madison wisconsin

Last weekend, Eric and I decided to take advantage of the long holiday weekend by planning a road trip to Madison, Wisconsin to do what we do best – adventure, travel, and be ridiculous together.

All week we asked friends and co-workers who went to the University of Wisconsin for their must-dos and favorite spots. I always check out other blogs and Trip Advisor for recommendations too.

We had such a fun time and felt like we covered an awesome spread of stuff, so I wanted to put together a quick travel guide of spots I recommend if you ever find yourself in Madison or are nearby in need of a mini-vacay!

What To Eat

Dane County Farmers’ Market // This huge market is amazing! Tables are set up all along the perimeter of Wisconsin’s capital square, with foot traffic heading all in one direction. Eric and I stuffed our faces with more cheese samples than I thought possible.

Everyone said this was a must-do, and I 100% see why. Fun Fact: This is the largest producers-only farmer’s market in the country – meaning those who made created the product are standing behind the table.

madison wisconsin

madison wisconsin

madison wisconsin

Stella’s Hot & Spicy Cheesy Bread // OMG. This stuff is outta this world. A huge loaf of the softest, most flavorful and delicious smelling cheese bread…that Eric and I may or may not have eaten as our meal for the entire day just between us too. You cannot go to Madison and not try this treat.

madison wisconsin

madison wisconsin

Old Fashioned’s Cheese Curds // Like I said, we ate a lot of bread and cheese – but don’t worry, we semi-redeem ourselves with a hike (more below). This restaurant was listed as a top place to grab some of these famous bites. The other food was probably just okay, but totally worth the visit for the curds.

Marigold Kitchen // Such a killer brunch spot, friends.  Loved the order at the counter, then pick your spot, oh-so-relaxed vibes. You could most definitely taste fresh ingredients and there were wild flowers on every table. The limitless coffee from Colectivo was sooooo good!

madison wisconsin

Colectivo // Same coffee mentioned above, we went to their two beautiful locations around town over the course of our stay! Great teas, coffee, bakery, and café type foods. We picked up breakfast here on our way out.

The Daily Scoop // Another must – directly linked to The Terrace below! The University of Wisconsin agriculture students actually make this ice cream and it is SO YUM. Like some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had without a doubt. I got strawberry and mint chocolate chip, even the scoops looked beautiful.

madison wisconsin

What To Do

Tour the Capital // Easy to do right after the  market! Anyone can walk in and look around. You can even go to the very top observation deck. The state mammal and university mascot, the badger, is sculpted above the Supreme Court door, and that made me really happy. Then, you can stroll down State Street and hop shops all the way to the University at the other end of downtown.

madison wisconsin

madison wisconsin

University of Wisconsin // We didn’t do much on campus, but we did walk around and snap a few photos! It seemed to have so much history and there were some beautiful buildings. I stomped around pretending to be alumni J.J. Watt, my NFL crush/our favorite Houston Texan’s player.

madison wisconsin

THE TERRACE // This was our favorite spot in town. A big terrace filled with friends and families enjoying beers, brats, and scoops in the sun. There’s the prettiest view of the lake! Saturday afternoon there was a DJ, and Sunday when State Street seemed like a ghost town, the Terrace was poppin’. Make sure to try the famous brew only sold in Wisconsin – Spotted Cow. Bonus: you can rent boardgames to play!

madison wisconsin

madison wisconsin

Where to Venture Outside of Town

Wollersheim Winery & Distillery // I was really hoping to tour a winery over the holiday since there are so many throughout the Midwest! Wollersheim is family-owned and has received several awards. The winery tour, including a tasting, is just $5! Additional tastings also just $5. Can’t beat that. (3o min. away)

madison wisconsin

madison wisconsin

madison wisconsin

Devil’s Lake & State Park // Eric really wanted to get in some nature time, so this was perfect and just a half hour from the winery. There were lots of people out on the huge web of trails, grilling along the water, and playing in the lake. We hiked about 2.5 miles – burning some cheese calories I hope! (1 hour away)

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Whew, that was a pretty packed list, folks! Hope this inspires you to visit to this sweet little college town, and eat your weight in all their delicious treats.

Did I miss something? Fill me in with a comment!

Days By Day

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Last Sunday, I was able to cross off one of the coolest fall activities ever off my list – apple picking, wahoo! Becca, Eric, our friends Layne, Anne, and I got real adventurous and decided to pile in the car for a road trip to Jonamac Orchard about an hour and a half from the city.

I didn’t no exactly what to expect since I had only been strawberry picking before years and years ago, but apparently apple picking is a very popular activity up here in the midwest. Becca was also very set on a corn maze, so we made sure our orchard of choice had one of those too. Apple orchards are like little carnivals I realized. Jonamac had a pumpkin patch, pony rides, a moon bounce, a country store, the corn maze, and the orchard! Talk about a fall fest.

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We purchased a few five pound bags for $13 each to fill between the five of us, and that was plenty. You can definitely fill about thirteen to sixteen apples in those bags, depending on their size. The rows of tress were marked with type and we picked a variety, my favorite were the Golden Delicious and the Jonathan ones. You can even snack on a couple while you shop around. Not sure if shop is actually the best verb here, but I like it.

This type was actually this red.

This type was actually this red.

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Fun fact we learned all of a sudden - Becca can juggle.

Fun fact we learned all of a sudden – Becca can juggle.

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After picking for about an hour, we risked our lives in the corn maze. Just kidding, it wasn’t that terrifying, but it did get hot and it did get exhausting. We refused to use a map, ran off hiding, and made bird calls trying to track each other down, so all and all it was really fun. Becca wants to go back when they make it haunted, and I’m thinking no because I’m a baby.

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We finished off the afternoon with apple cider slushies and apple donuts that were freakin’ ah-ma-zing. I most definitely want to go back next year! In the meantime, I need to figure out some apple recipes because there’s no way Becca, Eric, and I will be able to eat the thirty we have in our apartments…

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Just a couple weeks ago, what feels like half of campus takes off to Dallas, Texas for all the festivities that come with the famous TX-OU Red River Showdown. If you didn’t know, The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Oklahoma are major rivals when it comes to football and this tradition dates back to 1900. A sea of burnt orange and crimson take over the Cotton Bowl, and then immediately following the game, The State Fair of Texas.

I seriously look forward to this all year because win or lose, the weekend is always a success because we get to stuff our faces with delicious food and run around The Midway (the fair section full of carnival rides) like children. My absolute favorite purchase(s) at the fair is always a Fletcher’s Corny Dog. These things are pure goodness and the line is always quite the feat to conquer, but 100% worth it every time. I’m always jealous of the little kids that share one and can make it last for so long, while I’m over here with nothing on the stick within just a few moments.

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To Big Tex - the fair's beloved mascot.

To Big Tex – the fair’s beloved mascot.

The extensive list of yummy treats at the State Fair is updated every year. A consistent winner in everyone’s books though are the Fried Oreos. So sinful, but you just can’t leave without them. And I always share, so I tell myself it’s fine and that calories don’t matter for the weekend anyway.

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Unexpected chilly weather = lots of layers.

Unexpected chilly weather = lots of layers.

Take 13 out of 100 probably. It's hard to get a Farris Wheel, 4 people, and a pig into a picture.

Take 13 out of 100 probably. It’s hard to get a Farris Wheel, 4 people, and a pig into a picture.

Although this year ended in a lost for our team, it was honestly one of my favorite games to attend in my four football seasons at UT. I hope I can continue to come back even after I graduate (*cue the tears*) to get the world’s finest corn dog. And to cheer on our boys of course! m/ As the song goes, thank God I was born a Texas Longhorn.

If you’ve got your own favorite fair food, I want to hear it. Happy Wednesday friends!

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Being back in Austin has been absolutely wonderful! It is so nice to be all set up in my cozy room again and at home with two of my best friends. I feel like I have made up for the ten weeks away by indulging in so many delicious local restaurants.

After being back for a few days and unpacking everything, I packed up yet again for Eric and I’s short visit to support Mom and Annika in some events back home. At the last minute, Eric’s family invited us to see Phantom of the Opera in Dallas, so the trip turned into a drive to what seemed like all over the Lone Star State.

But first, some photos from my first days back in my favorite Texas city. Eric treated me to some flowers and chicken nuggets upon arrival. He knows me too well, what a keeper.

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I came back just in time because my roomie Morgan was pet-sitting some precious lab pups. To say I was excited is a total understatement. Anyone that knows me knows about my complete and total consuming love for doggies. I was in Heaven sitting on the floor and watching them run all around.

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And lastly, I wasted no time hitting up my favorite spots to grab some grub. Trudy’s Tex-Mex was first on the list – mmm, those margs and that queso. Lick ice cream, Sno-Beach snow cones, and Titaya’s Thai Cuisine all came in the days that followed. I had never been to Lick before – the coolest thing about it is all the unique, crazy sounding homemade flavors that turn out to be totally delish. We really are so spoiled with all these goodies that come with beautiful ATX!

Lick - so yummy!

Lick – the line was wrapped in the hallway all the way to the back of the shop!

Sno-Beach with this stud.

Sno-Beach with this stud.

My time in The Woodlands was much needed. Once school starts, the whole family gets so busy and it just becomes so hard for everyone to be free at the same time. Those days with the fam in my nice home were wonderful – filled with Gordo snuggles, movie marathons, and celebration for my superstar family members.

I was glad I made Mama Reyna’s Meet The Teacher night for her new first graders. They are so cute and she is so good at what she does. I just love watching her greet them with the sweetest hugs and a loving smile. Those parents love her too! Annika also had her first real performance as Drum Major for the high school band – it was so cool to watch her on the field making moves. I’m really proud of that nugget. I can’t wait to watch her at their big competition in San Antonio in a few months.

So happy Annika and one of her oldest friends are getting to work together!

So happy Annika and one of her oldest friends, Rachel, are getting to work together!

After home, Eric and I were off to the Big D! I always have such a fun time with his family, I love getting to visit. Before college, I had never spent time in Dallas since we had no family or friends there. I have now been several times and am a total fan (… of all but the football team of course…Go Texans)!

A big treat of our weekend there was getting to see The Phantom of the Opera downtown; I am such a huge fan of musicals and Broadway.  The performance was awesome – such a talented cast and the music in Phantom is just wonderful.

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Eric and I with his brother, Pedro, and sister, Laura.

Blurry evidence of our presence – Eric and I with his brother, Pedro, and sister, Laura.

Eric and I finally arrived back home in Austin 5 days later. It was such a nice last getaway before the hectic nature of school gets back in full swing. Plus, we always seem to have the best road trips.

Tomorrow marks my very last first day of school ever probably. AHHHHHHHH. I don’t know how this happens and how people grow up. Life is complicated and hard and exciting and wonderful all at the same time, isn’t it?? I am beyond thankful for everything, coming to UT was the best decision I could’ve ever made.

Thanks for being patient with me and this little ol’ blog while life has been busy. And I want to take a quick moment to thank Susan Armstrong for her words of love and support last week, she is such a sweetheart and I hope others have been enjoying this as much as she has!

Hope it’s a great day everyone!

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Rio Grande City is a South Texas town just minutes from the Mexican boarder, where my sweet grandparents reside, and actually where my parents met in high school. Our family has been making several visits a year my whole life, but this time was special because it had unfortunately been so long since I had been able to make the trip. I was so happy to accompany Mama Reyna and visit my grandparents over the past few days.

You really have to keep yourself entertained with good music, good jams, and good conversation on the way down to the valley (what this region is referred to as), because the drive is a seven hours. That’s right, seven. It took my Ohio friends less time than that to get home from Chicago. Sadly, we don’t get to drive through pretty trees or hills, it’s pretty flat and, well, just dirt. Nonetheless, Mom and I always end up laughing away and turning what could be a very dull situation into some fun.

The highlight of our journey on the way down was my reunion with the amazing Whataburger. If you’re from Texas, you know how frequently these are usually stationed along the highway. It took Mama Reyna and I three tries to actually find a functioning one – the first was being redesigned, and the second just didn’t exist where they said it was. I was so pumped when I finally had a burger and fries in my hands, I snapped a photo and was convinced everyone at the restaurant thought it was my first time.

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The nice thing about going to Rio is that I always feel like I’m getting to go undercover and just escape the busyness of life. Despite the grueling heat (with lows above the Chicago highs), it is nice to spend some time where I don’t have anyone to impress or a place to be or a time to wake up, and I can just be lazy and visit with the people I love. Another bonus, so many naps and Grandma insists on stuffing our tummies with delicious meals.

Those lows were normally higher than the Chicago high...

Toto Gordo, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Chicago anymore.

Visiting with my grandma and grandpa is always a hoot. They are so full of character and stubborn and silly and smart and loving – basically all the traits I see my mom, sister and I embody in different ways. Seeing the roots of it all brings a big smile to my face. I am so grateful for their constant love, support, and strength. Making them proud shines light on my heart. We didn’t snap any photos together this time, so I’ll have to dig up some to share.

After a busy week of travel, I think some time to check up on my grandparents and rest was just what Mom and I needed. By day three though, I’m pretty sure I was on the verge of becoming a snacking, Netflix watching, reading, napping sloth. It’s always hard to leave, but the drive back luckily seems a bit shorter. And the chance to stop at Buc-ee’s is always a good source of motivation to persevere.

Bonus photo if you’ve made it this far – yours truly as Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, an old Halloween costume. One of my top favorite activities at Grandma and Grandpa’s?? Looking at the photo albums over and over.

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Thankful for a great trip, my adorable grandparents, quality time with mom, and getting home safe.  After some time at home, and plans to return for a couple days next week, I  am finally making my way back to the best city in the Lone Star State – Austin! Eeeek! I. Can’t. Wait.

Hope its been a great week, friends!

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