Dane County: A Day On Madison’s West Side

One of my favorite things to do in Madison is explore all the unique and distinctive neighborhoods in the area. I’d describe some as quaint and historic, others as beautiful and sleepy, and a few as just plain quirky. But one thing they all have in common is charm. Each neighborhood offers something different and as I find myself strolling along quaint streets taking in the parks, scenic views, stores, and people, I can’t help but feel beckoned to live there. In my mind, I’ve already moved four times since relocating here.

My most recent neighborhood adventure was to Madison’s West Side, although I technically ended up spending the entire time within a 4 block radius of Monroe Street so I use “West Side” loosely. To date, a lot of my explorations in Madison have been alone or with random groups of strangers so having my Mom drive up for the day and share in this particular adventure with me was a real treat.

We started with a stroll along Monroe street, where Victorian-style bungalow homes peek out over locally-owned shops. Interspersed with the shops are some of Madison’s top foodie places, including Pizza Brutta, which received rave reviews from some of my co-workers. Hands down my favorite part of this establishment was the smell – a mixture of basil simmering in sauce and dough rising in a wood-fired oven. It was enough to make my mouth salivate well before we ever even got the pizza. The end product lived up to my expectations as well. A thin, airy crust that struck the perfect balance between crust, sauce, toppings, and cheese.

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My foodie experience in Madison hasn’t let me down yet. There is no shortage of fabulous eateries here (worthy of a post all its own) that I often joke I’m actually eating my way through Madison more so than exploring it’s attractions.

Just around the corner from Monroe street is the Henry Vilas Zoo, which is where we headed after Pizza Brutta, feeling fat and happy. We opted to spend a few hours here listening to the roar of the lions and being entertained by two feisty orangutans before heading over to Memorial Union Terrace, which is just off Lake Mendota. Lovingly referred to as the Terrace, it’s one of Madison’s iconic hang out places characterized by starburst-colored chairs, scenic views, swimming piers, live music, and sailboats. I love it here. Plus, the Wisconsin brats and pitchers of New Glarus Spotted Cow make the downtime worthwhile.

Photo courtesy Natural Landscapes

Photo courtesy Natural Landscapes

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