In my 5 mile concrete radius, it is easy to get caught up in my day-to-day city life. However, I’m always pleasantly surprised by how much the Midwest has to offer when I leave my Chicago bubble.

In pursuit of a low key birthday weekend for the boyfriend’s birthday, I recently found myself in Madison, Wisconsin. A mere two hour drive from Chi-town, Madison was the perfect destination to enjoy these last few weeks of summer. Most of my Badger-alumni friends have raved about this majestic, little college town, which is situated between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona. Prior to getting there, I was expecting to feel like I was back in college again, but boy, was I wrong.

We arrived at our lakefront Air BnB in the early evening with enough time to take in the lake view and relax on our dock. There are plenty of hotels in town, but if you are looking for a quieter retreat, check out Airbnb for an alternative option.

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This was definitely the place to bring my floppy hat and Soludos Sandals!

Madison

After an hour of watching the sailboats pass by, we showered up for dinner and headed into town. Our Airbnb was about ten minutes from the main drag, so it was easy to drive or Uber. We had reservations at Harvest, a restaurant located in the Capitol Square that boasts locally-grown and a farm-to-table menu. It was right up my alley, and their cocktails were great! It happened to be restaurant week when we were visiting, so we enjoyed a pre-selected menu. 👌 After eating and drinking to our hearts content, we headed home to rest up for the farmers market in the morning.

Madison

We woke up bright and early the next morning to visit the farmers market in Capitol Square. Fun fact: Madison boasts the largest producers-only farmer’s market in the US.

Madison

Madison

Wrapping around Capitol Square, the market attracted hundreds of people and – without a doubt – fulfilled my expectations.

Madison

Madison

Towards the end of our loop around the market, we approached Stella’s home of the famous hot & spicy cheesy bread.

Madison

It would have been rude not to buy two of these steaming hot loaves, right?

Madison

After dropping our farmer’s market haul off at our BnB, we headed out on a bike ride with Machinery Row Bicycles. The bikes were in great condition, and they suggested for us to bike the “lake loop” which took us around Lake Monona.

Along the way, we found Monona Bait & Ice Cream–a Babcock Hall Ice Cream stand that also sells like bait. A little more interested in the ice cream than bait, I discovered that the ice cream is made by the students in the dairy program at University of Wisconsin. The ice cream was one of the best I have tried, and if you leave Madison without tasting Babcock Hall Ice Cream, you have done something wrong.

After biking up an appetite, we went to eat actual food. But before we headed to dinner, we decided to take in the view of the sunset from Madison’s student union. The student union is a lively place, unlike any student union I have ever seen before. There were several bars serving Wisconsin’s finest beers as well as live music  and sailboats at their docks. The sunset was breathtaking…

Madison

After some beer and cheese curds, we headed to Heritage Tavern  another farm-to-table option {Wisconsin LOVES their farmers}.

Heritage Tavern is located near the Capitol Square down the street from Harvest. Must orders include: roasted beet salad, fried heritage pork & beef meatballs, and the pecan caramel profiteroles. Feeling full and satisfied, we headed back to our lake abode.

The next morning, looking to take in every ounce of Madison that we could, we took to the lake with paddle boards.  We opted to rent from Brittingham Boats, located on Lake Monona.

After an hour of paddle boarding, it was time to hit the road. I did not want to leave our lake abode, but alas it was back to reality and my Chicago bubble {which is pretty great, too}.

Where is your favorite place to road trip to from Chicago? Leave a comment below!

Cheers,

-C.