Growing up, reading the Chicago Tribune while I ate my breakfast was part of my daily routine, and through the years, one of my favorite features became One Fine Day. Every Saturday a different member of the Tribune staff would take over the column and share their perfect day in Chicago.
It was short, sweet, sometimes themed and always a charming snapshot of the city. While the column is long-since defunct, I decided to pay tribute to one of my Chicago favorites by starting a new series of my own, starting with my ideal day after a recent visit to Madison, Wisconsin.
One Fine Day in Madison
Start your morning off slowly with coffee and crepes from bradbury’s in downtown Madison. With incredible coffee and espresso offerings and a full menu of delicious crepes, this tiny triangular cafe was a fast favorite. We opted for the peaches and cream crepe and the “BLT” crepe, but the menu changes seasonally so you’ll be in for a great surprise.
Next, head west through downtown for a bit of kitsch with a visit to the National Mustard Museum. With more than 5,600 varieties and endless hilarious paraphernalia, you can’t beat the museum’s free admission and quirky title of world’s largest collection of processed mustards.
After your savory sampling, you’ll probably be in the mood for lunch (or at least an afternoon treat). Head back east to Ella’s Deli and Ice Cream Parlor for a sugar-coated sensory overload and a ride on their vintage 1920s carousel.
With a full belly, head back downtown for some State Street wandering. With dozens of shops, independent bookstores, and local bars, you can easily kill a few hours exploring this hub of the city’s activity.
Make your way toward the University of Wisconsin – Madison for happy hour lakeside on the campus’ Memorial Terrace. Ideally, it would be summer so the inviting patio’s colorful metal chairs won’t be mobbed with students, but regardless, this is the perfect venue for an early drink or two. Arrive early and scope out a table so you can stick around for whatever live music might be scheduled for the evening.
End the night with a late dinner at The Old Fashioned, a mainstay in Wisconsin comfort food and stiff drinks that pair perfectly. Order the fried cheese curds because hello, you’re in the land of the cheese heads, and a cocktail matching restaurant’s namesake. The local favorite fills up fast so be sure to stop in, leave your name and take a pre-dinner stroll around the Wisconsin State Capitol to bide your time.