I knew very little about Madison before I visited, other than what I’d heard from the three friends who live there, and from other people who always say “I’ve heard it is very nice.”
I agree that it is very nice, especially during the last week of July, especially when coming from southern East Coast humidity.
Lots of things pleasantly surprised me. Julia (who I went to visit) had told me about the Capitol building in the center of town, but I didn’t really understand how central it is in the downtown area where she lives. Hopefully Julia or someone will read this and correct me if I am wrong, but to me it seemed the Capitol building and four main streets radiating from it orient the whole downtown area. You can look down State Street (a bike/bus/pedestrian only mall) and see the dome looming, reminding me of cathedrals of small European cities like Seville. Julia and I enjoyed going to the Capitol most days, for the air conditioning, the superb water fountain selection, and to see all the architectural treasures.
Other things of note include the farmers market every Saturday which takes place on the sidewalk around the square block of the Capitol. They sell cheese curds there and cheesy bread and everyone walks around it in one direction very slowly like cattle. Also everyone loves it. All of Julia’s housemates we saw that day had to reference having just been to the FM or asking if we had been to the FM or saying “we are going to go to the FM” with such excitement!
The general water fountain quality and quantity of the whole city is really quite superb. I really appreciated the water quality of city water.
Also, Madison is on the isthmus between two lakes. Who knew? I enjoyed James Madison Park, a grassy knoll on the water, and the Union Terrace at the university where you can sit and watch the sailboats.
I also enjoyed my walk down Willy St. including the food co-op and the lovely flowers growing and in everyone’s yard, and cherry coke at Nick’s, Julia’s new favorite place. Also, I think if you were to look into the city’s history of co-operative housing (and co-operative other things), like the International Co-op where Julia lives and I stayed, you would be intrigued.