Bride blogger Ashley and her fiance Beau hail from a small town in Colorado (even though they met out of high school in San Diego)! After college, their careers brought them to Madison and they will begin their life as husband and wife together in our beautiful Badger state in just a few short months! The majority of their wedding guests will be visiting from out of town, so they’ve put together a must-see, must-do list to guide their guests as they explore Madison! If you find yourself in the same situation, use this list as starting point and add your own favorites and special places too!
While Beau and I have each acquired our fair share of Badger gear in the 3-4 years that we’ve lived here, we certainly aren’t Wisconsin natives. We each moved here for work after college (him before me), and as a result, have a laundry list of other cities where our loved ones live. Some have made the trek to the Midwest to visit, but many have let the rumors of polar vortexes deter them. Lucky for us though, our wedding is the perfect excuse to get everyone we love to visit our new-ish home.
As a college city, Madison has such an eclectic personality so it’s difficult for us to sum up everything that the city has to offer in one succinct statement. Especially when this will be most of our guests first time in Madison. Our solution was to put together lists of our favorite places and things to do in Madison. We saw this as a way to share the things that uniquely make Madison home for us. So in the spirit of sharing what we love with the ones we love, here are some of our Madison top threes:
Top Brunch Spots:
- Graze – they have amazing cheese curds (a MUST have when visiting Madison), yummy breakfast cocktails, and beignets that are perfect for sharing with your whole brunch crew.
- Mannas – a bit of trek for us as we live on the west-side, but the oatmeal pancakes are definitely worth it. I’m a vegetarian, so I love all of the vegetarian options here (and at most Madison restaurants!).
- Mickey’s Dairy Bar – I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this on every “Top Madison Breakfast” lists that I’ve ever reviewed, but it’s such a classic that it has to make the list. Huge portions, simple and delicious breakfast food. Easy choice.
Top Dinner Spots:
- Ha Long Bay – this is easily our favorite restaurant in town. Beau and I went to college in San Diego, and both grew up in Colorado, but Ha Long Bay still has the best pad thai either of us has ever had. We take everyone who visits us here!
- Fresco – Beau and I try to see as many shows at the Overture Center as we can, and Fresco is such a perfect place for a pre-Overture dinner. The amazing views and food don’t hurt either!
- Ian’s Pizza – admittedly we are both kind of addicted to pizza, but since I’m a vegetarian and Beau isn’t, it can be difficult to decide on a pizza to share. We love that Ian’s sells pizza by the slice, and all of the fun options that they offer!
- Gib’s – this place is so fun, and is in one of our favorite Madison spots – Willy street! It also has such a “Willy street” vibe, which we love.
- Old Sugar Distillery – I love that Old Sugar distills their own liquor, and has a tasting room with so many delicious options! This is another spot that we always take out of town guests too.
- The Memorial Union Terrace – I’m pretty sure there isn’t anything more Madison than grabbing a pitcher at the terrace and listening to music. This is one of our favorite things to do on the weekends (after hitting the Farmer’s Market of course).
- Biking around the lakes – biking was the way that Beau really learned the city before I moved here. Once I was in Madison, it was a great way for him to show me around and introduce me to his favorite spots.
- Dane County Farmer’s Market – Beau and I try to never miss a Farmer’s Market Saturday. There are so many good food trucks and vendors, that its easy to quickly get full. That’s why you need a partner to share all of the delicious food with!
- Explore Madison – there are so many cute little shops (Anthology is one of my favorites) and neighborhoods (hello, Atwood!) in Madison. It’s so fun to just walk around and spend an afternoon together exploring. We’ve really gotten to know Madison and the culture here that way.
- The Henry Vilas Zoo – we love that the zoo here is free. It takes the pressure off to see everything all at once.
- Madison Children’s Museum – we love the rotating exhibits, and the fact that they do Adult Swim nights as well.
- Dane County Farmer’s Market – clearly a hit all around!
As I mentioned in my last post, personal touches are so important to me for this wedding. So while I want to let Madison shine through in the wedding details, I also want to make sure that the other details that make up who we are shine through as well. Since we’re both from Colorado, we will be gifting each of our guests a jar of homemade Palisade peach jam as a favor. My mom and I will make it, so it’s one way that we can share things we love after our big day. Another way that I am incorporating some details about us as a couple is through our wedding invitations. We had a friend who is a graphic designer create them, and she incorporated a few small details that really capture our history as a couple. I hope you can pick them out!