Tag Archive | WI

The Henry Vilas Zoo – Free Fun in Madison!


Henry Vilas Zoo Sign

The Henry Vilas ¬†Zoo is a rarity in modern times, ¬†it is free to guests. ¬†It is only one such zoo of 10 in the whole country that does not charge admission. This goes back to when Vilas Park was founded in 1904. The ¬†zoo’s first animals were in 1911. ¬†The zoo is named after William Vilas’s son Henry, ¬†who died while still a child. ¬†William wanted to give this gift of the park and land for the zoo for all children to enjoy.

Even though admission is free, ¬†donations are encouraged and you can either donate online or through collection boxes scattered throughout the zoo. ¬†Large donations have allowed the zoo to make some wonderful upgrades, especially the¬†Children’s Zoo. ¬†I went to this zoo as a child (and my Mom’s family) and it wasn’t as cool as this then. Another prominent family in Madison, the Rennebohms, ¬†largely funded this beautiful zoo-within-a-zoo.

Rennebohm's Plaque

Children Zoo indoor animal building

This is the indoor animal exhibit building. The Children’s zoo also hosts a train ride and an indoor carousel, available to ride with a small donation. ¬†I especially love the carousel, as it is painted with scenes of Madison on the panels.

Vilas Zoo train

Vilas Zoo Carousel

There is even a large play structure in the middle, it looks like it was part of a large tree.

Zoo play structure

As we stroll through the zoo, you can see how well cared-for it is and the animals are healthy.

A favorite animal there is the pink flamingos. They were napping on one leg that morning.


The penguins, cute as always.


The giraffes, snacking on leaves in the warm autumn sun.


There is also a working windmill that pumps water for the rain garden.


I had a great time, but realize I need to go back soon. ¬†My last visit before today was in 2008 and I didn’t look through the whole zoo today. ¬†In fact, there currently no bears here since the zoo is preparing for a new exhibit for them called Arctic Passage. They are in the fundraising stage at this point.

Future Home of Arctic Passage

They also plan on building a new pavilion for visiting students to be educated by a professional at the zoo.

Future Home of Conservation Learning Center at Vilas Zoo

Thanks for visiting

Related Sites and Articles

* Henry Vilas Zoo site

* Silentsprings.com photo scavenger hunt

* CardFlight helps power donations at the Henry Vilas Zoo

* Travel Wisconsin


*Grandma’s Homeschool – Zoo visit

* Draw Madison

* Primate Freedom РPrimates at the zoo.

* Mad City Mike’s zoo visit

* Woodland Park Zoo – New Lion coming to Vilas Zoo 2014

* Arctic Passage exhibit begins construction-For the Bears 2014

* Chickenblog.com zoo visit

Shop Local on Monroe Street in Madison

12-2-13, 4-1-17, 1-23-18 & 2-3-18


Monroe Street is undergoing large-scale road construction from March 12-November. See video for details. Please continue to shop Monroe St.!¬† ūüôā¬†



Monroe Street in Madison is a special place. It is located in the Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood. Read about the area history here.

Monroe Street is located near Camp Randall Stadium (Go Badgers!) and is a great walkable street with many great small businesses.  In 2018 the street will be undergoing construction from March to November.  Please keep visiting the businesses as they will still be open and need your continued patronage to survive!  The current view of the top of Monroe Street in January 2018.

 1500 block

Hotel RED

Just ahead on the right across the street are Pizza Extreme¬†, Athen’s Gyros and Gulesserian’s Oriental Rug Sales and Service. They have been open since 1911!

Opposite this side on the 1500 block is the always popular Mickies Dairy Bar and New Orlean’s Takeout.¬† Also Stadium Barbers. Look at that line at Mickies on a Saturday morning!

In January 2018 we can see a new apartment building going up between New Orleans Takeout and the former Maurie’s Chocolates. This is on the 1600 block.¬† You can sign up to rent now. It’s called Oakland on Monroe. Open in April!

Next is the Monroe Street Public Library.

Next on this side is The Fit.

Also on this side¬†was Maurie’s Fine Chocolates, open since 1993.¬† It closed 12-29-17.

Next door was Walter’s Swim N’ Sun. It was on Monroe Street since the 1990’s. It closed¬†the end of September in 2017 in anticipation of the construction taking place in 2018.


A new store moved in November 3 called ReFind Style. Owner Abigail Barth hopes to transform this corner with affordable fashionable clothing and accessories.


1700 Block

On this block is Rupert Cornelius, Eyetopia, Orange Tree Imports, Art Gecko Shop on the corner. They are also on State Street, open since 1997.

A long-established store of over 40 years, Orange Tree Imports specializes in unique kitchen items like cookware and tools, plus many other items for the home. Great gift ideas here.

1800 Block

From left to right. (click to enlarge)

Borokhim’s Oriental Rugs¬† ¬†(1972)

Pizza Brutta 

Wild Child (closing-owners retiring) Since 1981

Katy’s American Indian Arts¬†(1983)

D-Chai Massage, LLC


Canvas Club Boxing 

Double SS BBQ¬† (closed¬†10-20-2017)¬† Operates from food cart now. A new restaurant will be opening in this location called Burgrito’s¬†on March 16, 2018.


Brocach Irish Pub

Bloom Bake Shop 

Crescendo Espresso Bar Music Café

Mystery to Me  bookstore

 Neuhauser Pharmacy

We have enjoyed many visits to Pizza Brutta, delicious!

Mystery to Me Books

Specializing in books for the mystery fan, there is a lot to read here of the genre.

Photo by Joanne Berg

Across the street from the pharmacy is:

Trader Joes

Another mixed-use building with housing.

  1900 block

Across from Trader Joe’s is a building with two businesses.

Strictly Discs

is where you can get used CDs.


 For the latest in stylish clothing for men and women.


On the left corner we begin with:

Monroe Street Framing 

On Monroe St. since 1983, they are ready to frame any picture to look it’s best!

Paragon Video and Stereo

This store is the best one if you are still playing records. They have over 100 needles available, as well as 45 years of expertise to help you have the best entertainment center possible!

The tan and brown Empire Place building on the right at 1917  Monroe St. is a mixed-use condo and retail building. Two businesses are here.

Karner Blue Candles and Supply, LLC

A wonderful candle store with candle-making supplies and finished candles for sale.¬† They also have soap. Also, classes to learn how to make your own. ¬†Owner Lyschel Bersch will make your candle experience fun and personal. Stop on by, new scents are in development all the time. ¬†Did I hear you say “Chocolate candle?” This is a candle store with a cause, a portion of their proceeds goes towards saving the habitat of the Karner Blue Butterfly.

 Opened March 8, 2014. They moved in Fall 2018 to: 

5728A Monona Dr (6.53 mi)
Monona, Wisconsin 53716

Empire Photography has been here since 1981.


Directly across from the Empire bldg. is Capital City Comics and the Alvarado Group.

1934 Monroe St.

On the right¬†used to be the Macha Tea Lounge in 2013,¬† it has moved to 823 East Johnson street under the new name Macha Tea Company. After that, it was the Green Life Caf√© in 2016, now also closed. I went back in 2018 and there is a fence around it. Now it’s Creando Preschool.

Macha Tea Lounge

 Next to Creando is the Monroe Building.

Rounding out the rest of the 1900 block

Wine and Hop Shop

Brasserie V


Cat Café Mad-A unique place where you can cuddle with kitties while you sip your beverage. We enjoyed a visit there on Feb 3rd and March 31 and June 10.  They closed on July 15, 2018,  their customers went way down during the construction.

There is a wall dividing the restaurant from the “cattery” in compliance with Health Dept. rules. No matter, the cats can watch US through several bubble windows in the wall. You can bring your beverage inside the room though.

Also in this building is

Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Co.

A Dead Anchor Tattoo and Piercing

Cricket Design Works 

One last building on this block.

Full Circle Holistic Veterinary Care

Up in Smoke

1000 Block

We now enter the center portion of the street, mainly residential. Nestled within is Edgewood College and High School.

2400 Block

The last third of the street also had many great businesses to patronize. even live theater in a former firehouse from 1939.

Madison Theater Guild– Since 1946. Madison’s oldest community Theater group.

Budd’s¬† Auto Repair

2500 Block

On the left side is Zander’s Interiors.

At 2502 on the right is Klinke Cleaners.

Across from here is Infusion Chocolates.


Next to Infusion is the Laurel Tavern at 2505.

Next to the tavern is the famous Michael’s Frozen Custard, the original first store is here.

2600 and 2700 Blocks

We now get to a row of brick storefronts the same side as Klinke’s. From left to right.

Monroe Street Fine Arts Center

Colectivo Coffee


Also Knickerbocker Place. Opposite side of these stores.


 We have another row of stores on the right after crossing Spraque Street.   We begin with W.F. Butler Plumbing, Inc. They have been in business for 60 years!

And the remaining businesses left in this row. Freiburg is moving downtown in 2018 to re-photograph.  A new restaurant will be opening there called the Tin Fox.

Freiburg Gastropub and Calabash Gifts

A newer building rounds out the 2600 block on this side.  Monroe Street Shoe Repair and the Knitting Tree. The Knitting Tree is closing in Fall 2018.

2700 Block

We then cross Knickerbocker St. to this long white building, home of Leudtke-Storm-Mackey Chiropractic Clinic.

Across the street is State Farm Insurance (Aaron Perry), J. Michael Real Estate

Also Jac’s Dining and Tap House

We now travel through a last residential area and then explore the remaining businesses at the end of Monroe Street.

Restaino and Associates Realtors

2945 Monroe

Located at 3402 Monroe St. is the Plough Inn. It is the oldest building on the street, built in 1853.  Learn more about it here.  Since 1994, it has been the Arbor House, An Environmental Inn B&B .

As of February 2018, the property is now for sale as the owners wish to retire.


Walkner Condon Financial Advisors and Madison Chocolate Company.

One last “new” building housing Gates and Brovi restaurant, as well as housing above.

Next door is the former Mallatt’s Pharmacy closed on March 3, 2017.

It was THE place to go for costumes, I got a sailor hat here for a costume. This was the building in fall 2010.

Mallatt's Pharmacy on Monroe Street

Good news though, the Lakeview Veterinary Cat Clinic will be moving into the building soon. Next door in the Monroe Place building is the Lakeview Veterinary Clinic for all animals.

We are reaching the end of the street. Fritz and Associates Hair Design.

The last one is Percy’s Service Station.

These are most of the great businesses on Monroe street.  For a more relaxing shopping experience outside of the malls, this is your destination!

Video of the street before construction. Stay tuned for new video after!

Betty Lou Cruises – See Madison by Boat

This is quite a treat, especially for those people who don’t have a boat of their own. ¬†My husband and I have taken cruises on this boat a few times and it’s a lot of fun. Betty Lou Cruises began in 1998, offering guests a new way to see Madison. ¬†My most recent voyage was on July 27. The Clean Lake Festival offered free cruises on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The boat was in Lake Monona, we were welcomed aboard and settled in our seats.   I went to the stern for the best views.

Betty Lou Cruise boat

We got under way, the captain gave a running commentary on what we were seeing. Our first views were of lake houses, a view you usually don’t see, from the back.

Lake Monona Houses

We also saw a sailboat regatta, a weekly occurence in the summer.  It was a rather cold day for July (62 F) and I witnessed and Inferior Mirage of another Betty Lou Cruise boat across the lake. The result was an upside-down image of the boat under the real one. The air was colder than the water.

Sailboat Regatta on Lake Monona

Betty Lou Mirage

As we headed towards the Monona Terrace, we got a breathtaking view of Madison’s skyline and more sailboats.

Sailboats on Lake Monona

And here is the Monona Terrace!

Monona Terrace and Capitol

From here we headed back to port, what a great ride! ¬†It’s not too late to take a cruise, they run through October. ¬†Come take a ride in style!

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