Prepare to debate over the most egregious snubs, because it’s time for award season – and not everyone can be a winner. Here are Nordic’s nominations for the Best Madison Hotspots in a Leading Role. Don't forget ot RSVP to Nordic's Open House this September while you're in the city.
Best view of the Capitol
Pretty much anywhere in downtown Madison serves as a great view of the Capitol, but one of our favorite spots is the balcony of Eno Vino, a wine bar and bistro that opened in May 2017. From the balcony 10 floors above the AC Hotel Madison Downtown by Marriott, you can sip wine or a cocktail and gaze out on the Capitol’s floodlit majesty.
For a view of the Capitol from the ground floor, we love Colectivo, a Madison coffee chain with a location at the intersection of Pinckney and King Street, facing the Capitol. Sit on the patio of Colectivo and enjoy an iced coffee and a crossword (this writer’s favorite Sunday morning tradition). Plus, the people-watching (and listening) can’t be beaten in this area of downtown.
John Nolen Drive
Many people fall in love with Madison on their first trip into the city, as they cross Lake Monona on John Nolen Drive. From this vantage point, the Capitol rises above the city like an iridescent beacon, the tallest building in Madison and the most beautiful. While you’re in the city, don’t miss this view. The bike and running path along the drive is also a great spot for a ride or jog if you want to get some fresh air.
Best place to spend a September afternoon
Olbrich Park has so many wonderful features that it’s almost hard to list them all. One of Madison’s largest lakefront parks, Olbrich Park skirts Lake Monona and is adjacent to Olbrich Botanical Gardens. You can chill out and watch the ducks, launch your boat off the pier, or play a game of flag football (BYO football). And don’t forget to check out the recently-opened Olbrich Biergarten, a German-style beer garden serving curds, bratwurst, and giant pretzels.
James Madison Park
Though smaller than some of its Madison counterparts, James Madison is the perfect place for a game of frisbee or a canoe launch off the pier. But our favorite thing to do is to stop by the nearby Pinkus McBride (a small and lovely grocery store featuring freshly-made sandwiches and delicious cookies), grab a picnic lunch, and simply take in the view of Lake Mendota. If you get restless, James Madison is a short walk from the Capitol Square, the Madison Children’s Museum, and plenty of bars and restaurants.
Lake Monona Path
If you like to run or bike, the Lake Monona Path is a beautiful and interesting option for your afternoon exercise. The path takes you through some of Madison’s unique neighborhoods, and at 12 miles, it’s a doable option for an amateur biker or a serious runner.
Terrace at Memorial Union
It wouldn’t be a list of Madison highlights without a mention of the Memorial Union Terrace. There’s no better way to spend a sunny afternoon than drinking a cold Spotted Cow, chatting with a friend, and watching the ducks splash in Lake Mendota. You’ll be joined by approximately 10,000 college students, but never fear: There’s plenty of seating, and you can usually find a spot at the wooden picnic tables by the lake (even if you have to share with another couple).
Best bloody mary
We did our research on the bloody marys of Madison, and after hundreds of brunches, we have a short list of considerations.
The Old Fashioned
The Old Fashioned Bloody Mary may be the quintessential Wisconsin drink: a bloody mary covered in cheese curds, olives, and pickled Brussels sprouts, accompanied by a beer back. If you feel the need for more cheese curds after this drink (and we won’t judge you if you do), grab a basket of the Old Fashioned’s famous light, crispy cheese curds.
The El Dorado’s bloody maria switches vodka for tequila in a Mexican-inspired twist. If that combination sounds gross to you, they also serve options with vodka and spicy vodka, so you have no shortage of options. This restaurant is located in the Willy St. neighborhood, an eclectic blend of hippie culture, up-and-coming restaurants, and dive bars.
Sardine, an upscale restaurant on the shore of Lake Monona, is well-known for its use of beets in its food, and the bloody mary is no exception. This dark purple drink is one of the most creative and interesting bloody marys in Madison, and the beautiful setting (white linen tablecloths and plenty of light) makes this one of the classier brunch destinations in the city.
Don't forget to (mentally) cast your vote at this year's Nordic Open House, Monday, Sept. 25! RSVP below and join us for a star-studded night on the green carpet.