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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Go Beyond Football in Madison

Best known as a college town, Wisconsin’s progressive capital city is also home to notable architecture and art, as well as an emerging culinary scene.


1. Where to Stay

Mansion Hill Inn is located in a picturesque residential neighborhood a few blocks from downtown Madison.  

Step back to a more opulent era at the downtown Mansion Hill Inn (from $200), a ten-room B and B set on a hill a few blocks away from the majestic State Capitol. Trek Bicycles (headquartered in nearby Waterloo) purchased and renovated the 1857 German Romanesque revival building in 2008, restoring original features like the mahogany spiral staircase, etched Venetian glass windows, and wrought-iron balconies. Book the ground-floor suite (from $250) for French doors that open onto the hotel’s gardens, and borrow one of the complimentary Trek cycles for a ride along the bike paths that ring Lake Mendota a block away.

Get a dose of modern style at HotelRed (from $189), which opened in August and is Madison’s only independent boutique hotel. Its 48 design-focused suites feature polished concrete floors and soaking tubs along with kitchenettes and furnished patios. Though the Bauhaus-inspired steel-and-glass structure might seem at odds with iconic buildings like the University of Wisconsin Field House across the street, local architect Bob Sieger paid homage to the Badger spirit with the prominent red, slate gray, and white color scheme as well as through partnerships with Wisconsin artisans who made fixtures like the custom cabinetry.

Reduce your carbon footprint at the ecofriendly Arbor House (from $150), where eight suites contain green features like organic mattresses, natural linens, and water-efficient fixtures. Comprising two buildings—a landmarked inn built in 1853 and a sustainably designed annex—the property also offers a dry sauna and a wildflower garden. Grab a bike from the front desk and cycle across the street to the University of Wisconsin Arboretum or set out on Lake Wingra with your complimentary pass for a one-hour paddle, canoe, or kayak ride.

Published on Jun 8, 2012 as a web exclusive.

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