Wisconsin

Plant Yourself in Madison Without Pruning your Savings

Posted September 10, 2010 by Kate Hamman

Madison Madison holds its place as one of the greener cities in the U.S. by preserving 6,000 acres of parkland and offering nearly 100 miles of bike trails. Best of all, you don't have to touch your life savings to experience the "eco" side of the city. You can take a class on sustainable home gardening, dine at a restaurant serving home-grown organic comfort foods, and rest easy in an eco-minded hotel that caters to outdoor lovers.

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Olbrich Botanical Gardens: Olbrich is more than just a pretty flower garden. Its events lineup features a lecture series on sustainability topics such as eco-friendly garden design, perennial grasses, and using rain water to efficiently water your garden. The gardens are free to explore, and most classes cost between $12 and $15.

Eat
Harvest Restaurant: Designated as one of Gourmet Magazine's top farm-to-table restaurants, Harvest serves fresh food for every season. Tami Lax is not only the owner, but also the founder of the Madison Slow Food chapter. Using organic and local ingredients, the restaurant features a range of simple yet inventive dishes such as porcini-salt-rubbed Angus tenderloin or local grass-fed beef steak. Menus change with the seasons, and entrees cost between $18 and $42.

Stay
Arbor House: A former tavern and stagecoach stop dating back to 1853, the Arbor House has come a long way, winning several awards for its eco-friendly practices. Each of the eight rooms comes equipped with organic mattresses, energy-efficient lights, and water-saving appliances. The hotel also provides complimentary mountain bikes for daily activities. Rates start at $110 per night.

To search for flights and compare prices to Madison, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: iStockPhoto/ Borislav Yankov)

Great Deals in Wisconsin Dells

Posted June 24, 2009 by Jamie Moore

Ws-dells-yogi-def Billing itself as the Waterpark Capital of the World, Wisconsin Dells has more than enough watery (and dry) ways to thrill and delight tourists. Check out these inexpensive spots for water park fun, a beer and burger, and Yogi Bear-themed lodging.

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Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park: Take on the 37 waterslides, two adventure rivers, wave pool, and surf pool at this Greek mythology-themed experience. The surf pool, new last year, is the country's second largest and churns out the world's tallest waves—up to nine feet high. A one-day pass to the water and theme park runs $39.99 ($35.99 if you buy online). Visiting other area attractions? Spring for a $70 Dells City Pass including three-day admission to Mt. Olympus and entry to eight other popular spots.

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Monk's Bar & Grill: The Minneapolis Star Tribune raves about the burgers at this legendary badger-themed sports bar a half hour outside Madison's University of Wisconsin. Grab a beer and try the 1/3 lb Original Monk's Burger or something more offbeat: a Pizza Burger, Black & Bleu Burger, or Jalapeno Cheddar Burger. It's a fun place to watch the Brewers beat the Cubs (or the Cubs beat the Brewers if you're not local) on the big screen.

Stay
Yogi Bear's Camp Resort: Finding affordable lodging in the Dells is a challenge, but this campground and resort is the answer; that is, if you don't mind a daily visit from Yogi Bear. Stay in a yurt ($39 to $89 per night), cabin ($59 to $119 per night) or bungalow ($79 to $159 per night). From these, it's a short walk to the bathroom, but there are other lodging options only a bit more expensive that feature indoor plumbing. Admission to the on-site water park and a full schedule of activities are included in your stay.

To search for flights and compare prices to Madison, which is home to Wisconsin Dells’ nearest airport, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau)

Plant Yourself in Madison Without Pruning your Savings

Posted April 22, 2009 by Kate Hamman

WI-Madison-BotanicalGarden-DEF Madison holds its place as one of the greener cities in the U.S. by preserving more than 6,000 acres of parkland and offering more than 150 miles of bike trails. Best of all, you don't have to touch your life savings to experience the "eco" side of the city. You can take a class on sustainable home gardening, dine at a restaurant serving home-grown organic comfort foods, and rest easy in an eco-minded hotel that caters to outdoor lovers.

Play
Olbrich Botanical Gardens: As part of Travel Green Wisconsin and with several educational eco workshops, Olbrich is more than just a pretty flower garden. Its events lineup features a lecture series on sustainability topics such as growing organic vegetables, home composting, and proper water use for your lawn. The gardens are free to explore, and most classes cost between $9 and $13.

Eat
Harvest Restaurant: Designated as one of Gourmet Magazine's top farm-to-table restaurants, Harvest serves fresh food for every season. Tami Lax is not only the owner, but also the founder of the Madison Slow Food chapter. Using organic and local ingredients, the restaurant features a range of simple yet inventive dishes such as porcini-salt-rubbed Angus tenderloin or pumpkin ravioli with sage butter. Menus change with the seasons, and entrees cost between $16 and $42.

Stay
Arbor House: A former tavern and stagecoach stop dating back to 1853, the Arbor House has come a long way, winning several awards for its eco-friendly practices. Each of the eight rooms comes equipped with organic mattresses, energy-efficient lights, and water-saving appliances. The hotel also provides complimentary bird-watching binoculars and mountain bikes for daily activities. Rates start at $110 per night.

To search for flights and compare prices to Madison, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: iStockPhoto/ Borislav Yankov)

Hyatt and Starwood Bring Trendy Hotels to Madison

Posted July 25, 2008 by Nicki Krawczyk

Hotelaloft Kids dress much better today than they did when I was 13. Maybe it’s because there are so many more instructional resources to tell them exactly how to dress cool for their age, but their burgeoning maturity seems to match up well with their burgeoning style. In my youth, the social savvy usually came before the fashion style, so that, for example, you’d think to yourself, “Hey, I was pretty cool at lunch today” and then look down in horror to realize you were still wearing pleated, stonewashed jeans.

Welcome to Madison, the municipal equivalent of this unequal growth spurt. Right in the center of Wisconsin, you’ve got a gigundo UW Madison college population mixing with state capital politicians and a citizenry of forward-thinking and interesting people. Cool. On the other hand, you’ve got most venues closing at 6 p.m. and hotels looking like your Aunt Barb decorated them. (She just loves mixing pastels, maroon, and bad art, doesn’t she?)

Well, it seems that Madison is finally getting rid of its proverbial pleated jeans. According to The Capital Times, a Madison newspaper, this full-of-potential town is getting a shot in the arm of coolness with the arrival of a hip Hyatt Place Hotel, a Hotel Indigo and a proposed Starwood Aloft Hotel. Modern decor and Wi-Fi, welcome to central Wisconsin.

Interestingly, it doesn’t seem that these boutique hotels intend to offer dining aside from snack options, thereby encouraging people to get out and about to see Madison in all its glory. Which is fine, because there’s a surprising amount of glory to be seen. And enjoyed. In the late spring, summer and early fall. Because, friends, have you ever been in Wisconsin in the winter? I grew up there; I moved 10 years ago and I still haven’t warmed up.

If your business plan involves bringing clients into town in the dead of January, setting them up in a swanky little hotel and then offer them granola bars for dinner, I forecast trouble. If, however, your business plan is to set up delivery to these stranded out-of-towners, things are looking up. After all, what better way to give them a taste of Madison old and new than to let them get cozy in their urban-chic rooms and nosh on a couple of butter burgers and frozen custard? Ah, I miss home.


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