Chicago is an amazing city, but sometimes you just want to get away for a while. Within a few hours, you can drive to two fantastic cities: Madison and Milwaukee. It’s about a two and a half hour drive to Madison, and Milwaukee is an hour closer. Whether you decide to take a day trip or stay for the weekend, both cities offer fun activities, cultural opportunities, delicious dining, and unique shopping.
Find out why USA Today ranked Madison as one of the “Best Travel-worthy State Capitals.” Spend a few hours browsing shops such as A New Hope Collectible Toys and Comics, Ear Wax Records, and Paul’s Book Store. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Candinas Chocolatier, or do a taste comparison at Capitol Corn Popper and Clary’s Gourmet Popcorn. There are several free museums to explore, including the Chazen Museum of Art, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Wisconsin Science Museum. Catch a live performance at Majestic Theater, Orpheum Theater, or The Bartell Theatre. If you happen to visit on a Saturday, check out the Dane County Farmers’ Market on the Square for fresh local food.
A great way to explore the area is by renting a bicycle from one of the many Bcycle stations. The views around Lake Mendota and Lake Monona are incredible. Pick up a farm fresh salad from Forage Kitchen on State Street and head out to Picnic Point for lunch. Then pedal over to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens; wandering through the outdoor gardens is free.
Aside from the many chain hotels, there are several amazing and unique places to stay in the city. For relaxation and a lake view, try The Edgewater. Graduate Wisconsin is trendy and has a rooftop bar. The Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club feels glamorous without a huge price tag, or you can splurge on luxury at the Mansion Hill Inn.
There are lots of exciting events going on throughout the year in Madison, including free concerts and movies in the park during the summer, so make sure you check out their events website.
Since it’s an hour closer to Chicago than Madison, Milwaukee is definitely close enough be a day trip. However, there are plenty of things to do keep you busy for much longer.
The Milwaukee Public Museum has 150,000 square feet of exhibits from around the world. If you plan your visit for the first Thursday of the month, admission is free. Discovery World is another interactive museum which focuses on science and technology. If you have kids, they will love the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. Of course, no trip to Milwaukee is complete without a tour of the Harley-Davidson Museum.
Of course, many people say that beer is what made Milwaukee famous, so be sure to take the free tour of MillerCoors where you can explore the underground caves. Lakefront Brewery and Sprecher Brewing Company are also worth stopping by.
Pabst Theater and Turner Hall are local historical landmarks known for their shows, but there are many smaller venues around the city where you can enjoy live music. Check out Northern Lights Theater at the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, Caroline’s Jazz Club, or Miramar Theatre.
There’s plenty to keep the outdoor enthusiast busy too. Bradford Beach on Lake Michigan is the place to be; you can play beach volleyball, jet ski, or surf here. You can also hike the 6-mile Lakefront Trail, rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard, or rent a bike to trek over 100 miles on the Oak Leaf Trail.
There are three ways to get great views of the area. You can climb the North Point Lighthouse in Lake Park, the observation tower at Schlitz Audobon Nature Center, or the lookout tower at the Urban Ecology Center.
If you decide you want to stay the night, the magnificent Pfister Hotel is a Victorian landmark that has been around for over a century. For half the price you can stay at the equally gorgeous Astor Hotel, which is still within walking distance of many attractions. Another option is the magnificent Schuster Mansion Bed and Breakfast.
So go ahead and take a break from the Windy City and plan a trip to Madison or Milwaukee. Contact us for more information about sharing parking, long-term parking, on-demand parking, and more.