, funky neighborhoods, and youthful energy. And it's almost always sunny and warm in the summer!!!
(Frank Lloyd Wright's Monona Terrace is in the foreground on the lakefront- see below)
Favorite thing: Several neighborhoods in Madison feature interesting older homes. I saw this one on the way back from the game and found it too interesting to pass by without taking its picture. I hope I get to go back sometime soon (maybe I'll wait for spring though haha) and explore more - it seems to have a lot more to offer than what I saw!