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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Go Beyond Football in Madison


5. Oddball Day

The Old Sugar Distillery produces small-batch rum, sorghum whiskey, ouzo, and other limited-release spirits on-site.   

Hop on a bike to explore some local eating and drinking traditions and find out why Madison was named the only gold-certified Bicycle Friendly Community east of the Mississippi by the League of American Bicyclists. Rent your ride at Machinery Row Bicycles (Trek 7200 hybrid with lock and helmet, $20 per day) and then head a half-mile to fuel up at the Dane County Farmers’ Market (every Saturday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.) Stock up on goods from more than 160 vendors trimming Capitol Square; keep an eye out for incredible produce from Snug Haven Farm and organic Gouda and cheddar cheese from Bleu Mont Dairy. Afterward, connect with the Capital City Bike Loop as it climbs slightly east before winding south across Lake Monona. The scenic sixteen-mile loop passes downtown attractions like Monona Terrace before crossing through residential neighborhoods dotted with bungalow-style homes and leafy natural areas like the Capital Springs State Recreation Area. Circle back to the Memorial Union Terrace on the university’s campus and watch boats drift by on Lake Mendota with a pitcher of Bell’s Oberon seasonal ale ($12.50) and a Klement’s bratwurst sandwich ($3.65), a local delicacy. Before returning your bike by 7 p.m., reward your day of pedaling with a sip of brandy, the state spirit of choice, at the Old Sugar Distillery. Sit in the airy tasting room and order a brandy old-fashioned sweet ($7), classically built with house-made brandy, 7-Up, and garnished with an orange wedge and cherry. Once your bike is returned, take a break from dairy at Lao Laan-Xang, run for more than two decades by a family of Laotian refugees. Be sure to try the house specialty of larp, a mix of minced meat, shallots, and spices served cold on a bed of lettuce and bean sprouts with sticky rice ($13.75). Afterward, wind down at no-frills Mickey’s Tavern (1524 Williamson Street, 608-251-9964) on the east side of the city, which opened in 1902 and has kept its doors open ever since, including during prohibition. Sit outside on the patio with a locally adored Bloody Mary ($6.50 with a beer back), containing a skewer of pickled olive, onion, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, and pickle, before catching a live rock, punk, or folk show.

Published on Jun 8, 2012 as a web exclusive.

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