A Perfect Day in Madison

Illustrated map of Madison

Illustrated map of Madison

Novelist and 2004 UW Law alumna Susan Gloss, author of Vintage (HarperCollins, 2014), describes what a perfect day in Madison looks like to her.

8:45 a.m. Ground Zero Coffee
One of my favorite ways to start the day is with coffee and my computer at Ground Zero on Williamson Street. Their pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and a cup of their Atomic Brew (or two or three) make a delicious working breakfast.

10:30 a.m. Thrifting
On rare occasions when I have a couple of hours on my own, I love to go thrifting. If I’m looking for something specific, I head to the Good Style Shop on East Johnson Street. The quality of their vintage dresses is impeccable, and everything is pressed and ready to wear off the rack. If I’m in more of a bargain-hunting mood, I head to the St. Vincent de Paul store on Williamson Street, affectionately called St. Vinny’s on Willy by its devotees. My past finds there include designer jeans, Tod’s loafers, and a midcentury Lane end table. You’ve got to be patient, though, and willing to do some “sifting and winnowing.” (We are, after all, Wisconsin grads, are we not?)

1:20 p.m. Biking the Capital City Trail
It’s no secret that Madison is a great city for biking. My husband (Bill Parsons, also a 2004 UW Law grad) and I love to hook up our toddler’s bike trailer and take a spin on one of the many bike paths the city has to offer. The Capital City loop is seventeen miles, which makes it ideal for an afternoon ride. It takes you past many of Madison’s most famous landmarks and charming neighborhoods, including the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Monona Terrace, Olin Park, the Capital Springs Centennial State Recreation Area, and the historic Vilas neighborhood. It’s a beautiful blend of natural and urban landscapes.

3:30 p.m. Tiki Bar
Biking is thirsty work. When the weather is warm, a stop at the East Side Club’s lakeside Tiki Bar is a perfect way to quench it. Kick back in an Adirondack chair on the grassy lawn, sip a Spotted Cow beer, and watch the boats go by.

7:00 p.m. Tornado Room
Have a steak. You’re earned it. And, in my opinion, Tornado serves up the city’s best. I love the retro vibe of this Madison institution. Get there early to sit in the straight-from-the-fifties bar and enjoy a martini while listening to Dean Martin.

Susan GlossTwenty-four hours aren’t nearly enough to enjoy all Madison has to offer, but if you’re not lucky enough to live here year round, these are a few good places to start. — Susan Gloss