Skip to main content

Wisconsin Parent

Around Town: My Favorite Madison

Oct 22, 2013 07:02PM, Published by Julie Henning, Categories: Travel


Parfrey's Glen



Our family moved to Madison from the Twin Cities in the fall of 2009. People we like guaranteed us Madison was a nice place with an affordable cost of living and rush hour traffic that wouldn't cut two hours out of your day. So, we found a place to rent on Craigslist, packed up shop, and got the U-Haul returned just before the first snowfall.

About that same time, I was beginning to develop an interest in travel writing. This was about the beginning of travel blogs gaining some momentum as an alternative to the traditional print industry (but that's a different story). To make a long and convoluted explanation less boring, I found myself developing two smart-phone apps centered around finding family-friendly venues in Wisconsin: Milwaukee Loves Kids and Madison Loves Kids. Initially available on iTunes, both apps are also now on Google Play.

Merrimac Ferry

So, as you can imagine, we've spent quite some time crawling around the corners of Dane and Milwaukee Counties looking for stuff to do. And, as it turns out, in the process of becoming an expert on a subject, you find yourself constantly looking for information and asking people for their ideas and opinions. Fast forward four years and countless outings, interviews, and photos, and I think we may have just about exhausted the list.

Chazen

Now, that's not to say businesses don't open and close their doors every month, but we've certainly given it the ol' college try. So, for those of you without smart phones or who are new to Madison, I wanted to share a sampling of some of my favorite "discoveries" beyond our fabulous zoo and children's museum. In no particular order and pulling from my archives on a random Tuesday afternoon, here goes:

My favorite hike (to date) in Wisconsin, Parfrey's Glen is the perfect ailment for a hot, humid summer day. The hike is 1.5 miles round trip and you follow a babbling brook up through a ravine to a picture-perfect waterfall. You'll have to pay a $7 parking fee and finding a parking spot can become a bit competitive if the weather is nice. Make sure get there by way of the Merrimac Ferry if you have the time.

The Toy Train Barn

For long, winter days needing an excuse to ponder works of modern art, in Madison you can't beat both the Chazen Museum of Art and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Both are free and open to the general pubic. The MMoCA has Kids ArtPacks available at the reception desk if you need something to keep your little artists entertained.

PoynetteBowHunters

Two of my favorite Sunday drives are to the Toy Train Barn and Folklore Village (both out on the Western edge of town). The Toy Train Barn has more regular hours, while Folklore Village has a lower-level museum and playroom (I'd double check the website/hours before I made the drive). An old dairy barn turned train museum, bring your quarters for the player piano and look for the friendly black lab, Casey Jones.

Books4School

For the outdoor lovers in the group, you can't beat the archery instruction at Poynette Bow Hunters just outside of Poynette. With indoor and outdoor leagues for junior archers, the teaching environment at Poynette is community-based and is extremely family friendly. Poynette offers one of the most reasonably-priced archery instruction I have ever seen and equipment is also available to borrow if you don't have your own.

We also love Rossi's Vintage Arcade and Pizzeria in Monona. The pizza is delicious and most of the games are a quarter or fifty cents. Minecraft doesn't have anything on Q*bert! And, if you want dinner and a movie instead, make the drive down to Stoughton for the Stoughton Cinema Cafe.

Rossi's

And last, but not least, is my all time, number one, discovery of them all: Interstate Books4School just off of South Towne Drive on Badger Road. A supplier of books for students in K-12, the warehouse is open to the public during the week. The warehouse "no frills" shopping experience is nothing compared the the cost savings at the cash register. Sorry, Scholastic, we'll never do a book order again.




wisconsin madison dane county families favorites kids venues


  • Homeschool Community Meet-up

    01/24/2017
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    An opportunity to meet, mingle, play, talk and learn with other homeschooling families and the Yo...


  • R.E.A.D. Dog Program

    01/25/2017
    03:30PM — 04:30PM

    Sign-up for a 15-minute session with a certified R.E.A.D. team. It's a great way for children to ...


  • Annual Dinner

    01/25/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    Join the Chamber as they celebrate the Business, Citizen & Non-Profit of the Year for 2016 on Jan...


  • Join us Wednesday, January 25, from 6-7 p.m. to learn about registration process, open enrollment...


  • FAMILY EVENT: Morning Play Date

    01/26/2017
    10:00AM — 11:00PM

    Spend a morning meeting new friends at DreamBank. While the kids enjoy interactive story time and...


  • FAMILY EVENT: Family Nutrition

    01/28/2017
    09:30AM — 12:00PM

    What better way to kick start the new year by helping your little one create healthy habits? Join...


  • Fam Jam

    01/28/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Monona Terrace is proud to present Fam Jam - a family-fun-day featuring giant inflatable stations...


  • The Wonder Bread Years

    01/28/2017
    02:00PM

    A fresh and funny salute to Americana, The Wonder Bread Years starring John McGivern, is a fast-p...


  • BDACT Annual Celebration

    01/28/2017
    05:00PM

    The public is invited to attend the annual end of season celebration for the Beaver Dam Area Comm...


  • The Wonder Bread Years

    01/28/2017
    07:30PM

    A fresh and funny salute to Americana, The Wonder Bread Years starring John McGivern, is a fast-p...


  • Mr. Pickles Reads to You

    01/29/2017
    03:00PM

    It won't take long for you to be charmed by the infectiously bubbly Mr. Pickles! Listen as he rea...


It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

  • Homeschool Community Meet-up

    01/24/2017
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    An opportunity to meet, mingle, play, talk and learn with other homeschooling families and the Yo...


  • R.E.A.D. Dog Program

    01/25/2017
    03:30PM — 04:30PM

    Sign-up for a 15-minute session with a certified R.E.A.D. team. It's a great way for children to ...


  • Annual Dinner

    01/25/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    Join the Chamber as they celebrate the Business, Citizen & Non-Profit of the Year for 2016 on Jan...


  • Join us Wednesday, January 25, from 6-7 p.m. to learn about registration process, open enrollment...


  • FAMILY EVENT: Morning Play Date

    01/26/2017
    10:00AM — 11:00PM

    Spend a morning meeting new friends at DreamBank. While the kids enjoy interactive story time and...


  • The Wonder Bread Years

    01/27/2017
    02:00PM

    A fresh and funny salute to Americana, The Wonder Bread Years starring John McGivern, is a fast-p...


  • For the third year ever, the Godfather Daniel Buchner brings you WINTER SUCKS ROCK DOES NOT night...


  • The Wonder Bread Years

    01/27/2017
    07:30PM

    A fresh and funny salute to Americana, The Wonder Bread Years starring John McGivern, is a fast-p...


  • FAMILY EVENT: Family Nutrition

    01/28/2017
    09:30AM — 12:00PM

    What better way to kick start the new year by helping your little one create healthy habits? Join...


  • Fam Jam

    01/28/2017
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Monona Terrace is proud to present Fam Jam - a family-fun-day featuring giant inflatable stations...


  • The Wonder Bread Years

    01/28/2017
    02:00PM

    A fresh and funny salute to Americana, The Wonder Bread Years starring John McGivern, is a fast-p...


  • BDACT Annual Celebration

    01/28/2017
    05:00PM

    The public is invited to attend the annual end of season celebration for the Beaver Dam Area Comm...


  • The Wonder Bread Years

    01/28/2017
    07:30PM

    A fresh and funny salute to Americana, The Wonder Bread Years starring John McGivern, is a fast-p...


  • Mr. Pickles Reads to You

    01/29/2017
    03:00PM

    It won't take long for you to be charmed by the infectiously bubbly Mr. Pickles! Listen as he rea...


  • Special Touch Beaver Dam Chapter meeting

    02/03/2017
    06:15PM — 08:00PM

    The meeting will start at 6:15pm with tacos. After singing we will do the " Word Walk" "Mercy -...


  • Flick N' Float

    02/03/2017
    07:00PM — 08:30PM

    Family Adventure Pool Doors open at 6:45 pm Movie starts at 7:00 pm Members: FREE Non Mem...


  • Random Acts of Comicality

    02/03/2017
    08:00PM

    Due to popular demand, the Hartford Players’ smash-hit musical revue is back with all new materia...


  • FAMILY EVENT: Engineering for Kids

    02/04/2017
    09:30AM — 12:00PM

    When it comes to engineering, kids are naturals! Drop into DreamBank and cultivate your child’s...


  • Saturday Science at Discovery

    02/04/2017
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Science and sports collide during this free event held on the first Saturday of every month! Expl...


  • Random Acts of Comicality

    02/04/2017
    08:00PM

    Due to popular demand, the Hartford Players’ smash-hit musical revue is back with all new materia...


  • Spring Storytime: Family Storytime

    02/06/2017
    09:30AM — 10:15AM

    Enjoy stories, songs, rhymes, movement, dramatics and more with Miss Sarah while building early l...


  • Spring Storytime: Toddler Time

    02/06/2017
    10:30AM — 11:00AM

    Enjoy stories, songs, rhymes, movement, dramatics and more with Miss Sarah while building early l...


  • FAMILY EVENT: Morning Play Date

    02/09/2017
    10:00AM — 11:00AM

    Spend a morning meeting new friends at DreamBank. While the kids enjoy interactive story time and...


  • Orthopedic & Arthritis Lunch & Learn

    02/09/2017
    11:30AM — 01:30PM

    Join us for a FREE LUNCH on February 9th and learn about arthritis, joint replacement and the Pra...


  • Random Acts of Comicality

    02/10/2017
    08:00PM

    Due to popular demand, the Hartford Players’ smash-hit musical revue is back with all new materia...


  • Winter Day At The Park

    02/11/2017
    08:00AM — 04:00PM

    A Winter Day at the Park: Model Horse Show ADS Sleigh Competition Bobsled Rides Skijoring Com...


  • FAMILY EVENT: Valentine’s Day Celebration

    02/11/2017
    09:30AM — 12:00PM

    Roses are red, violets are blue, DreamBank is excited for Valentine’s Day – how about you? Get in...


  • American Hero & Ice Queen

    02/11/2017
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Calling all Superheros and Princesses - join us for a magical time! Crafts Face Painting Refr...


  • Random Acts of Comicality

    02/11/2017
    02:00PM

    Due to popular demand, the Hartford Players’ smash-hit musical revue is back with all new materia...


  • With a focus on the Cretaceous Period, Dr. T-Rex takes you on a tour through the Mesozoic Era — t...


  • Spring Storytime: Family Storytime

    02/13/2017
    09:30AM — 10:15AM

    Enjoy stories, songs, rhymes, movement, dramatics and more with Miss Sarah while building early l...


  • Spring Storytime: Toddler Time

    02/13/2017
    10:30AM — 11:00AM

    Enjoy stories, songs, rhymes, movement, dramatics and more with Miss Sarah while building early l...



Special Thanks to These Relaunch Partners


Woodman's Markets - Employee Owned
Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau