48 hours in Madison


For those of you coming into Madison this weekend, here's a quick primer on some things to do. Madison is a great city with lots to do for its size. This list just scratches the surface, and includes some highlights for someone coming in for a quick weekend trip.

Friday night:

PSU Alumni Mixer - Friday, November 25, 6 - 8pm at OLIVE in the Hilton Madison Monona Terrace. This Alumni Mixer is sponsored by the Madison Chapter and the Penn State Alumni Association. Come socialize with fellow alumni from near and far and sing and clap along with the Penn State Blue Band Pep Band. There will be a cash bar, free appetizers and some giveaways. This is a family-friendly event.  Check out the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace attached to the hotel.

After the Mixer, you can easily walk to a number of great brewpubs, bars or restaurants around Capitol Square, State Street (think Madison's College Ave), or near the UW campus. There are too many great places to list and you can find just about any ethnic food you can imagine (especially for a city the size of Madison), but below are a few of my favorites. Many of these places have a decent selection of local craft brews.  

Friday night is Fish Fry in Wisconsin, and most restaurants and bars serve one. The Avenue Bar is one of my favorites.  The Old Fashioned on Capitol Square also has a good one, and is like an old-fashioned Wisconsin supper club. It also is home to the "Wisconsin Beer Project" - over 150 WI beers available. Don't leave town without trying some cheese curds - either fresh or fried.  

Other recommendations for a "Madison" experience: GRAZE - gastropub by award-winning chef, Tory Miller; The Great Dane - a classic Madison brewpub; Coopers Tavern - Irish pub designed and run by a real Irishman (McGloin will be there after the game, I'm told); Essen Haus - a German experience; State Street Brats - a classic Madison sports bar; Dotty Dumpling's Dowry - great burgers.

You could also consider grabbing a beer at Der Rathskeller at the Memorial Union (and check out the famous Terrace along Lake Mendota) or at the Sett at Union South (yes, you can get a beer at more than one place on campus). Try some Babcock Dairy ice cream and compare to the Creamery. (Note - I haven't checked holiday weekend hours, and I expect the might be limited.)  


If you want to pick up some beer before or after the game, consider Steve's on University. One of the retired owners is a PSU alum, and they have one of the best craft brew selections in Madison and are very knowledgeable. Try New Glarus (only available in Wisconsin), Hinterland, Lake Louie, Capital, Tyranena, Furthermore, Potosi or one of the other many local brands. You can also get Alaskan and some other brands that are not available in PA.   

A classic Madison breakfast joint (ask Todd Blackledge) is Mickie's Dairy Bar across from Camp Randall on Monroe St. Huge portions.  Cash only. Will probably be busy.  

Camp Randall is sandwiched in between campus and residential neighborhoods, so there is not much easy parking for tailgating nearby. (My neighborhood makes money by letting cars park in our lawns.) A number of bars near the stadium - Luckys, Big Ten Pub, Stadium Bar, etc - typically open biergartens in their lots for the games, and a lot of fans go there before and after games. Students tend to party at rental houses and fraternaties all around the stadium, so prepare for some (hopefully) good-natured ribbing and two-story beer bong sitings as you walk by.  

The UW started up "Badgerville" this year in an athletic field north of the stadium with activities, brats and beer for sale, etc. However, they apparently changed it up for this game and are charging $20 for a "Chili Kickoff" that will be held in the Field House (attached to the south end of Camp Randall).  

A lot of PSU fans typically tailgate in Lot 60. The Madison Chapter will be out tailgating there if the weather isn't awful. The Penn State Alumni Association tent also will be located in Lot 60 and will feature a pep rally beginning at 12:30pm.  It is about a 1.5 mile walk to the stadium, but there is a shuttle bus available for $5 round trip.

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