Willy Street as it is known by the locals, is one of Madison’s most unique and fun neighborhoods.
This street has special meaning to me, since it is where my husband Al was living when we met in 1997. He lived here with his older brother, who is no longer with us, he passed in Sept. 2005. We sure miss him and he embodied the spirit of Willy St.
Joe and Al in May 2005, photo taken here.
They host a variety of festivals throughout the summer that we have enjoyed many times.
La Fete de Marquette – July
Orton Park Festival – August
Willy Street Fair – September
Central Park Sessions – August and September. Check for dates. It benefits 7 non-profits doing great work throughout the city of Madison.
Our favorite way to end the summer! Here is their parade from 2016.
We will start our tour at the top of the street, art is also a major fixture of this street and close by. The large metal tree in the median across from this sign called the Communitree. Created by metal artist Erica Koivunen and her husband, Blacksmith Aaron Howard, this tree fits right in this unique neighborhood.
A new smaller tree is now in the Willy Street Park, installed in 2016 called “Enlightened Self-Interest.
In this building is Machinery Row Bicycles, a great store to service or buy a new bike. Also Sardine fine dining.
A little further and across the street is “Alexa”, another sculpture.
At the former Madison Candy building is Ground Zero Coffee and the Eldorado Grill.
Join us on a visual tour of Willy Street as Al rode his bike down the street, describing the many businesses there. Also see the street at night, quite colorful!
To learn more about what Willy Street has to offer, visit these websites:
There is is a lot to cover about this fascinating street, the culture here is quite diverse and people welcoming and friendly. In many yards and windows I saw this sign, proving this. Also this sign on a fence.
They also care for our four-footed friends.
Willy Street supports a large array of small business and strongly objects to major chains there. The ironic thing, many of these businesses I profiled here now have multiple locations because they have been highly successful!
An example is the story of the Willy Street Park is legendary. A fast food chain wanted to put a restaurant there, but the residents of Willy St. protested this and as a result, the Willy Street Park was born. It is maintained by a group of volunteers, it is a beautiful place to rest and reflect year-round.
Artwork adorns the street on the sides of many buildings, neatly encapsulating the character of this neighborhood.
A corny mural.
Mother Fools Coffeehouse has a designated wall for permitted graffiti that changes at least monthly.
This isn’t on Willy but nearby on Paterson, still considered part of the street culture. Also imagined by metal artist Erica Koivunen and her husband, Blacksmith Aaron Howard. They are called, “Dream Keepers”.
Found on a sidewalk.
Also visit the Williamson Street Art Center. They offer art classes to the public. They have done murals all over southern Wisconsin for over 20 years.
One mural they have done in 2009 is “The History of Willy Street in the 70’s”.
The many small businesses on this street are part of the charm, also pleasing to the eye. Here are few of them.
A favorite place during the Willy Street Fair, they make glass objects to a rapt audience while you watch.
A favorite place for cat toys as well as other other pets, they are a favorite in Madison. Also on Monroe Street at Knickerbocker Place and Mineral Point Rd. This is the original.
At night, enjoy their custom neon in the window.
Great bread and granola made here. It is employee-owned and supply many local grocery stores including the Willy Street Co-Op further down the street.
Another place making great bread as well as full meals is
We enjoyed lunch there in 2016.
Enjoy upscale dining at:
Now open in three locations, this is the original, they first opened in 1974 and we ourselves are members. Get food free of GMO’s, gluten or other additives. We are members!
In the back is a straw-bale wall, built by the community. See it getting built below. And the finished wall, it has held up quite well in our harsh weather!
They sometimes have a cookout outside on a nice day, tied into supporting a local cause.
The performing arts are also represented on Willy Street by the
It is hard to see since it is recessed behind the trees. I have seen a show there before, time for another one!
This establishment was a favorite place for Al’s brother Joe to visit. Not just a bar, they also have great music groups come in to play as well. At night, the neon comes on in the glass-block windows is a beacon on the street.
The view is just as pretty inside.
We were there on Feb. 16 to play Jeopardy! with the crowd and this nice man told us about the first owner and it was his idea for all the neon lights. His name was Richard “Dick” Storey and he was a big UW supporter. He passed away 12-29-12.
An always busy place, we need to stop here at some point.
This is the original, opened in 2007, now in 6 locations total!
Have a broken clock or a watch needing a new battery? Visit Brumley’s Old Clock Shop. Be there on the hour to hear all the clocks chime!
On the subject of fixing things, you can get your clothes fixed/altered at:
A very popular place, we had breakfast here once.
A relaxing, friendly place. We have eaten here a few times.
Next door is Ha Long Bay, serving up Thai and Vietnamese food.
A large bakery where you can get a wide array of items. I love the mixer outside with the bowl filled with flowers in the summer, adding some beauty to the storefront.
Serving Willy St. since 1999, stop in for a wide selections of fabrics for your sewing needs. Located at 1521 Williamson.
Willy St. ends with another castle-like building, complete with turret and flag on top.
We went there to enjoy Friday Night Fish fry on 2-16-18. Cool lighting inside.
The dog neon is quite unique!
Across the street from Mickey’s. Get hydroponic growing supplies here and home brewing equipment here. They closed in Madison in February of 2018. There are still four locations in Chicago, Bolingbrook, and Roselle, IL. Also Waukesha, WI.
If you would rather buy your alcohol, Star Liquor has a great selection. It closed 4-4-18.
This concludes our visit to this charming and friendly street in Madison. We hope you had as much fun as we have!