You cannot beat a visit to Madison, Wisconsin. Situated on an isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona, the city is full of bike trails as well as kayak rentals. Everything revolves around the Capitol Square (home to the beautiful State Capitol Building) which features the best farmers market in the Midwest every Saturday morning.


Rent a B Cycle electric bike and explore the city.

The Olbrich Botanical Gardens on the east side are a must. Ride the Capitol City bike trail and afterwards stop by the new Garver Feed y

Rent a kayak at the Brittingham Bay Boat House.

Enjoy the prairie flowers at Owen Park on the west side.

Take a swim at the UW Memorial Union Terrace pier and then grab a brat and brew to watch the sunset.

Take in the free Mad City Water Ski Club ski show Sundays at 6 p.m. in the summer. Brats available there too.

Ride the Lakeshore Path and then hike out to the end of Picnic Point.


Grab a sandwich or some cheese at Fromagination, 15 S. Caroll.

Cosetta’s on West Washington is fabulous. Try the tomato sausage soup and grab some coffee at Barrique’s across the street.

The Shamrock serves burgers.

Harvest and the Old Fashioned are very good (at 215 S. Pickney) right on the Square.


I like the Hampton Inn and Suites downtown. If you are on UW business, try the Fluno Center. The Graduate is also very nice as is the Hilton Monona Terrace. If you want to splurge, try the Edgewater but check for resort fees.


Woofs at 114 King is a lot of fun (especially for the Bear and leather crowd). Their Sunday Beer Bust is a must. Don’t miss their PrideFest August 13. Enjoy the outdoor seating and grab a bite at their wine restaurant next door, Vino. The Club V out on the Beltline is another fun option.

The Shamrock is also on the Capitol Square at 117 Main and is a lot of fun.


Madison is a 2 ½ drive from Chicago which is also served by the Van Galder Bus. Or take the Amtrak from Chicago to Milwaukee and hop on the Badger Bus to Madison. Dane Country Regional Airport has flights from around the country although the fares can be high.


Pick up a copy of the monthly Isthmus. OurLives in Wisconsin’s source for LGBTQ news. Outreach has a monthly calendar ( Also, the official tourism website.

About the Author

Bill Malcolm is the nation’s only LGBTQ+ syndicated value travel columnist. Residing in Indianapolis, he travels with a focus on the local and value orientation.