Take a Trip to Madison, Wisconsin

Over the summer I’ve been interning at Milwaukee Magazine and have had the opportunity to write for their website. While many of the stories are regular weekly pieces, I have had the opportunity to get creative and write a few stories I’ve pitched myself.

Milwaukee Magazine has a series dedicated to “Weekend Getaways” that are just a few hours drive away from Milwaukee. Upon learning this, I immediately checked to see if an article had been written Madison, Wisconsin, a place I call my home for a majority of the year. Lucky for me, no such article had been written and I immediately pitched the story to my editor.

“Take a Weekend Getaway to Madison, Wisconsin” has been one of my favorite pieces to write so far at Milwaukee Magazine. Writing about a city I call a home away from home was a nice change from my typical assignments and made me evermore excited to head back at the beginning of next month.

If you haven’t seen the piece yet, you can find it here or below. Where would you spend your time if you had a weekend trip planned to Madison? Let me know in the comments!


TAKE A WEEKEND GETAWAY TO MADISON, WISCONSIN

Looking for a short trip away from Milwaukee this weekend? Head to Madison, just over an hour’s drive west of Milwaukee. Here’s a tentative weekend itinerary.

City life meets life at the lake(s) in Madison, Wisconsin.  Located on an isthmus nestled between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, Madison is one of the country’s best known college towns, but also boasts various family friendly activities, quality restaurants and rich state history.


Friday Afternoon

There is no shortage of great hotels to stay at when visiting Madison. The most recent addition is the stylish AC Hotel Madison Downtown by Marriott located just off of Capitol Square. The modern hotel offers fantastic views of Madison from the rooftop restaurant and bar, Eno Vino Wine Bar & Bistro, so it’s most definitely worth a stop even if you decide to stay the night somewhere else.

After checking in to your hotel, make your way to the Henry Vilas Zoo, located just south of the University of Wisconsin campus. The Henry Vilas Zoo is a 28-acre public zoo that is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The zoo is home to various animals, such as African lions, polar bears and of course three American badgers, fittingly named Bucky, Dekker and Kaminsky. Admission to the zoo is free.

Post zoo trip, make your way by bicycle or car to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, a teaching and research facility that offers more than 20 miles of footpaths, boardwalks and fire lanes to explore. You can stroll through the beautiful forests, prairies and wetlands for hours and snap some picturesque photos. The peaceful and stunning arboretum trails are open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

A day spent in Madison is not complete without stopping for an after-dinner dessert or late-night snack at Greenbush Bakery, which opened in 1996 and has been serving delicious donuts to the public ever since. Their late-night hours are ideal for a college town — they are open until midnight Monday through Thursday and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Another perk of Greenbush: their classic donuts are only a dollar a piece. There’s no better way to spend a dollar in Madison.


Saturday Morning

Set your alarms and get up bright and early on Saturday morning. Saturday on the Square, the Dane County Farmers Market, begins at 6:15 a.m. The farmers market surrounds the Wisconsin State Capitol Building and offers many fresh and local vegetables, fruits, baked goods and fresh-cut flowers. Saturday on the Square is the place to be on Saturday mornings, and it fills up quickly, so be sure to go early to get the best selection.

Next, head west down State Street toward the University of Wisconsin campus. While the walk down State Street should normally only take about 20 minutes, there are numerous stores to stop in and explore. Ranging from chain clothing stores like Gap and Urban Outfitters to local bookstores and art galleries, State Street has something for everyone. If you didn’t get your fill at the farmers market, there are plenty of coffee shops, bars and restaurants to choose from along State Street. The street is closed to local traffic apart from buses — yet another reason to make the walk.

Saturday Afternoon

There’s no better place to spend an afternoon (and evening!) in Madison than at the Memorial Union Terrace, situated on the shores of Lake Mendota and recently renovated. After getting your picture taken in one of the large, iconic terrace chairs, head to Outdoor UW to rent a paddle board, canoe or kayak and spend the afternoon out on the water. If water sports aren’t your forte, locate a table on the Terrace and bask in the sun all afternoon while enjoying some delicious Babcock Ice Cream.

Saturday Evening

Not ready to leave the Terrace yet? No worries. There are plenty of dining options inside the Union, including sandwiches and grilled food from Der Rathskeller, Italian dishes from Strada and plenty of healthy options from Carte. Don’t lose your spot on the Terrace, though, as sunset over Lake Mendota is not a sight to be missed. The festivities don’t stop after the sun sets, either: Terrace after Dark, a summer program that includes free concerts and movies, runs from May 12 to September 4.


Sunday Morning

Sunday brunch in Madison is a must. And Madison’s brunch scene is an embarrassment of riches. Some of the most iconic venues include Bassett Street Brunch ClubThe Old Fashioned and of course Mickies Dairy Bar. Located near Camp Randall, Mickies Dairy Bar has been around since the 1950s and hasn’t changed much since then. Be prepared to wait, as there is most always a line to get in the door. Their scrambler is legendary.

Sunday Afternoon

Before leaving the city, visit the State Capitol Building and learn about the building’s and state’s history on a free guided tour. Tours are offered daily and begin at the information desk. If you don’t have the time to spend 45 minutes on the tour, at least wander into the rotunda and take a moment to appreciate the beautiful architecture.

A Stroll through Notting Hill & Camden

30 January 2017

Day 24 in London

As we had to stay in London this weekend for our day trip to Oxford on Saturday, I had my Friday off and decided to do some more exploring in London. The next borough to explore was Notting Hill and I went with a bunch of girls from my flat.

We took the tube to Notting Hill and decided to walk to Portobello Road which also just so happens to be where the Portobello Market is. I’m not usually one for markets as they tend to be way too crowded, but Portobello Market was quite cute and not too busy!

We came from Notting Hill Gate tube station, so we worked our way north up Portobello Road. There were both little permanent shops on the street with tables set up in front of them, as well as pop-up carts set up on the streets. There were little shops with books, jewelry, antiques, fruit, crepes, basically anything you could want.

We stopped in a little bakery where everything smelled amazing and then continued on our walk. It was so cool to stop and look at everything.

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I was so surprised at how bright and colorful Notting Hill was. Very different from the pristine white buildings I’m used to in Kensington.

We walked up almost the entire street and then decided to go back to the tube station and make our way to Camden for the last few hours of daylight we had.

Camden was…very very different and not quite what I had expected it to be. It was mainly full of young people with tattoos, piercings and individuals who looked pretty goth. There were open shops lining the main street, and once we crossed over a bridge, we entered a covered market area.

The one thing we had planned on doing in Camden was going to Chin Chin Lab. Prior to coming to London, someone had posted in our UW Facebook group page about Chin Chin Lab. They are known for their hot chocolate that has marshmallow fluff on the top.

The shop was packed, but we waited in line and made our way to the front. I’m not the biggest fan of marshmallow as it tends to give me sugar headaches, so I decided to go with their warm brownie-cookie with ice cream on it. It was amazing.

After Chin Chin Lab, we continued to walk through the covered market and wandered through different shops. I had read about the Cereal Killer Cafe online, and we stopped in just to take a couple cool pics of the cereal box lined walls. Its about 2.75 for one small bowl of cereal, so we weren’t interested in buying a bowl as you could get almost a whole box for the same amount.

We were exhausted at this point as it had been a long day of walking and exploring so we decided to head home. We didn’t spend much time in Camden, so I will definitely have to go back in the future and explore some more!

Harry Potter & Football

27 January 2017

Day 18 in London

I woke up and went for a run in Hyde Park and then came back to pay for and join the Women’s Football Club at Imperial College! The organization through which my program is organized by, FIE (Foundation for International Education), has an affiliation with Imperial College. Because of this, we are able to join any clubs or organizations at Imperial. I joined the football club team not only to play some “footy” but also to get out of my American bubble and meet some students that are actually from the UK.

I then took the tube to Soho to meet Sophia at the House of Minalima. The House of Minalima is a pop-up Harry Potter shop featuring graphic art from the Harry Potter films and other works by Minalima. Minalima is an artist duo of Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima. There were four floors, some featuring works from Harry Potter and other floors featured work from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The store is only open until mid February so we knew it was a place we had to check out before it was gone!

The ground floor was the dedicated gift shop containing prints, books, postcards and posters all things Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts. The first floor then contained the graphic art from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Sadly, I hadn’t seen that movie yet, so the floor didn’t mean as much to me as the Harry Potter floors did (don’t worry though, we went back and watched Fantastic Beasts with the flat later that night). Floors two and three were my favorite floors as they held all the graphic art from Harry Potter. From prints of the Daily Prophet newspaper to wanted posters of Bellatrix Lestrange to Sirius Black, I was in Harry Potter heaven!

The house even had some props from the actually Harry Potter movies on loan from the Warner Brothers Studios. Some of these props included original spell books used in the films.

On one floor, there was a fireplace that replicated the scene where Harry receives his acceptance letters form Hogwarts. The fireplace was filled with letters addressed to “Harry Potter 4 Privet Drive Little Whinging, Surrey” on them. AMAZING.

Before we left, I ended up buying a “Harry Potter, Undesirable No. 1” poster. I cannot wait to hang it up once I go home. I was between that or a Sirius Black poster, but I think I’d prefer to wake up everyday and see Harry’s face rather than the photo they chose of Sirius…

Day 19 in London

On Sunday morning, I woke up and walked to Beit Quad at Imperial College to meet the Women’s Football Club. Today was the first day of games that I could make and I was also very excited to meet some non-Americans!

While I hadn’t brought any of my soccer stuff with me, one girl who couldn’t play loaned me her cleats and I was able to borrow shin guards.

We drove in a van to the game which was a 35 minute drive away to north-east London. Not only was it interesting to finally see London from above ground and maneuver in the traffic, but it was also really fun to talk with the girls. They were all very talkative and welcoming.

We only had eight girls from Imperial to play in the 11v11 sided game…Luckily, they don’t have a regular goalkeeper so they were extremely happy when I told them that was my normal position. It was so cool to be playing on a pitch in England (despite it being on turf that ripped up my legs). Because the game was still in the city, the complex we were at had lots of little fields in what they called “cages,” and then also two larger fields with a bit more space around them. It was a very different setting than what I was used to but still a really cool place for some “football.”

We ended up losing the game, but for only having eight players, I think we did pretty well and it just felt so good to be out playing again!

Other Updates!

  1. I finally received my placement for my internship for later this semester! I will be working at a music magazine in Brixton called “Songlines.” The music they cover there is less well-known, but it looks like a quality magazine and is also connected to the music world in London so I am very very VERY excited about this placement! I have a confirmation interview with Songlines in mid-February and hopefully I will learn more about what my day-to-day tasks will be then. In the email I received, it mentioned maintaining their online presence (yay for social media), music research, editing and possibly writing articles, as well as other day-to-day tasks. I’m so excited to start the internship now! It should be a very unique experience and I cannot wait to dive deeper into the music world of London!
  2. My parents sent me a package a while ago and I have anxiously been awaiting its arrival until yesterday! It actually made it to the UK a few days ago, but they hold all packages at customs until the recipient pays a tax on it (price is dependent upon the worth of the contents ugh) and then they release it and ship it to you. The box was basically a Mary Poppins bag as I still have no idea how my mom fit everything that she did into it. She shipped my soccer gear (cleats, shin guards, socks, keeper gloves), a warmer jacket (I’ve been freezing over here in London in just my rain jacket), my beloved Skippy Natural Creamy Peanut Butter, ranch dressing (so I can finally make some spinach salads here), Dove Chocolate (FAV), and of course, I’ve been missing out on my Baked Cheetos and Quakes, which were also somehow squeezed into the box. It was amazing and the greatest early birthday present. Thanks mom and dad!!!