"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
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.
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.
There is even a large play structure in the middle, it looks like it was part of a large tree.
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.
They also plan on building a new pavilion for visiting students to be educated by a professional at the zoo.
Monroe Street is undergoing large-scale road construction from March 12-November. See video for details. Please continue to shop Monroe St.! 🙂
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.
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!
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.
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 Café in 2016, now also closed. I went back in 2018 and there is a fence around it. Now it’s Creando Preschool.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As we headed towards the Monona Terrace, we got a breathtaking view of Madison’s skyline and more sailboats.
And here is the Monona Terrace!
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!