A Visit to Madison, Wisconsin

The moment you’ve all been waiting for – a trip recap from Madison, Wisconsin! Who knew that beer and cheese tasted that much better just two hours north of Chicago? As you might have seen on my Instagram, Sarah and I took a last minute trip away to explore a city we’ve heard so much about (thanks for joining me on the trip, girl!) It was right in the middle of January, which meant students were still on leave and it was chilly, chilly, chilly! Keep scrolling to find more about where to snooze and what to sip and see on your next trip to Madison.
If you do read alllll the way through (which, I hope you do!), you’ll see a really fun video we made all about our trip! It’s our first video, and we’d love all your feedback. The hope is to keep bringing you more exciting content like this. We figured since we’re almost always together, we might as well take you on our little ride via YouTube!


If you haven’t guessed it by now, Sarah and I booked our weekend stay with Graduate Hotels Madison. This was our fist time at one of their properties, and we’re already planning our next trip because we loved it so much!

Graduate Hotels are a series of well-curated, well-crafted hotels located in the most dynamic university towns across the country like Ann Arbor, Michigan; Berkley, California; Lincoln, Nebraska. As you'll see in our pictures, the properties celebrate and commemorate the good ol school dates and bring the spirit of the community to life.

I loved that the hotel was themed with Wisconsin motifs throughout. We were instantly in the college spirit and ready to cheer on the Badgers. Go team! The theme definitely added to the charm of staying at this hotel. They even offer five star touches to makes sure you have the most enjoyable experience. 

We loved that this location was super close the main points of the campus but also just a 10-minute walk to the Capital. It was -8* when we visited, so you better believe we didn’t end up walking our little hinnies all they way downtown! Believe it or not, we were crazy enough to try and take blog photos on Lake Mendota (more on that later!).


Sarah and I got in to Madison on Saturday afternoon, right about lunch time, and headed out the following Monday morning to get back to Chicago. I checked in with my cousin before we left town to get all her recommendations on where we should try and eat and drink on our weekend getaway.

For breakfast, we headed to Marigold. It was a quant but busy, café just around the corner from the Capital building. They had a lot of tasty options and of course, coffee, to keep us awake.

Due to our sight seeing and traveling, we didn’t always have a full sit down lunch. One a late afternoon we took the elevator on up to Camp Trippalindee in the hotel to shoot our outfits and indulge in some beer and cheese curds.

We also made sure to take a few breaks during the day to grab coffee. We headed in to Colectivo Coffee before exploring town around and visited a local spot on the campus to get some hot chocolate.

On our first night for dinner, we visited Graze. Two sides of the restaurant were almost all glass, which meant our view of the Capitol was beautiful! It was a great farm-to-table spot with a lovely crowd. Looked like a perfect first date spot! We started with an order of cheese curds (hello, it was our first night in Madison!) and split the roast as our main meal. So good!

Our next dinner was at The Cooper's Tavern, an upscale Irish pub. We had a fairly long day and thought we’d just call it a night, especially after the snow was piling up outside. But, instead of getting Chipotle around the corner, we walked a little further along the snow-covered streets to the bar/restaurant. It was a really great spot and ended with an even better dinner. Even though we were half in our pajamas, we were still happy to have ventured out for dinner.


Since we visited Madison smack dab in the middle of winter, I’m not going to lie, there wasn’t a ton to see and do. But, knowing the two of us, we definitely found fun spots around town, so let me take you through a few things we did!

We had to check out a little bit of the University of Wisconsin campus. Everyone was raving about the Memorial Union Terrace that’s typically filled with guests during the summer. Since school was still on break from the holidays, it was super empty. We could have walked around a few more buildings, but decided to test our luck outside on the lake!

While the patio was totally deserted, the lake was full of people ice fishing and iceboating. It was such a beautiful view and the ice froze in really stunning patterns. It’s frozen up to 18 inches in the winter. Isn’t that crazy! When Sarah and I decided it would be smart to take photos in the freezing cold (don’t worry, we wore two jackets and multiple layers to keep us warm in between camera time!), the final images made the lake look ombre. It was really quite beautiful!

During the summer, you can find a major farmer’s market and several concerts on the square and great trails to bike ride and/or run along. Followed by dinner on the patio to take in the city, of course!

We also spent the afternoon touring around the Capitol. Since it was the weekend, it was pretty empty with just a few tourists and staff walking around. It was really gorgeous detailing all through out the interior. We had a lot of fun taking video and photos in the space. Was a great little spot to escape the cold for a few minutes.

With all that we did, do you think you'll make a trip up to Madison soon? Perhaps in the summer - I know we're excited to head back to explore even more! Let me know what trips you have planned and if you've ever been to Madison.


Thank you to Graduate Hotels Madison for providing a stay to us during our time in Wisconsin. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I would never share anything I don't approve and love!


  1. Madison is just the BEST! I'm so glad you had a good time!

  2. My fiancé and I went there a few weeks ago (even blogged about lol), we loved it but we were disappointed with the noise. I have two little boys and if they would’ve stayed with us, it would have been a nightmare. My fiancé and I barely got any sleep.

    Although we were disappointed with the noise, we did LOVE the food. The cheese curds we’re my favorite.


  3. I love Madison in the summer! And I stayed at a Graduate Hotel in Athens, Ga. So cute!

    Sincerely, Jennie

  4. Madison was really fun to visit!! I want to go back in the spring/ summer to have a beer on the terrace! Everyone talks about how great it is!

    xo, Sarah