After years of raising kids and taking family vacations, Peggy and I recently were able to get away and celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. We spent some time on the west coast, and the weather, attractions, restaurants, and accommodations were wonderful. Despite all that, though, the time away heightened our appreciation of Madison. It’s not a sense of superiority, but more an awareness of all this small city in the Upper Midwest can offer both residents and visitors.
So, in celebration of Valentine’s Day, we’re presenting the many things we love about Madison.
The Change of Seasons. While we had sunny, warm weather in the high 60s on our vacation, we discovered we would miss the change of seasons in Madison if we lived in a warmer climate. While winter is often the most cursed season here, it is also a very special time when there is a quiet and calm beauty walking around our city during and after a snowfall. And even when it gets really cold, there’s a warmth to visiting our neighborhood outdoor skating rinks in the evening, such a Tenney Park, and joining with the skaters and hockey players for a little exercise and fun. Besides winter, we also enjoy the hope and rejuvenation of spring, the fun provided by our lakes and parks in summer, and the color and romance of fall.
The Performing Arts. When compared to larger cities, Madison has an impressive assortment of performing arts venues and performance groups. We have ballet, opera, orchestras, and many theater and music groups. This leads to opportunities year-round and for all interests, including several events that are free. Annually, patrons can enjoy Opera in the Park, Concerts on the Square, Live on King Street, concerts at Olbrich Gardens, or dancing at the Monona Terrace. We’ve seen live theater ranging from Shakespeare at a neighborhood park to Broadway shows at the Overture Center. As we overheard one busy afternoon this winter at The Overture Center, “the arts are alive in Madison.”
The Restaurants. A commonly heard fact is that Madison tops lists of the most restaurants per capita. Whether that claim can be proved, we are very impressed by the growing number of top-notch restaurants just around The Livingston Inn. We are very proud of our city when guests check-in and the talk turns to restaurants. There are so many options just within walking distance and all with a commitment to a unique and memorable dining experience.
The Accessibility. While we may not match some larger cities’ assortment of dining and things to do, we’re pretty close, and what certainly makes Madison more attractive is the ease of getting around. Despite this funny way of moving through an isthmus and around some large lakes, it doesn’t take long to get from point A to B in this city. Rush hour is usually over by 6pm, and even though things get a little crazy around UW games, it’s short-lived and infrequent. We have to give special praise for our accessible city to the intrepid commuters, both by bike and bus, we see on the roads year-round. They are definitely a significant contributor to fewer vehicles on our streets and highways.
The People. I distinctly remember two things when we moved to Madison many years ago. First, how several neighbors came over when they saw the moving van and jumped right in to help out. Second, how easily people struck up a conversation with me in our neighborhood and around the city. To this day, Madisonians remain the most friendly and open-minded people I’ve met in any city. Yes, they have lots of opinions and often steadfastly seek to do the right thing, but they will also engage you with an interest in your background and life experience.
While the preceding are the top things we love about Madison, we could go on with so much more – its farmer’s markets, political history, museums, galleries, and breweries as well as the recreational options on the lakes and bike trails. It would be hard to know when to stop, but like a relationship, that’s what love is all about. It’s what makes the person or place special at one point in time, yet knowing that as you grow and your life changes, your feelings won’t change because there is so much depth to the relationship.
We believe love is in the air in Madison because so many people we encounter daily have the same feeling. So we wish Happy Valentine’s Day to our fine city!