It’s February. It’s the time of year where many-a-people run from the cold and flock to somewhere warm. It’s the high season for tropical, beach-y destinations like Hawaii, Turks and Caicos, and Cabo.
Call us crazy (maybe it’s our rebellious side coming out), but we highly suggest doing the opposite.
Sure, mai tai’s on the beach sound great - but let’s be real. You’ll be fighting the crowds, and you’ll be paying a high premium to do so. We think tropical getaways are always better during the off-season, where prices are practically slashed in half, and your chances of having the beach all to yourself are significantly greater!
So this winter, we decided to head somewhere different. Somewhere snowy. Somewhere that’s up-and-coming, full of winter activities (both indoor and outdoor), culinary experiences, and that friendly, Midwest charm. We got two round-trip tickets to Madison, Wisconsin, packed our winter coats (and hand warmers), and prepared for some sub-freezing exploring.! Here’s what we did, and what YOU should do when you head that way!
ICE SKATE AT TENNEY PARK
Have you ever ice skated on a frozen lagoon before? We hadn’t either! Tenney Park is something out of a storybook - with snow covered trees, picturesque bridges, and dozens of families skating across the lake. You can rent ice skates for only $6/hour, and you can warm up with a hot cup of cocoa at the warming center after you’re done. If you’re a seasoned skater or hockey player, bring your stick and slide into one of the pickup hockey games.
One of the most iconic streets in Madison is State Street, that runs from The Capitol Square to the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. State Street has everything from fine dining to quirky boutiques, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, lively bars, and more. We found ourselves on State Street every day that we were in Madison - there was simply too much to see! Some of our favorite spots were Cask & Ale, Paul’s Book Store, August, The Soap Opera and Little Luxuries.
There’s no doubt that the craft beer scene is thriving in Madison. It’s “microbrew country”, as they like to say, with several fantastic tasting rooms and award-winning breweries. And we can’t think of a better way to spend a snowy day, then “hop-ping” (Get it?) around a few! There are breweries for any kind of beer fanatic - we took a liking to Ale Asylum, Karben 4, and ALT Brew.
OLBRICH BOTANICAL GARDENS
Find yourself needing a warm escape from the cold air? Well, we’re happy to say that a tropical oasis DOES exist in the middle of the snow! While the Olbrich Botanical Gardens has over 16 acres of outdoor gardens, they also are home to the Bolz Conservatory - a warm and sunny escape from the oftentimes below freezing temperatures outside. There’s tropical plants, pretty birds, lakes with koi, and temperature in the conservatory is always kept between 65-95 degrees! And with admission at only $2/person, it’s an easy and affordable way to spend an afternoon! And don’t forget to brave the cold and walk around some of their gorgeous outdoor gardens… you’ll feel as though you’ve entered a different land!
THE EDGEWATER SPA
We’ll take any excuse to have a spa day - and wintery weather is the perfect excuse! The Edgewater Madison is home to a luxurious, waterfront spa that’s cozy and welcoming and offers every kind of treatment one could want. If you’re heading there with your significant other, we highly recommend their signature Couples Massage. Complete your spa day with a glass of champagne, and a dip in the relaxation pool! Does it get anymore romantic than that?
MADISON HOTEL WEEK
If we’ve convinced you to head to Madison, you’re in luck. February 8-18 is Madison Hotel Week, where you can find discounted room rates at some of the best hotels in the city! We stayed at The Edgewater Madison, and absolutely loved it. They’re offering a discounted rate of $125/night during Madison Hotel Week, which we think is a lovely time for a Valentine’s Day Getaway.
Madison, Wisconsin blew us away. The friendly locals, the lively downtown, the stunning, snowy scenery… We loved every minute of it. And we can’t wait to return.